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I have to admit when Kenji asked if I wanted to tackle a grilled Sunday gravy, I had to first look up exactly what that was. When I saw the sea of meats—ribs, sausage, braciole, and meatballs—that go into this slowly simmered tomato sauce, I was giddy with excitement at the idea.
The challenge was to prepare all of the ingredients on the grill. This started with grilling six pounds of halved roma tomatoes, which took up the entirety of my 22-inch Weber kettle. Once nicely charred, they were processed through a food mill and the empty grill was adorned with hot Italian links and a rack of baby back ribs. All of this, along with onions, garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper, and tomato paste were simmered in a stockpot over the remaining fire on the grill.
It was only a shortage of charcoal that forced me to temporarily move the massive sauce indoors on the stove, but it wasn't long until I was at the grill again, cooking meatballs and a beef braciole, which were then nestled into the sauce until it was finished a half hour later.
While I had originally planned to remove all meats and serve them separately, the ribs had completely broke down and became part of the sauce. This only made it better in my opinion, as the final chunky red sauce was a powerhouse of meaty flavor with an equally substantial feel.
In the heat of summer, my one plate of pasta dressed with this hefty sauce should have been enough, but the second course of the simmered meatballs, braciole, and sausage was too much to resist.
So it stands to question, did the grill make a difference?
With the intense meatiness and heavy flavors of the sauce, the bits of char and faint smokiness was a bit lost, but at the same time, not having the stove and/or oven going for five hours inside is a blessing during the hot months. So all in all, the grill isn't a necessity here, but it sure didn't hurt and was a whole lot of fun.
About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.