Monday, July 13, 2009

Secret Sauce

Well here it is. This is what thrust me into cooking in the first place. It is the first recipe that I ever created- my infamous red pasta sauce. While my grandmother and mother have/had very different recipes, I have derived the best of each of their own delectable concoctions to create this delicious, and economical sauce. So, here it is. PLEASE try it and let me know what you think.

The first step is choosing meat. Now there are a few different choices, and it will depend on your own personal likes and dislikes. I will give you three choices which all fit into the recipe the same way. First, you can do ground beef sirloin or lamb. Both will make a delicious Bolognese on a 30 minute or 3 hour cook. Option two is cubed beef. It is a nice option for a shorter cook-time with a quick sear up front. The third option is cubed pork loin (NOT tenderloin). This option is better for a longer, lower temperature cook. High boiling temps will dry the pork out too much, no matter what cut you choose.

So now you have your meat. Before you begin, choose your cooking vessel. I use an enamel coated cast iron braising pot. I like it because it cooks up the sides of the pot as well as from the bottom, thus awarding the option of a lower temp slow cook for good flavor melding. A stainless steel or non-stick stock pot will do just fine as well.


Meat- one or two packs chosen from above, about 1 pound per pot of sauce
1- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1- 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1- 28 ounce can of tomato sauce
1- 10 ounce can of tomato paste
one large sweet onion
5 garlic cloves
2 Tble spoons red chile flakes- as desired
1 Tble spoon dried basil
1 tsp oregano
10- white button mushrooms (can substitute canned mushrooms if you like- one 10 ounce can)
1/3 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1) Put your cooking vessel on medium-high heat and oil bottom. Dice onion and garlic and fry lightly. Do not let the onions brown or soften. Add red chili flakes and herbs and let cook for two minutes. Add meat, season with salt and pepper and brown for five minutes.
2) Open all cans of tomatoes, adding paste first and fry for one minute. This will sweeten the paste. Add the other tomatoes in no particular order. Once all of the tomatoes are in the bath, bring to a LIGHT simmer. Add mushrooms anytime from now to 20 minutes before serving. When you see the bubbles of a boil beginning, stop.
3) There are two ways to go from here. If you have less than an hour to let the sauce cook (and you ought to be using ground meat or cubed beef, or none at all), you can leave the temperature at medium heat. If you have the great ability to slow cook your sauce, which is no more than three hours, you can turn the temperature down to medium-low and enjoy the intoxicating aroma.
4) That is it. It is simple. NEVER buy bottled sauce again. This will cost you about $10.00 for at least one week of dinner!!!

Other options:
If you like a veggie filled marinara sauce instead of meat, add green, yellow, and orange bell peppers, and maybe a little zucchini or eggplant if you like a ragu-ish sauce.
Otherwise, if you want a thicker sauce, you can add a larger tomato paste or drain the water off of the diced tomatoes.

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