What is it about the winter that makes us crave pasta in red sauce? Maybe it is the chill in the air, not really sure but something about this time of year begs for this dish and it brings that homey feeling to your kitchen. Good pasta is lets us stare all those anti-carb diets in the face with defiance. Opening up your door after a day digging the car out from a foot of snow or shoveling your payment goes from tired and weary to smile and appreciation when you get a whiff of that incredible red sauce. Here is a recipe for a base sauce, you can adjust it to taste or allergies as you like.
You will need the following ingredients for this dish:
- Pepper, fresh ground
- Two cans peeled tomato product, unseasoned and large
- Garlic, one full head, peeled
- 2 white onions, chopped or diced, try a Walla Walla sweet
- Parsley, oregano, basil, (fresh thyme rosemary or oregano if you like)
- 1 bunch fresh basil torn or diced leaves
- 8 oz chopped mushrooms
- 1 C red wine, DO NOT USE COOKING WINE
- 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
- 2 pounds chunk or ground meat, you can use beef, veal or pork
- 3 T olive oil or butter
- 1 C stock: parmesan, beef or chicken broth (recipe to follow, you can also use water if necessary, 1 parmesan rind (if you have it)
You are also going to need a large lidded pot, cutting board and knife, and something to stir with (a rubber spatula or wooden spoon is preferred).
Keeping ingredients separate, cut down to small portions. Over medium heat, warm the pot and then add your oil or butter. When that has been brought up to temp, add meat and constantly stir until it is well browned. (Ground meat may cause fats to be gathered in dish so you will want to strain them off before going forward.)
Put onions in pan and combine with meat.
Continue stirring until the onions turn to a golden brown color and then add some garlic. Continue stirring until the garlic is browned and then put mushrooms in. Stir everything together and then place lid on the pot. As the mushrooms are cooking, they will purge their natural water, continue cooking until pan gets dry again. At this time, you can add the tomatoes.
Upon emptying cans, rinse them with the broth (or water) so you get the remains of any tomato that was left behind in the can. Add the rest of the garlic, herbs (both fresh and dried), wine and parmesan rind.
Lower the heat to a simmer and allow to cook while periodically stirring.
Allow to cook for as long as possible up to about 5 hours. The longer it cooks, the more flavor you will get. On occasion, return to stir and taste. Ideally, you want it to taste better than store bought sauce and that is achieved after about one hour. For best results, you will want it to cook from 2-5 hours, anything longer tends to be too much.
If you find that the sauce is thickening to the point of sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, thin it out with more red wine, water or your stock.
If you did use fresh herbs and a parmesan rind, remove them and then season to taste. This dish will serve well on the cooking day (season with fresh basil) or will hold well for many days. The longer you hold this sauce, the more the flavors will blend together. Many people believe that the sauce is so much better the second day that they let it sit overnight before serving.
red pasta sauce
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