SUNDAY MACARONI & GRAVY by Chef Lola

First of all we call it “macaroni and gravy”. When I went into the workforce in NYC, years ago, I was having a conversation with a co-worker and she asked what I was making for dinner and I replied macaroni and gravy. To my surprise she had a really perplexed look on her face? Gravy? I was like yeah….gravy? She said brown gravy? I am like NO??….Red gravy? Needless to say… I have long since adapted my lingo to the mainstream American version of pasta & sauce. As far as Neapolitan Italian Americans go, it’s still macaroni & gravy :). A typical Sunday dinner starts around 2:00 and consists of pasta, meat, salad, bread & of course the Red vino! Seasonings of grated cheese & hot pepper flakes. First course is the pasta, second course is the meat served in one platter. Meat consists of meatballs, Italian sausage (hot & sweet) and stuffed pork or beef braciole. A tossed salad and bread. The meat is eaten with the salad and bread after the pasta, not before and definitely NOT together! Below is Chef Lola’s recipe for an amazing home-made “Sunday Gravy” including her little secret touches.


Servings: 6

Time: 2 1/2 hours plus

General Ingredients:

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. Pasta (Preferred: imported or fresh pasta)

Grated Cheese (Seasoning)

Red Hot Pepper Flakes (Seasoning)


Start with Meat ball Preparation:

Meat ball Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. Chopped meat (Pork/Veal & Beef Combo)

4-5 Cloves Fresh Garlic Minced

1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

2 Tsp. Garlic Powder

1 Tsp. Salt

1/4 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Egg

1 cup Grated Cheese (Locatelli or other)

1 cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs

Olive Oil (Coat the bottom of the pan)


Meatball Directions:

Add all ingredients into one large bowl, mix thoroughly with your hands. Make sure the meat mixture does not have any “red dots”. You must knead the mixture well to eliminate all of them for a perfect meatball! Refrigerate the mixture for 1/2 hour so it settles.


Ball the meat mixture into 1 1/2 – 2″ size balls and fry in a frying pan until 1/2 cooked. Remove and put aside.


Red Sauce Preparation:

Red Sauce Ingredients:

3 Cans (26-28 oz.) San Marzano Italian Whole Peeled Tomatoes (Lavalle is a good brand)

1 Can Tomato Paste

1 Large Yellow Onion

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic

3 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

3 Fresh Basil Leaves

1 lb. Italian Sausage (Hot & Sweet) (Purchase at an Italian Deli or the butcher if possible.)

1 Tsp. Onion Powder

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tbsp. Sugar

1 Qt. Beef Broth

29 oz. Water

1/4 Cup Olive Oil (sautéing)

Red Sauce Directions:

On high heat, pour oil into a large pot. Cut the onion in 1/2. Add onion and garlic to the pot and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the sausage cut up into 3″ pieces. Add the half fried meatballs and saute until further browned. Approximately 15-20 minutes.


Cut the tomatoes in the can with a cooking scissor. Add all the cans of tomatoes, beef broth, water, onion powder, basil, thyme, salt and sugar to the pot.


Cook on medium heat for 1/2 hour, stir, cook for another 1/2 hour, stir. Simmer 1-2 hours (Minimum of 1 hour). Remember the longer the better. You can simmer the gravy up to 3 hours but it must be stirred and watched. Stir occasionally to avoid burning and sticking at the bottom of the pot. Cook with the cover slightly ajar. Note, if the sauce consistency is too watery cook with the cover off, if too thick, keep covered and slightly ajar.


Mangia Figlia Belle! (Italian: “Eat!”my beautiful child!)


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