Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Basics: Red Sauce

Prego and Ragu suck. Trader Joe's is meh. Even the Newman's Own stuff that I really want to like because most of the rest of their stuff is tasty...crap. And there's no way in hell I'm paying $8 for a jar of something that costs me <$2 in raw materials.

No, friends, tonight we make our own red sauce. But be forewarned: to do this wonderful thing, you must own the most essential of kitchen items. You must own the hand blender. Here's why:

That goodness, once combined with tomatoes:

eventually needs to turn into sauce. If you do not yet own this wondrous device, an entire universe of delight, wonder, and sapidity remains hidden to you. Your loss.

For enough red sauce for about 1/2 lb. of pasta:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil -- take a shot first to make sure it's good. Or because you know it's good and you can't wait to slurp it
  • 1 large (29 oz) can of whole peeled tomatoes -- lots of fancy-pants chefs will tell you to you need to take the seeds out. If you have the means to do this without either going nuts or making a mess or both, be my guest. Otherwise, use diced or just STOP WHINING ALREADY!
  • 1 large onion -- when I say large, think "handful"
  • 2 carrots -- the best way to get that sweetness
  • 1 celery stalk -- I have to admit, I generally have a strong aversion to celery's overpowering flavor in most dishes. I think you could reasonably argue that celery has no place in this recipe whatsoever because it makes it more French than Italian. But when I see my hand blender, eager and ready to do my bidding, I lose all celeric angst.
  • a crapload of garlic, minced -- some of you will, no doubt, wish me to quantify "crapload". While I'd love to make it easy for you poor, unimaginative slobs to blindly follow a recipe without any hint of elan, you're going to need to make a judgment call on this one based on how much garlic you can tolerate. I tend to go for a whole head (twss).
  • 2 sprigs thyme and/or rosemary -- used dried herbs if you must, but shame on you for not at least having one indestructible rosemary plant in your garden
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional) -- teetotalers beware!
  • 1/2 link Italian sausage, diced (optional) -- I'll be honest: red sauce ain't really red sauce until it has sausage in it. I'd be perfectly happy with the vegan version of this recipe because I've made it and it's yummers, but the sausage adds that extra fullness of flavor that's take-some-bread-and-soak-up-all-the-sauce-from-the-emptied-pot delicious. You know what I'm saying...unless you're veg(eteri)an, in which case you don't...but I bet you used to eat sausage all the time and you LOVED it but either your religion or your pretentiousness or both blinded you to the rapture that plump swine flesh delivers to your palate. Bacon can also work as a substitute, but sausage is really better. Really.
  • some salt -- I won't give a quantity here because I don't know how salty your canned tomatoes are, but I can almost guarantee you'll need some more.

  1. add olive oil to a saucepan over medium heat
  2. (if you dig the swine) add sausage and cook until fat renders
  3. add carrots, onion, and celery and cook until soft and almost browning
  4. add 1/2 the garlic (yes, that's a 1/2 crapload) and cook until the good smell comes
  5. add tomatoes and scrape all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan so it gets in the sauce
  6. add herbs, bring to a simmer
  7. add red wine and mix well
  8. add remaining garlic, simmer for 10 mins
  10. salt it up
Be no longer ashamed. Revel in your red sauce.

Monday, January 17, 2011

10 for $10 Beef Pot Pie

The grocery store had Swanson Pot Pies on sale, 10 for $10. We made an awesome beef pie for less than ten dollars - I'll take these ten servings for $10 any day over Swanson.

Prep it, for Stew:
  • ~1lb stew beef
  • carrots
  • red potatoes
  • shallots
  • onions
  • red wine
  • bay leaves
  • stock
  • flour
  • parsley
  • s&p to taste
Prep it, for Pie Crust:
  • 2.5C flour
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/2C butter
  • buttermilk or milk
Make it:
Start the beef and shallots in a little oil. Add onions, some carrots, red wine, and let it reduce for awhile. Add stock, simmer for 2.5+ hours. Add in small diced potatoes, pre-steamed in the microwave, and more carrots. Add more stock as needed, simmer for 30mins. Finish with chopped parsley and season. Remove from heat.

Cut the butter into the flour/salt to make pie crust. Add enough milk(preferrably buttermilk) to bring dough together, but do not overwork. Roll out half on a floured surface and place in pie dish. Fork the bottom of the dough and roll out the other half on your board. Dump in the stew filling (removing bay leaves), and cover with the remaining dough. Crimp the edges shut, and cut an X in the top to release steam.

Bake at 350 for 45mins. Cool 5mins and serve!

BONUS: Take your pie dough scraps, arrange on a sheet pan and dust with cinnamon & sugar. Bake 10 mins for tasty pie tarts.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Holy Awesome Pork Enchiladas

Prep it:
  • 1-2lb pork roast (i used a shoulder)
  • pork rub: 1/4C chili powder, plus 1t each salt, pepper, garlic, onion, cumin
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2T oil of your choice
  • 2T flour
  • 1-2C chicken stock
  • 1C milk
  • 1/4-1/2C tomatillo salsa
  • 1/2C sour cream
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2C grated queso fresco cheese
  • s&p, garlic powder to taste
  • sour cream, cilantro and avocado to garnish
Make it:
  • Mix rub and leave it on the roast overnight
  • Bake in covered baking dish for a minimum of 5 hours at 325degrees
  • Drain the fat, shred the pork and keep warm
  • Wrap tortillas in foil and warm in oven too
  • Start the sauce by heating the oil on medium heat
  • Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two
  • Add broth and milk, whisking to avoid lumps
  • Continue to cook on med for about 15mins, till thickened
  • Add salsa, sour cream, cilantro and remove from heat
  • Coat bottom of a 9x13" pan with some sauce
  • Roll up tortillas with some pork and cheese in each one, place seam down
  • Cover with sauce and leftover cheese
  • Bake 20mins at 400degrees until bubbly
  • Serve with garnish, refried beans, rice, etc
BONUS: Roast tomatillos to make your own salsa verde if you dare.