Muscle Molls

One Woman's View from the Concession Stand

Jody DiPerna

Jody DiPerna
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
April 06
A proud rust-belt resident and free-lancer who writes predominantly about sports. I spent an entire year following around a barn-storming women’s football team, have survived more nights on the sidelines of high school football fields than I would care to admit, and conducted one of my finest interviews in a laundromat. I have written for print and on-line outlets such as Table Magazine, Pgh. Quarterly Magazine, Pgh. City Paper, Pgh. Tribune Review, Pgh. City Paper, the Washington Informer, Thought Catalog and True/Slant. I am nearly finished with my book about the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team, "Rough & Tumble: Pioneer Women in the World of Female Full-Contact Football.”

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OCTOBER 31, 2010 11:37AM

Sunday Recipe: Contest Worthy Spaghetti Sauce

Rate: 1 Flag

As a person of Italian heritage,  I feel that it is my cultural obligation to show up with a giant bowl of some delicious pasta in times of trouble and I have a friend in need. This sauce, I guarantee, is better than your mom's sauce. Unless your mom is Lidia Bastianich, that is. 

The sauce is best if it cooks all day, but it will be ready in a matter of few hours, in the event of a pasta emergency.

 You will need:

1 pound of loose hot italian sausage

3  carrots

3  shallots

3 cloves of garlic

1 jar of roasted red peppers

1 large can of tomato paste (15 oz.)

1 large can of crushed tomatoes (unless you have fresh, but this late in the year, fresh tomatoes are hard to come by)

2 large cans of tomato puree

2 cups of bold red wine (it doesn't have to be pricey, but it does have to be full bodied)

basil (handful dried or 1/2 c. fresh)

pinch of crushed red pepper (even with the hot sausage, I like my sauce to have some zing) 

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of fresh rosemary

several sprigs of fresh thyme 

Either dice the shallots, garlic and carrots, finely by hand, or you can run them through the food processor, whichever you prefer. I like sous chef duty, so I do mine by hand.

In a large saucepot, sautee the carrots, shallots and in olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and cook these for a long time. You want to brown them, really cook the moisture out of them, so cook them for 10-20 minutes. 

Add the sausage to the pot (and a pinch of salt) and really brown the sausage (again, like 15 or 20 minutes). This will help break down the fats in the sausage and give it a rich, silky texture when all is said and done. Beyond which, brown food is good food. 

Then add the tomato paste and let that brown. Yes, you can brown tomato paste.

When everything is good and  browned, add the wine and reduce by about half.

Then add one can of water (using the paste can), the tomato puree, the crushed tomatoes and the roasted red peppers. (I run mine through the food processor - I'm not a huge fan of the texture of roasted red peppers; but you can just dice them).  Add the basil (by this time of year, my basil has seen it's better days, so I'm using dried and I'll use a large palmful); tie up the rosemary and thyme in a bundle and add these. (You can fish them out when you're close to being done.) And add the bay leaf and crushed red pepper.

Remember, proper Italian food is about simplicity and elemental ingredients, so the key is the details. Don't skip steps, don't cut time. Let everything really cook if you want a rich sauce, rather than one that's overly tomato-y and weak. Simmer it all day. If it gets too thick, add more water (or wine!) You can serve it over just about any pasta that you like and Pecorino Romano cheese. I'm partial to thin spaghetti and thin linguini. It's also fantastic with polenta.

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