Say what you want about gangsters - the garroting, the cocaine use, the shooting-a-guy-in-his-foot-for-no-reason - the guys know how to eat, even in prison. Follow along as we make old-school Sunday gravy, and please, try not to piss off Tommy.



  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 pound sweet and 1 pound spicy Italian sausage

  • 1 pound beef shank

  • 1 pound veal neck bones with meat attached

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin with a safety razor

  • 3 small onions (keyword: small), chopped

  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • (3) 28-ounce cans DOP San Marzano tomatoes

  • 2 large stems fresh basil

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into three pieces

  • 1 pound meatballs (see Timpano recipe)

  • 3 pounds durum semolina pasta, cooked al dente

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or butter for finishing (optional)

  • Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)


Makes 24+ servings

  1. In a large non-reactive (stainless steel, enameled cast iron) pot, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown the sausage, beef, and veal in batches until well browned and fond has formed on the bottom of the pot. Set meat aside. Heat olive oil in the pot until shimmering - add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until soft.  Add onions and tomato paste, sauté until onions are translucent. Deglaze with wine, making sure to scrape up all the fond on the bottom of the pot. Pour in tomatoes, crushing with a spoon (or processing beforehand with a food mill if desired), and return meats to the pot. Add basil and carrot, and bring to a bare simmer.

  2. Let sauce simmer on low heat for about 4 hours total, stirring and scraping the bottom occasionally (don't let anything stick - it will scorch and ruin your sauce). Add meatballs during the final hour of cooking.

  3. Discard carrots and beef/veal bones - add a spoonful of sauce to coat some freshly-cooked pasta (preferably something with ridges so it holds onto lots of sauce), and stir in butter or olive oil for a richer sauce.  Top with extra meat and gravy, parmesan cheese if desired, and serve.

  4. Sauce freezes and reheats exceptionally for up to 2 months.