This recipe was given to me by Gramma D’Alessio a handful of years ago. I was seeking something off the beaten path for my typical American ways of tomato based sauces. She hit the nail right on the head with this one. She’s been cooking for so long, you know damned well she doesn’t necessarily work from recipes. Spoonfuls of this, handfuls of that and if an ingredient doesn’t pass muster? Use something else or leave it out altogether. When is it done? When it’s done. This is why I didn’t probe for exact amounts. All I wanted was her story. What did she usually use? 1 or 2 pinches? What does she see, smell, taste and feel?
This is a simple love of ingredients that when fawned over will produce a warm, rich and inviting sauce. This will easily go right over ravioli, use as a poaching base for seafood or for a dressing around meats & veggies.
Wanna come see?
Shopping for this one was easy. Enough baby back ribs to more than cover the bottom of my 8 quart dutch oven (non-reactive). An onion, 2 heads of garlic (small to medium is what I had), fresh parsley, fresh basil, tomatoes and s&p.
The catalyst for making this particular batch was the fact Ed had been on a trip to Redding and on the way back stopped at a local woman’s garden. She was selling her tomatoes for 50 cents a pound. For that price, whether we’ve had a nasty year or not, that was a deal. This also meant little eddy was to get some of the sauce.
Do you have any idea how damned long it takes to do a fine dice on enough tomatoes to fill a pot this big? Plus I had to stop 4 or 5 times to run the steel on my knife, those ‘maters dull it faster than me in front of the tube watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse.
Before I step too far in, here’s what Gram said about this recipe.
Brown baby back ribs in olive oil. After brown add chopped onions, saute 4-5 minutes. Salt & Pepper.
In small blender, chop 2-3 garlic, parsley – 2T, basil leaves, add 1/4 C.
Add to ribs, stir 1-2 minutes and add tomato sauce – add water.
And there we have it. Time to get to work. I knew I was going to be here a while and I had a lot of ‘maters to dice, I decided to get my meez all together before I started. Sometimes I can brown while dicing and do other things, not this time. Take my time and make sure everything is right.
As I diced, they were installed to a colander to let any residual moisture out. I know I know, I could reduce the water out. But I’d rather not this time, it’s my choice. OoOoOO, Biggles through out tomato water. Chiffanade the basil, smoosh/mince garlic along with the parsley. Yeah, everything came together nicely. I used a bunch of basil, good handful of parsley, a whole yellow onion and 2 medium to small heads of garlic.
Note: I’m using fresh tomatoes this time. But I’ve used good canned and this sauce comes out just as good with either. You no fret. Although, make sure your canned tomatoes are at least diced or whole. I think the Sauce version would be too smoove.
Heat up your pan and get your olive oil in. I spun the bottle around 3 times, good and oily. The oil should be hot enough to make the meat sizzle, not much more. Brown meat good, but don’t cook the damned things. We’re looking for color, this leads to good flavors. Once browned I removed and installed onions for 5 minutes. Then put in your garlic and green thingies. Cook just enough to let their flavors weep.
Install meat and ‘maters, stir. Gee, gauging from the looks here, do you think it’ll come out okay? Good dose of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
Bring gently to a boil with the lid slightly askew. Stir gently to make sure everything moves about and the meat is covered. Simmer with bubbles moving about until meat is fork tender. I simmered mine for 2 hours, the pot was really quite full and I wanted to make sure everything got the heat it needed.
I let it sit for about 15 minutes and tasted it. Tad more salt and remembered Mama has a hard time with the acid in tomatoes, so I did a few teaspoonfuls of sugar. It was at this point I realized how much better this sauce would be the next day. The flavors would meld and mellow and unfold. So, I pushed the pot to the side and pan seared a load of elk steaks. These were served with mashed taters and steamed green beans. The Sauce would have to wait …
… until last night. And it was a good wait. Because brother, or sister, this sauce is a home fricken run. What the simmered pork does for the concoction is a mellowing enriching that brings the flavors to each portion of your mouth. And since it is this way, you can do nearly anything with it. Or, do what we did. Serve it with a few ribs and fancy hard cheese.
I suggest you give this sauce a try next time, it won’t take as long as it took me and the results will make your toes dance.