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An Italian Thanksgiving – Uncle John’s Gravy

November 21, 2012

Last week at work I gave (what I hope was) an impassioned speech about how everyone has a certain holiday food that just *makes* the season for them, something without which their Thanksgiving day is not complete. My family has about 10 of these food traditions associated with Thanksgiving (and Christmas, and birthdays, 4th of July, Flag Day, etc.). One that sits firmly on Uncle John’s empty seat is his special “gravy” (Italian for “meat sauce”).  Only an Italian family will understand this, but each Thanksgiving with him started with a heaping plate of ravioli and gravy. There was still turkey, gravy, chestnut stuffing, creamed onions, blueberry muffins, green beans, etc. – but we always started with the ravioli and gravy. And we looked forward to it all year long.

This recipe is the closest I can come to Uncle John’s masterpiece. I wish that I had asked him more details about it when I had the chance, but I hope that he’ll be looking down on us this holiday season, thinking that I did a pretty good job, and giving me pointers from afar.

Uncle John’s Gravy
yields: enough for 4. or 2 really hungry people.

1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz (or 1/2 of 1 small can – nothing fancy) tomato paste
8 oz tomato sauce (canned, plain – again, not fancy – plus another 8 oz reserved)
28 oz crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
1 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 bay leaf
1/3 lb ground beef
1/3 lb ground pork
1/3 lb ground veal
1 cup sliced pepperoni (must be sliced off of an actual pepperoni link, thickness of two quarters – not pizza pepperoni slices)
salt to taste

Brown all meats, onion and garlic at the same time, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste, sauce, and crushed tomatoes, plus a pinch of salt, still stirring until sauce reaches a boil. Add herbs and bay leaf, as well as pepperoni. Continue to cook on very low heat for as long as you can – at least two hours but overnight is preferable. If you cook overnight you may need to add the reserved tomato sauce to thin out a bit. Sauce should be a deep, bright red. Serve over plain ricotta ravioli, before your turkey dinner.

Also good without the turkey.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Pat permalink
    November 21, 2012 10:21 am

    You are an angel! Uncle John is looking down on you with eyes of love. Thank you Kate for bringing back this treasure.
    Love you.
    Mom

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