Monday, May 14, 2012


Clemenza Shows Michael
How to Make Sunday Sauce "GRAVY"
For a Bunch of Mobsters

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 is Italian-America’s  most  Time-Honored. Mamma, Grandma  (Nonna)  will make her Celebrated Sunday Sauce. What is it? Well 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 Neck, while others make  their Gravy  (Sunday Sauce) with just  Sausage and Meatballs.  Some may throw some Chicken Thighs into this mix. Sunday Sauces can be made with any combination of these aforementioned meats.  
    The meats are  slowly  simmered for  several hours with tomato,  and minced onions and garlic. 
I generally  like to make my Sunday Sauce with  Saus-ages, Meatballs, and Pork Ribs. Other times I’ll make it with Sausage, Ribs, and Braciole.  An old tradition in some families  is  that mother or Grandma would start the Sauce early on a Sunday morning, get it sim-mering  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.
      We would usually start our Sunday meal with the most traditional Italian-American-Antipasto 
of roast  peppers,  Salami, Olives, and  Provolone.  After that, it’s on to  the Main Event,  Maccheroni and Sunday Sauce. Something so Blissfully Pleasurable and Sub-lime, that it is 
almost “Sinful.”
      When a meal centered  around a Sunday Sauce is announced, one can have visions of Blissful  Ecstasyat thoughts  of  Eating Pasta laden with  Italian Sausages,  Savory  Meatballs,  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  Sausages, Meat-balls 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-dare, their Meatballs, Sunday Sauce, Sausage & Peppers,  and Meatball Parm Sandwiches.
     The  Sunday  Sauce that  my mother  would makewas with Sausages, Meatballs, and Beef Braciole. My memories are vivid watching my mother stuffing the Braciole with  garlic,  parsley, Pecorino,  and Pignoli Nuts,  then  tying the bundles with  butchers cord to hold  the Braciole  together as they slowly simmered in the Gravy.  Another fond memory was helping my mother 
roll and shape the Meatballs.
      As for me, my Sunday Sauce will vary dependingon my mood. One thing I Love to do when makingmy sauce  is  to add Pork Spareribs to the  “Gravy.” “Gravy” by the way is what many people in the New York  area call Sunday Sauce, particularly in Brooklyn. Not many people 
make there Sunday Sauce with the Pork Ribs,  but  to me they are phenomenal, and  anyone 
who tries them,  they are immediately hook-ed.  As I think back, none of the ladies in our 
family put Pork Spare Ribs into their Gravy.  I guess I read or heard  about some people
 doing  it, and I believe it  was  about 14 years ago or so that I  Started adding theRibs into my Sunday Sauce. I  haven’t looked back ever since.  I Love them, as does everyone whom I serve them to.
     Whenever I make my sauce with Pork Ribs, my friends  go nuts for them.  Many are 
surprised,  as they might never have had Ribs in a Sunday Gravy before. They didn’t  know 
that you could use Pork Spareribs.
     The ribs are traditional with some but not all. It is quite a shame for those  who don’t  add the ribs as they give the sauce a quite wonderful flavor, and the Ribs themselves,  “Yumm.”
The Ribs that simmer long  and  slow  and are very tender,” They lit-erally Melt-in-Your-Mouth.
    Whenever I make  the sauce,  and I’m dishing it out to friends and family,  I always make sure that I have my fare share of the Ribs.  Pork Ribs cooked in this manner, simmering in the sauce are oh so suc-culent and tasty,  they are  Beyond-Belief-Tasty.
    These Sunday Sauce Ribs are, “Out-of-this-World” and friends, one-by-one, go nuts for them.
      I remember the  time I first met my friend John Cataneo.  We were having a  dinner party  with Ada, Jimmy,  Pat  and Gina Parrotta,  Ronny “C,”  Bobby Shack.  Jimmy had invited  John and his wife Maria.
     I  had  never  met either  of  them before.  John and Maria  had  eaten already  and  were  not hungry so Johnny  told  me just  to  give him a small portion when I was dishing the Gravy out.  
I guess it was so good, Johnny shyly came back and asked if he could have a couple more ribs.  
   “No problem  Johnny. Enjoy!” 
   And what to serve with the Sunday Sauce you ask? Any  short Maccheroni such as  Rigatoni,   Ziti,  or Gnocchi are best.
     The rituals of cooking, serving, and eating Sunday Sauce is a time honored one. It is a 
quite a beautiful thing, same as making Mole in Mexico or Cassoulet in  France.  They are all wonderful things of Beauty.
     They take time and effort to make, and are made and served with Love. These dishes bring together friends and  family,  and for  Italian-Americans,  the Sunday Sauce is The King of all dishes.
      If  you utter the term Sunday Sauce to any number of  millions of Italian-Americans, they 
start salivating at  the simple mention of  its name.  The wheels start  turning  in their heads,  
with  thoughts of how tasty it is and all the different  components;  the Meatballs,  Sausages, Braciole, maybe  Ribs, Beef Neck, or Pig  Skin Braciole,  the Pasta, and the Gravy itself. 
They think  about  sitting  at  the  table with friends and  or  family,  people  they love.  
     They’ll  ponder  the Antipasti, wondering what it might be; Mixed Salumi, Baked Clams,  
Grilled Calamari?  And  with the meal, there will surely be Wine, Italian Wine, maybe a good  Chianti  or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  With Uncle Frank and Uncle Tony,  the  wine was usually Carlo Rossi Paisano or Gallo Hearty Burgundy, two  solid  Italian-American  winemakers.  
They think about the warmth in the air,  of loved ones, Sinatra,  Dino, the Sunday Sauce.“It’s  
a beautiful thing!!!” If you’ve never  done it, “Try it!” If you haven’t cooked one for some time, plan a get-together with friends and  family, soon. Sunday Sauce, It brings people togeth-er, in a most Delightful  way, and as the Big Boys would say, “It’s a Beautiful Thing.”

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Excerpted from Daniel Bellino's forthcoming book  "La Tavola"  Broadway Ffith Press, NY NY


"La TAVOLA" Available on AMAZON.Com  Mid-JULY 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment