Monday, April 7, 2014

Slow Cooked Sauce

There is something reassuring about sauce bubbling on the stove. Old fashioned long cooking red sauce. The kind New Jersey TV gangsters call gravy and Neopolitans call ragu`.
We belong to a meat CSA and after a couple months I find myself with meats I haven't used -- the packages are usually 1 pound so I end up with 1 pound of country style pork ribs or one pound of short ribs -- not enough to bother roasting or braising alone so I've been saving them for a really killer sauce -- and today is the day.
I started with an idea from Arthur Schwartz's tremendous documentation of Neopolitan cooking,  Naples At Table. Schwartz is not Italian but he has studied the authenticity of Southern Italian cooking like he was born to it and his collection of recipes is as close to having an Italian grandmother in the kitchen as most of us will ever come.
His basic ragu` uses meat with bones, stew meat, an sometimes sausage. Though Schwartz counsels cooks to use onions or garlic, I could not resist and used both.
I started chopped onions (1 1/2) and garlic (3 cloves) sizzling in a pan of hot olive oil. And my own addition a pinch of chile flakes. When the onions started to soften I added in pork ribs, beef short ribs, and chunks of stew meat. I let the meat brown for a good 10 minutes and then poured in about 3/4 cup of red wine. When the wine had nearly evaporated I poured in 3 large cans of crushed tomatoes a good pinch of salt and 4 links of Italian sausage (2 spicy -- another inauthentic touch -- 2 sweet). The sauce slowly bubbled on the stove for about 3 hours, The sausage poached in the sauce. And the bones offered their hearty flavor through the dish.
In the end we had a silky rich red sauce (topped with sausage slices) and and as they do in Naples cooked meats ready for dinners later in the week.

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