Spaghetti is one of my favorite dishes. It’s hearty, comforting and like all pastas, it makes every sip of wine that much more enjoyable. “Gli spaghetti l’italiano sono molto amore!
Here in America, people refer to Marinaras as… Sauce or Gravy”?. I suppose it is a sauce as the variations are endless. They really are all sauces, but the essence of Italian, Sicilian and even Greek cooking in America is a crafting a Gravy, specifically if it has meat. It starts early in the day and simmers until the evening or even over night. It requires love, attention and passion.
*** You can read more at this article: Do Italians call it sauce, gravy, or Ragú?.
- Garlic (4-5 cloves)
- One medium white onion
- Ground Beef 1 lb
- Mild Italian Sausage .5 lb
- One bottle of Cabernet or Red Zinfandel Wine
- Baking Sauce
- One can diced tomatoes
- One can tomato sauce
- Sea Salt, Ground Peppers, Italian herbs
- Shredded Italian cheeses (Parmesan, Asiago, etc)
- Fresh Italian Parsley
- 1.5 lbs. ground beef
- .5 lbs. of mild Italian sausage
- One medium white onion; minced
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
- Sea salt and Pepper to taste.
You’ll also to make your favorite pasta. If you don’t want to make pasta or have the equipment, I might suggest Barilla Spaghetti or I’ll substitute it with a boutique brand if something looks nice.
Lay out your ingredients as usual. The nice thing about cooking like this is, you really don’t need a whole lot. Minimal items can deliver huge flavor and bang for your buck.
Seer your fresh chopped (or minced) garlic in a deep frying pan with Virgin Olive Oil. Put the heat on the lowest possible setting and stir them until they brown.
Add your meat; both ground beef and Italian sausage. Keep the flame on the lowest heat possible. The key to any gravy or meat sauce, or even a taco filling is slow, low heat and mashing the meat with slotted spoon or potato masher until it’s a fine texture. What you do not want to do, is put your meat on the burner on medium and brown it into chunks.
Next, add about ¾ bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Zinfandel, or Tempranillo. It needs to be a robust, dark red to achieve the flavor profile we’re looking for here. Turn the heat up to medium and reduce the wine down by two thirds.
THE BAKING SAUCE. I’ll be honest, I like Barilla’s plain baking sauce the best. It’s versatile, affordable and has a great, simple flavor that can be expanded. The problem is that since Barilla has re-branded their labels, they seem to have eliminated this option (at least from the grocery stores I shop it). As a substitution, I’ve used Mid’s meatless red sauce. It works just fine and it’s not loaded with pre-disposed flavors other than a nice baking sauce base.
Add the sauce to your wine and meat reduction.
Add your canned, diced tomatoes.
Herbs and Spices. This is where you can add the sea salt, cracked pepper and Italian herbs. I grind my Italian herbs myself and add them generously for full flavor. It usually consists of Basil, Marjoram, Oregano and Thyme.
If you want to expand your gravy to spread further or accommodate more than 4 people, then add a can of nice tomato sauce or two – whatever your pan can hold.
THE MEATBALLS – If you’re going to make meatballs then you better show up. I like my balls big. The meat mix is pretty simple; just mix the ground beef, the Italian sausage, minced onion, egg yolk, Worcestershire, and seasonings really, really, really well. In this photo, my darling wife, Jessica Mae, did all the mixing 🙂
From there, form four big balls. They should take up two standard meatloaf pans respectively with room to breath all around.
Cook your Balls for an hour and a half on 325. They should stay nice and juicy inside like a slow cooked steak. Just use a meat thermometer to judge 150-160 – your preference. They should look like this when they come out.
At this point, your Italian Gravy should be ready to roll whether you’ve been cooking it for 3 hours or 12. The longer the gravy simmers on the lowest setting, the more those flavors will mellow and meld into one insatiable offering.
Transfer your “Al dente” Spaghetti noodles into a large serving bowl. Don’t overcook your noodles – you want them cooked, yet firm. Most Al-dente noodles cook 8-9 minutes and they are done depending on the brand you buy. If you make your own from scratch, then its a flash in the pan.
Drop two (or more) of your giant meat balls into the serving bowl. Add your fresh Italian parsley, shaved Parmesan, Asiago, and other cheeses.
Add the Gravy to your liking…
Serve. Its that easy. This is not a difficult recipe, but the time and care that it takes to really nail a well-crafted italian gravy is mis-understood by many. You have to dedicate a day to at least be near the kitchen to stir, taste and do things slowly.
ON TO THE WINE…
1. 2010 Single Vineyard Volver
This wine comes from the La Mancha region in Spain, which is part of Castille. It is made with 100% Tempranillo grapes hand harvested from vines that were planted in 1957 – from 28 hectares (72 acres) called Finca Los Juncares. The wine has 15% ABV. The wine was created by the importer Jorge Ordonez, harvested at less than 2 tons per acre and aged some time in French oak barrels.
The wine is of a deep, rich crimson red color with a high viscosity. In the nose it was perfumy and alcoholic, followed by dark red fruit (cassis) and dark raspberries. On the palate, Volver shows a silky mouthfeel and was medium bodied. It’s slightly smoky with strong tannins. After 45 minutes to an hour, the wine opens up – There were now aromas of raspberries, velvets and some pepper. So if you’re drinking it, you should decant it. However, this wine reduced our meat mixture in this recipe. Brilliant.
It’s $17.99 at South Lyndale Liquors and you can buy it HERE.
2. 2009 Piatelli Grand Reserve Malbec
“With structure similar to Cabernet and fruitfulness similar to Merlot, Grand Reserve Malbec is dimensional enough to fascinate the enthusiast, yet smooth enough to please the novice. In this stately bottle, some of the best grapes in the region become one of the best malbec wines in the world”. ~ Piatelli Vineyards
- Grapes were hand-picked and destemmed
- Grapes underwent 5 days of cold maceration
- Fermented in 5,000 to 10,000-liter stainless steel tanks
- Manual punch-down for optimal juice/skin interaction
AGING: Grand Reserve Malbec was aged for 12 months in small, first- or second-use French- and American-oak barrels and then bottle-aged an additional 12 months.
“With a color that gradates from an intense, blue-purple core to a bright red rim, Grand Reserve Malbec’s expanding bouquet integrates perfectly with its dark fruit and chocolate coffee flavor, lingers with a moderate tannin pull, and finishes with understated-yet-resonant oak”.
This compliments your spaghetti and gravy dish on every level and satisfies every wine drinking guest you may have. It’s $17.99. It’s fabulous and you can buy it at South Lyndale Liquors HERE.
3. 2012 Saladini Pilastri Rosso
“The characteristics of this wine are its typical deep ruby colour, vinous bouquet and dry harmonic taste. It is produced from only the best Sangiovese and Montepulciano grapes, and mellowed in oak barrels. It is a wine which is at its best served at room temperature to accompany all kinds of roast meat and game. 80% Sangiovese and 20% Montepulciano from Rosso Piceno, Marches, Italy. Made from Organic grapes.
The Saladini has a simply wonderful, inviting bouquet that begins with a delightfully strong aroma of plum and dark berries plus a little mint and a few earthy notes. The wine tastes beautiful, smooth, fruity, dry and absolutely delicious. It features tons of luscious fruit that makes your mouth go “wow”, soft tannins and a fabulous mouthfeel. The finish is soft, fruity and long. It’s amazing and you wont’ stop at one bottle. It’s only $8.99 right now and hangs with the big boys above like no one is watching.
You can buy at South Lyndale Liquors HERE.