Sunday Gravy and Macaroni (Spaghetti, really)
On Sundays my grandpa Emmanuel would take the kitchen table out on the lawn and turn it into a buffet table for his 10 children and the[ whole neighborhood. He would make Sunday gravy (marinara sauce) filled with slow-cooked meats that flavored the sauce: braciole, pork chops, chicken thighs, rabbit, sausages and meatballs. He would simmer the meats for hours, then pull them from the sauce pot and separate them into stacks on a large platter. He would toss spaghetti, which he referred to as macaroni in English, with half of the remaining sauce and add lots of cheese to it. The extra sauce would be ladled on top of dinner plates of meat and macaroni. This recipe is all I can do to imitate Sundays with Emmanuel in 30 minutes.]
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, for both meats and sauce
- 3 thin cut pork loin chops, 1/2-inch thick, cut in 1/2
- Salt and pepper
- 2 each sweet and hot Italian sausage links
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, for moderate to spicy marinara
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped, 3 for sauce, 2 for meatballs
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls of leaves
- Several leaves fresh basil, torn or chopped, a handful
- 1 pound meat loaf mix, ground beef, pork and veal combined, from butcher counter
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2 handfuls, plus extra for tossing pasta and to pass at table
- 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs, 3 handfuls
- 1 loaf crusty Italian bread, for serving
Heat water for pasta to boil. Salt and cook pasta 7 to 8 minutes, to al dente.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat a deep skillet or medium heavy bottomed sauce pot over medium high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Halve sausages. Add 1 tablespoon, 1 turn of the pan, extra-virgin olive oil to pan or pot. Place chops in pan or pot and brown 2 minutes on each side, remove. Add another tablespoon oil, 1 turn of the pan, and sausages. Brown sausages 2 minutes on each side and transfer to plate with pork. Add pepper flakes, 3 cloves chopped garlic and onion to the pot and saute 1 minute. Add broth to the pan and scrape up drippings. Add tomatoes and herbs and bring sauce to a bubble. Add meats back to the pot and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer sauce until ready to serve, 12 to 15 minutes.
Combine ground meat, egg, remaining 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1/3 cup cheese, and bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and roll into balls, 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Place balls on nonstick cookie sheet. Roast meatballs 10 minutes, then slide into Sunday sauce and turn off oven. Add bread to oven to crisp crust.
To serve, place pork, sausages and meatballs on serving dish. Pour 1/2 of the sauce into a serving dish to ladle over pasta and meats at the table. Toss cooked spaghetti with remaining sauce in sauce pot, adding a few handfuls of grated cheese to the pot as you toss it. Transfer pasta to a serving dish.
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