Friday, September 3, 2010

Sunday Sauce

I am sorry to say that I don't have a good pic to share for this one. There really is no excuse. I should have a picture. We ate everything and I forgot.

Anyhow. I love to make 'Sunday Sauce' or, a tomato based spaghetti sauce that takes long enough to cook that you can only make it on Sundays.

I have for years been buying jarred sauce, even though no such thing was available in my home when I was growing up. My parents took turns cooking. My mother was in charge of frying pork chops and my father was in charge of spaghetti sauce. His version includes (and probably still includes) cans of tomato sauce and spices, and garlic and olive oil. Mine is slightly different, to include more organic and local ingredients.

My Sunday Sauce (meatless or not, you won't offend me...)
One pound of grass fed ground beef
2 cloves of garlic
One medium onion
3 large Whole peeled tomatoes, preferable a beefsteak or heirloom variety with less seeds and more meat
2 cans of organic whole peeled tomatoes
seasonings such as fresh basil or dried Italian seasoning, salt and pepper

I first saute my ground beef in olive oil. Grass fed beef is lower in fat and so there is not enough fat in my meat to simply heat in a dry pan. Omit the olive oil if you are using conventional beef. I also do not drain my beef usually because the fat in grass fed beef even with the olive oil is not so overwhelming that I need to drain it. And I like a little extra flavor (fat) in my sauce.

After the meat is cooked I will throw in the onions and garlic. I let all three ingredients brown and then I'll add the fresh tomatoes. Truth be told the fresh and canned tomatoes can alternate. If you have a ton of fresh tomatoes, just use more and if you don't have enough, use canned. It is not that big of a deal. But for me, tomatoes are in season right now and cheap so why wouldn't I use them. Just be sure to use more fresh tomatoes that you probably need. Fresh tomatoes have alot of water in them and will cook down considerably. If you are using half and half, fresh and canned like I did (the canned just have a good concentrated tomato-ey flavor, don't shun them simply because they are canned) . After you add the fresh and let them cook down, add the canned and be sure to crush the individual tomatoes between your fingers. I have a slotted wooden spoon that had a dangerous run in with a blender. It now has a lovely notch in it that is perfect for breaking up chunks of ground meat that are frying or whole tomatoes that get added to sauce because I forget to crush them with my hands (hey, it happens). But the hands are best.

Then season with salt and pepper and any dried seasonings you love. Taste it and make sure it's perfect. And then, cook it for like and hour and a half or two hours. I have tried to make this in 45 minutes and the pay off is never as good. When it becomes thick and rich and syrupy instead of thin and watery, then you know you are there.

This last weekend, I made about 2 dinners worth of sauce. It was more of a money and time investment than if I was buying jarred sauce. But Thing 1 kept saying how his belly hurt (because it was full) and Thing 2 looked like an Oomaloopma because he was covered in tomato grease and olive oil from shoveling it all in. There is nothing like a couple of happy kids to make you feel like a good cook.

My previously purchased jarred sauce costs $3.59 per jar and was conventional not organic. Considering the investment cost as follows:
$.50 for a farmer's market Onion
$2.59 for a 28 ounce can of organic Italian tomatoes (I bought two for a double batch)
$5.00 worth of heirloom tomatoes, red and pink varieties (maybe more)
50 cents for salt and seasonings-seriously, I am being generous here!!!
50 cents for farmer's market garlic (once again, being generous here)

My Sunday Sauce comes to a couple hours worth of labor and about $11.68 versus two jars of sauce that I still would have added to browned meat and further seasoned for $7.18. So yes. I did pay more. But did I eat more real food? Of Course. And I made two mostly organic meals for a family of four for less than 6 dollars (factor in the pasta, that's $5 a container from the non certified organic farm at the farmer's market, a grand total of $10.84 per meal or less than $3 per person per meal) And DH and the kids are fat and happy. And isn't that what it's all about? Plus I have another frozen meal to sustain me on one of those days where the train is running late. Cook once and eat twice. Now that it my kind of meal!

I have linked this post up to Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays. Food Renegade is a cool blog about real food and how to switch over! On Fridays they allow other bloggers to link up their real food posts. Take a look at the link I provided.

1 comment:

  1. A potato masher makes a most excellent tomato squisher. Just go easy or you'll end up with mass quantities of sauce all over yourself and your kitchen.