Italian-American Sunday Sauce


2 tablespoons lard
2 larges cans tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, finely minced cloves garlic
3 slices Italian or French bread, crusts removed
1 pig's foot or rolled pig's skin
4 beef brasciole (beef roll ups stuffed with parsley, cheese <


In as big a pot or casserole as you have available, begin by lightly browning your sausages and ribs—and, if using, braciole and pork chops—in lard over medium heat. Yes, you read that right: lard. You can use olive oil if you like, but for the real taste of ragù, lard is a must. (And there is no better fat for browning, by the way.) Brown as many pieces at a time as will fit in your pot in a single, well-spaced layer. (If you crowd the pieces of meat, they will steam and not brown.) Do not rush the process; take your time and brown them gently, so they render their fat and don't darken too much. Remove the pieces to a bowl or dish as they brown, replacing
When all the pieces of meat are brown, remove any remaining in the pot and add a generous amount of chopped onion and allow it to sweat until it is quite soft. Then add a clove or two of chopped garlic.
When you can just begin to smell their aroma, add back the browned meat. Turn the meat with the onion and garlic and simmer them together gently to allow the meat to insaporire (absorb the flavor of the aromatics), seasoning with salt and pepper as you turn.
If you have some spare red wine on hand, add a splash at this point and allow it to evaporate completely. If you don't have red wine, not to worry; Angelina actually didn't add wine to her ragù, but many recipes call for it, and it does add a nice additional layer of flavor.
Then add the best quality canned tomatoes that you can find, passing them through a food mill into the pot, enough to cover the meats entirely. Nestle a sprig or two of fresh parsley among the meats. Lower the heat, partially cover the pot, and let the sauce to simmer very slowly for at least 2-3 hours, until the sauce is thick and dark and very flavorful.
Along the way, you can add your meatballs, which you will have fried separately in oil, your pig's foot, and/or rolled pig's skin (if you can find it). Make the meatballs by combining the ingredients listed above in a large bowl. Form into balls (about the size of golf balls) and shallow-fry in light olive oil until nicely golden brown.




The constant presence at Sunday dinners in Italian immigrant homes was ragù della domenica or 'Sunday sauce'—also known as 'Sunday gravy'—the crowning glory of Italian American cooking. If it was not dressing the pasta, it was [lurking] in the lasagne, with more served in a gravy boat for those who wanted to pour some more on top. Just about every Italo-American grew up with this sauce, or something very much like it. It is a not-so-distant American cousin of the ragù alla napoletana. The Neapolitan version is made with a single large piece of beef, its American cousin is made with various bits of pork and beef: sausages, beef or pork ribs and meatballs were always included, but you'd often find beef braciole, pig's foot and rolled pig's skin, and sometimes pork chops, in the pot as well, all slowly simmered for hours in tomato sauce until it was dark and unctuous and full of deep flavor. Ragù requires slow, long cooking, but it is not hard to make.


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Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 10:32pm


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