Sunday, October 14
A big pot of Italian "Gravy"!
I grew up in Belleville, NJ -- A working-class Italian-American neighborhood, about 10 miles west on New York City. Many episodes of the Sopranos were filmed in my home town!
Every Sunday, Italian families would have a big pot of "gravy" cooking on the stove. "Gravy?", you may ask. Isn't that a brown, meat sauce that goes with turkey or meatloaf? No... It is a rich tomato-based marinara cooked all-day long with meat (meatballs, sausage, short ribs, etc.). Traditionally, this is not a fancy or expensive meal... just a basic Southern Italian staple. Gravy is served with piping hot pasta and grated Locatelli cheese, and followed by a simple green salad, it is a delicious meal!I always loved this meal and longed to be invited to my friend Gina Mustica's house because her mother made the best meatballs and gravy. I would help to finely chop the garlic and/or fresh parsley. To this day, I make a pot of gravy and meatballs one to two times a year. I try to make enough to freeze some, and stretch it out for 4+ dinners.
Yesterday I shopped for the ingredients. I was horrified as I totaled up the cost of this "simple... poor man's meal". Can you believe that I spent over $75 for the ingredients?! I was outraged. What has happened to make this simple meal so expensive? A can of crushed tomatoes is suddenly $2.99 to $3.99 ($28). I needed 8 cans. 3 pounds of ground veal, ground beef and ground pork ran me almost $25. Locatelli cheese was $7. Two loaves of Paesano bread was $7. Then there were onions, garlic, red wine, olive oil, and parsley. Suddenly Justa Pasta's sauces at $5 per pint don't seem so bad!!!
In the end it doesn't matter. It was delicious and I loved watching my son devour two large servings. He told me they were the best meatballs he has ever had!