Neck Bones and Gravy

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A big pot of neck bones simmering on the stove is comfort food for my husband. I usually make this for him about once a year, sometimes with pasta, or sometimes just with string beans.

Neck bones to us is like Italian soul food, not fancy by any means, but gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling every time you eat them as you recall memories and smells of your childhood.

This is truely recession food, cheap eats that cost only a few bucks and feeds many.

Having run 6 miles that morning my husband justified the meal that was to come. He quickly called his brother and invited him over for dinner who became giddy with excitement. I cooked up some bucatini, made a salad, and warmed up some nice crusty bread.

No fancy china here, just two brothers sharing a meal together recalling memories of their mom.

The table wouldn’t be complete without a bowl for the picked over bones. You can get my family recipe here, but warning, you might need to wear a bib!

Of course there’s always room for dessert, and if you haven’t tried
Gina De Palma’s Ricotta Pound Cake you’re missing out. I’ve made this several times and it’s always a hit.
Buon Appetito
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  1. Oh my, we just defrosted pig neck bones from an FFA pig we bought at our Calaveras County Fair’s livestock auction last May. People say “buy local” well folks food doesn’t get any more local than this or more Italian. We’ve been so sad that my Italian mother in law passed away, I want to fix some Italian comfort food and you answered my prayers. Grazie

  2. Hi Marie,
    This gravy looks amazing! I would love to try it out – where can I find the recipe?

  3. This is the way I was taught to make “gravy” 😉

  4. I am so wanting to make the neck bones in sauce however I can only see the picture and comment’s cannot find the recipe. Can you help?

  5. Been making this type of sauce for 40 years and never change anything, just continue using tomatoes from the garden that are canned durning the season or a couple summers past. I always use Roma tomatoes for this sauce,they are the best.

  6. Hi Marie,
    Is it possible to pop these into the oven to cook low and slow rather than the stovetop? If so, do they need to be uncovered or not? thanks!

    • Linda I don’t see why not but I think I would cover them about 85%, just let the lid have a tiny opening, keep checking periodicly, meat should fall off the bones.

  7. Denise Brosch says

    This is the post…the article….this is the one that made my Mom and I avid readers of your blog! I mean we loved you before this but this is the big one. So many fond memories of making the sauce with pork neckbones….still do! And fighting over the sweet meat. When trying to encourage non-family members to try it for the first time, our efforts were met with grimaces. Once they tasted it….they got in on the fight! I never thought of just making a big pot of them, by themselves. Believe me, I immediately when out and a large quantity and did just that! Lots of sauce for the freezer and plenty of the meat to eat that night with some homemade bread! LOL To hear this tradition was entrenched in other families just made us feel so proud!

  8. I just saw a comment asking for this recipe and you replied send me an email. I have done that many many times and never received a reply. This recipe and your Marina sauce.

    I would appreciate if I would be able to receive the recipe. Grazie!!!

    • Hi Karen, Sorry, maybe it’s possible your comment went in my trash by mistake. I’ve had so many requests for this recipe that I decided to put them into an ebook that will be out very soon, so please keep checking back on my blog or facebook. Marie

  9. Massleelee says

    My mother would make a sauce made from chicken neckbones to lightly color/flaovr her rice for suppli al telefono (arancini). My treat was to gnaw on the bones. Yummmm.

  10. Anonymous, Please email me at and I’ll send you the recipe.

  11. MOLTO BELLA!!! Thank you so much Proud Italian Cook!!! I am so happy to find this website – I am first generation born here and my entire family before me was born in southern italy. My father passed away many years ago and he always made the neckbone “gravy” as we called it. Where are the actual recipes for all these amazing/familiar/soul foods? I cannot wait to get started.

  12. old fashioned cook says

    In our house, the gravy with neckbones was made on Saturday because my mother said it had to rest before you ate it on Sunday. When the meatballs and sausage went in, the neckbones were taken out and that was Saturday night dinner with a loaf of good bread to sop up the gravy on the neckbones! Yum, Yum!

  13. neck bones are NECESSARY for a good gravy (and a pigs foot too for good measure). i don’t think enough people understand just how delicious a long-simmered neck bone tastes. the meat is so flavorful and MMMMMMM.

  14. To the greatest SIL, that anyone could have,
    As you can tell by my stomach and my hands, you are simply the best chef cook and friend I will ever have. You are truly the last Italian, I just want to tell you I very much great appreciate your meals that make me emotional and bring me back to my childhood. Keep up the good work. You will always be # 1 to my stomach.

  15. Lisa B, Please feel free to email me at and I will send you the recipe.

  16. I’m sure you don’t have a recipe, but can you give us a brief how-to? Do you brown them 1st? Use onions or garlic and evoo to start the sauce? Wine? crushed red pepper?

  17. Less is more, and there is so much flavor in neck and bones! MMM!

  18. Oh gosh Marie, I would have been right at home with the meal of bones!

  19. Comfort food indeed and sharing it with ones where the original memories came from makes the meal complete.

  20. I would love to know how you made this. Neck bones and pasta etc sound terrific. I usually use them to make soup, but this sounds great! Is it a simple tomato sauce or does it have extra ingredients?

  21. Oh I love this! Incredible flavor from simple means. And the ricotta cake I’ve made a few times since I saw it here first- the finest I’ve ever had!

  22. Love it Marie! You’re right… neck bones are a big comfort food. My father loves chicken necks too. There’s always a silver lining, even in tough times.

  23. I can still hear my aunts yelling back and forth in a grocery store about pork neckbones. “They’re on sale!” said Fay. “They’re crap” yelled my Aunt Rose.Some were very particular about thier neckbones. Now, I use them to flavor along-simmering sauce. (“The bones give it flavor!” says my mother). We remove the bones before serving. The three Gresio sisters would gnaw on them in the kitchen. Maybe I should rethink the removal of the neckbones.

  24. Who told you neck bone is not fancy food! This is the perfect late sunday afternoon dinner!


  25. Your sauce looks so good Marie! I’m glad to hear your husband is keeping up with his running.

    My Italian mother-in-law never used neck bones but used many parts of the pig to simmer and flavor her sauce …even pig skin! I am guessing that meat parts are regional, like many other recipes in Italy.

    The ricotta pound cake looks so moist and delicious! I love dessserts like that.

  26. MMmm Italian soul food! Where in the world does one find neck bones?

  27. Nice that the brothers eat together.
    I can smell that gravy from here!

  28. Martha Stewart just had a chef on this week and they cook lamb neck! I bet your dish is delicious – love the ricotta pound cake, too! What a feast.

  29. Nostalgic meals like this are the best. There’s nothing better than the memories of special meals from childhood. When I just smell certain things simmering on the stove I’m taken back to being six years old and living on a farm. Very precious moments.

  30. If you can’t find neck bones or if they are more expensive, which I’ve found lately, you can use country style pork ribs, bone-in or boneless…yummy, delicious, wonderful…

  31. You are a good wife, Marie. Food is a wonderful medium for sharing memories. What a comfort.

    I am going to try that beautiful lemon-ricotta poundcake you recommend so highly.

  32. I have made many of Gina’s recipes and they are all excellent! A trip to Babbo is becoming necessary again !!!

  33. My mother wouldn’t have dreamed of making gravy without neckbones and my father could be heard happily sucking the meat out of them. I can’t always find them in the supermarket for my holiday gravy (being health conscious, I don’t make Sunday gravy too often), but I have to agree, they are delicious. I’m bookmarking this ricotta pound cake. It sounds delicious. Have you ever had “ricotta on the bottom” cake. It’s made with a mix, but it’s incredibly good. Reading your blog is like talking with family.

  34. we’ve become so health-conscious and fancified in our eating habits that I’ve forgotten how delicious something like this is — the best is sucking on the bones.

  35. Omg I thought my exs family was the only ones who made this! I love this and havent made it in yrs. Now Im gonna have to find me some neck bones and cook up a big pot of it. Yum and thanks for the memories.

  36. I just heard this whole thing about neck bones on one of my podcasts the other day and now, here they are! What an amazing meal, Marie. I’m so intrigued. Thanks for this!

  37. I made this ricotta pound cake when you originally posted it, and it has become a standard favorite in our house. Deelicious! Now the neck bones … it might take ’em a while to come around to that. What type of bones were they? Beef or pork? They look yummy to me.

  38. Pure Italian comfort food at its best. I’m also a huge fan of the ricotta pound cake.

  39. Although I’ve never cooked them myself, I also grew up with neckbones and gravy. My mom, aunt and grandmother would pick at the bones. But they also threw in some chunks of meat or meatballs for the rest of us!

  40. That meal looks so inviting. And that pound cake looks heavenly. I will have to try them both.

  41. I thought neck bones was just Black Soul food, LOL. I need to try them like this.Our company cafeteria used to serve them , and it was funny watching the visitors eat them. Im going to call you today time permitting.Need to ask you something.

  42. You are so sweet to make your husband a meal like this! I have been wanting to try that ricotta pound cake for a long time… it looks so enticing in that photo!

  43. I am so glad you posted this! My italian grandma never made these for me, but I have always wanted to have something to do with all the neck bones we end up with when we get meat from the locker! Can you give me a few details on how to prepare them? They look fabulous. I love oxtail and this looks like it would be alog the same vein.

  44. Sometimes it is the simple meals that taste the best. And adding a slice of pound cake just makes it more so. Thanks…

  45. These comfort foods that wrap us up in a virtual blanket remind us so much of our childhood what’s not to love!!!!

  46. 2 brothers sharing a meal and talking about their mother….there is something so precious in that…and YOU captured it!!! I think the recession will be a lot less painful if we get this right….sharing!!!

  47. It is so nice to see families enjoy comfort food and share memories together Marie. I have a bunch of blog recipes to share with my kids again this trip. hugs, Kathy.

    I actually did a foodie post today lol.

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