Thursday, December 1, 2011

Felice Gravy Dad!

Christmas is coming, and soon my wife Karen will be making "Italian Gravy" for the lasagna we will have on Christmas Day.... If she starts with fresh Tomatoes she will first peel them using the method my father taught her, dropping them into boiling water, draining the water and plunging them into an ice bath so that the skin splits and peels away easily, but since this is December she will probably start with canned Plum tomatoes from San Marzano. Either way she will use my mother's version of my Grandmother's recipe for "Gravy" (Tomato Sauce). The main difference between my Mother's version of gravy and my Grandmother's was that mom used a big fatty piece of chuck steak for the meat where "Nana" would use either her Meatballs or Braciola (lean beef, pounded thin and filled with rasins, garlic and pignolli (pine nuts); rolled and tied then browned to seal in all the goodness; and then simmered in a big pot of gravy all day long.) or pork any of these would work for the meat ingredient but usually Nana used all three.

After my mom died, making tomato sauce was like therapy for Karen, and our house would often be filled with the smell of it, and it transported me back to the days of my childhood. The first smell that this wonderful task would emit was that of olive oil and garlic warming in a skillet Karen's version of the task meant cutting the chuck steak up into pieces and dividing out the fat, which che would still brown in the aforementioned skillet with the lean meat, and then she would simmer both in the sauce for several hours before removing the fat and discarding it.

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