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Slow Cooker Sunday Gravy

I am a firm believer that a slow cooker has a specific place in the kitchen of love. That is in the realm of soups and chili and now gravy. While I am not overly fond of large (or small)pieces pf meat prepared this way, I do find that soups, chili and other “liquidy” recipes work well. I do also like the convenience of setting and then forgetting these long cooking recipes.

Soups and chilies benefit from long slow cooking. With a slow cooker to keep an eye on things, the cook is able to go about life without the burden of being constantly available to stir and adjust the heat. At times that can feel like a life changing occurrence.

I had never thought to make Sunday Gravy in the slow cooker. I rather enjoy the process of stirring and tasting and adjusting. It brings back wonderful memories of my father making his gravy, meatballs, and sausage. Please, journey back with me by clicking on this link:

More Memories From the Kitchen of Love 

Back to the present and the slow cooker. This recipe takes the heart of my father’s recipe and introduces it to elements of the classic Bolognese Sauce. San Marzano tomatoes replaced my father’s Tomato paste and puree, though a good amount of tomato paste was needed to pay respect to the bolgonese.

I used meat that I had in the freezer; in this case two spicy Italian sausage links and a bag of “meat bits”. The bits were mostly chicken, remnants of trimmed thighs and breasts, but there were a few pork scraps as well.

I browned the meat and onions before adding them to the cooker. We all know that a slow cooker can’t brown things. Which in my opinion is one of the factors that contribute to the watered down taste. In this case it was worth the time because the flavors were really there. The tomato paste also had a chance to cook out a bit before jumping into the “hot tub”.

I originally planned to let the sauce cook 6 – 8 hours. It wound up going closer to 10. That was a good thing. It resulted in a thick rich sauce that was wonderful. I strongly suggest waiting until the next day to eat this. The aroma that is created in the house will make that difficult but be strong, I guarantee that the wait will be worth it. You have my permission however, to dip a chunk of bread into the pot to check for proper seasoning. That’s where the salt, pepper and perhaps a bit of sugar listed in the recipe come in.

Serve this over your favorite pasta. I chose spaghetti (Papa D’s favorite). I also used my mother’s technique of serving. A ladle of gravy in the bottom of the bowl with a sprinkle of cheese. Half of the pasta and another ladle of gravy, a quick toss, then repeat. Top with two generous ladles of gravy and a generous sprinkle of cheese and bring it to the table. 

I don’t know if my father would have embraced the slow cooker. Back then I think he was as concerned about the process as the product. I do believe that if he were around now he would approve of this take on his prized recipe.

Slow Cooker Sunday Gravy
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Slow Cooker Sunday Gravy
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Pour the tomatoes into a 5 -6 quart crock pot. Use a potato masher or your hands (if you want to be one with the tomatoes) to crush the tomatoes.
  2. In a large skillet, heat a bit of the olive oil. Crumble the sausage meat into the skillet. Discard the casing. Brown the sausage lightly. When it is barely cooked through add it to the slow cooker.
  3. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and add the finely chopped chicken meat. You want this to brown, so if you need to, do it in two batches. Again we are looking for some color and barely cooked. Add this to the cooker as well
  4. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic. cook these until they are just getting translucent and lightly browned.
  5. Add the tomato paste to the onion mixture along with a splash of stock. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.The onions should be coated and the mixture should be a lovely russet color.
  6. Add this to the cooker along with the parsley and Italian herbs. Stir everything together and cover the pot. Set the temperature on low and let it go. 8 -10 hours should do it.
  7. When you feel that it can't get any more wonderful, turn off the pot. If it seems to thick, add a little more stock. .
  8. Cool slightly. Divide the gravy into 3 containers. Freeze 2 and put the other one in the refrigerator for dinner tomorrow.
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Italian Sausage and Cannellini Stew

Italian Sausage and Cannellini Stew
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Italian Sausage and Cannellini Stew
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Slice the sausage links into 1 inch chunks (this is easier if they are slightly frozen) and brown in a soup pot over medium heat. Remove the sausage and set aside. Drain off most of the fat in the pot.
  2. Add the olive oil to the pot and allow it to get hot. Add the onions and the carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3 - 4 minutes until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Add the bell pepper, mushrooms, jalapeno, garlic, and squash. Cook for 5 minutes or as long as it takes for things to get soft and fragrant.
  4. Add the wine to the pot and stir to loosen all the brown goodies on the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes and the chicken stock to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or so.
  5. Return the cooked sausage chunks to the pot along with the cannellini beans and season with the Italian Herbs.
  6. Let everything simmer for another 10 minutes or so to heat things through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more herbs or salt and pepper as you like.
  7. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with the grated Romano, and serve.
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Sunday Gravy Casserole

I’ve shared memories of my father’s “Sunday Gravy, a classic Italian tomato sauce that was loaded with meatballs, sausage, and pork neck bones. Every Italian family has a recipe for this simple yet totally delicious staple.

Writing about my memories inspired me to make my own gravy. This was a few months ago and the batch I made was huge. Most of it found its way into the freezer and was promptly forgotten. I did create a braised pork recipe (check it out on my RECIPES page) that was the essence of the pork neck bones as I remembered them. Some of that wound up in the freezer as well.

Fast forward to this week when I was cleaning out the freezer. I found 3 cartons of beautiful red goodness. I knew they were all gravy, but I didn’t know what else was in them. So, I put the 3 ruby cubes in a pot, and let them thaw over low heat. What resulted was gravy filled with all three wonderful meats.

I cut the meats into bite size pieces and returned it to the sauce. I found a large package of extra wide egg noodles that reminded me of lasagna. These became the pasta component. A little ricotta, cheese, and herbs were added and Sunday Gravy Casserole was born. This is really a riff on Poor Man’s Lasagna. Just search by the title on my RECIPES page)

Every bite of this was filled with meaty goodness. There was just enough cheese to make it feel decadent. The noodles stayed firm and held their shape. It was too good to be eaten alone, so I sent a generous pan over to the “new parents”

Sunday Gravy Casserole
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Sunday Gravy Casserole
Print Recipe
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until just barely done (1-2 minutes less than package directions). Reserve a cup or so of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
  2. Heat the gravy and meats in a large saucepan until bubbling gently. Add some of the pasta water if the gravy seems tight. Keep warm
  3. Beat the egg lightly and add it to the ricotta along with the Italian seasoning. Set aside.
  4. Put the mozzarella in the freezer for about 30 minutes (leave the packaging on). This makes the cheese easier to slice thinly. Slice the cheese 1/4 inch thick.
  5. To assemble the casserole: spray a large rectangular baking dish with non-stick spray. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce into the pan, spreading it evenly. Add half of the noodles and top it with dollops of the ricotta.
  6. Spoon another 1/3 of the sauce on top of the ricotta and noodles. Sprinkle with half of the grated cheese blend.
  7. Add the remaining noodles to the casserole. Top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the other half of the the grated cheese. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the foil and top with the sliced mozzarella. Return to the oven uncovered and bake for another 10 minutes. The casserole should be bubbly and the cheese should be melted.
  9. Set the oven at broil and position the casserole about 4 inches from the heat source. Broil until the cheese begins to brown and bubble.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
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Italian Sausage Stuffing Skillet

Italian Sausage Stuffing Skillet
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Imagine an Italian sausage sandwich on garlic bread that you can eat with a fork.
Italian Sausage Stuffing Skillet
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Imagine an Italian sausage sandwich on garlic bread that you can eat with a fork.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Spread the drained tomatoes on the sheet and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the garlic, the red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, stirring half way through. Set aside.
  2. Place the sausage links in a large skillet. Add water to a depth of about 1/4 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until all the water has evaporated, turning occasionally. Raise the heat and add a little of the olive oil to the pan. Cook the sausages until they are browned on all sides, turning often, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the sausage from the pan and cut the sausage into 1 inch chunks when it has cooled slightly. Set aside. Add two tablespoons of the oil to the pan and add the onions and peppers. Cook until tender but not browned, 5 minutes or so. Remove from the pan and add to the sausage.
  4. Add a little of the chicken stock to the pan and stir to remove the browned bits. Melt two tablespoons of butter in the pan. Add the flour and stir until completely incorporated. Cook for another minute stirring often. Slowly add the remaining chicken stock stirring to keep things smooth. Cook for three minutes or so. Add the reserved tomatoes to the sauce and stir to blend. Add the sausage, peppers, and onions to the skillet and heat gently.
  5. Slice the bread in half lengthwise. Melt the remaining butter and olive oil. Add the remaining garlic and brush on the cut sides of the bread. Allow it to soak in a bit. Cut the bread into one inch cubes. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake until browned, about 5 - 7 minutes.
  6. Place the bread cubes in a large shallow serving bowl or divide among four individual pasta bowls. Top with the sausage, pepper and onion mixture. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Pass the remaining cheese at the table
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Artichoke and Italian Sausage Dressing/Stuffing

Artichoke and Italian Sausage Dressing/Stuffing
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A versatile and flavorful stuffing. Perfect with turkey or chicken. Ingredients can easily be changed to your taste. Bake it in a casserole to create a crisp top and almost creamy interior. it could even be a one dish meal...if your a stuffing fan like me.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Artichoke and Italian Sausage Dressing/Stuffing
Print Recipe
A versatile and flavorful stuffing. Perfect with turkey or chicken. Ingredients can easily be changed to your taste. Bake it in a casserole to create a crisp top and almost creamy interior. it could even be a one dish meal...if your a stuffing fan like me.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook until the sausage is no longer pink. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain on paper towels. Leave the drippings in the pan.
  2. Add the onion to the pan and cook over medium - low heat until the onions are turning golden (About 10 minutes). Add the garlic and artichokes, raise the temperature to medium and saute until everything is golden. (about 5 minutes). If things are getting too dry, add a little chicken stock.
  3. Add the kale and saute until it is wilted (3 - 4 minutes). Add the red pepper toss to combine and continue to cook for 5 minutes longer adding chicken stock to keep things moving. Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. In a large bowl combine the bread cubes, cooled vegetables, and the cheese. add the 2 cups of chicken stock and toss to combine everything The mixture will be quite wet.. Cover and refrigerate overnight. This will allow the bread to absorb the stock and the flavors to meld.
  5. Use this as a stuffing for a turkey breast, a casserole side dish or just a guilty pleasure.
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