I debated for a while on what to post as my first recipe on the blog before I settled on this Old School Italian Gravy. I wanted something authentic, that really represented me. After all, this will set the tone for the whole blog, right? That’s a lot of pressure! The other night while doing some research, I remembered something one of my instructors said during culinary school. “A well built sauce is essential to any dish. It can make or break the experience”. Really, if a sauce is too salty or the flavors are off, it can ruin a dish. On the flip side, a perfectly crafted sauce can be key to a truly memorable meal.
There are a couple essential components to building a good sauce. One is to start building the flavors from the very beginning, and the other is to use solid ingredients. Building the flavors, ingredient by ingredient, will help develop an amazing end result. Using quality ingredients will make sure that the flavors develop correctly.
This sauce was one of the first recipes that I attempted at creating and perfecting. Personally, I like to make it in a large quantity, like shown below, then store it in smaller quantities in the freezer. This recipe can be sized down if the thought of this much sauce is overwhelming. I have cut it in half or even quartered the recipe to make a smaller batch. The sauce can be functional for a lot of different things, such as pasta, pizza or even a good braciole! It also works well as a base for other sauces, like a vodka or tomato cream sauce.
You will see below that I recommend San Marzano tomatoes. These really help make a great flavor with the sauce due to their low acidity and sweet flavor. Most local grocery stores do sell them so they are relatively easy to find. You can customize this recipe to get Vegetarian/Vegan friendly by omitting the beef bones and replacing the beef stock with vegetable stock. I have made it both ways before and the sauce still is delicious. Usually our local grocery store’s butcher has beef bones cut up to be purchased, but you can omit if you can’t find or don’t want to use it. The same goes for the wine, if you don’t have it or prefer to not use it. Just increase the amount of stock to offset for the missing liquid that the wine provides.
I love making this sauce first thing in the morning and letting is simmer all day to reduce down and really intensify the flavor. I typically let my sauce simmer for anywhere from 4-6 hours if I can, but a minimum of 1 hour should do the trick. Trust me though, if you can let it simmer for the day, you won’t regret it!
If you make this recipe, make sure you share a photo with me, I’d love to see all of your creations! #SaporitoKitchen
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Old School Italian Gravy
Rich and delicious old school Italian gravy that is the perfect sauce for pasta, pizza or any other Italian dish!
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Medium sized beef bone
- 1/2 Large yellow onion chopped
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons dried basil
- 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
- 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 (6 oz can) tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine approximately 1/2 of a bottle
- 4 quarts beef broth
- 2 (28 oz cans) San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 (28 oz cans) San Marzano crushed tomatoes
- 2 (28 oz cans) San Marzano tomato puree
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat with the olive oil. Once the pan is hot and olive oil begins to shimmer, add in the beef bone. Cook the beef bone, making sure to turn it every couple minutes, for about 5 minutes total, until it is browned on all sides.
Add in the chopped onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent and starts to brown. Once onions starts to brown, stir in the minced garlic and dried herbs and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes or just until you just start to smell the garlic and herbs.
Now you will add in your tomato paste and stir to combine. You will then use your red wine to deglaze the pot. To deglaze the pot, simply pour in the red wine in with the onion, herb & tomato mixture and scrape the bottom of the pan with your spoon to get all the brown bits loose.
At this point you will now add in all your beef broth as well as all the tomatoes (whole, crushed and puree) and stir to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.
Once all the ingredients are combine, lower to medium low heat. Simmer the sauce for a minimum of 1 hour, but 4-6 hours is preferred. Make sure you stir the sauce every 30 minutes or so to make sure the flavors are all cooking together.
Once your have cooked your sauce completely, you have the option to leave it the way it is, or to blend it so it is a little smoother. The longer you simmer the sauce, the further those whole tomatoes will break down, so it’s just a matter of preference. An immersion blender comes in handy at this point to blend the sauce while still in the pot. I will typically blend it about half way, so there are still some chunks of tomato in it. Before you blend or use the sauce, make sure you remove the beef bone and discard.
After the desired consistency is achieved, test for flavor and add in salt and pepper as needed. You can then serve the sauce as is or put in the fridge to cool completely before putting into smaller containers for freezing.
If you do not have an immersion blender, a standard blender can be used to blend the sauce. Make sure you cool the sauce and work in small batches to avoid a big mess!