Main, Savory

Sopranos Sunday Gravy and Meatballs 

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I recently got my hands on The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Artie Bucco. The show is one of my favorites of all time! I decided to make the Sunday gravy and meatballs recipe (for my fellow friends in Italy, gravy is what Italian Americans call the Sunday tomato sauce), which is phenomenal! 

meatballs in tomato sauce

I love how versatile this recipe is; it can be served on top of spaghetti, on its own as a second course, or you make little meatballs that can be added to baked ziti or lasagna. I swear you’ll feel like you’re having Sunday dinner at the nuovo vesuvio! All the soprano fans out there know what I’m talking about.

INGREDIENTS: 

Meat: I like to mix ground beef and spicy Italian sausage.

Tomato: Hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes and tomato paste.

Herbs: Chopped parsley for the meat and basil for the sauce.

Garlic: We use garlic for both the meat and the sauce. 

Bread: We add stale bread soaked in milk or bread crumbs to the meatball

Eggs: Two whole large eggs help bind together the meat mixture. 

Cheese: Parmesan cheese or pecorino adds an extra-umami to the meatball. 

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS:  

STEP 1: 

First, we start with the tomato sauce. Drizzle olive oil in a large pot and turn on the stove to low heat; add two peeled garlic cloves, chili flakes, and basil stems when the oil is shimmering.

STEP 2: 

Sautee a few minutes until the garlic turns golden. Place the whole peeled tomato in a large bowl and crush them using your hands if you prefer a chunkier sauce, or use an immersion blender if you like a smoother sauce. Then add the crushed tomato, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, and a few fresh basil leaves to the pot.

STEP 3:  

Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and bring the sauce to a simmer over high heat, then reduce it to low and keep it simmering for 30 minutes. 

STEP 4: 

While the sauce is cooking, let’s prepare the meatballs. Soak the bread in one glass of milk in a small bowl for 5 minutes. Mix the ground beef and the sausage (without the skin) in a large bowl. Next, mix the eggs, Parmigiano cheese, chopped fresh parsley, and one grated garlic clove.

STEP 5: 

Squeeze the bread to remove all the excess milk and add it to the meat. Then add salt and pepper to taste, and mix thoroughly until a uniform mass is formed.

STEP 6:  

Divide the dough into ten if you like big meatballs to serve as the main course, or make twenty tiny balls if you plan to serve them on top of the pasta. Place the meatball in a large baking tray lined with parchment paper and broil in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. 

Remove the tray from the oven, flip the meatball using a kitchen tong and return the tray to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the meatball surface is browned and crispy. 

STEP 7:  

Gently move the meatballs to the sauce, cover with the lid ajar, and let simmer for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes using a wooden spoon.

STEP 8: 

Serve the meatball with grated Parmigiano and fresh basil with sliced bread on the side. Buon appetito!  

TIPS & TRICKS

Bread matter: 

Even though you can do these meatballs using white bread or breadcrumbs, try using high-quality sourdough bread. It makes all the difference.

Meat to bread ratio:  

Another thing to remember is the bread-to-meat ratio; we need enough bread to hold the meatball together without overpowering it. 

After some trial and error, I find the sweet spot to be %70 meat and %30 bread.

Broiling the meatball:    

Some recipes call for cooking the meatballs directly into the sauce, and while this is work, adding this extra step of broiling or deep frying the meatballs brings the dish to the next level. Broiling the meatball transforms the exterior into a nice charred crust, enhancing the dish’s overall flavor.

Another thing to consider is when we add raw meatballs to the simmering sauce; they can quickly disintegrate, so pre-baking them seals the exterior, making them sturdier.

VARIATIONS:   

If you’re not a big fan of beef and pork and want a healthier version, you can use ground chicken thighs to make chicken meatballs. 

Another popular version is meatballs cooked in white wine “in bianco,” as we say in Italy, which means “in white” or without tomato sauce. 

To do so, add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet; when it’s hot, add the meatball. Sautee until they are a nice brown all over the surface; add the white wine (quantity) and continue to cook at medium heat to let the wine evaporate. 

Add beef or veggie broth to the skillet and cover with a lid. Continue to cook for 10-15 minutes at medium heat or until the meatball’s internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove the meatball from the skillet using a slotted spoon. Add 30 g of butter to the skillet and reduce the sauce on high heat until it is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon. 

Pour the sauce on top of the meatball and enjoy

STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: 

Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer.

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meatballs in tomato sauce

Sopranos Sunday gravy and meatballs

Traditional meatball and gravy inspired from the Sopranos cookbook
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: meatballs
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 18 meatballs
Calories: 148kcal
Author: Luca Frau

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 400 g ground beef
  • 150 g italian sausages
  • 150 g stale bread
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 240 g milk or water
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 30 g parmigiano cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

For the tomato sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1587 g two cans whole peeled San Marzano Cento brand
  • 3 basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp chili flakes or 2 whole calabrian peppers
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt to taste
  • a pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  • Drizzle olive oil in a large pot and turn on the stove to low heat; when the oil is shimmering, add two peeled garlic cloves, chili flakes, and basil stems.
  • Sautee a few minutes until the garlic turns golden. Place the whole peeled tomato in a large bowl and crush them using your hands if you prefer a chunkier sauce, or use an immersion blender if you like a smoother sauce. Then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, and a few fresh basil leaves to the pot.
  • Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and bring the sauce to a simmer over high heat, then reduce it to low and keep it simmering for 30 minutes.
  • While the sauce is cooking, let’s prepare the meatballs. Soak the bread in one glass of milk in a small bowl for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef and the sausage (without the skin). Next, mix the eggs, Parmigiano cheese, chopped fresh parsley, and one grated garlic clove.
  • Squeeze the bread to remove all the excess milk and add it to the meat. Then add salt and pepper to taste, and mix thoroughly until a uniform mass is formed.
  • Divide the dough into ten if you like big meatballs to serve as the main course, or make twenty tiny balls if you plan to serve them on top of the pasta. Place the meatball in a large baking tray lined with parchment paper and broil in a preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the tray from the oven, flip the meatball using a kitchen tong and return the tray to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the meatball surface is browned and crispy.
  • Gently move the meatballs to the sauce, cover with the lid ajar, and let simmer for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes using a wooden spoon.
  • Serve the meatball with grated Parmigiano and fresh basil with sliced bread on the side. Buon appetito!

Notes

STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS:
Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Nutrition

Serving: 200g | Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 584mg | Potassium: 365mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 433IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @cheflucafrau or tag #cheflucafrau!

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I made it last night, the softest and tastier meatball recipe ever!

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