Saucy for­mula

How to dump jarred pasta sauce for­ever: Make your own in a few easy steps.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - By JAMES P. DEWAN

SE­RI­OUSLY, who’s even got the time any­more, am I right? Be­tween mo­tor­ing the spawn school­ward and pick­ing up the laun­dry from the rock lady down by the stream. Then there are the in­suf­fer­able chores: milk­ing the chick­ens, feath­er­ing the ducks. And the texts! “Hel­looooo, are you there? Why aren’t you tex­ting me back?”

Look, if you want my at­ten­tion that badly, why don’t you leave your calling card with my chimp but­ler like a nor­mal per­son?

And yet, still, we must eat. And I don’t know about you, but more and more, I’m trust­ing less and less the boxed and bot­tled “food” prod­ucts so pop­u­lar with the kids to­day. Sure, it’s easy as eels just to un­cork a cruet of Krapco® In­stant Brain Stew, but wouldn’t an hon­est-to-Pete home-cooked meal hit the spot?

Well, tell you what: If you can man­age to boil some noo­dles, I’ll show you how to make a red sauce in two-and-a-half jiffies that will leave you smack­ing your lips like a zom­bie in a sur­gi­cal the­atre.

Why you need to learn this

Too of­ten, that prepack­aged food upon which we have be­come so de­pen­dent tastes lit­tle bet­ter than floor sweep­ings.

Life is short, swell peeps. You de­serve bet­ter than floor sweep­ings.

The steps you take

The premise be­hind to­day’s les­son is this: Start sim­ple. Just a few in­gre­di­ents and very lit­tle tech­nique. As you get com­fort­able, start adding more. More in­gre­di­ents, more dif­fi­cult tech­niques. It’s like how you learned to brush your teeth first be­fore you started floss­ing.

You do floss, don’t you?

Any­way, my only goal here is to get you off of those ac­cursed jarred sauces. And, look, I’m not say­ing they’re all bad. Ac­tu­ally, that’s ex­actly what I’m say­ing. I’m so judgy, aren’t I?

Any­way, bear this in mind: Tomato sauce, at its essence, is sim­ply flavoured toma­toes.

Here are some quick and de­li­cious ideas to get you started:

Sauce 1

Eas­i­est. Try this: Go to the store, and find the Ital­ian food sec­tion. Then, ig­nor­ing the sul­try siren songs cas­cad­ing from the row upon row of jarred sauces, march your­self straight to the canned tomato prod­ucts, the va­ri­eties of which are le­gion: whole, peeled, crushed, diced, pureed, ground, ex­ploded, pre-chewed, etc. I like crushed be­cause I think it’s the clos­est to sauce con­sis­tency. (I like whole, canned Ital­ian toma­toes, too, but, then I have to chop them or whirl them in the food pro­ces­sor like some kind of se­rial killer. And that’s 87 sec­onds I may never get back.) Grab a 28-ouncer (equiv­a­lent to 790g).

Next, go to the spice sec­tion, and pick up a small con­tainer of Ital­ian sea­son­ing.

When you get home, put on a big pot of water, on full blast. Then empty the can of toma­toes into a small pot and add a ta­ble­spoon-ish of the spice mix and a tea­spoon of salt. Bring it to a boil, then re­duce the heat and let it sim­mer for as long as it takes for you to make the pasta. That’s it.

Taste the sauce for salt, then toss it with your pasta and scrape on some good Parme­san cheese. Nota bene: The real stuff, from Parma, if you can af­ford it, tastes miles bet­ter than the do­mes­tic from Wis­con­sin – no of­fence, Cheese­heads. What­ever you do, avoid like a talk­ing snake that shelf-sta­ble stuff in the cylin­dri­cal con­tain­ers; it re­ally does taste like ac­tual floor sweep­ings.

Now, look, I know that this seems too easy. Es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how Great Aunt Caligulina used to sim­mer her fa­mous sauce for hours and hours. Well, no of­fence to Aun­tie C, but, trust me, this will taste good and, more im­por­tantly, not “straight-from-the-ac­cursed-jar”. Serve it along­side a grilled chicken breast or a seared pork chop or some­thing sim­i­lar, and it will taste even bet­ter.

One more time, here’s the for­mula: Tomato prod­uct + flavour­ing = sauce. Now that you have that very sim­ple strat­egy down, let’s look at some other ideas:

Sauce 2

Put­tanesca-ish. Heat up a cup or so of crushed toma­toes, and stir in a few ta­ble­spoons of jarred tape­nade along with some crushed red pep­per flakes (and minced pars­ley, if you’ve got a minute), et voila, a rea­son­able fac­sim­ile of that great Ital­ian sauce, put­tanesca. You don’t even need any other herbs.

Sauce 3

An­chovy and its vari­a­tions. Here’s you: “But, I hate an­chovies!” Here’s me: “Shut up.” They’re lit­tle fish. Not mon­sters. Just mince more or less equal parts gar­lic, an­chovy fil­lets and pars­ley so you have a lit­tle pile on your cut­ting board about the size of a golf ball or a small mouse or two. Saute it over medium heat in a ta­ble­spoon or so of olive oil or but­ter for a minute un­til it starts to brown, then add your 28-ounce can of crushed toma­toes and sim­mer while your pasta cooks to com­bine the flavours. Sea­son with salt. Done.

Vari­a­tion A: Tuna. Fol­low the an­chovy sauce in­struc­tions above, and, along with the toma­toes, add a tin of canned tuna. Sounds gross, right? But, trust me: Y-U-M.

Vari­a­tion B: Clams. As with Vari­a­tion A, pre­tend you’re go­ing all an­chovy gar­lic. Then, just be­fore you add the tomato, open a can of clams. Pour in the clam water, and boil it down un­til it’s al­most gone. (You could do the same with a lit­tle white wine, too, you drinky scamp!) Then add the toma­toes and clams, and sim­mer un­til your pasta’s done. Taste for salt and pep­per. Done.

Sauce 4

Meaty bits. Brown ground beef or sausage or ba­con or a cou­ple of pork chops or any­thing meat-ish in a saute pan. Pro­ceed as with Sauce 1. Or, you could take the meat from the pan, and add half a diced onion and/or diced green pep­per and/or a crushed gar­lic clove. When the veg­eta­bles are soft or a lit­tle brown, add the meat back, and re­turn to Sauce 1. – Chicago Tri­bune/Tri­bune News Ser­vice


Mak­ing clam sauce for pasta is a sim­ple mat­ter of build­ing on a ba­sic tomato + flavour­ing for­mula.

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