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Nov 5, 2012 10:54 PM

Is sunday gravy the same as spaghetti sauce?

Ok, I am a Californian. Never lived in NYC or NJ ( So not much exposure to true Italian cooking) or the south.

Just made 14 lbs of homemade italian hot sausage ( not in casing) because I bought 20 lbs of pork butt for $1.39/ lb yesterday. Had butcher grind 14 lbs of it for sausage and used the other 6 lbs for Chinese roast pork (cha siu). Gonna put most of the sausage in the freezer uncooked, but was browsing for recipes tonight on CH.

Planning to make sausage gravy (so, looked up recipes for biscuits and gravy), Chicago pizza (which having never been to Chicago, I have never yet had) . . .and now looking up recipes for Sunday gravy or sausage spaghetti xauce.

Which bring me back to my original question: What is the difference between spaghetti sauce and sunday tomato gravy?

I already make a mean homemade sausage spaghetti sauce. . .but thought I'd try sunday gravy if there really is a difference.

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  1. Spaghetti sauce can be anything you want it to be.....meat or no meat.

    Sunday gravy typically is a ragu ....or meat sauce. It can have any or all of the following

    Sweet Sausage
    Hot Sausage
    Pork Shank/Osso Bucco
    Spare Ribs
    Country Style Ribs
    Pork Shoulder/Butt
    Beef Shanks/Osso Bucco
    Chuck Beef
    Ox Tails
    Short Ribs

    here are a couple of threads that have some member family recipes......including mine.


      From what I've read, Sunday sauce or gravy, is Italian American rather than true Italian. The above link might peak your interest.

      Drat. Try this..

      8 Replies
      1. re: Joyfull

        Growing up in a predominantly Sicilian part of Brooklyn we called it salsa ,sugo ,ragu but never gravy.

        1. re: scunge

          Yes, I am Italian and also grew up in Brooklyn, and I never heard the term "gravy" until I was an adult. My mother would say that she was making sauce. That implied a long-cooked tomato sauce made with some combination meatballs, sausage, braciole, and a piece of pork "sauce meat," which was usually a chunk of pork. Anything other than this was referred to by its component parts -- pasta with ceci, pasta with peas, pasta fagioli, pasta con le sarde, with the exception of marinara, which was without any flavorings other than garlic. Gravy was what you made with a roast like chicken or beef.

          1. re: roxlet

            Glad to hear this, I always heard it called "sauce" too, in both my husband's family and mine. Maybe "meat sauce" at the most. He's from Brooklyn, I'm from the Bronx (1950s/1960s). My husband did have a friend our age whose mother said "gravy" and I understood what she was saying, but it was weird fo me. Sunday sauce, I have no idea where that came from.. I feel like the two terms got popular after the Victoria Gotti show, with people who didn't actually grow up with it.

            1. re: coll

              Yes, the Sunday gravy or sauce thing is weird for me too since my mother usually made sauce twice a week -- Thursdays and Sundays.

        2. re: Joyfull

          and a South Boston Italian friend of mine won't call it anything *but* gravy.

          1. re: sunshine842

            Sunshine842, hi - did you ever post your Milanese grandmother's recipe for meat sauce and instructions for lasagne? I'd love to see them. Thanks!

            1. re: jns7

              Not my grandmother, the grandmother of a dear friend of's really a very standard meat sauce (and more a list of ingredients than a recipe in the truest sense of the word!)-- onions, garlic, celery, ground beef (yes, ground, not sliced/diced), whole tomatoes (crushed as you add them), paste, and a splash of whatever red wine happens to be on hand -- the only two things that make hers different is the use of a couple of finely-diced carrots (adds a bit of sweetness, and counteracts the acidity of the tomatoes) -- and a healthy grating of nutmeg over the ricotta in the lasagna -- it adds an amazingly complex flavor to the lasagna.

              The other key is making it the day before and letting it work overnight in the fridge.

        3. From what I understand it is just the name that is different. We make our sauce using sausage as the base, although it is not a meat sauce. The meat just flavors the sauce. Like they said you can use any meat as a base.

          We are from Southern CT are call it sauce not gravy.
          And we call all pasta macaroni as the generic term.

          1. From my non-italian background, spaghetti sauce can be no-cook, quick-cook, heck, it can be pesto!
            Sunday gravy or ragu is a long simmered tomato sauce with whole cuts of meat. This is a meal that one has in Italy though they serve the primo, pasta with the sauce, and then the meat is served as a secondo. In the Northeast, the whole thing with pasta seems to be served together unless the grandmother is the first generation.

            I never heard the term Sunday gravy growing up to be honest. It was all just called Sunday dinner. The smells in my apartment building on Sundays was quite amazing as each family cooked a slightly different ragu while the family was at mass.

            3 Replies
            1. re: smtucker

              ? Always served the meal as: antipasto, then pasta, then meat, then maybe chicken if desired; then espresso, cordials and dessert. Never had it all served all at once, and I have lived in the Northeast my whole life.

              1. re: coll

                Yes, it was never served all at once. We would have salad after the pasta and meatballs. Dessert, unless it was fruit, was rare.

                1. re: roxlet

                  We do serve the salad with the meat, that's the only doubling up.

            2. My understanding is all Sunday gravy is spaghetti sauce, but not all spaghetti sauce is Sunday gravy. Gravy has to have the mixture of meats in it.