They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. In Italian families, it’s through his mother’s Sunday Gravy. Nope, not the yummy brown murder weapon that you use to drown your mashed potatoes in. It’s not marinara, tomato sauce or Bolognese. Sunday Gravy is the delicious tomato-ey stewy sauce flavored by hot and sweet sausage, handmade meatballs, and in some Southern Italian families, brasciole or pork spare ribs. It’s the one that you stir for an entire day and then enjoy over a giant plate of perfectly cooked al dente pasta with grated cheese. It’s the one that became couch culture through the scathing words of Tony Soprano (“He eats his Sunday gravy out of a jar.”). It’s the one that the rest of the general population calls spaghetti with meatballs.
This past weekend, my sweet mother-in-law came over to my kitchen and taught me the Natarelli Family Recipe, as taught to her by her mother-in-law. I changed my last name almost three years ago, but now that I have this for reals secret sauce simmering in my kitchen, I am officially a Natarelli. So, what’s the secret to the perfect Sunday Gravy? Learn it from your man (or woman’s) mother.