Italian Style Gravy

Food & Home, Rachel Maria's Recipes

So, here is my rationale to why Italians call their meat sauce, gravy. It has meat in it! If it does not have meat in it, then we call it a sauce or marinara. My grandmother (like her mom and her mom’s mom and her mom’s grandmother, and so on) made gravy using several cuts of meats (veal, pork, sausage, etc.) and two pots. One for the meat and one for the sauce. She’d marry the two together after a few steps and BAM, it became Italian style gravy. 

I guess you can say the recipe has evolved into something much simpler, because I eliminated using two pots, several meats, a thousand steps, and a bunch of dishes to clean. You’re welcome.

Oh, and here are a few tips to make your gravy as good as mine. ; )

  • I use Contadina Paste and Hunts Sauce.
  • When it comes to the wine use a Cabernet unless you want your gravy a little sweeter. In that case, use Pinot Noir, Chianti, or Shiraz. (I use whatever I have on hand, but Chianti would be my first pick.)
  • I don’t like the taste of oregano in gravy, but if you do, add 3T to the end of this recipe.
  • I always make my gravy in advance. It tastes better the next day!

If you’ve never made Italian Style Gravy, do yourself a favor and start with this recipe. You can always add on and experiment with more meats, pots…whatever you want! 

Italian Style Gravy

Yield: For 2 lbs. Pasta


  • 1-2 lbs. Italian Sausage (Hot and/or Mild)
  • Olive Oil
  • 5 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Lg. Onions, chopped
  • 3-5 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Cup Carrots, chopped
  • 1-6oz. Can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Cup Red Wine
  • 3-29oz. Cans Tomato Sauce (or 2 cans sauce & 1 can diced tomatoes for chunkier gravy)
  • 5 T. Fresh Basil, roughly chopped
  • 3 T. Garlic Powder
  • 3 T. Dried Basil
  • 3 Dried Bay Leaves
  • Salt, Pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, over Medium High heat, add 1/2 cup olive oil.
  2. Fry Sausage on both sides and REMOVE once cooked (but not well done).
  3. There should be a liberal amount of oil reserved in the pot. This is the flavor!
  4. Lower temperature. Add chopped onions and carrot. Saute' for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add chopped garlic. Stir and wait until it softens.
  6. Add paste to the pot and with a wooden spoon, stir really well making sure it does not stick. If it does you didn't have enough oil.
  7. Deglaze pan with wine. Stir gently.
  8. Add 3 cans of sauce and fill each can with water. Add the water to the pot. Stir so that the lump of paste begins to thicken the liquid.
  9. Turn up the heat to medium. Add remaining 5 ingredients (the spices). Bring to a boil.
  10. Now lower the pot to a simmer. Continue to stir every so often and let it remain on the stovetop simmering for about 40 minutes.
  11. Remove pot from heat.
  12. Add sausage back in while pot is still hot.
  13. Let the gravy sit for up to an hour after. You can reheat before serving.

Rachel Scheyer


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