Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cook it all day pasta sauce

Finding myself with some unexpected time on my hands means I get to spend more time in the kitchen. That means cooking up delicious meals that can simmer away all day. Pasta sauce is the perfect all day dinner, easy to put together and very versatile. Just add the pasta of your choice and some crusty garlic toast and you're set.

Everyone's family has a pasta sauce recipe they love. No one makes it quite like Mom's. Ours is no exception. The Chef's sauce is different than mine even, so we get two incredible family recipes to play with, update, and make our own. We love lots of garlic and herbs, layered flavors of herbs- both dried and fresh bring something to the sauce. Dried herbs lend their subtle flavors through long and low cooking, fresh herbs add that pop of flavor when added at the last minute. Onions and garlic are the backbone of my sauce and both diced tomatoes and tomato puree complete the sauce. 

Herbs? Italian flavors are what I want here. Oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf fit the bill, and instead of just regular crushed red pepper I am going to use a pepper blend I picked up at Vom Fass, Aglio Olio & Peperoncino.

So let's get cooking! You will need-

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 cups tomato puree
  • 8 cups chopped tomatoes
  • dried and fresh Italian herbs- oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme
  • crushed pepper to taste
  • cooking oil
Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a stockpot, add the onion and saute until softened. Add the garlic. I love sliced garlic in recipes like this (think Goodfellas and the scene in the prison kitchen- Pauly slicing the garlic with a razor blade). Cooking just melts the garlic into the sauce and it's so much more flavorful. Stir the garlic and onion for a couple minutes but don't allow the garlic to brown. It gets bitter and nasty if it browns.

Add the ground beef and break it up. Cook until done. Drain off extra fat if needed.

Add the herbs to the ground beef in the pot and stir. I use about 1-2 teaspoons each of dried herbs, a little lighter on the oregano than the basil.

Next, add the tomato puree and the tomatoes to the pot. Stir it all together, bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover and let simmer for an hour or so. 

Next, lift the lid and place it ajar so the sauce can cook down and thicken. Stir once in a while and taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed. Let the sauce cook all afternoon over low heat. A crockpot is great if you have one.

As dinnertime approaches it's time to pick out a pasta. This sauce is very hearty and works well with just about any pasta, from spaghetti to lasagna. We will be having spaghetti tonight. Cook your pasta according to the package directions, drain well, and serve with sauce and hot crusty garlic bread. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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