Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Pasta Sauce That Made Me Famous: Or Should Have…..

You want it? You got it! This is my family recipe for damn good tomato sauce. Actually it’s more of a pizzaola sauce, but it’s still damn good. Ever go to a restaurant and order spaghetti and meatballs, only to be disappointed by the sauce, or the pasta, or everything? Well now you don’t have to suffer! I’ll admit, when I’m totally tired after a long day at work, I’ll pop open a jar of good sauce, but if you make this in advance and freeze it you’ll only be a few minutes of defrosting away from a great meal.

What you’ll need:
  • big pot – and I mean that
  • sharp knife
  • cutting board
  • a wooden spoon or whatever you have to stir (metal not that great)

  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes (pureed tomatoes if you don’t like chunky sauce)
  • 1 small can of Hunts tomato sauce
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (you can use less if you want)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Oregano
  • Basil (*tips for using fresh)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar to cut the acidity

Step 1: Mince, dice, nice

Before you get going: Put the pot on the stove and open any cans of tomatoes and tomato products you’ll be using. This way you won’t burn your onions while struggling to open a can.

Take the onion, slice off the top and bottom, slice in half and remove the outer papery skin. Slice up both halves and then mince what you got. Set the onion aside when it is in itty-bitty pieces. Take the garlic cloves and lay them out on the cutting board. Place the flat side of the knife on top of one of the cloves and smash it with the palm of your hand. The papery coat should slide right off. Don’t worry if you mashed it into the cutting board, you’re gonna mince it up anyway. And on that note, mince the garlic cloves and set aside.

Step 2: Some clarification please?

Turn the heat to medium and add about a tablespoon of olive oil to your pot. Put a small piece of the minced onion directly in the oil. When that baby starts to bubble and sizzle, throw the rest of the onion in and start stirring with your wooden spoon. You can use a cooking grade plastic spoon if you want but try to stay away from metal. There’s a chance that it will scratch your cookware and don’t forget that metal conducts heat. In laymen’s terms: you gone get burnt.

Push the onion around until you see it starting to get kind of translucent. This takes a bout 3 minutes and no you can’t stop stirring. If you do, or your heat is too high, you’ll get caramelized onions and if that’s the case you might as well but away the pasta and fry up a steak. After about 3 min, throw in the garlic and keep tossing it about. Burned garlic is bitter garlic.

Step 3: Can, Can?

Add in your tomatoes (diced or crushed) and your tomato sauce. Stir things up and turn the burner on high to bring it to a boil.

CAUTION!!!!! Tomato sauce splatters when it boils. It will splatter on you. You should never cook in clothes you care about because crap always happens. Buy an apron: http://www.cafepress.com/ucantcook.265130814# and by the way, this is seriously the least you could do after all the teaching I’ve been doling out here.

When it starts to boil, you’ll know this by the tomato explosions you’ll be dodging, turn the heat back down to medium and let it simmer. If you’re making pasta at the same time, go you! And you can use the pasta water to thin out the sauce if it’s too thick. Remember: less is more, you can always add but it’s harder to take away.

Step 4: The spice is right

Season with the (1) bay leaf, (2 tsp) oregano, (1 tsp) basil, (1/4 tsp – pinch) salt and (1 tsp) pepper. Taste it. If it’s too sour or tangy, add a little sugar to make it sweeter. It shouldn’t be candy like Olive Garden or Chef-Boy-R-Dee. Rob likes it acidic and so do I so I seldom add the sugar. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes. After this turn the heat to low and when you’re ready to eat, spoon it up.

If you are using fresh basil: Take about 4 leaves of basil, wash lightly, stack one on top of the other and roll into a cigarette shape. Take your knife and slice it up. Add this at the very end so it keeps its green look. Also, fresh basil is very fragrant so you don’t need to throw it in with the other herbs. Dressing the dish when it’s just about to be served will give you enough flavor.

Freezing: You can freeze this in a sizable Tupperware and it should be good for about a month or so. If you keep it in the fridge it will spoil in a week since there are no preservatives. A bit of a thaw in the microwave or on the stove top is really all you need to defrost it, and you can do this while you’re making your pasta.

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