It is kind of early morning on a Sunday, the dog has had her walk and before I got into the rest of the day (it is supposed to be over 70 degrees and I thought there would be a bike ride for me today but I am still terrified to ride here in this area of western Pennsylvania, frack water trucks and well traffic you know), I wanted to post this spaghetti sauce recipe. This is another “long” cooking sauce but it made a hit right along side the “Super Tuscan” on the charity circuit which I will post at a later date. I do have some quick sauces which I will also post which use fresh tomatoes and take less than a good 4 hours of cooking time so stay tuned for those. I would like to think that this is a huge departure from my other sauces but it follows the same pattern and the consistency was born of necessity when I needed a sauce for my eggplant Parmesan and I did not have any prepared. It is also a sauce that my favourite “fungusphobe” liked because there were no mushrooms in it. Oops, my bad! They were just cleverly disguised in the rest of the sauce. On occasions, I like to bake with this sauce and when I am doing that I will purposely keep it on the “thin” side. There is no sense letting your sauce get all cakey and clumpy while baking. If I end up having to use a sauce that is thicker and I want to avoid the clumpiness I will tent the item while in the oven. I am sorry you may not be able to get ALL your servings of vegetables with this sauce but it is awfully good. The name was sort of inspired by the movie title “Escape from New York”, a sort of cheesy movie, I admit, and not to say that I have ever watched it (just like I never watched any of the Die Hard movies) but at least you know where I got the name. I hope you have as much success with this sauce as I have. It is my son’s absolute favorite to make for folks in NYC when he is having them over for dinner. So, without further adieu, let’s get cooking!
Escape from Marinara
Gary Bechard – The Well Fed Cyclist
1 – 28 ounce can of tomato sauce
2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
3/4ths – Medium sweet onion very finely diced
1 – Portobello mushroom cap (“fins” scraped out about 2 to 4 ounces wt) very finely diced
7 to 10 – Fresh basil leaves, fine chopped
1 handful (about 3/4ths cup) – Fresh Parsley leaves, finely chopped
6 – Cloves garlic, finely chopped
16 to 20 oz – Chicken stock (or vegetable stock if the spirit moves you)
1/3 cup – Red wine (I use a nice Cabernet but have also used Merlot or Chianti. If you use the Chianti, remember that this wine is very dry and the “sharpness” will have to be smoothed out with some of the sweeter ingredients)
1/8th cup – Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I say this amount but it should only be enough to cover the bottom of the pot in which you are making the sauce)
1 tbsp – Coarse ground black pepper
1 ½ tbsp – Lemon pepper
Note: You can substitute the zest of a whole lemon and increase the amount of coarse ground black pepper if you would like.
1 tbsp – Dried oregano leaves
1/3 cup – Grated Parmesan cheese (I normally use Parmesan-Romano for a greater depth of flavor)
Note: If you do not use the cheese, I would substitute a palm (a little more than a tablespoon) full of Kosher salt.
A brief note before the construction instructions: I normally chop my vegetables ahead of time because it makes for easier cooking and cleaning.
In a big stock pot (I use a large ceramic covered cast iron pot for this one), pour enough olive oil to just cover the bottom (about 1/8th inch should do it). Turn the heat to mid range (5 or 6 on most electric ranges) and bring the oil up to temperature remembering that olive oil has a low smoke point and does not withstand high heat very well without breaking down. When the oil is hot, add garlic and onions and sauté until the onions are translucent (kind of clear) and without turning the garlic brown. This process should take about 2 to 3 minutes. Next add the mushrooms and continue to move around the bottom of the pot until they are a little soft (about a minute). Do not cook the vegetables until they are unrecognizable. Reduce the heat to 3 or 4 and add enough chicken (or vegetable if you are swinging that way) stock to just barely cover the vegetables in the bottom of the pot. Simmer until fine bubbles appear in the mixture (kind of looks like soup at this point). This should take another 5 minutes’ish. After the bubbles appear, add the tomatoes and stir mixture until it is fully pulled together. Next add your soft ingredients, basil, oregano, parsley and the black and lemon pepper and continue to stir. (Note: You have to keep the sauce moving because you do not want the mixture to be uneven and because of the low heat the bottom cooks faster than the top and you are trying to keep an even temperature throughout.) Allow these ingredients to become intimate (cover the children’s eyes if you have to). Simmer until you start to see small bubbles in the tomato sauce and once you see them reduce the heat to around 3. At this point, add the wine and the Parmesan cheese and mix until ingredients are fully pulled together. Simmer until you see the bubbles again and reduce the heat to 2 1/2, stir and monitor for 3 to 4 hours always making sure that you keep the mixture moving to keep the temperature even. If you see that the sauce is becoming thicker than you would like you can add either low sodium tomato juice or some stock to thin it out. NEVER use water to thin because that destroys the integrity of the sauce. After the cooking time is done, I normally allow the sauce to “rest” by turning off the heat and letting sit partially covered on the stove.