9.05.2007

By request...

One thing I learned very quick when I was out in Chicago was that where pasta is concerned, just about every premade jarred tomato sauce is going to annoy the piss out of me. It was either some overseasoned-to-mask-the-shitty-tomato-from-concentrate-puree Ragu or Prego bullshit or something that tried to sell itself as the sort of stuff used in Italian restaurants and was technically over my food budget and always seemed to be missing something anyways.

I was, of course familiar with the process of making sauce, which previously involved a crock pot, which I didn't have at my disposal, and lots of time, which just doesn't fit for me. Not that it's intensive or anything or that there's anything in particular that would prevent me from being able to tend to it... it's just the odds of my knowing that I'm going to want sauce that far in advance are ludicrous.

101 Cookbooks has a five minute sauce recipe and that got me on the right track... in truth by itself it's quite tasty and there was no overwhelming need as such for me to do anything more, but I never make anything directly from a given recipe more than once, if that as a matter of principle. Or stubbornness.

Whatever

Anyways, the 101 Cookbooks ingredients follow as such, starting with the most obvious

1 28oz can Crushed Tomatoes
3 med cloves minced Garlic
1/4 cup Olive Oil (or enough to coat the pan)
1 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 tsp Fine grain sea salt
Lemon zest

The lemon zest is a nice touch. As is the red pepper. I'm a bit confused by the fine grain sea salt. Actually what I've been doing is crushing coarse sea salt under a ladle. But I have no idea if and how it does its job better than table salt. *shrugs* As is it's a good thrown-together quick light sauce.

Ok, to start out, you coat the pan with the olive oil, to which you add the garlic (I use the mincer on my cheese grater), the salt, and the red pepper. The amount of red pepper in this can stand to be reduced by a half a teaspoon I think, but that's a minor thing and in fact an issue of taste. The garlic can stay where it is or, once again, if you're a fan of garlic, more won't hurt it. But it's all I can say that more needs to go in this pan.

Oh wait. I forgot to mention. Don't do this in the saucepan. I use a small non-stick frying pan. There's a reason for this that I'll get to later.

It's all I can say that more stuff should be going into that pan. Chop up an onion. Maybe some peppers or mushrooms. Ground beef, of course, is a standard, but seeing as the person who requested this doesn't eat beef...

Oregano too. Basil as well if you don't have the whole leaves. If you do have whole leaves wait until you've actually added the crushed tomatoes. And your'e on your own as for measurements; because I've yet to measure any of the seasonings I add other than the prescribed ones. Comperable amount to the red pepper might work as a rule of thumb though

Anyways, sautee all of this until some tasty smells start to get released. You should especially notice the garlic. You'll note that I didn't say anything about adding the chopped onion yet. This is when you do so, if you so choose, and keep it going for a bit afterwards. You want to get some of the juices out and also let it take on the flavors of the other stuff that's sizzling with it. This is also where you'd add anything else more solid than the seasonings.

After all that's settled, transfer the contents to the saucepan and add the crushed tomatoes. Don't wash the frying pan just yet. There's a reason for this and I'll get to it later.

The important thing about the crushed tomatoes is that they don't suck. Now, one may think that it's a hard thing to fuck up, but trust me. I use Rienzi crushed peeled tomatoes, and get good results. They're imported from Italy, which sounds pretentious and pricey, but it's not, because I say so. You can also get them with basil added and that's good too. Whatever you do, don't get puree, and don't get store brand, which is often puree given the name "crushed tomatoes" You also don't want anything that's been seasoned by something other than basil.

Bring it to a simmer, and if you feel the need to add salt or black pepper, this is the juncture. This is also the time to add whole basil leaves. If you like spinach in your sauce, go for it. Not my thing.

Heidi says use the zest of a whole lemon, but that's clearly bullshit. Half. Maybe more. Make sure you stir it well in and let it simmer.

Ok, so remember what I said about not cleaning the frying pan? Here's why. Taste the sauce. As it's simmering, there are two main ways one might be unsatisfied with it. One is that something's missing, and the other is that you're getting sort of pools of liquidy...stuff... rising to the top. The latter is something that happens a lot with meat sauce Both can be easily remedied. Let's suppose that it's both. Check the surface of the pan to see if there's still the remnant of olive oil coating. if it's not enough it's safe to add a very small amount more. Add a small amount of garlic to the oil, and hit it with some heat. Now, skim the liquid off the top with the ladle and add it, along with any seasonings you fancy, to the pan. As it simmers under more direct heat it'll start to steam up, and become less liquidy and more pasty as it mixes with the additional ingredients. After as much water content is boiled off as possible and before it burns the pan, transfer the entirety back to the saucepan.

I very sincerely doubt that you'll find that last step in any recipe as it is not the product of a sane mind. One could just as easily add new ingredients to the sauce itself, or absorb the liquid with a hunk of bread

If you didn't add anything solid to the sauce beyond the initial mash that includes the garlic, then 5-10 minutes simmering should be enough. If other ingredients are added... well, use common sense about it. Onions won't need much more simmering, but meat might. Peppers certainly will, and if there's basil involved you'll want to give it time to do its job.

This stuff works well with most pasta I've tried it with. Aside from that I've put it on breaded chicken with good results.

Hope this helps someone.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks, I was waiting for this in my mailbox. ;)

    Hope it's not too difficult for me.

    ReplyDelete
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  3. That sounds delish AND easy....maybe even I could do it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The things I learn from you :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mmm, mmmm! Sounds delish... the ingredients are very similar to what we use in our sauces... there is a quinoa dish, my hippie quinoa, that seems to delight most... make it on over here and I will make it for you!

    How's that for foodspiration?

    ReplyDelete