Editor's note: Each Saturday afternoon we bring you a Sunday Supper recipe. Why on Saturday? So you have time to shop and prepare for tomorrow.

20121012-sunday-supper-sausage-meatball-sauce-polenta.jpg

Hearty, slow-simmered meat sauce tops creamy yellow polenta. [Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

Inspired by a recipe from America's Test Kitchen, I set out to make an Italian feast a few holidays back. Central to my meal was a laborious Sunday gravy, braciole and all. It took a long, long time to prepare. In this somewhat pared down version (minus the braciole), a many-meats sauce simmers languorously on the stovetop before it's served atop creamy mascarpone polenta.

Although it's tempting to take shortcuts when preparing the sauce, don't. A good Sunday gravy is all about building flavor. That means taking the time to brown meat. It also dictates you darken the tomato paste before adding the other sauce components in. After all, the last thing you want is to have made the effort without the return.

Note: For efficiency's sake, this version omits braciole. But by all means, add it in. I'd recommend using flank steak, stuffed with a mixture of seasoned, cheesy breadcrumbs, garlic and herbs. Secure it with kitchen twine, brown it in olive oil and plunk it in your red sauce at the start of its simmer time. When the sauce is ready to serve, simply remove it, discard the strings, slice the meat and return it to the sauce for a quick warm-through.

Get the Recipe

Creamy Mascarpone Polenta Topped With Sunday Gravy »

About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.

Comments can take up to a minute to appear - please be patient!

Previewing your comment: