Saturday, September 24, 2011

About that gravy or PG's industrial red sauce.

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I was planning on making a pasta dish for our meal on Thursday. That was the reason for my attempt at an Italian type loaf of bread. I referenced to the sauce as a gravy. There's a fair amount of area residents of Italian descent and most, not all, refer to the red, tomato based sauce that's served with many pastas as gravy. If you call it spaghetti sauce, I do know what you're talking about. If you have the time to read, I'll tell you how I make my gravy/ red sauce/ spaghetti sauce.

Back in the early 1990s, Mrs PG and I stopped for the night in a small New York state town on the Hudson River. We had plans to tour West Point, the US Military Academy, the following morning. A helpful desk clerk directed us to a small Mom and Pop Italian restaurant and pizzeria that was favored by the local townspeople. We were impressed by the food and asked the proprietor what he used in building up his sauce. If I recall correctly, he told us that he used the same basic sauce for both his pasta dishes and his pizza, the difference being that the sauce for the pizza had a little water added to thin it out.

The foundation is equal weights of crushed tomatoes and tomato puree and as in a good loaf of bread, some time. For Thursday night's meal, I started in the afternoon with about one pound of lean ground beef, browned, drained, and lightly salted in the colander before it had cooled more than a minute. In the same dutch oven, I browned about 1/2 C chopped onion and added two cloves of chopped garlic- we like garlic- just before the onions were done. Then I added 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes and tomato puree. I stirred it up, returned the ground beef to the dutch oven, mixed the contents some more, covered, and set the flame for a low simmer. I had some leftover cooked chuck roast that I thawed, diced, and threw in the pot at this time. I could have used leftover pork loin as well. It wasn't much, just enough to add to the appearance and mouth feel of the sauce. The long, slow, and low simmer is key to tenderizing the chopped up roast.

I've switched over to seasoning this industrial red sauce to shortly before serving, about 15-20 minutes before hand. You use less seasoning and the flavors are more bright. I like to add basil, oregano, a little bit of salt, crushed red peppers, and celery seeds. fresh basil is best but you have to restrain from using too much until you know how it works with the sauce. I grow San Marzano tomatoes in my garden and they fit well in the sauce. I don't wear dentures so I don't worry about removing the seeds.

This is a learn through experience sauce for the added seasonings. The richness of good crushed tomatoes and puree has enough sweetness that you can get away with any of my favorite seasonings added as long as it's not to excess. As in making bread, practice makes perfect. If you like pizza, you have reason to practice at both.

I hope that you like the sauce.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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