Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy (Nana’s Meat Sauce)

This Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy is what I grew up eating every week. Nana's tomato meat sauce holds a fond place in my heart, and her recipe lives on to this day in my recipe box. It's my most requested recipe and today I'm sharing it with you. | platingsandpairings.com

This Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy is what I grew up eating every week. Nana’s tomato meat sauce holds a fond place in my heart, and her recipe lives on to this day in my recipe box. It’s my most requested recipe and today I’m sharing it with you.

This Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy is what I grew up eating every week. Nana's tomato meat sauce holds a fond place in my heart, and her recipe lives on to this day in my recipe box. It's my most requested recipe and today I'm sharing it with you. | platingsandpairings.com

This Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy is what I grew up eating every week. Nana's tomato meat sauce holds a fond place in my heart, and her recipe lives on to this day in my recipe box. It's my most requested recipe and today I'm sharing it with you. | platingsandpairings.comI grew up in a big, fun Italian family, near Buffalo, NY. We even all lived on the same neighborhood block – My mom’s parents lived next door, then my aunt & uncle, then my mom’s aunt & uncle, and on and on around the entire block, seven houses in total if I count correctly!… Two things I remember most, always having cousins next door, and always having food being transferred between houses. Leftovers here and there and that food always included such yummy Italian food made from passed down Sicilian recipes – Pasta Succo (pasta with sauce), Cannoli, Carduni, Chicken Soup… The list goes on and on. Basically – I grew up in food heaven.

The main cooks in my family were my Nana and Nanu LaMancuso (grandma and grandpa). Nana always made the Pasta Succo and the Cannolis were my Nanu’s specialty. I actually never got a true lesson on cooking these dishes and my passion for cooking didn’t really come until after I graduated college. Once in a while, my mom would ship me some of nana’s sauce – All the way from New York to Oregon…

My grandparents have both passed on now, and I’ve developed this sauce recipe over the years from my childhood memories and with tips passed on from other family members.  I’ve got to say that I think it would make Nana proud. It’s got an authentic Italian meaty flavor coming from three different types of meat – Italian sausage, pork and beef. These meats simmer in the sauce and really give it a great flavor. By the end of the cooking time, they’re falling off the bone and super tender – Meaning that you can serve the meats for dinner that night and save the “succo” (or sauce) for a pasta dinner the next, or serve the meats as a second course alongside your pasta. Either way – You’ve got an amazing Italian feast on your hands and as Nana would say “Mangia! Mangia!” (Eat! Eat!).

This Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy is what I grew up eating every week. Nana's tomato meat sauce holds a fond place in my heart, and her recipe lives on to this day in my recipe box. It's my most requested recipe and today I'm sharing it with you. | platingsandpairings.com

This Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy is what I grew up eating every week. Nana's tomato meat sauce holds a fond place in my heart, and her recipe lives on to this day in my recipe box. It's my most requested recipe and today I'm sharing it with you. | platingsandpairings.com

Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy (Nana's Meat Sauce)

Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 348 kcal
Author: Nana LaMancuso
This Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy is what I grew up eating every week. Nana's tomato meat sauce holds a fond place in my heart, and her recipe lives on to this day in my recipe box. It's my most requested recipe and today I'm sharing it with you.
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. pork spareribs
  • 1 lb. beef stew meat
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage spicy or mild, based on personal preference
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 3 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 leaves fresh basil torn into small pieces
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar more or less based on the flavor of your tomatoes
  • Parmesan shaved, for topping
  • Pasta

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.
  2. Pat the pork dry and put the pieces in the pot.
  3. Cook turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned on all sides.
  4. Transfer pork to a plate.
  5. Brown the beef in the same way and add it to the plate.
  6. Place the sausages in the pot and brown on all sides.
  7. Set the sausages aside with the pork and beef.
  8. Drain off most of the fat from the pot.
  9. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes or until golden.
  10. Remove and discard the garlic.
  11. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  12. Add the tomatoes to the pot.

  13. Add the water; season with a pinch salt and pepper. 

  14. Return the pork, beef, and sausages to the pot and bring sauce to a simmer.

  15. Partially cover the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours.
  16. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little more water.
  17. At the end, add sugar, to taste, and adjust your seasonings one more time with salt and pepper. Add basil leaves and serve over your favorite pasta, topped with shaved Parmesan.

Nutrition Facts
Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy (Nana's Meat Sauce)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 348 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 38%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 87mg 29%
Sodium 502mg 21%
Potassium 361mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 4g 1%
Sugars 2g
Protein 24g 48%
Vitamin A 3%
Vitamin C 4.4%
Calcium 2.1%
Iron 12.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Wine Pairings for Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy (Nana’s Meat Sauce):

  • Since we’re eating authentic Italian Meat sauce, I’m going for an authentic Italian wine – Try a Chianti, Barolo or Teroldego.

Tips: 

  • Use whatever meat you have on hand. Often, our grocery store has a section in the meat department of mark downs. Stuff that’s still good, but needs to be used soon. I’ll throw in a combination of whatever I can find, steaks, beef or pork ribs, stew pieces. No matter the combination, it ends up delicious in the end!
  • You can also make this sauce in your slow cooker – Prepare up to Step 11 on your stove, and then throw everything into your slow cooker. Cook on low heat for up to 8 hours.
  • I’ve also updated this recipe so that you can now make it in even quicker in your Instant Pot.

This Authentic Italian Sunday Gravy is what I grew up eating every week. Nana's tomato meat sauce holds a fond place in my heart, and her recipe lives on to this day in my recipe box. It's my most requested recipe and today I'm sharing it with you. | platingsandpairings.com

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25 comments

  1. Marlynn | UrbanBlissLife

    I love recipes like this that are passed down through generations. What a special thing to share – thank you for sharing it with all of us! It sounds absolutely delicious too. I can just imagine how wonderful it must have been growing up with this! I’m sure your Nonna would be so proud that you carry on her tradition 🙂

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I only wish that I had more of her recipes – She was such an amazing cook! I remember her every time I make this Sunday Gravy!

      Reply

  2. Kathryn @ FoodieGirlChicago

    This looks like a great Sunday night meal!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I could eat this EVERY night Kathryn 😉

      Reply

  3. Carol Borchardt

    Thanks for sharing this great recipe! I made Sunday Sauce for a personal chef client once. It was the only thing he wanted that day, but it did take me a while! Love heirloom recipes and I look forward to trying this!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I hope that you enjoy Carol – Cheers!

      Reply

  4. Morreale

    I like it. It’s simple and good. My family is from Sicily. I would carmelize a couple onions to start off but would substitute beef short ribs for the neck bones. They’re much meatier and really season the gravy well.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Thank you Morreale – Yes! The best part about this recipe is that you can easily make substitutions based on your preferences or what you have on hand. Enjoy!

      Reply

  5. Lisa

    Great old school recipe…we add a little white wine when cooking the meat…and drink the rest of the bottle..lol

    Reply

    1. Erin

      You’re my kind of girl Lisa!

      Reply

      1. Mike Albanese

        Almost identical to my Sunday Sauce , which I learned from watching my nana many years back ! Nothing compares to Sundays with Sunday sauce, some good red wine & someone special to share it with !
        Cheers to u !

        Reply

  6. Nan Kelly

    Read the entire recipe and can’t wait to try it. However, there is no way that the prep time could be 10 min. Prepping and browning all 3 meats would take a minimum of 45 min. Peal and brown the garlic. 10 min. Just op opening the cans of tomatoes, tomato paste, and process tomatoes in blender.would take more than 10 min. I would conservatively guess prep time to be an hour. Totally worth it though.

    Reply

  7. Bonnie

    I’m also in the Pacific Northwest, an east coast transplant from a Southern-Italian family. This looks similar to the gravy I make (based on my family recipes). Pork neck bones were always hard to get out here. Now I can’t find them anywhere. Nothing else would be the same. Any suggestions how to get neck bones out here?

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Hi Bonnie – I’ve had the best luck finding pork neck bones at Winco. But whenever I can’t get my hands on them, I usually just use some ribs instead. Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

      1. Bonnie

        Thanks! I just called them; out of stock but normally carry it. So best to call ahead. My mom and I used to eat every bit off of those bones before dinner was served (messy!).

        Reply

  8. Tara Cook

    So do we eat all the meat with the meal or serve it seperat?

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Hi Tara – That’s totally up to you! Sometimes I like to serve them together if we have a big group, but sometimes I serve the meat the first night and the sauce the second night, or vice versa. I hope you enjoy!

      Reply

  9. Eric R Wing

    Wow! I love it, I grew up in North Buffalo and loved my food! Before I moved away I lived on Santasiero’s.(Lafayette and Niagara). Can’t wait to use this to bring back the home flavor!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I hope you love it Eric! PS – I’m working on a Buffalo Wing recipe too. It should be posted in the next week or so. Cheers!

      Reply

  10. Rita Cummings

    Hi Erin, I was just wondering if your nana ever used fresh plum tomatoes? If she did can you please tell me how I can use fresh tomatoes? How many would I need and how to parboil them? Thank you so much.

    Reply

    1. Jenny

      Rita, Fresh tomatoes don’t act the same as stewed. Your sauce would be really watery and separate. You would need to cook them like you were canning them first – then they would be fine. Think about how long you boil tomatoes when canning…just do that (and maybe a little longer!)

      AND Erin….this recipe looks amazing. What brand of italian sausage do you use (I live in PDX too)? Have you ever used Silva linguica?

      Reply

      1. Erin

        Hi Jenny – Thank you for the clarification! And, as for sausage, I tend to just use whatever I find in my local store, spicy or mild sausage links. That Silva linguica would probably give it some great flavor though!

        Reply

  11. Jen

    Made a pot of sauce tonight on a whim. I have always “cheated” when making sauce and although tonight’s fare tasted good and there was no cheating I wanted to compare it to other recipes when I came across yours. It’s very much the same. I come from an Italian family from Rochester and was too young to be in the kitchen when my grandmother made her delicious, everything fresh and from scratch meals so never really learned how to make a proper Sunday sauce. I see a couple of people who suggest neck bones. The one thing I have always done is use pig hocks (really hard to find these days). They add sooo much wonderful flavor and the meat couldn’t taste better. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Thanks for sharing your tips too Jen!

      Reply

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