Nothing beats a good old fashioned marinara sauce. It makes an ordinary bowl of pasta memorable, with its' layers of simple flavors. Anyone from experienced to novice home chefs can make a perfect one. It's an easy ragu to create for a dinner tonight or for one several weeks down the road.
Julia Moskin wrote about it for her Recipe Lab article in yesterday's New York Times Food section. She is something of a sauce whiz, having made her first sauce when she was a child. Her early sauces ,made for her little sister, consisted of nothing more than browned chopped meat and can of tomatoes. Her recipe has progressed , improved over the years with the addition of spices and pork . Funny enough the sauce doesn't exist in Italy, being one of those Italian American inventions such as pepperoni pizza and garlic bread. One of the successes to a good ragu is how it reacts with the pasta. It should be well mixed with a chunky sort like rotelli or penne. The sauce is added a little bit at a time to the pasta pot and then stirred in until there is nothing in the sauce pot.Doing it this way will allow the hot pasta to absorb the ragu, making it the most flavorful. More spices, along with salt and pepper can be added after to zing it up.
What goes into a good marinara sauce?The main ingredient meat should be a mix of pork and beef. Italian sausages work well too, because they already have the herbs and spices needed for flavoring the ragu.if you want to add just beef for a chunky sauce you can but just remember it will make it a one note kind. Tomatoes are also key. Ms. Moskin recommends using San Marzano whole ones but the Tuttorosso brand can also work here.There should also be tomato paste here as well for depth and body. Any imported kind works here, including San Marzano's American or Chinese canned tomatoes just don't quite cut it , probably because their tomatoes aren't ripe when picked as processed.. This affects the unami or fifth flavor of the entire recipe.. Spices are important. They bring out the tomatoes' earthy sweetness. Use fresh rosemary and thyme. along with fresh parsley. If you have basil, add it too. Ms. Moskin doesn't but I feel it gives a nice mellowness to the sauce. The meat and the onion should be fried first in olive oil then the tomatoes are added and cooked for forty minutes.
Nothing beats a good homemade meat sauce.Try this one for a delicious, old fashioned flavor of an Italian American kitchen .It's a nice lift to ordinary pasta and makes for a memorable meal.