Braciola and Sausage Sunday Gravy

This rich and rewarding Italian classic tomato sauce is highlighted with delicous beef braciola.


  • 6 very thin top round steaks (about 8 ounces)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino cheese, divided, plus more to pass at the table,
  • 1/2 cup homemade stale white breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped, divided
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 4 ounces salami or prosciutto di Parma, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, 3 minced or grated, 3 crushed
  • 2 small chili peppers, such as Italian cherry or Fresno, 1 seeded and finely chopped (can substitute 1 teaspoon dried red crushed pepper flakes), and 1 thinly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 6 links hot Italian sausage
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed (1/3 palmful)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 large cans Italian San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and halved
  • 1 small rib celery, halved
  • 1 small onion, halved and peeled
  • 2 cups passata or tomato puree
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken or beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti


Sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine half of the cheese, the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup parsley, pine nuts, lemon zest, salami, minced garlic and the finely chopped chili pepper. Top the steaks, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll and tie the meat.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a pot over medium-high heat. When the oil smokes, add the meat bundles and brown. Remove the meat bundles, then add the sausages and cook until brown, then remove. Add about 1 tablespoon of EVOO and reduce the heat to medium, then stir in the fennel seed and cook for 15 seconds. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, then add the tomatoes, bay leaf, carrots, celery and halved onion. Break up the tomatoes, and add the passata, then stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Slide the meat and sausages into the sauce and bring to a bubble, reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.

In a skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons EVOO, two turns of the pan, then add the sliced onion, cubanelles, red bell peppers and sliced chili pepper and cook to soften, stirring frequently, 12-15 minutes. Add the stock, the remaining 1/4 cup parsley, tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes more.

For a make-ahead meal, cool the sauce and meat and refrigerate. Reheat over a medium-low flame on the stovetop until warmed through. Store the onions and peppers separately and reheat over medium-low heat in small skillet.

To serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water and cook the spaghetti to al dente.

Place the meat and sausages on a serving platter. Remove the onion, carrots, celery and bay leaf.

Add about 1 cup of the pasta’s starchy cooking water to the sauce, then put half of the sauce in a gravy boat. Melt the butter into the remaining sauce and toss with the pasta and cheese. Serve the pasta alongside the meat roll and sausage. Top the pasta and meat with more sauce and cheese, and serve the peppers and onions on top of the sausage.

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Rachael Ray