Growing up, I was fortunate to have a mom who was raised in New Jersey, in an Italian-American household. This meant two things: 1) She had an awesome accent, and 2) She made "gravy" on Sundays. Sunday gravy is essentially a tomato-based pasta sauce, cooked down all day. It always has various meats in it, giving off their juices and flavors, hence the term "gravy".
This beats your traditional marinara sauce in the face. It's simple, and just amazing. You can add whatever types of meat you want. Left over pork bones even work. I'll give you my version of my mom's classic gravy. It's up to you to make it your own! (Or just take mine!) I will warn you now, I am obsessed with garlic. So if you're the type to not want nearly as much, plan accordingly!
Time from preparation to finish: About 4+ hours. Start this in the morning for a really thick sauce. Or around 1/2 for a thinner (but still thick!) gravy.
1 32-ounce can Tomato Sauce
1 32-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
10-12 big leaves fresh Basil, cut into a chiffonade (into long ribbons)
5-6 cloves of fresh Garlic, made into a paste, or freshly grated through a microplane
1 small Onion, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
good pinch of Sugar
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning, or just some pinches of Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Red Pepper flakes to taste
2 Bone-in Pork Chops
1 batch freshly cooked Meatballs (about 1 lbs worth, preferably baked, not fried)
4 Sausage links (hot or sweet Italian, or a mix)
Glug of Dry Red Wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
In the bottom of a high soup or stock pan, on medium to medium-high heat, heat enough Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat your pan. Brown your pork chops and sausages on all sides. Turn your pan to medium low and add your onion. Saute for a few minutes, until it's just starting to get soft. Add garlic and stir. Turn your pan back up to medium high and add the glug of wine. Just enough to deglaze the pan. Scrape up all the brown bits, and allow the wine to boil and cook down. When the wine is nearly evaporated add the cans of tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Fill the two big tomato cans with water and add the water to the pot as well. Add the remainder of the ingredients, including the meat, stir well, put a lid on and bring up to a boil. Once the gravy is boiling turn to a low simmer, take the lid and put it halfway on. So it's not covering the pot completely. Cook for 3+ hours. I like my gravy nice and thick, so I generally cook it for about 5 hours. And when it's about halfway through cooking, I always grab a nice piece of bread, and slather it with gravy. How can you not?
Top with fresh basil just before serving!