Friday, January 25, 2013

Pasta Rossa

I have a thing about spaghetti noodles.  I don’t like them.  There’s something about the shape and the way it doesn’t hold sauce that distracts me.  Ridiculous, I know.  But I like to pay attention to that kind of thing.  It’s the perfectionist in me that I can’t seem to suppress.  The way I see it, why not make a simple change, like the type of pasta, and arrive at a result that much closer to perfection?  No distractions.  Just pleasant-looking, sauce absorbing, delicious, reassuring pasta. 

With that said, I LOVE ‘spaghetti sauce!’  This recipe really is closer to a Bolognese, so, I’ve renamed it Red Pasta for the sake of simplicity.  But by George, feel free to use whatever your favorite shape and size of pasta is and call it whatever the hell you want!

This red pasta sauce is thick and sumptuous, packed with veggies and meat and deep, rich flavor. 

Good to know:

Marinara Sauce – a simple, tomato-based sauce with basil and garlic.
Spaghetti Sauce – an “Americanism” for a basic red pasta sauce normally served with spaghetti pasta. 
Bolognese – a tomato and meat sauce made with onion, carrots, celery, beef & pork. 
Puttanesca – a tomato sauce with anchovies, chili flakes, olives and capers, named after ‘women of the night.’

4 slices of bacon
1 lb. of ground Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
4 medium-sized carrots, diced
4 ribs of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 C. of your favorite red wine
1 jar of pasta sauce (like garlic & onion OR use several Tablespoons of tomato paste)
1 28 oz. can of tomatoes
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Basil, julienned (thin strips), to garnish
Bacon, crumbled to garnish
Italian sausage, to garnish
Parmesan, to garnish

Your favorite pasta, cooked al dente

In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat.  By cooking over low heat, you will render all that fat from the bacon, which will help give this sauce even more depth.  Remove the bacon when it’s chewy and cooked through.

Add the Italian sausage to the bacon grease and cook over medium heat, stirring the meat to break it into pieces.  When it has turned brown, remove the sausage and set in a bowl to rest.  Add the diced onion, carrots and celery to the bacon and sausage grease.  Cook this trinity of vegetables (called mire-poix in French, pronounced “meer-pwa”) over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  You want them to turn translucent and start to brown.  Do not let them burn.  Add the garlic and stir to mix it into the veggies.  Cook until it’s fragrant – less than a minute. 

Add the wine to the veggies and bring the mixture to a boil.  Turn down the heat slightly and let the mixture simmer until the wine has reduced and thickened and coats the veggies, about 7 minutes.  *As Ina says, choose a wine that you would actually drink.  If you don’t, then you wont want to eat it either.  If you absolutely HATE red wine, choose a bold white wine like Chardonnay.  It will stand up to the strong meat flavors.  Really, you’re just looking for depth of flavor. 

Once the wine has reduced, add the canned tomatoes and the pasta sauce.  Add the Italian sausage back to the pot as well, reserving just enough to garnish at the end.  Stir to combine and turn the heat to low.  Let this sauce cook for about 30 minutes to all day long.  The longer it cooks, the better it tastes.  If it starts to get too thick, just add a bit of water.  Taste it along the way as well and season with salt and pepper, if needed. 

When you’re ready to eat, cook your pasta to al dente.  This just means that it’s still got a bite to it so it’s not mushy and saturated with water.  You know, like those awful noodles you find in cans of chicken noodle soup! 

I like to drain my noodles thoroughly and then add them right to the sauce.   This way each and every bite of pasta gets coated by sauce.  To garnish, sprinkle with the reserved Italian sausage and bacon, Parmesan cheese and basil.  Serve with garlic bread. 


*This makes a ton of pasta sauce, so eat some and store the rest in the freezer for later.  

 Like this red pasta?  Try this white one too:

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