Friday, June 11, 2010

Paging Doctor Sauce

Most people I know of scoff at the idea of making their own pasta sauce. At most, it seems they'll be willing to open a jar of sauce, put it in a pan, and warm it up. Some won't even warm it up, and just eat the sauce cold.

Rather than just accept this state of affairs, I thought I'd lay out a simple method to greatly improve the taste of that store-bought sauce, with very little work required. This works with your cheap cans or your most expensive jar sauces, or anything in between.

1 cup red wine (I used some of my homemade Barolo. More on winemaking in a post soon)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 jar pasta sauce of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put wine, onion, garlic, basil, thyme and oregano in a saucepan on medium-low heat and reduce*, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn to pan.
2. Add olive oil, sauce and parmesan cheese and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. If you want meat sauce, this is the time to add the meat too, to let all the flavors meld together.

For best meal, cook your pasta to not quite Al dente (which means still somewhat firm, but not hard), and drain water. Then stir the pasta into the sauce and remove pan from heat. It will complete the cooking process from heat of the sauce, avoiding the problem of overcooked pasta.

* This means to slowly simmer it and let the liquid evaporate off, leaving just the tastiest parts of that red wine soaked into your onion and spices.

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