A few weeks back I was faced with one of the toughest cooking challenges I’ve ever had to make since starting this blog. It was a beautiful autumn Sunday afternoon, and my wife and I had plans to take our kids to meet up with friends at a neighborhood Fall Festival. We also had a huge craving for a nice pot of Sunday gravy, which we haven’t made in a while. When a hankering for Sunday gravy comes along, there is no turning back.
Knowing that we would be out of the house for a good few hours, spending the time needed to tend to a pot of gravy wasn’t an option. But I was still determined to somehow enjoy my favorite Sunday meal, so much so that I already bought the cans of tomatoes, the beef, pork and veal for the meatballs, and the loaf of crusty Italian bread. With my back up to the wall, I made the crucial decision….I was going to attempt to make my Sunday gravy in a crock pot.
Still a bit shaken and nervous about my decision, I reached out to my Facebook friends to get their opinions. My friend Lorraine Rannali, the Gravy Wars queen, thought I was crazy. Even my cousin – my own flesh and blood – was shocked. But I was determined to conquer my fears and figure this one out.
We’ve all used a crock pot to serve up meatballs at a family party. But this wasn’t just a quick reheat…this was building from the ground up. If you step off of the meatball merry-go-round and think about it, you’re only using a different heating element to warm up a pot. Already I was feeling less nervous, and it was time to get cooking.
The first step that I take when making my Sunday gravy is to heat up some oil and garlic, and then add my tomatoes. Knowing that the crock pot wouldn’t produce the heat needed to warm up the oil, I used some common sense and came up with the practical solution – just heat up some oil and garlic in a small pan over the stove and add it to the tomatoes, Now we’re rolling!
I started by adding my cans of tomatoes to the pot, seasoned it up as I normally would, and then added the heated garlic and oil. The house is smelling good already! I already had the meatballs baking in the oven, and once they were done, I plopped them into the tomatoes and in true old-school fashion (I worked every old-school trick I could think of), I added some of the meatball oils to the pot for a little extra flavor.
Now it was time to head out and hope for the best. I set the pot to the low setting, and off we went to paint pumpkins and stuff scarecrows. Three hours later, we returned and I slowly but anxiously opened the front door. We were greeted with the most beautiful, fragrant smell that any Italian and Italian-American home would be proud of…the smell of Sunday gravy.
Yes friends, you can indeed make Sunday gravy in a crock pot. By following your own traditional recipe, and heating up your oil and garlic in a separate pan, you should have no problems and will not taste a difference. You will have to scale back on the amount that you’re making, as crock pots are much smaller than a regular sauce pot. If you’re making Sunday gravy for a large crowd, leaving the house is probably the furthest thing from your mind anyway!