Cooking With The Sopranos!
It’s week two of my “52 In 22” cooking challenge. I will be making a new recipe each week from one of my cookbooks…I teased you with a look at the first ten, with this cookbook tower:
“The Sopranos Family Cookbook” celebrates TV’s greatest crime family with a wide variety of traditional Italian recipes – but I’m making the classic:
Time For Some “Sunday Gravy!”
Yes, this is the “holy grail” of Italian food: the traditional “Sunday Gravy”…with a recipe that seems straightforward – until Actor Stanley Tucci stunned me with information I didn’t know – let’s get started with the recipe before the Tucci’s twist!
First off, you will see a few items in this picture that are NOT in the recipe featured in the book.
I do not play a musical instrument, but I know that the best Jazz has a freeform element that I embrace when cooking….so there will be a few new items added that match my love of garlic and wine!
I began by heating olive oil in a big Le Creuset pot, then I browned the veal chunks with a bit of salt and pepper…I moved them onto a place and next up were my Italian Sausages:
I love the sound of a sizzling Italian sausage – after growing all sides, I moved them over to the same plate as the veal:
Next up, I added a bit more oil to the pan and tossed in some garlic to cook…the recipe has you use whole cloves which you discard afterwards, but I like them in the final product, so I chopped them, added the tomato paste for a few minutes, then added two large cans of San Marzano tomatoes, which I first used a hand blender to puree:
After stirring it all together over low heat, it was time to return the meat to the pot!
The recipe called for 2 cups of water at this point..I used one and added a cup of wine instead!
I tore up five large basil leaves, put the cover partially on, and let it simmer for the next two hours…stirring every ten minutes or so…and it is also an excuse to listen to the “Symphony of Sunday Gravy”:
Now, it was time to make the meatballs!
I added one pound of ground beef, two eggs, and a half dozen crushed cloves of garlic to a bowl, then added a half cup of bread crumbs and a half a cup of grated Parmesan:
I blended it all together by hand, and then I turned it into seven meatballs, as seven is my lucky number!
I browned them on each side and rolled them around to get color on all of them, and then I listened to a beautiful “Meatball Melody”:
After cooking them, I added them to the Sunday Gravy and smothered them, then simmered partially covered for another half hour!
And Now, Stanley Tucci Upends My Entire Meal!
Here now is the stunning twist I never expected! Alex filmed me explaining how I came to realize I had NO idea what I was actually making!
You see, I’m currently reading the actor’s fascinating, funny memoir of growing up in a traditional Italian family…here’s what happened next:
That’s right: I had NO idea that I was making TWO separate dishes! I’m used to making spaghetti and meatballs – one dish! But, that is NOT how traditional “Sunday Gravy” is served, so I took all of the meat out of the pan and set it aside:
The sauce tasted incredible: rich with an satisfying “meat” essence – and I also learned there are only certain pastas you are allowed to use with it!
As the box says, Rigatoni has an improved shape to better “capture your sauce” – and that’s what both Tucci and The Sopranos say as well!
I cooked the past in salted water for 12 minutes, then combined it with the gravy, shaved parmesan on top, and ended up with this!
My “Two Course” Meal With “Sunday Gravy!”
Tucci is very clear that these two dishes are never to meet – and each on their own tasted great: the meatballs were flavorful, the sausages were juicy and the veal had that unique flavor that made it pop…so, did I break any rules – I am, after all, a “jazz cook”:
Of Course I Did!
I ate the small bowl of pasta as directed first, then had a meatball and a sausage – but then I had to go back and put them together into one great dish, and it was incredible!
I love this recipe, have many friends who swear by their family’s “Sunday Gravy” recipes – handed down for generations, and Stanley Tucci includes his family’s recipe in his memoir as well!
I really loved the cultural insight from Tucci – Alex and I loved his CNN series about Italy:
You can find the show on demand right now – watch the Naples episode and see how we made his incredible “Spaghetti alla Nerano” with fried Zucchini!
The recipe lives here – just click to see:
I used Yellow Zucchini I Squash and have to say it’s a creamier flavor – one of my favorite dishes of all time:
I jazz on it by adding some bacon and garlic – “jazz cook” strikes again!
You can find out more about this TV series here:
This was week #2 of my “52 In 22” cooking challenge – I will be traveling the world of food to try dishes of all kinds and cultures:
Vincent Price helped me kick off the year in a delicious way – click here to see how!
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