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!

1 comment:

hillbilly2be said...

Wow, your gravy looks good! I just found your blog through Google, so I don't know if you have room for one, but a garden would really cut your costs for tomatoes, onions, etc. Plus, they would be much more fresh and taste better.

If you have a sunny spot for it, mix some bagged manure into the soil and pop in some seeds (or plants from the nursery). You may be surprised!

Just wanted to let you know that your description and picture of the food sounded wonderful.