Diane's Family Marinara Sauce and Meat Gravy variation


(If making meat sauce, use all directions. If just marinara, omit the lettered directions.)

6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
2 ounces pancetta, diced *
1/2 pound pork ribs ends * see note **
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 32-ounce cans whole tomatoes in juice
1 small can tomato paste
salt to taste

* meat to add in Meat Gravy (in my family once it has ANY meat in it, it is NOT sauce, it is GRAVY)

1. Boil a cup of water and pour over crumbled porcini mushrooms, put aside to let rehydrate.

A. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat brown pancetta and pork rib ends. Remove from pan and put aside.

1. In the same heavy saucepan over medium low heat, cook garlic and onions in olive oil until softened, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Drain the porcini mushrooms through a coffee filter (there is sometimes dirt/grit in with the mushrooms), reserving the liquid. Chop up the mushrooms if any big bits remain and add to the pan with the garlic and onions. Pour the liquid into the pan and scrape up the bits of pork/pancetta and any of the garlic and onion that may have gotten stuck on the bottom.

B. Place pancetta and pork rib ends back in the pan.

>> At this point you can pour all the contents of the pan into a slow-cooker and follow with step #2. Cook for 10-12 hours on low.

2. Add tomatoes and juice, along with a little salt, if desired. You may mash the tomatoes with a fork (although some of us prefer to squash them with our bare hands before adding them to the pot) and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 1 hour. (3 hours if making meat sauce)

Makes about 5 cups sauce/gravy. The pork bones which are almost cleaned of meat are so good to nibble on for the cook. My favorite part of the recipe!

** When I make spare ribs, the triangle piece at the end of the strip of ribs is usually NOT very good as a rib. I save these triangle pieces until I have 4 or more of them and use for this recipe. If you don't have that, you can use any piece of country style pork rib meat that you want. It MUST be well marbled with fat and NOT from the loin.