Friday, April 23, 2010
Spaghetti Sauce with Italian Sausage
I love spaghetti! Years ago I settled on a bastardized sauce recipe combining canned spaghetti sauce with homemade additions. It's always a little different each time I make it, yet it is always just as good.
The meat in my sauce is Sweet Italian Sausage. I cut the links into pieces about 3" long, and pierce them a few times with the tip of a knife. Then they go into a skillet over high heat with about 1/4" of water, and are turned frequently as they cook out some of the fat. (Don't get too much water or you will cook out enough fat to make the sausages dry inside.) When they are lightly browned, I take them out and drain the fat but don't scrape the pan. Add a little olive oil and 2-3 diced large onions and some garlic to taste, and sweat on low until transparent. Sometimes I sweat mushrooms too if they look good in the store.
Here's the secret my uncle learned years ago in Italy. Take a small skillet (mine is a tiny cast iron skillet that might fry one egg) and heat about a tablespoon or so of olive oil to just below the smoke point. Drop in maybe 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and fry the hell out of it, stirring constantly, until it changes to a rich dark color but be careful not to scorch it.
I mix the fried tomato paste with my onions, add a jar or two of prepared spaghetti sauce, and some chunked canned peeled plum tomatoes. (I buy peeled, whole Italian plum tomatoes and drain so I don't have all that juice. I hate a thin sauce.) Add the sausages, and cook on low all afternoon. Actually, I cook mine from this point in a crock pot so I don't worry about scorching the bottom. I try to make enough to freeze half, and it's always better the next day anyway.
Salt and pepper, and herbs are added near the end even though the sauce I buy usually has herb flavorings in it. (I usually use at least 2 different flavors/kinds of sauce, too.)
When you are ready to serve it over al dente pasta, have a chunk of Parmesan and your microplane ready. Whatever you do, please don't use that yucky grated Parmesan in a shaker container. It's just not healthy.
Serve with hot garlic bread and a hearty green salad. YUM!
ps... I do make a lot of home canned tomato products from my garden. I've just never made a spaghetti sauce I really liked. Maybe if the blight skips us this year I shall try again! When I do purchase store canned sauces I opt for organic, but they get right expensive.