Friday, March 2, 2012

In the Kitchen: Sauces

I am a big fan of sauces. I especially love Italian sauces, though curries and such are quite fun too. One reason I really love to make sauces is that they vary so much and you can easily make it up and improvise based on the ingredients you have on hand. I am probably best at making Italian type sauces and learned a lot when Tyler and I worked at the Tuscany Italian restaurant in Lexington, VA (good times--if Nate Pence is reading this...).

The three most basic forms of Italian sauces are a white sauce (cream), red (tomato) and pink (cream and tomato). You can vary these sauces quite a bit. Most cream based sauces use butter as their fat and most tomato sauces use olive oil as their fat, at least that is what I do. I made a pink sauce last night, so that is the recipe I am going to share with you. I make this often and I usually just make it up as I go. When I cook, I never measure. I mostly always just add to taste, unless I am following a specific recipe. I tried to measure stuff out last night so I could give you some idea of how much goes in.

Pink Sauce (recipe for 2-3 people)
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
2 link Italian sausages
1/2 a medium onion diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 -3/4 of a 15oz can of crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tsp basil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or more depending on how spicy you want it)
salt and pepper to taste

This sauce is really pretty quick to make, so after you have prepped everything make sure to start your water for the noodles you will be serving with the sauce (I prefer linguine). First start by heating up the olive oil in your sauce pot on medium heat. Then, remove the casing on the Italian sausages. The easiest way to do this is to take a sharp knife and to cut a slit in the sausage from top to bottom.
Like so.
Then, you plop the sausages in your pot. Next break up the sausage with some sort of spatula. You can break it up in whatever size you prefer. Sometimes we like ours in larger chunks, more like meat balls, sometimes I like to break it up completely so it kind of infuses into everything.
 Cook the sausage all the way through and remove from the pan and set aside.
 Next, add another tablespoon of olive oil or so to the pot and add in your onions. Cook, stirring often(ish) for about 5 min. until the onions are soft.
 I know the picture quality is terrible. It was pretty dark, but it looked so bad with the flash on, so you will have to deal with blurry pictures.

Next, add in the crushed garlic and stir around for no more than 30 seconds. When the garlic smells fragrant stir in the tomatoes. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Stir in the cream. 
 It should be this color, sort of an orangey color.
 Next add in the spices.  I said 3 tsp. basil, but you can add more or less depending on how you want your sauce, same goes with the red pepper flakes. Just add salt and pepper to taste and mix in.
 Let simmer on low while you are preparing the pasta or salad or whatever else you are having. Add in the Italian sausage about 5 minutes before you are going to sit down to dinner and let it heat through. Mix with linguine which has been cooked "al dente" (still has a little chew/firmness) and rinsed in cold water (to prevent noodles from sticking to each other). Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!
 Yum! Hope you enjoyed it and let me know if you try this recipe!