This is the easiest, tastiest, most requested thing I make. Dead serious. Jeff absolutely craves this
shit ‘love is the main ingredient’ concoction. It slow simmers in the over for 5 hours though – yes, 5 hours – so plan ahead or dinner’s going to be late.
You can see above how labor intensive the prep process is. Would your Italian great-grandmother approve of this take on marinara sauce? Hell no. Are you going to scarf it down before spontaneously belting out Brindisi from La Traviata? Damn straight.
Turn oven to 250F
Go to your cupboard and pull out:
2 – 28 oz cans of good, quality WHOLE tomatoes
(cut them up into large chunks while still in the can)
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Dump all of the above into a large oven-safe pot with a lid (a dutch oven works great)
1 medium to large onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Mix it all together
Cover almost completely with lid, tilting it just slightly so some steam can escape. The tilted lid is very important. This will cause it to simmer and thicken slightly. If the lid is all the way on, the liquids will boil making a drippy, nasty sauce.
1. Only use good, quality WHOLE canned tomatoes. Diced and crushed tomatoes have stabilizers added to keep the texture from falling apart. Cut, dice or smash the tomatoes yourself.
2. Look for bright green, fragrant bay leaves. If you use dried bay leaves, opt for Morton & Bassett if available. They’re the best ones I’ve found by far. Those pale, grayish bay leaves that look like they’ve been under florescent lighting for 15 years are worth less than the plastic container they come in.
3. Coarse, kosher salt is your friend. Your kitchen BFF. I use Alessi for cooking and Maldon salt flakes at the table. There is a remarkable difference between high quality salt and that stuff in the big blue tube. It’s more than worth the price difference. There’s plenty of iodized salt in our lives and food already. You don’t have to cook with it or use it at the table.
4. Do yourself a favor and make a double batch like I did. With the oven on that long, get the most food for your energy buck. Tomato sauce and chili freezes well and always tastes even better after sitting a day.
Soooooooo about those meatballs…
All I can say for my first attempt at making homemade meatballs is that whatever those things ended up actually being, they at least tasted good.