War Food: How to Make a "Killer" Pasta Gravy

Where I come from people call marinara sauce "gravy". The word they use for the stuff you put on roast beef or Thanksgiving turkey is also spelled, gravy, but is said with a different inflection so the listener knows you're talking about food without balls.

Real New Jersey gravy has colliones. Here's my mama's recipe.

2 29 oz cans tomato sauce, puree, or stewed tomatoes
2 6 oz cans tomato paste
1 and 1/2 softball-sized yellow onions
2 garlic cloves, big
couple tablespoons virgin olive oil, from Italy (not that organic shit from Whole Foods)
hand fulla parsley
hand fulla sugar
hand fulla thyme or oregano, the kind like from the pizza place
hand fulla black pepper, ground so the little balls don't float all over
1/4 cup ketchup, you tell anyone, I'm gonna bust your ass
hand fulla cilantro, hey, it's not stupid, those Mexicans know a good thing
2 bay leaves
coupla ounces of tequila, shuddup or I'm gonna clock ya

Here's wat you do. Get yourself one of those 8 quart sauce pots. Get the onions. Chop 'um up. Don't massacre them, just make nice tiny pieces. Put the olive oil in the pot and turn on the heat. Not too hot because you'll burn everything to shit. You need it just right, okay? Then pud in the onions and smoosh 'um around with a spatula. Make sure you godda fan running or you're gonna gas yourself out.

Now crush the garlic and pud it in wid the onions. You remember what I said about the fan? Now you really need it or you're in trouble.

Smoosh all that stuff around in there with the spatula until the onions go soft on you. You can pud in a little pepper and cilantro too if you wan at this point, though I dunno why cause it tastes the same if you put them in later. But if somebody's lookin at you when you're doin' it, it looks like you know what you're doin'. K?

Now open all the cans of tomato stuff and pour them in. You can turn the heat up higher now because there more stuff in 'nere and it needs more heat. Mix everything up. Put in all the other stuff. You pud in you pepper and you bay leaves, you oregano, you cilantro, and you know why the sugar? Because it cuts down the acid, and you don't want too much acid.

Ok, so now everything is cooking up nice and we're going to get a little controversial. Not enough for the New York Times, mind you, but your going to look like a complete dufus if anyone knows you're doing this, so keep it to yourself. Like if I fine out you told anyone about this part, you're dead. I mean it.

So you go into the refrigerator when nobody's looking and you take out the ketchup bottle. Real quick you open the top and pop the back, bing, like that. Get a few good squirts in there. What does that remind you of, eh? Cut it out or your mother will kill me. You just bang it a few times--and, marron, I don't mean like this is a fucking gang-bang here, just a few shots so it knows you mean business. Now you pud it away real fast. If anybody asks you what the ketchup is doin' out, tell 'um your little sister was having a cold meatloaf sandwich. Don't let nobody know what you're doin.

Now this is the part I like. You get a fine tequila. Not the kind for tree bucks in Juarez, but the good kind. This is real gravy we're talking here, so spare no expense. Now you pour in your one, two, tree seconds of tequila. I'm not shitting you. It's really good. If any sonofabitch could stomach grappa you should use that because it's Italian. But tequila is better, trust me. Would I lie?

Now you let the whole mess cook. Stir it a lot, because it's going to bubble and spit all over everything otherwise. I like to imagine I'm in that scene in The Godfather when I'm stirring the gravy. You know, the one where the Tattaglia family tries to whack Don Corleone and they fail. So then all the lieutenants and capos meet at the safe house and clean all their guns to get ready for the war. That's when Michael's uncle Vinny shows him how to stir the gravy, but Michael says he wants to kill everybody himself. The kid had balls, you know what I mean?

So while you're stirring you put on the water for the pasta. By the time the water's boiling, you're good to go with the gravy so you shut off the fire. You cook your noodles al dente, so they're not soggy, or you gonna get your head handed to ya. Put some olive oil in the water so they don't stick.

After a coupla minutes you strain out the water. Put the noodles back in the pot and throw in a coupla spoons of gravy so they don't get sticky. Then you serve.

This is traditional family war food, and you know that after they eat your soldiers are gonna be at the top of their form, ready to whack anybody we don' like. So you always make sure you got the fresh ammo ready for the guys for when they're done eating. If nobody's going out today, you can serve some chianti. Get some of those big juice glasses and fill 'um up. The guys like that. Or if they gotta go out, you tell them they can have it when they get back. Don't want no sloppy aim on your account. That could be bad.

It's also good to feed pasta and gravy to the kids right after soccer practice. Fills them up good, so you don' have to worry they're walking around hungry. Lots of minerals and vitamins. Makes 'um grow big and strong.

Okay now. You get outta here. You know your mother doesn't like you being up here with me. Scram.

Marinara sauce is a lot like a chunky tomato sauce. Think of it as Italian salsa, if you will. Marinara works well on pasta but, unlike a straight up tomato sauce, it also works well on other meats, like breaded chicken cutlets and sea foods like clams and shrimp. It's tomato sauce when you want a basic, zesty red sauce to highlight the food but not drown it.

Basically take a 24 oz can of crushed tomatoes and throw it in a sauce pan along with about 3 handfuls of chopped white onion. Add 2-3 cloves of garlic (crushed), 1/2 cup of red wine, 1/2 cup of water, 2 cans of tomato paste, 3 table spoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, 4-6 fresh basil leaves, a pinch of pepper, 1 teaspoon of oregano and thyme. Boil it for a bit in the sauce span, while stirring, and reducing the liquid content. Remove the basil leaves. I also like to add a dash of Tabasco and about a teaspoon of anchovy paste for some extra zing.

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