marinara manifesto

 

Dom’s marinara manifesto.

 

I had been asked by a regular at my job for a good tomato sauce recipe, which is funny since I’ve been making sauce as long as i can remember being a good Italian boy. This being said i realized that it’s easier to cover all tomato based sauces as a mathematical formula, rather than one specific recipe.

First we need the foundation:

 

Basic Tomato Sauce:

ingredients:

2 large onions diced

4 cloves diced garlic

3 carrots made ridiculously small

a liberal dollop of olive oil for sweating

a few cans of diced tomato (or fresh or pureed depending on what’s on hand)

a nice handful of chiffonadde basil

 

This is really simple, sweat the garlic, onions & carrots, add the tomatoes and basil and simmer. Just season to taste. That’s it.

 

All the other sauces build up upon it using 2 radical concepts

 

1: add what you like

2: season to taste

 

that essentially is the whole deal & with some basic theory this is how you make a sauce that really suits you. Even though it seems counter intuitive lets start with number 2.

 

Sauce Seasoning Secrets (actually no secret at all)

 

1: Saltness can be countered with sweet and vice versa

 

In it’s most basic form, if you added too much salt add sugar, but it can be any salty to sweet, you can balance, for example, smoked ham hock in a sauce with re isling, or even molasses. The ways that you balance salty & sweet and what you use for them is what not only adds individuality to your food but separates a good dish from a great one.

 

2: The less time the sauce cooks the “fresher” it will taste the longer it cooks the “stronger” it will taste.

 

The simplest example is tomato paste, to oversimplify, it’s that big can of pureed tomato cooked down to a little can. As the water evaporates the flavors concentrate and mingle having less volume but a different flavor & texture, both with their strong suits.

 

3: Creamy (specifically dairy) can balance spicy.

 

Dump too many pepper flakes in the pot? Add some milk or cheese & stir throughly.

 

4: “Rich” sauces equal fatty sauces.

 

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, whether it comes from sausage or Stilton, creme fresh or ground chuck, or even avocado puree (my vegetarian friends are agreeing with me on that one) it is the fats & in some cases the gelatins that give a nice meat sauce or Alla vodka that delightful unctuousness & mouth feel.

 

 

Now to continue my ass backwards rambling, and address rule number 1.

 

Add what you like.

 

Pretty simple but it really, in my opinion, it gets to the spirit of the dish. This is a cornerstone of “peasant” food, tomatoes are cheap, tasty, delicious & versatile, my marinara sauces are very often a last stop for several leftovers; their flavors balanced using the guidelines you just read above. To flesh it out more let me explain in it’s simplest form the way i usually make my meat sauce.

 

Dom’s meat sauce

 

Ingredients:

 

Basic Tomato Sauce:

ingredients:

2 large onions diced

4 cloves diced garlic

3 carrots made ridiculously small

a liberal dollop of olive oil for sweating

a few cans of diced tomato (or fresh or pureed depending on what’s on hand)

a nice handful of chiffonadde basil

 

Here is where it changes from the basic sauce.

Add 2 stalks of celery and 1 bell pepper to the mixture sweating on the stove.

Before you add the tomato;

Sear, one package of beef or pork neck bones &

one package of pig tails or oxtail (depending on which are on sale)then set aside.

Barely brown 1 pound of either cut up stew meat or ground beef or lamb.

 

After the meat is browned

 

add about 4 cans of diced tomatoes, not drained

Roughly half a bottle of red wine

Cumin,

Mrs. Dash

some hot sauce, chili powder or chili pepper, etc. to taste

one small can of tomato paste or sun dried tomatoes

1 regular sized Hershey chocolate bar or chocolate syrup (trust me)

a literal fist full pf parsley

as much fresh basil as humans can bear

a splash of red wine vinegar

any extra stock that is lying around

liberal dosage of oregano

roughly half a cup of grated cheese, preferably Romano

replace the tails & neck bones to the sauce to simmer in (think of them as meaty teabags, yum…)extra credit if you drop in a couple of pigs feet, or cow hooves/shanks etc. to simmer in the sauce, both meat & sauce will benefit and you can easily remove the foot before serving (chef’s treat i call dibs) your more squeamish guests who will just think you make the best sauce ever. Another advantage of this is if you intend to use the sauce in something like a lasagna or baked ziti, the gelatin that comes from those cuts, both thickens and adds flavor and structural integrity to baked pasta dishes.

A half cup of honey

2 fresh tomatoes

one more onion diced

one more head of garlic diced & added one hour before taking off of the stove to simmer.

Simmer while stirring frequently for at least 2 hours or until you meet the consistency you like, don’t be afraid to use a roux to thicken or even to cook the pasta in the sauce (after adding an additional stock, wine or water) for a really thick & decadent dish.

 

That is my intended meat sauce the way i like it if all other factors are under my control, you can plug in or exchange any components to fit your tastes, your kitchen & your wallet. Now here i something i like to add to my meat sauce to turn it into a one pot meal:

1 pound frozen turnip greens or spinach,

a pound of diced fresh mushrooms

1 jar artichoke hearts diced.

1 can of peas or beans (I’m particularly fond of both)

any other leftover vegetables in the house. By using the law of add stuff you like i made it (in my mind) better.

 

The next big sauce i tend to make is an Alla vodka sauce; you can substitute wine for vodka with this and you’ll have a lovely creamy wine sauce (i like to use white & put it on seafood).

 

Next big surprise start with:

Basic Tomato Sauce:

ingredients:

2 large onions diced

4 cloves diced garlic

3 carrots made ridiculously small

a liberal dollop of olive oil for sweating

a few cans of diced tomato (or fresh or pureed depending on what’s on hand)

a nice handful of chiffonadde basil

 

Then add to this roughly half a pint of half and half, milk or cream; keeping in mind the paler the color of the stock the less prominent the flavor of the vegetables will be.

A splash of stock

3 to 4 shots of vodka or roughly one full glass of wine

a tablespoon of tomato paste or sun dried tomato

a bit of Gorgonzola cheese to taste

some hot sauce or chilies to taste

parsley

oregano

a likely dash of something sweet to adjust the flavor

just simmer a while & you’re done.

 

Now these two recipes that you just read are simple examples of how I like to make sauce, emphasis on how “I” like it and tend to cook. These recipes are designed to be customizable & hot swappable, add subtract sausage, mushrooms whatever works. My tastes tend to favor pork & beef but i often will take either leftover chicken or fresh and slowly stew it in tomato sauce till the meat falls of the bone, it works for duck or any other foul as well so you can take advantage of a poultry sale & make a fantastic cacciatore, (stew chicken in a mix of basic sauce, white wine, with capers , green olives & mushrooms) it is all a matter of what you have lying around.

 

 

Oh and get creative don’t disappoint me here!!!

dom

2-13-08

1:26 am

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One Response to “marinara manifesto”

  1. […] that I called the “Marinara Manifesto” (if willing to examine my hypocrisy click the following, https://kingbiscuitpants.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/marinara-manifesto/ ) so I am now posting this near antithesis of the rambling sentiments expressed in my earlier post […]

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