Let's Make Gravy!
Let's Mambo Italiano! You wanna make-a some gravy? I have a pot on the stove and will share my recipe here. It's from my father in law, Mike Stagliano, who was a phenomenal cook. I miss him.
6 cans Imported Italian Tomatoes - SAN MARZANO STYLE (this is a must. San Marzano's are expensive and worth the money) You can get a huge can if the NINA brand at Costco for a few bucks or you can find other brands at stores for as much as $5.00 a small can! Don't skimp here. It's tomato sauce, the tomatoes matter.)
1 tube of tomato paste. I use Amore brand imported from Italy, it has the best flavor. Use what you can find. Use two of the tiny cans if you buy Contadina. Have a third on hand in case you need to boost the flavor at the end.
1 package short ribs or pork chops (with bone) or ground meatloaf mix of beef/pork and veal. Pick your favorite or none if you prefer meatless gravy
4 HUGE sweet onions, softball sized. Onions = flavor
2 bay leaves
A dash of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt (best for cooking)
4 cloves garlic, sliced not pressed! That injures the cells.
OK - coat the bottom of a large dutch oven with oil. Gently heat. Add sliced garlic. Cook garlic over low heat to get the flavor into the oil. DO NOT BROWN the garlic. Garlic, once burned, ruins the gravy. Remove garlic from pan.
Increase heat and add your meat. Brown the heck out of it. Let it stick to the bottom of the pan. There's flavor in them thar burnt bits! Remove the meat.
Add the onions, the red pepper flakes (I use only about 12 flakes) the bay leaves and the salt. Keep the heat going and brown the onions. Keep scraping the yummies off the bottom of the pan and leave them!
After the onions cook for a good thirty minutes add back your meat and now your tomatoes. If you use 6 cans add 5 cans of water. If you use the giant Costco can add 3/4 full water.
Squeeze in your 4.5 ounce tube of tomato paste.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. The tomato acid will foam - scoop off the foam as you go. Allow to boil for an hour, keep stirring, don't let it burn. Lower heat and cook at a low bubble for 4 hours. NO LID ON THE POT!
Keep stirring to break down the tomatoes. Add salt to taste. If it seems blah at the end add a can of tomato paste.