For Italians, gravy is as individualized as a family crest. Every gravy is brought to life in a different way, using different ingredients. Some have sugar, some use the rind from a block of cheese and some have a half bottle of wine poured into them. But at the end of the day, gravy is gravy and it's a staple to complete so many awesome dishes.
My recipe for gravy lands on the more simplistic side of things because I like to use it as an ingredient for other dishes. To me, the brightness of the tomato is important to keep vs. muting it with wine or even beef stock. So this recipe is clean, simple and extremely bright with flavor. It's best for pasta, cooking meatballs in and works great for a simple veal parmesan.
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 cup of fresh basil, chopped
2 28oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes, whole, peeled
28 oz of water
Salt & pepper to taste
In a large pot over hight heat, add a few good "glugs" of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Once hot, add the garlic and onion and sweat down until the onion is translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Once everything has cooked down for a few minutes, add the tomato paste to the pan and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom, cook for 1 minute and then reduce the heat to low.
This next part is what takes this gravy to the next level of authenticity. Open the cans of peeled tomatoes and crush each tomato with your hands, one by one, removing the tough part near the stem. This gives the gravy a great texture. I like to do this over the pot so that you don't lose any juice. Pour any remaining liquid from the cans into the pot. Add the water, dried oregano and re-season with salt and pepper. Partially cover and let cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Prior to serving, mix in the fresh basil.