Depth and Breadth
One can make sauce, a nice basic tomato sauce. But it need not taste basic. With a little coaxing and just the right ingredients, deep flavor can arrange itself. You'll find it clinging to the back of your favorite wooden spoon. When you've turned away for just a moment to rinse a dish or dry the counter, the sauce that's been simmering on low will try to get your attention by creating a leopard skin pattern of bubbles. You'll stop what you're doing, rush to the stove and stir...gently. That lovely red will have pulled away from the center of the pan, congregating along the perimeter. You'll guide your wooden spoon around and around, through and through, until you've just blended the olive oil back in.
Time will pass slowly, your involvement will be small but great. Just pay attention. Eventually, what you've brought together will stay together. The texture and density will be just right. You'll take one final taste, turn off the flame, and smile.
This morning I chose to coat a shallow pan with a pool of extra virgin olive oil.
I milled two cans of San Marzano's.
I finely grated a small carrot.
Diced a small yellow onion.
Sliced two large cloves of garlic.
Chopped a small bunch of fresh thyme.
I threw the onion and garlic into the pan of olive oil and turned on a low and slow flame.
When the onion and garlic turned a nice golden (about 10 minutes), I added the carrot and thyme. Still on a low and slow flame, she cooked.
After a nice softening of the carrot (about 5 minutes), I poured in the milled tomatoes. Careful to prevent splatter by using the back of a wooden spoon.
The flame remained low and slow all the while (about 30 minutes). I added salt. I paid attention. I stirred. I ignored. I tasted. The flavor blossomed nicely. And thyme...thyme? Thyme. It surrendered itself beautifully. So quiet and unassuming. It lingered on my tongue long after. Herbal, dense and inspiring. The carrot and onion sweetened, the salt drew out everything that is right and good.
Yes, another red sauce.
I cannot take credit, though. All thanks go to Mario Batali for this nice basic tomato sauce. Both Mario Batali Simple Italian Food and The Babbo Cookbook showcase this recipe.
When the dinner hour(s) arrives we'll set to boil rigatoni, from family De Cecco. It will cling ever so nicely, trapping itself in the pastas center as we dress the naked, al dente rigatoni with a few ladles of sauce. Each bowl will get a few heaping spoonfuls of the dressed pasta and and another kiss of red before that final dusting of Parmesan.
It's such a happy place for me. I sit here and reflect as I pull this post to a close. I'm anxious for dinner.