Thursday, October 30, 2008

"World's Best Tomato Sauce"

Where I'm from we don't trust paper. Wealth is what's here on the premises. If I open a cupboard and see, say, 30 cans of tomato sauce and a five-pound bag of rice, I get a little thrill of well-being—much more so than if I take a look at the quarterly dividend report from my mutual fund.

— Garrison Keillor

Surprise, surprise. We have too many tomatoes. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest overabundance problems to remedy. Sun-dried tomatoes aside (well, really oven-dried tomatoes) and not even counting the chopped tomato that can make its way nightly into your salad, there's always tomato sauce. And when you're going with 2 pounds of tomatoes at a time, they disappear pretty quickly.

I stumbled on this Bolognese recipe about a year ago, and it's one of the most-requested recipes I make. I've tweaked it beyond recognition from the original, but to be honest I don't think it's awesomeness has much to do with the ingredients. I've come to the conclusion that a shoe or a hat, when cooked long enough on low heat with a little salt and pepper, could be fantastic. Something to bear in mind if you have the tendency to put your foot in your mouth.

I like to put the sauce on in the morning, and then let it cook for most of the day. If I didn't have anosmia (and I weren't vegetarian), I could tell you about all the wonderful smells. Apparently, the kitchen is a great place to be about 2:00 in the afternoon.

In any event, I give you the "world's best tomato sauce" (according to G).

Bolognese Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small carrot, chopped fine
1 pound 86% ground beef
1 cup whole milk
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
32 ounces fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil

In large heavy saucepan, heat butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides; sauté onion and carrot, stirring. Add beef and cook, stirring, until majority of meat is no longer pink. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Add milk and nutmeg and reduce heat to low. Add wine, sugar, tomatoes and basil.

Cook slowly over low heat, as long as twelve hours. Let the liquid evaporate until the sauce reaches approximately the right thickness, then cover with lid to prevent further evaporation. Stir occasionally. Before removing from heat, taste test for sugar, salt and pepper. Add more if needed.

Sauce may be made ahead and cooled, uncovered, before being chilled, covered, 2 days or frozen 1 month.

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