Low-Carb Sunday Stew

“Sunday Sauce” is a catch-all name for an Italian tomato-based sauce, typically served over pasta.  It almost always includes three meats:  sausage, meatballs, and braciole, rolled up “packets” of meat stuffed with filling.  Most fillings include bread crumbs, and many include raisins.  So I set out to develop a lower-carb version, with a cheese-based filling.  I also use an egg and Parmesan cheese to hold the meatballs together, without breadcrumbs.  While you certainly could ladle this over pasta, that would defeat the low-carb purpose, so I’ve renamed it “Sunday Stew”, dense and meaty and meant to eat on its own.  I hope you like it.

Low-Carb Sunday Stew

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 8 hours
Servings 12
Author Leslie Carbone


  • 1 stick butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, cut into 1" pieces, casings removed
  • 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1" pieces, casings removed
  • 1 lb ground beef not lean
  • 2 lb flank steak, sliced thin and pounded to 1/4" thickness, and cut into 12 rectangles
  • 1/2 bottle dry red wine, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c Parmesan, freshly grated, divided, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 c mozzarella pearls
  • 1 c ricotta
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tbsp fresh oregano, divided
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano, freshly ground
  • approx. 2 doz. leaves fresh basil, torn in bits
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes
  • 2 6 oz cans tomato paste
  • water
  • 1 sm. yellow onion, diced, divided
  • 1/4 c carrot shavings
  • S/P to taste


Start stew.

  1. Melt butter over low heat in lg. pot.  Add sausage.  Pour 1/4 c. red wine over sausage.  Cover and let cook, turning occastionally.

Make meatballs.

  1. Place ground beef in med. bowl.  Break apart with clean hands.  Add egg and 1/4 c. Parmesan and 1 tsp. oregano and gently work through.  Do not overwork.  Make golfball-size meatballs by taking sm. amount of meat mixture and gently tossing from hand to hand.  

  2. Add meatballs to pot. Gently bring sausage over meatballs with wooden spoon. Turn occasionally, careful not to break apart meatballs as they brown.

Make braciole.

  1. Make filling.  In lg. bowl, combine ricotta and remaining Parmesan.  Stir in 3 minced garlic cloves, Italian parsley, and remaining oregano.  Fold in mozzarella pearls.  

  2. Season steak with salt, pepper, and dried oregano on both sides.  One by one, starting at short end, spread cheese mixture over 1/3 of ea. steak piece.  Starting at filling end, roll up steak.  Secure with butcher's twine.  Tuck in ends.  

  3. Heat olive oil over med-high heat in lg. skillet. Using tongs, place each braciole seam-down in skillet. Cover. Cook until brown, approx. 6 min. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle. Remove twine.  

Finish stew.

  1. Using tongs, gently add braciole to pot.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, carrot shavings, and 1/2 of diced onion.  Add 1/2 c. red wine.  Season with salt.  Cook at least four hours; six is better.  Stir occasionally.  If boiling down too much, reduce heat and add 1/2 c. water.  Add more wine to taste.  

  2. One hour before serving, add basil and remaining onion, garlic, and fresh oregano.   S/P to taste.  

  3. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan, as desired. 

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