This Southern specialty is a solution to a glut of ripe tomatoes
Tomato gravy is rarely found in restaurants and is more of a home kitchen specialty. Southern tomato gravy isn’t the famed Sunday gravy for which Italian-American grandmothers are known. It isn’t a day-long process that includes Italian sausage. Some claim it isn’t really gravy at all. But if it comes hot and silky from a saucepan and pairs well with biscuits, rice, grits or various meats, we feel comfortable calling it gravy.
Made with finely chopped tomatoes and their juices, instead of milk or stock, this gravy originated as a solution for having no milk on hand, but a glut of sun-ripened tomatoes in the garden. Tomato gravy is a wonderfully versatile addition to your cooking. It can be put on just about anything and served with any meal.
Gravy, after all, is used to cover some cooking sins — dry, overcooked or bland, making it a frugal solution, as well.
Southern Tomato Gravy
2 tablespoons butter or bacon drippings
1⁄2 onion, finely chopped
1 fresh rosemary or thyme sprig
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced or 1 (14.5-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Melt butter or bacon drippings in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and herbs, cook, stirring often for 3 minutes, or until onion is tender. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in broth until smooth.
Stir in the tomatoes, salt and sugar, gently crushing the tomatoes while stirring. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until thickened. Discard herb, serve immediately.
Note: There are regional options to add in if you like. Celery, okra, garlic or garlic powder are popular additions.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.