Sorry for my absence, I got a job working at an academy for at risk youth, teaching young adults the realities of working in a commercial kitchen, while at the same time helping make about 1000 dishes a day. I'm a bit zonked, at the moment, but I felt like sharing about this. I realized that I had a very simple marinara sauce recipe, but I hadn't gone into anything more advanced. So, let me fix. I'm going for quick and easy here. If you're the type of person who'd reduce tomatoes down into a sauce, I can give you pointers but basically it boils down (heh) to keep adding water as needed, low heat, and stir them frequently until they start to fall apart, then crush them and add the herbs and such. That's a whole different post, though.
1 big can of chopped or diced tomatoes in sauce (I'll explain this, bear with me)
1 medium sized can of tomato sauce (go for the lowest amount of sodium possible, read the label)
1 chopped green bell pepper, deseeded
1 small white onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 pieces of bacon (you're going to love this part)
about a shot and a half of sweet wine, or 2 of good non-dark beer
optional: a few sliced mushrooms. baby portabellos are best imo
herbs (equal portions to taste, I go with about 1/2 tsp):
marjoram, oregano, basil, parsley, thyme
2-3 bay leaves
Ok, I'll start by repeating the saying: fiddle with all of this. I specifically left the color of the wine and the type of beer blank, because all of them will work (seriously. I've used pabst to make some amazing sauces) and you should use what you like. I will say, however, that bitter wines don't like pasta sauces as much in my experience. Pasta sauce should be sweet and tangy, and I find bitter wines tend to add too much tartness and overpower the tomatoes. Blush wines are great for this. A bit of strawberry zin makes a GREAT pasta sauce, since strawberries and tomatoes are very similar in terms of the enzymes they put out. It lifts the tomatoes, and at the same time dissolves those alcohol soluble yummies in the tomatoes.
So, pre-prep. chop your veggies, and gather your herbs, as you normally do. Then, grab a tea bag. preferably something herbal and non-offensive like chamomile. open up the staple, and pour out the tea. Eat the tea. Snort the tea. Feed it to your cat. open up a bag of other tea and replace it to mess with your roommates. Just dispose of it in some way. Then, put the bay leaves inside of the tea bag and restaple it, being sure to reattach the string. Voila. easily removable bay leaves.
Start out the sauce by cooking your bacon on the bottom of a big frying pan. When the bacon is nice and brown, set it aside on a paper towel. Add in the onions and garlic. Sweat them over medium to medium low heat until the onions start to turn clear, being careful not to burn the garlic.When that's done, add in the wine and the rest of the veggies. Cook them for about 2 minutes or so until the wine begins to absorb, then dump in a bigger pot, add in the herbs, and both kinds of tomato sauce. I know what you're thinking. Taco, what the hell. Why canned tomatoes? SLACKER! Well, in a grocery store the fresh tomatoes are picked for appearance, waxiness. Not necessarily optimal taste, and aside from that to make a good marinara you have to use slightly old tomatoes, since the sugars start to break down and make it less sweet. canned tomatoes are more often picked for flavor rather than appearance, and have chilled out a bit, the canning process doing what time would have to normally.
This is the most important step: Eat your bacon. It's served it's purpose, and I love making recipes that involve eating random bacon. My gift to you. :) Then, cook the sauce until it's done. it'll have to be nice and hot (160 farenheit for you thermometer people) and the spices will have to be nice and mixed in, and have given off most of their flavor. The veggies will have to be soft. Serve it immediately, or do what I do and stick it in the fridge, as marinara always tastes better reheated.
No real recipe here, it depends on how many you want to make. You want to use equal parts of ground pork and lean ground beef. The pork adds the fat, and the leaner beef makes them taste, I don't know, cleaner? Less oily. Add a single egg, a bit of diced sweet onion, a bit of garlic, and just a touch of ground sage. Like a tsp per pound of meat. Simple is great, you want the meat to shine here. No bread crumbs, they dry out your meatballs. Instead, add an egg. It'll hold them together better and add extra moisture. A bit of grated parmesan or romano would go well, too, adding a bit of extra savory flavor.
To cook them, don't boil them in the sauce. You'll leech out all of their flavor. Don't boil them in water, the same thing will happen. Instead, toss them in a cupcake pan, and cover them. Bake them at 425 for about 10 minutes or so, until they're done. Either cut one open or use a thermometer, aiming for about 150 farenheit. This way they'll be nice and brown, and juicy, but you won't lose their shape or texture, or steal all of their flavor.
Obviously I could go on for days about different tips to make a good spaghetti and meatballs, but I think in the end the best sauce is the one you customized yourself. Everyone has that family member that makes that amazing pasta sauce. The one that when they hand out the recipe, it's not quite as good? It's because they fully and completely own it. Minor touches they add in that make it special.
Anyone got any to share?