Sunday Gravy Recipe

Make Rao’s version of the Italian-American classic by braising 5 varieties of meat in a rich, velvety tomato gravy, then serve over al dente pasta with plenty of fragrant basil.

Jan 5 2022, 12:00pm

Serves: 8-10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 4 hours


2 ½ cups|375 ml olive oil 
6 peeled garlic cloves, 5 smashed, 1 minced
1 pound|454 grams beef braciole 
1 pound|454 grams hot or sweet Italian sausage 
1 pound|454 grams lean beef, such as eye of round
1 pound|454 grams bone-in pork chops 
3 tablespoons tomato paste 
3 (28-ounce|794-gram) cans San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed with
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
1 pound|450 grams lean ground beef
8 ounces|225 grams ground pork
8 ounces|225 grams ground veal
1 cup|95 grams grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 ½ tablespoons minced Italian parsley
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups|230 grams plain breadcrumbs
2 pounds|900 grams rigatoni (or your favorite pasta) 
5 to 6 fresh basil leaves, shredded 


  1. Pat all the braciole, sausage, eye of round, and pork tenderloin dry with paper towels. Heat ½ cup|125 ml olive oil and 4 cloves of the smashed garlic in a large saucepan over medium. Increase the heat to medium-high and, using tongs and working in batches, sear the meats, turning frequently, until nicely browned all over, about 15 minutes. As the garlic cloves turn golden-brown, remove them from the pan and discard. 
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the tomato paste with 1 cup|250 ml water. Add to the saucepan and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and increase the heat to high. Fill one of the cans of tomatoes with water and add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then add the reserved meats. Season lightly with salt and pepper and boil 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, partially covered and stirring frequently, about 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, make the meatballs. In a large mixing bowl, mix the ground beef, pork, and veal until evenly blended. Add the minced garlic, the cheese, 1 ½ tablespoons of the parsley, and the eggs until evenly combined. Add the breadcrumbs to combine, then slowly add 1 cup|250 ml water, mixing in about ¼ cup|60 ml at a time, until moist throughout. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shape into 10 balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  4. Heat the remaining 2 cups|500 ml olive oil and the remaining clove of smashed garlic in a large skillet over medium. When the garlic begins to shimmer and turn light brown, remove it and discard. Working in batches, cook the meatballs, turning once, until golden on two sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate. 
  5. After the sauce has been cooking for about 2 hours, add the meatballs and continue cooking until the meat is super tender and falling apart and the sauce has reduced slightly, about 30 minutes longer. (If the sauce becomes too thick add water to the desired consistency.) 
  6. Transfer the meat to a large serving platter. Ladle the sauce over the meat and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the parsley and a few basil leaves. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and set aside. 
  7. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high. Add the rigatoni and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot over high heat. Add 2 cups|500 ml of the sauce and stir with a wooden spoon to coat. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl and top with the remaining sauce. Slice up some of the meats (you may need to remove the string from the braciole) and add to the top of the platter of pasta. Garnish with the basil and remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley, and serve. 

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dinner, meatballs, Pasta, lunch, gravy, tomato sauce, braise, meat sauce, sunday gravy, Rao's

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