The Mauro Family Sunday Gravy

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 5 hr 5 min
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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1 cup milk

4 slices white bread, torn into little pieces 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped 

3 large eggs 

2 pounds ground chuck 

1 pound ground pork 

1 pound ground veal (if you don't like veal, just use more beef) 


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound hot Italian sausage links 

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup) 

2 teaspoons dry Italian seasoning 

4 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons) 

1/3 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti or merlot 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Three 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes 

2 pounds pork neck bones 

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil 


  1. For the meatballs: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the milk, bread, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper to make a panade. Whisk in the cheese, parsley and eggs until uniform. Add in the chuck, pork and veal and, using your hands, mix together until combined. Do not overwork! Do a tiny test meatball to gauge seasoning. Once the mixture is properly seasoned, roll it into twelve 3-inch meatballs.
  2. For the sauce: Heat the olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and brown on each side until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Next, brown all sides of the meatballs until dark brown, about 5 minutes a side. Set aside. Drain out all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat.
  3. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden around the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the tomatoes and increase the heat to medium high. Add the sausage, meatballs and neck bones and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook with the lid on until the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle and are about 170 degrees F, about 1 hour. Remove the sausage and meatballs from the sauce (leave in the neck bones) and refrigerate.
  5. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, until the neck bone meat is falling-off-the bone tender, skimming the fat off the top and stirring frequently, another 3 hours. (After about 2 1/2 hours, remove the sausage and meatballs from the refrigerator to come back to room temperature.)
  6. Add the sausage and meatballs back to the sauce and bring to a simmer again for 10 minutes to heat the meat up. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the fresh basil just before serving.
  7. Serve on top of a mound of mostaccioli or rigatoni, with a side of hot giardiniera.