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.

1 comment:

  1. yuuuuuuuuummmmmm
    but i must vote for including fennel pork sausage in the stewing process, without it, the oily sheen of deliciousness is seriously compromised - as you noted. good thing we're carnivores.

    i also like to finish with a squeeze of lemon sometimes right before serving, adds a nice acidic bite.