My version of Sunday Gravy is a weekly thing for us. It tastes excellent and freezes very well.
The challenge with a meal that gets eaten every week is that it can get old very fast. It better be good. For me, this one works. I do vary the kind of noodles I use, though. This helps a bit with keeping it from getting tiresome.
I like to use beef short ribs because the bold, beefy flavor shines through the sauce’s robust tomato and herb flavors. I haven’t found any other cut that I like better, so, even though beef short ribs are expensive, that’s what I use. You might be tempted to substitute something else for the beef short ribs. I’d recommend you try it with them first before making a substitution.
I make enough Sunday Gravy for about eight meals for three to four people. I put it all in small resealable containers (three to four cups per container), label it with freezer tape, and I’ve got real TV dinners for a couple of months—none of that overly salty processed crap that you’ll find on the freezer aisle at the store.
In reality, for us, this recipe is Monday Gravy rather than Sunday Gravy. I usually don’t feel like doing a lot of cooking on Monday nights. All I need to do is boil some noodles, microwave the gravy, grate some Parmesan over the top, and open a can of black olives. Super easy.
If I have a baguette or other quality bread lying around, I can make a little garlic bread to go with it. Butter, minced garlic, a little Italian Seasoning, and a couple of minutes under the broiler, and it’s ready to go.
On a side note, when making extra-large batches for freezer meals, an extra-large stockpot is a crucial tool. I use a lower to medium-end stainless steel 20-quart stockpot to make these large batches. You don’t need a fancy pot to make it happen. You just need something with a flat bottom that isn’t too thin. Good-enough is good-enough.
- 4 tbs. olive oil – divided
- 6 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
- 2 lg. yellow onions – diced
- 30 cloves garlic – minced
- 2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
- 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
- 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 3 tbs. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
- 1 1/2 tbs. red pepper flakes
- 1 tbs. black pepper
- 4 tbs. fennel seeds
- 4 tbs. white sugar
- 2 tbs. dried oregano
- 1 cup fresh basil – minced
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley – minced
- 1 lb. hot Italian sausage
- Liberally salt the beef short-ribs on all sides and set on the counter while you prepare your mise en place for everything else.
- Preheat a heavy cast iron pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs. of olive oil and, working in batches, brown the short ribs well on all sides. Set aside in a large bowl.
- In a very large pot (I use a 20 qt. stockpot), add your olive oil and heat over medium-high until smoking, then add your onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent and slightly browned. About ten minutes. Deglaze with a 1/4 cup of chicken broth.
- Add tomato paste and garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the balance of the chicken broth, stirring well and scraping the bottom to remove any stuck-on bits. Add the balance of the ingredients, except for the beef ribs and sausage. Stir very well.
- Add the beef ribs and sausage, being certain that everything is submerged in the sauce. Cover and heat on medium-high until bubbling, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for three hours.
- Transfer all of the meat to a large bowl. Using a large cutting board and working in small batches, chop all of the sausages into small pieces, then add back to the sauce. Then, remove the bones from the short ribs and mince the meat into very small pieces. Add the rib meat back to the sauce. A large, sharp, knife with a blade big enough to keep your knuckles from banging on the cutting board is nice here.
- Bring back to a bubbling simmer and cook for an additional two hours, skimming off any oil that rises to the surface.
- Adjust for seasoning, then ladle into storage containers. Let cool prior to transferring to your freezer.