Last week Jan’s farmer friend dropped pounds of tomatoes on us. To preserve them, I turned them into three quarts of a simple tomato sauce—just tomatoes and a bit of salt. This allowed me the greatest flexibility when I decided what to use the sauce in a recipe— meaning it did not lock me into Italian cuisine, like so many of the sauces on-line.
Just because I was not locked into Italian cuisine does not mean that that is an excellent use for the sauce. Eilene was planning to go out with friends, but when they found out that I was thinking about making pasta they changed their minds. This seemed like a good way to use up one of the quarts of sauce.
Note: In addition to the tomatoes Farmer Pat also sent along some green bell peppers and Italian oregano—Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum. There are several types of oregano, each with their own distinct flavors. What you will find in most bottled dry spices will be Origanum vulgare.
Karl’s Homemade Pasta Sauce
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. New York Style mild Italian sausage (loose, not in the skins)
1 yellow onion, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup green pepper, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. Italian oregano (substitute regular oregano)
1 Tbs. basil, dried
1 Tsp. rosemary, dried and crushed
½ tsp. black pepper
1 qt. Karl’s Tomato Sauce (substitute canned tomato sauce plus 2 Tbs. tomato paste)
¼ cup. dry sherry
1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.
Tip: Set a large pot of water to heat while you are preparing your sauce, so that it will be ready to cook your pasta when the time comes.
2. Form the pork into one large patty and fry on both sides until well browned.
Tip: It is not important, at this point, for the meat to be cooked all the way through—you will be cooking it some more later on.
Note: This is an America’s Test Kitchen trick to get the flavor of the Maillard reaction without turning your meat into dried out little rocks.
3. Transfer the meat to a plate to cool.
Note: When the sausage has cooled enough to handle, use some forks to break the patty apart into the size you like—you may break it up into fine bits or leave it as large, almost-meatball-sized pieces.
4. Without cleaning the pot, add the onions and salt.
5. Sauté the onions until just starting to pick up some color, about five minutes.
Tip: Use the moisture released by the onions to deglaze the pot.
Note: If the onions do not release enough liquid, add a splash of sherry to remove the fond from the bottom of the Dutch oven.
6. Add the celery and peppers to the pot and continue sautéing until the vegetables are soft, about another 5 minutes.
Note: Some people think that a good pasta sauce should be just tomatoes and herbs with a bit of onion. I try to sneak in as much vegetable matter as possible, so that it is a one dish meal.
7. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and sauté the garlic for one minute, until fragrant.
8. Sprinkle the seasonings over the vegetables and stir them in.
Tip: If you are using canned tomato sauce, now is a good time to brown 2 tablespoons of tomato paste with the garlic.
Note: The sauce I made was cooked for many hours and does not need the flavor boost of umami that browned tomato paste adds to canned tomato sauce.
9. Add the tomato sauce to the vegetables.
10. Stir in the sherry and sausage to the pot.
Tip: Use the sherry to rinse out the jar.
11. Bring the Dutch oven to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer the sauce for 10-20 minutes to meld the flavors.
Tip: If you feel your sauce is still too thin, do not cover the pot.
Note: While the sauce is simmering cook your favorite pasta to al dente. For a thick sauce like this I like rotini, because the ridges capture and hold lots of sauce.
12. If you serve the pasta on the side, you diners can choose the amount of carbohydrates they want to consume and then generously pour the sauce over it.
Tip: Serve shredded Parmesan on the side, for those who want to top the pasta with cheese.
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