Excerpted from SUNDAY SAUCE – When Italian-American Cook
Of all the fine traditions of the Italian-American enclave in the United State, the Sunday afternoon ritual of making and eating a Sunday Sauce, a.k.a. “Gravy” is Italian-America’s most Time-Honored of all. Mamma, Grandma (Nonna) will make her celebrated “Sunday Sauce” and all is glorious. Sunday Sauce? What is it? Well, first off, Sunday Sauce, or as some call it, Gravy or simply “Sauce,” is without question thee number-1 undisputed “Supreme Dish” of our great Italian-American Cuisine and the Italian-American enclave as a whole, “It doesn’t get any better than a Sunday Sauce.” Ok, now, to be more specific for those who may not know about Sunday Sauce, there are a number of variations on the theme. Most Sunday Sauces are made with Italian Sausages, Braciole, and Meatballs. Some people make their versions with; Beef or Pork Neck, while others make their Gravy (Sunday Sauce) with just Sausage and Meatballs, like Pete Clemenza, or the most popular version of; Sausages, Meatballs, and Braciole. Some may throw some Chicken Thighs or a Veal Shank into this mix. Sunday Sauces can be made with any combination of these aforementioned meats. The meats are slowly simmered for several hours in a “Sauce” made with tomatoes, minced onions, and garlic. I generally like to make my Sunday Sauce Gravy with Sausages, Meatballs, and Pork Ribs. Other times I’ll make it with Sausage, Meatballs, and Braciole. An old tradition in some families is that mother or Grandma would start the Sauce early on a Sunday morning, get all the ingredients in the pot and start the Gravy simmering away for a couple hours on top of the stove, then put it in the oven for a couple hours while everyone goes to Church. When you get back home, the Sauce would be ready, “ready to be devoured that is!”
Our family would usually start our Sunday meal with the most traditional Italian-American-Antipasto of roast peppers, Salami, Olives, Celery, and Provolone. After that, it’s on to the Main Event of Maccheroni and Sunday Sauce, a dish which is something so Blissfully and Pleasurably Sublime, that it is almost “Sinful.” Yes it is.
When a meal centered around a Sunday Sauce is announced, one can have visions of Blissful Ecstasy at thoughts of eating Pasta laden with Italian Sausages, Savory Meatballs, Beef Braciola, and succulent Pork Ribs. All this has been slowly simmered to culinary perfection. Yes just the thoughts can enrapture one into a delightful frenzy of the “Most Blissful Feelings” of smelling, seeing, and consuming all the ingredients, the Sausages, Meatballs and Gravy. Yes a Sunday Sauce can and does have such effects on one’s mind, body, and soul. And, I do not want to sound prejudice, but this is pure fact, it is the Male of the Italian-American species who Love The Sunday Sauce in all its form, far more than the female sex. True! Meatballs too! And Italian-American men and boys Love and hold oh-so-dear, their Meatballs, Sunday Sauce, Sausage & Peppers, and Meatball Parm Sandwiches.