The Recipe: Throw out the bum! Oh wait, not the bum, the "bun" – the burger bun, that is. These burgers are cooked right in the skillet in a bed of "tomato gravy" that's become my answer to homemade marinara sauce. (Yep! You can even skip making the gravy and just use your favorite jarred marinara sauce.)
The Conversation: What's your supper saver? This one's a man-pleaser and so yeah, okay, a woman-pleaser too.
Supper Savers. Is that what you call the dishes that you can make – in a flash – almost without thinking, with always-on-hand pantry ingredients?
Most of my Supper Saver recipes start with eggs. “One of us” (that would be me) could eat eggs for supper one night after the next but the “other of us” (that would be him) sees it otherwise.
So with a freezer full of beef – paid-for if not free protein – I’m collecting recipes to have at the ready when energy and ambition run low just before supper.
The first time “we” (that would be him, I was writing on deadline) made this easy supper dish, we started with a jar of marinara from the grocery store. Very good!
The next time “we” (that would be me, he was feeling puny) made this, I started off with my own Tomato Gravy, a homemade marinara, the recipe I’ve been making mine for awhile now. The results? Just excellent!
Tomato Gravy is my kind of “Homemade Pantry” – something that can simmer away with little attention, letting me keep busy elsewhere in the kitchen while the house fills with supper’s-in-the-oven smells.
with TOMATO GRAVY
Time to table: 65 minutes
Makes seven smallish but filling burgers or four larger burgers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed but left whole
- 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 1 small dried chile
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved, cut in thin half rings
- Water, if needed
- Fresh herbs, for garnish
TOMATO GRAVY In a large heavy Dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add garlic and let sizzle just until beginning to turn color. Add the tomatoes (be careful, they’ll sizzle). If needed, turn the heat down to avoid burning the tomatoes along the edges. With a potato masher, mash the tomatoes right in the pan.
Add the water, chile, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil and adjust heat to maintain a slow simmer for about 15 minutes, reducing the gravy by about a quarter. Remove the chile and garlic.
SKILLET BURGERS Heat oven to 425F.
In a large bowl, use your hands to combine ground beef, egg, salt and oregano without working the mixture too much. Form into four or six burgers.
In a large, heavy oven-safe skillet with a cover, heat the olive oil until shimmery. Add the burgers (they should sizzle) and brown on both sides; set aside. Leave the drippings in the pan, add the onion and let brown, stirring occasionally and adding water if the skillet is dry.
Stir in the Tomato Gravy. Nestle burgers in the gravy, use a spoon to drizzle gravy over the burgers.
Cover and bake for 15 minutes.
Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.
Is It "Tomato Gravy"? Or Is It "Homemade Marinara Sauce"?
"Tomato Gravy" just has a ring, doesn't it? We first made this recipe way back last spring but I didn't pay attention to the "tomato gravy" in the inspiring recipe's title, perhaps because for a long while, I'd been working to find "my" homemade marinara sauce and was so happy to find a tomato combination that works for me.
Then a couple of weeks ago, a long-time reader (hello Walter!) asked if I'd ever made tomato gravy. I'd never heard of it! Google provided some quick answers and I put Tomato Gravy on my to-make list for next year when summer tomatoes are again in season.
So call this what you like, Tomato Gravy or "Homemade Marinara Sauce" albeit with a small kick from the chile that I don't think is typical in the authentic Italian recipes. But I do make and use it like cooks make and use marinara. Just this month I made a double batch, used some in meatloaf and then froze the rest. It's so great to have on hand! Maybe it'll be "your" Homemade Marinara Sauce too!
Good Burger = Good Eats
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