Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: The Occasional Recipe: Tomato Sauce

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

The Occasional Recipe: Tomato Sauce

Thursday, January 29, 2015

There are always two kinds of bloggers. There are those who post regularly, predictably, reliably. I’m one of the others. Lots of ideas have come and gone and still no new post. So here’s a quick dive back in, and, given what it looks like outside here in the People’s Republic of Cambridge, maybe something welcome--a quick and delicious dish to make from the materials at hand.

This is the best basic tomato sauce I’ve ever made. It’s from the incomparable Marcella Hazan and is so iconic that it ran in the New York Times with her obituary a few years ago. Not only is it delicious and easy, but it’s almost certain that you have every ingredient (all four of them) on hand so you can make it right this minute without going out in the snow.

Here’s the whole thing: open a can of whole tomatoes, and I’m hoping you have some good San Marzano ones. Put them in a saucepan with 5 tablespoons of butter. Right away you know this is going to be good, because what doesn’t taste good if it has five tablespoons of butter in it? Add a peeled onion cut in half. Again, easy peasy--no slicing, dicing, mincing. Just cut the onion in half. Bring it to the slowest simmer your stove can manage and let it cook about 45 minutes. Stir it once in a while. Here comes the fourth ingredient: at some point taste it and add some salt. Magic. No wonder people went to the ends of the earth for salt. Maybe just a little more. That’s it. Perfection.

When it’s ready, throw out the onion halves and pour the sauce over rice, pasta, whatever. Add something. My plan for tonight is rigatoni and some Italian sausage. But big chunks of vegetables could work, as could throwing in leftover chicken. Canned tuna and black olives, maybe? (And about the tuna--a couple of years ago I realized that, since I was using olive oil on just about everything, why not give up the cardboard-tasting packed-in-water tuna for the good kind packed in olive oil.) Or just a grating of Parm.

Whew, that was easy--dinner and a blog post. 

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