You know what was awesome? As a kid, getting up and watching Saturday morning cartoons. That was awesome. Every Saturday when I was young, while my dad was was in the kitchen making blueberry pancakes, I’d plop down on the couch and watch cartoons. I loved that.
There comes a time, though, when Bobby’s World loses its appeal and a kid has to move on to bigger and better things. Back in 1996, however, the only other TV programs that consistently aired on Saturday mornings were cooking shows. So for most of my middle school years – while Dad was breaking out the Bisquick – I’d watch a couple episodes of Molto Mario or The Essence of Emeril (the original – not that Emeril Live crap).
Eventually, I became hooked. What started as a simple cartoon replacement quickly became an obsession. Essence led to Grillin’ and Chillin’ (Bobby Flay’s excuse to hit golf balls into a lake), How to Boil Water, Julia Child re-runs, and East Meets West (which was totally underrated).
Anyway, fifteen years later, I still wake up on Saturday mornings to watch a cooking show or two.
I wouldn’t call myself a good cook by any means. I’d call myself a formally-weird kid who found an odd interest in watching quasi-famous chefs make delicious looking stuff to eat. And maybe I picked up a few things over the years, too.
I share this little story now because I’m proud of this tomato sauce. I’m pretty sure that this is the result of all my hours spent studying Tyler, Jamie, Mario, Emeril, and Ming (I’m telling you – underrated!).
This recipe is simple, but – as I write this – I realize that it’s fifteen years in the making. It’s the result of watching all those shows and hearing the same things over and over again… Sweat the onions, don’t sauté them. Use dried herbs early in the cooking process, and fresh at the end. Season as you go along. Don’t burn the garlic, and if you do, start over. Save those Parmigiano heels!
This tomato sauce was one of the first things I ever set out to cook on my own, sans-recipe. Like those cooking shows, it’s changed a bit over the years – but I’m still proud of it. Serve it up with pasta or just dip away at it with a slice of bread (like I know you want to).
15-Year Tomato Sauce
Makes the equivalent of one jar of sauce.
- 1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 big pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 big pinch dried oregano
- 2-3 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
- 3-4 basil leaves, chopped
- 3-4 glugs of olive oil (~2-3 tablespoons)
- salt and pepper
- (Optional) The heel from a hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (You can buy the heels, usually at a discount, from a good grocery store… Or just use the ones you no-doubt have saved in the freezer!)
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan (you can also use a large saute pan).
- Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until translucent ~6-8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the white wine and Parmigiano heel to the pot and let cook down for another minute or so.
- Add the tomatoes and fresh oregano, season well with salt and pepper again, and let cook for 5-6 minutes over medium heat, or until the sauce begins to bubble.
- Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low (or “simmer”, if you’re fancy) and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes.
- Before serving, stir in the basil, check for seasoning, and remove what remains of the Parmigiano heel.