The Sauce

Even bad relationships can lead to good things. Like this tomato sauce recipe! It’s simple, if time-consuming, but incredibly delicious. This is a Greek sauce, not an Italian one; it’s not relying on the freshness of tomatoes so much as how well they blend with other flavors. It has heart-meltingly sweet caramelized onions, toasty garlic, and spices otherwise associated with pumpkin pie, and it is amazing. There are plenty of dishes I make to others’ palates, but this one is all my own.

This is a slow sauce, the kind that benefits from simmering for an afternoon. Roommates eat it on pasta, but I prefer to dip crusty bread in; I don’t feel pasta picks it up well enough to do it justice. It’s heavy, with a fair amount of oil, though most of it is olive oil. Roommates seem to appreciate this one as long as I remember to cook the pasta!

The Sauce

1/4 lb. pancetta, cubed
1/4 c. olive oil
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
6 allspice berries
5 whole cloves
2 large onions, quartered and sliced thin
6-8 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2-3″ tomato paste
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 glug vodka or 2-3 glugs wine
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pancetta in a large pot over medium heat until crispy. Remove and drain. Reserve a tablespoon or two of the fat and dump the rest. Put the pot back on the heat, add the reserved fat, and perhaps 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil. Dump in your spices and let them flavor the oil while you slice your onion.

Drop the heat to medium-low and dump in your onions. Stir them around so the rings break apart and let them cook foreeeeever — you want them sweet and soft and brown. Stir sometimes to keep them from burning. When they have reached the doneness you desire, add the garlic and the tomato paste; stir those around until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomatoes, all their juices, the red pepper flakes, and the vodka or wine and mix well. Drop the heat to low and let it simmer until it’s good and thick. Stir the pancetta back in and let it heat through.

Serve with crusty bread, or — if you must — pasta.

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~ by iliadawry on 8 October 2012.

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