Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You might be wondering if I got the name of the post wrong, this isn't gravy this is sauce! Well, yes, and no. See, if your Italian it's gravy---the staple of the peasants my grandmother used to say and she hailed from Calabria.  But most Americans refer to it as sauce.

There was always a big pot of gravy on the stove Saturday's, simmering away for Sunday dinner. The smell of it cooking is heavenly! The meatballs and sausage were cooked right in the gravy and if Nana had a pork chop or slice of sirloin hanging around that was thrown in also.  You were also encouraged to "boon" a piece of Italian bread in that big pot too.  That's what we grew up doing, booning thick slices of fresh, crusty Italian bread in the gravy. We didn't snack on cookies or cakes, we got a bowl of gravy and bread or you had fruit.  Sadly, I know a lot of gals who can't make a pot of gravy and wouldn't consider trying with all the commercial brands on the market. I am guilty of grabbing a jar or two also, but always Classico Four Cheese; this is the closest to my grandmother's recipe as I can get.  Making a pot of gravy saves tons of money and guarantees an easy meal at your fingertips as it freezes  exceptionally well.

Hope you'll try making pasta gravy from scratch! Enoy the recipes, they are from the old country as my grandmother would say:-)

Calabrese Italian Gravy

2 -28 cans crushed tomatoes
2-28 cans tomato puree
2.5 cans of water--use the 28oz size cans for this
2-8oz can tomato paste
6 cloves garlic, chopped rough
2lbs sweet or hot sausage, cut each link into 3 pieces
1 cup red wine, cabernet or merlot
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups parm/romano cheese grated or more if you like it cheesey
S&P to taste
2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
4 basil leaves
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons sugar

*You can adjust spices to how you like it adding more or less. Also, for a thicker gravy add more tomato paste, for thinner use more water.  All what you like!


In a large stockpot heat the pan on med heat. When the pan is hot add the olive oil and the garlic and sausage quickly. *Hot pan, cold oil, foods won't stick!  Turn the temp down a bit and brown the sausage and garlic then add the wine. Don't let the garlic burn. Let simmer for 5 minutes and add the tomatoes , water and paste. Stir to combine good and add all the rest except add your cheese last. Turn the temp to med/low about 4-5 on electric and cover partially and let simmer. Now you will add the meatballs...


2 lbs ground chuck/hamburger
2 lbs of ground pork or pork/veal mix
1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
2 eggs
1.5 cups milk
S&P to taste
1.5 cups Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup garlic powder
1 TBSP basil
1 TBSP oregano
1 TBSP parsley

Mix this all together. Form into balls the size you would like and drop in the pan. If your pan isn't large enough to hold all the balls you can bake some in a 350 oven for 20 minutes and add to the gravy later.   Simmer all this for about 6 hours stirring every 20-30 minutes or so. Adjust seasonings and cheese as the gravy cooks. Serve over pasta, make pizza, grinders or boon that bread in a nice bowl of gravy!!!

*After the gravy has cooled you can freeze in ziploc bags or whatever you like to store in. This is a great way to get a few meals ahead and have light cooking duty some eves.  Or, if you get called to make a meal for someone who is sick, or needs help, you can say yes with a smile and no stress:-)

 Let me know if you have any questions, be glad
 to answer them.


  1. Oh, yum! There are few smells more comforting than that of Italian gravy simmering on the back burner. I hope we get some cooler weather here soon so I can try this recipe, because it looks delicioso!

  2. Oh ya....love that gravy. Looks like a great recipe!

  3. Your recipe and pics look so good! I must try to make it! Yes!! I knew an old Italian lady at my church who was very grandmotherly to us....One day she invited us over for meatballs and gravy....and I was expecting some sort of beef gravy (ha) and I felt tricked that it was regular meatballs that I was used to! love,andrea

  4. I love this recipe! It's so good! I'm Italian!

  5. Yes, it's gravy. My grandmother was born in Naples. She made her own meatballs and gravy and what we would call deep-dish pizza. (pizza means "pie"). We ate grandma's cooking on Sundays. Most could not identify the Italian peasant foods she cooked during the week using liberal amount of greasy olive oily, onion, garlic, dandelion and other strange greens, and fish, onions and more onions. . . ) as being what we think of as Italian - you wouldn't find them on the menu at an Italian/American restaurant. But no food I ever tasted was a delicious as Grandma's.
    Karen A.

  6. Hi! This recipe sounds great but my daughter has a dairy allergy; is it worth making without the cheese? Would I need to add more salt if I omit the cheese? Thanks!

    1. Hello Cinde,

      By all means omit the cheese. You may want to add in a favorite variety of veggies such as mushrooms, onions or zucchini to punch up the flavor a bit.

      Good luck!



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Have yourself a darling day,
Suzanne a.k.a. Not Quite Donna Reed