by Max Brantley
Joel DiPippa provides instructions for that sauce surrounding his shrimp.
Every Italian cook will tell you to have an all purpose tomato sauce recipe ready at the drop of the hat. This sauce has been in development for over 10 years derived from my parents' instruction, my friends' feedback, and knowledge gleaned from reading various cookbooks and watching much food TV. As requested from Bopbamboom, I share mine after the jump.
All-Purpose Red Sauce
This recipe is for a decent amount of sauce – enough for about a pound of pasta or 3-4 pizzas.
In a medium sauce pot, melt a pat of butter in a drizzle of olive oil over low heat.
Dice ½ an onion and rough chop 2 cloves of garlic.
Add to the the sauce pot.
After the onions and garlic have pleasantly softened and sweetened, add one can (28oz) of imported tomatoes, crushed. (Yes, I could spend the extra money and make a concasse to do it, but this is easier and quicker. I have had success with Kroger's imported Italian shelf for only a few pennies more than the domestic variety. If you want to splurge on the canned san marzano tomatoes, you will be rewarded). Add a good pinch of kosher salt, cracked black pepper to taste, and some good tomato paste to deepen the flavor. Turn the heat to medium for about 10 minutes and cook covered..
Reduce the heat to medium low and add several pinches of crushed red pepper flakes and a splash of vinegar, wine, vodka, or gin as you prefer. I add 2-3 drops of Subiaco's own Monk">http://www.arktimes..com/blogs/eatarkansas/2007/12/why_does_god_hate_the_belly_bo.aspx">Monk Sauce at this point. Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes. Add your herbage, I usually use oregano, a little bit of basil, and a pinch of whatever herb I am playing with that week. Give it a taste and correct as needed while it simmers for another 5 minutes or so.
This is pretty much second nature to me by now. Dicing and onion and chopping the garlic are the most technical aspects of the recipe and the rest is just timing and portioning. It is easy to make small changes, such as substituting shallots for the onions or doing a full mire poix as the base. The amount of heat is easily controlled by the amount of pepper flakes, the Monk Sauce, or by adding some diced peppers. I have done some interesting things with grapefruit juice as the citrus in it when I was in a peculiar mood after a Monty Python marathon. The picture above is from January and had the shrimp added for the last five to seven minutes. It came out wonderfully.