Alice’s Pasta Sauce

I must apologize in advance for the lack of accurate measurements in this recipe.  As a rule, I don’t use recipes.  The measuring and scraping and constant checking of a book or screen to make sure I am following everything to a T is just too stressful for this poor girl’s heart.  I like to read recipes though, in my spare time, just to see how things are made.  Then I use my critical thinking skills (thanks CATS, the standardized testing system for public schools in KY) to deduce which parts are real and true and necessary and which parts are hooey.

So here is the ingredient list to my best estimation:

  • 8 lbs fresh sauce tomatoes
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 cup red cooking wine (I used Rex Goliath Cab Sav, hell yea chicken wine)
  • 2 medium-large onions
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • dried oregano to taste
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • olive oil and butter as needed
  • dash of balsamic (optional, but to taste I guess)
  • 1 vegetable boullion cube

This recipe is fairly simple in its preparation but it will take a good deal of time.  So feel free to start this in the morning and let it cook all day, but don’t be surprised when its not ready for dinner if you start it after work.  Without further ado, here we go!

  1. Chop onions into half inch by inch pieces (or whatever you like).
  2. Heat a splash of olive oil in the bottom of your stock pot on medium high heat.
  3. Cook onions in olive oil until rich brown and sticky, this can take up to 20 minutes.  Make sure they don’t burn, add more oil if needed, keep them moving.

    img_2010
    Onion-y goodness
  4. Deglaze pan with a couple glugs (probably a cup?) of red wine, enough to cover the onions slightly.  Let the wine come to a simmer hen back the heat down to medium-low. Cook on medium-low until the wine thickens slightly and the fumes are no longer pure alcohol (feel free to free base your sauce during this step for a delightful high, just kidding, but am I?).  Stir occasionally to prevent burning the sugar in the wine to the bottom of your pan.
  5. While the wine reduces, wash, core and clean tomatoes of any bad bits.  Then quarter the tomatoes.  You can break them down further to speed up the cooking a little, but not by much.
  6. Peel and roughly chop garlic.  Sorry in advance, this is the worst.
  7. When the wine seems to be more sauce than booze add tomatoes and garlic to your pot.  Chances are it will be too full to stir, so let it cook down for a few minutes then stir to make sure the tomatoes are coated with the onion and wine mixture.

    img_2045
    Too much?  Nahhhh never enough.
  8. Add a healthy shake of salt and stir
  9. Bring the whole thing to a boil then back the heat down to medium/low and simmer for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  10. Around hour 3, or whenever your tomatoes are no longer discrete chunks add more salt and pepper, the boullion cube and the dried herbs.  Feel free to add any other dried herbs you want at this point.
  11. Let simmer for another hour-ish and add a splash of balsamic if desired.  Go light because the balsamic cannot be undone.  Taste as you go.
  12. Put on your canning bath to boil for sterilizing and processing.
  13. When the tomatoes are fully broken down and the sauce looks cohesive (probably around 4.5-5 hours could be longer) add roughly chopped fresh basil and last touches of salt and pepper to taste.  Make it how you like it.  You could let it go longer if you don’t think its developed enough.  You could add olive oil or butter to make it richer. You could also stir in red pepper flakes to make it Arabiatta.
  14. Sterilize 6 pint jars in your canning bath for at least 10 minutes and put the lids on to simmer.
  15. Fill jars to a 1/2 inch from the top and wipe rims clean with a damp, lint-free cloth.
  16. Put lids on jars and process for 20 minutes.
  17. Remove jars from the canning bath using your jar lifter and set on a cloth covered surface to cool (beware, a cloth wont stop these hot jars from leaving rings on your wooden table….or the wooden table of your landlord/boss who kindly let you can in her kitchen……ya live, ya learn).

And voila!  Just 17 steps and a full day of work to get you 6 pints of home made and home preserved tomato sauce.  For a more in depth intro to water bath canning you can see my previous post.  The instructions are at the bottom, you can skip my rant if you want.  Eat up and be merry, tell me how it turned out!

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