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Sunday gravy help please

I'm making Sunday gravy next weekend for the first time. I'm loosely following a recipe but have a question about timing.

I'm using the following meats: 6 pork ribs, 2 pork chops, 4 Italian sausages, meatballs, and 1 lb of mystery beef (my butcher had no brisket, which was what I wanted, so suggested *it* but I don't remember what he said it was!).

So how long should I allow each meat to stay in the pot? I have read that the meatballs should be added toward the end but I have no idea how long to cook the rest or when to add them. Any tips?

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    1. But I might suggest to go with your instinct.
      Learned that Sunday gravy was tomato based, but I have come to make more of a brown sauce.
      Should you want a red sauce plan on spending a total of 2 hours.
      Prep of ingredients
      Browning the meat
      then about 1 to1 1/2 hours of actual cooking.
      Keep in mind you are basically braising the meats, so the longer you cook it, can't hurt anything.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PHREDDY

        I was hoping it was basically braising! Thank you for the helpful/reassuring advice.

      2. That sounds like a lot of meat, you must be making a big pot!

        Here are a few tips:

        I like to well caramelize the meats, then deglaze with wine. I like a few chicken parts in mine too.

        Most of the meat and fat chunks are saved for the dogs after it has worked it's magic in the gravy. Most of it will be tasteless, so be careful not to ruin your gravy by adding it back in. Note:sometimes a beef or pork cut will survive the 4 plus hour simmer and be tasty. Pork chops and chicken will not. Taste all the meats before deciding what to include and what to toss.

        When the fat and the sauce separate by themselves in 4to 5 hours, it is done.

        I prefer to cook my meatballs in the sauce when it is completely finished.

        Top the bowl with shaved parm and fresh herbs if desired....not for the pot.

        7 Replies
        1. re: sedimental

          I didn't realize the meat would be tasteless afterwards but that makes sense. The sausage too? I'm glad you mentioned it!

          1. re: Rach5138

            Depending on the sausage, I would add it about 2hours in, then leave it in. Taste the meats as you pull them out and check for bones. Pork chops add great flavor, but they are too lean to cook that long, I always toss them. Ribs, I take off the fat and use the meat.

            1. re: Rach5138

              We put oil, 1 pound sweet Italian sausage and onion in at beginning. Sauce cooks three hours and sausage still has flavor at the end.

            2. re: sedimental

              If the meat is tasteless you cooked it too long. The meat and meatballs are supposed to be served on the side with the pasta tossed with sauce, just enough to make the pasta wet. Some of the meat can be pulled apart and added back, but typically in my very Italian section of NYC suburbs the gravy is smooth.

              Meat and sauce cooked, remove meat, add meatballs, cook until done, remove meatballs.

              1. re: JMF

                As I said in my posts, pork chops, chicken, ham bones, etc and other leaner cuts will not make a 4 hour cook without being tasteless. It is not Sunday gravy at my house if it is not cooked over 4 hours. A 2 hour tomato sauce simmer with meatballs as suggested here, I call spaghetti and meatballs, not Sunday sauce. To each his/her own, I guess. Definition might be different for different folks.

                Leaner meats with bone are often included in gravy, as they infuse the sauce with flavor, they are not All meant to be served though. Leftover meats were always included in a Sunday gravy and they almost "dissolved" in the sauce. It is all about the sauce, not the meat.

                Ribs are fine at 4 plus hours. I am not sure what the OP has for the mystery meat....I am suggesting they taste it after a long cook to see if it is tasteless or not. It might be fine, but you don't want to add it back in if it is not.

                Sunday sauce is cooked a long, long time, with all manner of mixed meats, it is thick and rich and dark, and gets its flavor from the meat, in my definition.

                I don't cook sausage for 4 hours in there either, both sausage and braciole is added at the 2 hour mark at my house. I let them go 2 to 3 hours in there. Meatballs should be cooked last.

                I serve with the ribs pulled out, bones discarded, used up meats given to the dog, meatballs or braciola and pasta. The sauce is dark and fairly smooth, but has meat bits in there. A wooden spoon stands up in the middle of the pot.

                1. re: sedimental

                  Different ways of making it. Some more traditional, others not. It's Italian immigrant cuisine. In my area no Italian/Americans I know would ever throw away the meat. The meat is integral to the meal.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    So it's not Sunday gravy unless the meat is tasteless? That sounds silly.

                    Food should be cooked long enough to get the desired flavor, not long enough for it to lose all taste and texture.

              2. This is the way my family does it. Brown your meats one at a time in the pot you are going to use for your gravy. Chuck roast, bone in pork chops, sausage, chicken liver and heart, meat balls and, brachole. We use a combo of diced salt pork, olive oil and, butter. After meat is brown set aside. Drain fat from pan but leave all the crusty stuff. Add a heavy handed glass of good Italian wine to the pot. Scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon while wine reduces. When wine is 3/4 reduced, turn heat down and add your aromatics and a bit of olive oil and butter. Cook them till soft not brown. Add your spices and cook slowly for a few minutes. Add the chuck,chicken liver and hearts and, pork chops back in the pot. Add your tomatoes. Cook slowly for two hours. Do not let it boil and use a wooden spoon to make sure the gravy is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. After the two hours, take the meat,chicken and, pork out of the pot. Grind the meat, pork (less the bones) and, the chicken parts. Add them back to the gravy and cook for two more hours slowly. Now add your good stuff back to the pot. Meat balls sausage and brachole. Cook for another two hours or till you see an oil slick on the top of the pot. The gravy will look brown like a beef stew. You now need to add tomato paste till the gravy gets to the color you want. Taste gravy and adjust seasonings as needed. Usually just a bit of salt. Depending on the tomatoes you may need a few pinches of sugar to cut the acid. Now take all the good meat items out of the gravy and put them on a nice platter. Dress with fresh grated parm cheese. Mix a good amount of gravy with the pasta of your choice. Plate pasta and take the good meat for your plate and enjoy.

                1 Reply
                1. re: josephlapusata

                  Thanks for this! While I am not from an Italian family, growing up in NJ a lot of my friends were Italian. Your "recipe" is pretty much how I remember "Sunday gravy" being made in the kitchens of my friends' grandmothers. (back in the 1960's and 1970's)

                  The one big difference I notice is that I was taught by those grandmothers to add tomato paste at the point where you say "add your spices" in the line I quoted here: "When wine is 3/4 reduced, turn heat down and add your aromatics and a bit of olive oil and butter. Cook them till soft not brown. Add your spices and cook slowly for a few minutes. " I was given the direction that tomato paste had to "burn" a bit before adding in the tomatoes than adding the meats back to the pot. (Chicken liver and heart were not usually included, but that might have been a matter of availability.)

                  I now live in NC and haven't made this in years. Guess what I'll be making this week!?

                2. I use a very cheap cut of pork (like a pork steak with bones, brown, deglaze w red wine. Add to sauce and cook a long time (5 hrs or more). The pork ends up being melt in your mouth tender. If I'm having meatball &/or sausage I add them at the end. Season in steps as it simmer, taking care not to burn the bottom of the pan. Wish I owned a LeCreuset type of cooking pot.