Sunday Gravy Recipe

This is it, the sauce that won the 2010 Super Sunday Gravy Throwdown (you can watch it made in Episode 4)


  • ½ lbs ground beef
  • ½ lbs ground pork
  • ½ lbs ground veal
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • ½ cup water (but I want to try milk or buttermilk instead)
  • 6 tbsp grated cheese (I use a half and half blend of Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano. Use the fresh stuff if possible. If I see a green can around, your fingers get added to the gravy!)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

In a small bowl combine panko and liquid (water, milk or buttermilk) until softened.
In a large bowl, mix everything (including panko paste) by hand until well combined, but work the meat as little as possible. Roll into inch and half size balls and place onto baking sheet.
Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees, which should be just enough to render some fat.


  • 2 lbs top round steak cut and pounded into 3-4 thin sheets
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or put through garlic press
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 6 tbl grated cheese
  • 3 tbl olive oil
  • 3 tbl bread crumbs

Pound out meat into 4 inch wide strips. Mix all other ingredients to form paste and spread along meat.
Roll tightly and tie using butcher’s twine. Panfry braccioles, until browned on all sides.

Other meat:

  • 6 pork ribs, cut into single ribs
  • 6 hot italian sausage
  • 1 lb skirt steak (optional), sliced into strips

Panfry all meat until browned on all sides.

Sauce (aka gravy):

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1½ tsp fennel seeds (this is the winning ingredient)
  • A shake or three of peperoncino (crushed red pepper for you Jews out there)
  • 2 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth

Deglaze the frying pan you used for all the meats with beef broth, and reserve liquid.
In a large dutch oven over medium heat saute onions in oil. When translucent, add garlic and tomato paste continuing to cook until the paste has turned a nice brown color. This takes a little bit, and burns easily so remember to stir often.

Add reserved beef broth and all tomatoes.
Bring mix to a low boil, and using an immersion blender, blend contents to break up tomatoes and have a fairly smooth consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer to a big blender and blend away. Just be careful to do it in small batches, that stuff’l stain!

Add fennel, red pepper, and all the meat (including the meatballs). There should be just enough gravy to barely cover the meat, if there isn’t enough add a few more blended tomatoes, or plain tomato sauce. Eventually the meat will exude some additional liquid, so don’t worry if you have a bone or sausage sticking out (hey buddy, your sausage is sticking out!?)

Simmer on low for several hours until the ribs are falling off the bone.

When you are close to done, if the gravy is too watery and broth like, add a few tablespoons of italian breadcrumbs. It will help absorb the water not mess up the taste. Don’t go too crazy with them, you don’t want bread pudding here.

Remove all the meats into a large serving dish, and ladle gravy over any pasta with ridges (rigatoni works well).

The gravy is even better the second day once everything has melded together.

…and about that pasta: