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Italian Gravy - The Best Marina Sauce You'll Ever Have

Submitted by: | Source: Timeless Gourmet

Italian Gravy - The Best Marina Sauce You'll Ever Have
2011-03-21 Other
5 1

The secret to this slow-cooked tomato-based sauce is to use 2 small cans of tomato paste to one large can of "kitchen-ready" tomatoes.

  • Servings: 8
  • Prep Time: 15 - 30 min
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3.5 hrs.


1 lb Meat, can use variety of beef/pork/sausage/veal cuts: economical cuts are great, such as ribs or round!
1 Thick Strip Salt Pork, 1 ½" by ¼" thick works well
56 oz Peeled & Crushed Canned Tomatoes, 'kitchen-ready'
24 oz Tomato Paste
1 Medium Yellow Onion, peeled and minced
½ cup Red Wine, substitute with beef broth
3 cups Water
3 Large Cloves Fresh Garlic, peeled and minced
2 Bay Leaves, fresh or dried
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper, optional
Salt & Pepper


In a heavy bottomed soup kettle, heat the olive oil, on medium, to just the smoke point. Add the salt pork, the meat and continue to cook on medium until nicely browned (seared).

Remove the meat to a plate and pour off any excess fat, leaving about a teaspoon in the pot. De-glaze the pot with the wine, or beef broth if using, and scrape up all bits left from searing the meat. Add the minced garlic and onion, stirring to combine. Add the tomato paste to the pot and stirring constantly, cook the mixture for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the oregano, basil, bay leaves and crushed red pepper (if using) the water and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the crushed tomatoes, stir again to combine and place the meat (s) back into the pot.

Partially cover and cook on low, stirring occasionally for an hour. You should look for some big bubbles coming up out of the gravy but not a full simmer. Too high a heat will scorch it!

Check the meat(s) for doneness and remove to a dish if done while the sauce finishes cooking. You can leave the meat in for the entire cooking time for very tough cuts: if it's on the bone you will want to remove those later if the meat falls off!

Continue to cook, still partially covered for another 3 hours, still stirring frequently. If it is too thick for your liking, add a little bit of water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. If too thick, remove the cover and cook on low until thickened.

After a few hours of cooking time, add the meat(s) back into the pot to reheat (if serving with the gravy), salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Helpful Tips:

The first time I heard what I'd always known as spaghetti sauce called a gravy was only one of many interesting things I learned about the Italian-American culture in Boston, and after 20 years I'm used to it calling it gravy too. Of course you can call it spaghetti can call it anything you like! ...but in fact it's a good way to distinguish this slow-cooked tomato based sauce from other types of pasta sauce. No one refers to a quick, fresh tomato pasta sauce, for instance, as gravy - the gravy is specifically this kind of long simmered sauce and while some aspects of it vary widely, one thing remains the same. A certain type of consistency is always present, which is achieved by using 2 small cans of tomato paste to one large can of "kitchen-ready" tomatoes. Perhaps the same holds true for gravy made in other North-Eastern cities, I can only vouch for what for generations of Boston's Italian-Americans know and love and to say I am less than passionate about this gravy would be an understatement!