Friday, December 7, 2012

Is It Sauce, Gravy or Marinara?

Every single Sunday morning when I was growing up, aromas of Italian sauce (marinara for non-Brooklynites and gravy for the 'real Eye-Talians') would waft right into my bedroom. Then of course, the smells of meatballs frying would also follow, but right now, let's stick to the "gravy". If you're making a marinara without meat, you don't have to cook it eight hours like us gumbas do, but if you do have a few hours so spare, 2 - 3 hours of leaving it on the burner on low is a wonderful idea. Grandma used to lug her canned tomatoes from Brooklyn all the way upstate to where we grew up. She also would lug those puppies back. Don't ask. She made a helluva' sauce though. Her tomatoes in the can were whole tomatoes, so she would throw them in the blender. Mom would use crushed tomatoes. Voila - easy peasy marinara. Later on when I was a teenager, Dad used to make his own sauce using real tomatoes - I mean, peeling and chopping REAL vine tomatoes. Was he crazy or wha? Anyway, I took a little of everyone's recipe and made it my own. For instance, Grandma used a little sugar for her sauce. Mom never did. Mom also was against onions in her sauce. Dad chopped his tomatoes and used a little wine. He also made his garlic chunky, which I prefer. So here is my recipe, taken down from the three best cooks I know.

Get a big pot. No, seriously. BIG.


Chop your goodies: fresh parsley, fresh basil, fresh garlic, fresh chopped onions...did I say fresh? I will admit, I have cheated when it came to running out of parsley and used the dried stuff, but never, ever, ever garlic. If you don't have fresh garlic - don't make your sauce. Period. 

Pour a little olive oil in the bottom of your pot. Sprinkle some salt, pepper, oregano (yes dried and sparingly), garlic powder and chopped red pepper. Throw all your FRESH ingredients into the oil and stir on high. If it gets TOO bubbly and hot, just turn it down a tad so it cooks evenly to a slightly golden color -- not even. I don't even let it turn gold before adding the next step...
Get dem' chopped and diced tomatoes in there. I use vine tomatoes and chop them on a cutting board until it becomes like the picture above. Let that cook and simmer for about 15 minutes or so. Then, I add crushed tomatoes --- I use Luigi Vitelli.  Add a tablespoon or two of sugar depending on how much gravy you're cooking. Stir.

As you're sipping your vino, might as well add a bit of it into your sauce. Two birds.

Don't forget to add a bit of parmesan cheese. This enhances the salt factor and gives it a richer flavor. It also thickens it up just a tad. You can add a little extra salt and pepper or any other herb into your mix to your liking. It all depends on your taste buds. Alter it. The reason why I use sugar and wine in my sauce is because it helps reduce the acidity in your gravy. I get heartburn more often than not, and this is the best way to ensure I'll have a GERD-free night.  If you want to add meat to your gravy, do so. It makes that much better, but remember, the cooking process should be much longer than just two hours.

Thanks, Grandma, Mom & Dad! I couldn't have done it without them. Cheers & bon appetit!

For Deb's main blog, visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

5 comments:

Vagabonde said...

This looks so delicious – I’ll try it. I don’t make good tomato sauce. While growing up in France, my mother (born and raised in Paris) cooked delicious French food and had learnt some of my father’s Armenian cuisine but she did not do Italian food well. She usually bought canned spaghetti sauce, or would serve the spaghetti with butter and herbs and gruyere, that’s all. I usually go to a restaurant if I want good Italian food.

The Elephant's Child said...

Yummo. And not dissimiliar to one I make. As you say, alter for the cook's tastes. And fresh garlic (and lots of it) is in many/most of my recipes.

Deb said...

Vega, It's actually like chemistry - all those ingredients mashed into one, but not impossible. It took me years to perfect my sauces and I have sooooooo many different types of sauces, like a light northern Italy garlic and olive oil with some basil - or simple things like just adding frozen veggies into an olive oil and garlic scampi type of sauce - I'll have more to come. They're surprisingly very simple, but look more complicated....

TEC, Ha, I should really note that I use an entire BULB of garlic - even if it's just two cans worth of tomatoes or usually in my case, 15 vine tomatoes... depends on my mood. But LOTS of garlic is a must. Less friends, more food. ;)

Deb said...

Hi Covnit --- Just got these comments this morning. Sorry I haven't responded sooner. I'll be posting up some great recipes that are from my mom in a few days (or sooner)!! Thanks so much for taking an interest in this new blog! And my first love is Jesus as well. :)

Maalai said...

Thanks for the information... I really love your blog posts... specially those on Local Tamil News