Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Marinara

In case some of you don't already know, I'm Italian, as in [i-tal-yuhn] NOT [eye-tal-yuhn] ... Although I may not look it, I sure do eat like it! I love food, mmm. And my comfort food is anything with marinara and pasta. After having moved away from home, and having a mother who doesn't really like to measure ingredients herself, I created my own sauce. Each time it tastes different, because I'm always fiddling with it. But I am going to attempt to write it down with a strong recommendation to taste-test it often and add whatever you think it might need.


  • 1 lb ground beef/turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pack of fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • Basil to taste
  • 1 large and 1 small can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can of plain tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 T. brown sugar
  • 1 T. beef bouillon
  • Olive oil

1. Prep everything before you start cooking. This includes wiping the mushrooms with a damp cloth- never rinse them (they'll be tough and rubbery otherwise).
2. Cook meat in a large pot, breaking it up into as thick/thin of chunks you like. Make sure you don't get cheap meat (my mistake and absolutely not recommended if you want some good sauce). Drain.
3. Add some olive oil, onion, 3 cloves of minced garlic and mushrooms
before the meat is completely cooked. Swau(a combination of sau and sweat*) the veggies before going to next step.
. Note: you want the mushrooms to develop their flavor and cook before you add any salt, which will draw out their liquids prematurely. Now, add the Italian spices, Basil (fresh/dried) and salt/pepper -all to taste- just as meat is finishing up.
5. Add the diced tomatoes and bay leaves to pot and bring to a simmer.
6. Add tomato sauce to pot and bring to simmer.
7. Add bouillon, sugar and remaining clove of garlic (minced). Cover and simmer for a long time (3 hours).
8. Here's an option for y'all. You can transfer everything to a crock pot and simmer all night long, filling your dreams with yummy scents. The point of letting it simmer for so long is to really develop the flavor.
9. Another long-winded option: after you let the sauce cool from all its simmering, place in the fridge for a night/day. You will be amazed by how much better it tastes, because the flavors have now been given a wonderful chance to consolidate.

PS- Of course you don't have to let it simmer for many hours, or even rest in the fridge before you eat it. But it's what I do. Most of my other recipes are short and to the point. But not my sauce. It's an artwork! Make sure to stir and taste often. You'll be able to taste the "marinade" in all of its developing stages, along with "seeing" if it's missing something. I use lots of herbs, and have found that adding a little brown sugar and beef bouillioun really help tame the acidity of the tomatoes. This recipe yields an entire pot full of sauce. So you can use it for the next week, with pasta, pizza, or jar it up as a Christmas present for friends. I just hope you enjoy this as much as Brad and I do. And I promise that it is worth all the waiting!

* sweat: it's a cooking term... it's not quite sau
té; it means to cook the food in question at a lower temp (vs. a higher temp as used in sauté) until translucent. Just cook the dang onions and you'll be fine!

1 comment:

Summers Camp said...

Try using ground Italian sausage in place of the beef/turkey. Oh boy. So good! And that's coming from someone who never eats pork, besides bacon. Bacon doesn't count ;) *B