Home Cooking: Improving That Generic Pasta Sauce

It's that time again
I am official "a-blog-a-day" territory here and hopefully, this will be the norm rather than exception. I like writing, keeps me relatively at ease and people like reading what I have to write, so it's all good.

Spending time in the office sometimes can be a real drag, not to mention that I have to spend more than half a day in front of a computer screen and electronics- which I can't complain partly because I like what i do- but the whole ordeal can be difficult sometimes most of the time. That's why I have my blog to my rescue.

This time around, I will be heading down to basic simple cooking. Last time I ventured around this theme, I was a bit naive to write about cooking scrambled eggs and after seeing my 5 year old cousin cook the shite out of an egg, I realized that it isn't that difficult anyways. Just need to learn how to break that egg first and that's about the most challenging part.

But today, I want to step up the game a little, by a tiny little fraction that is, by simply improving on generic spaghetti/pasta sauce. Most pasta sauce that I buy here in Korea are bland, not so chunky and are devoid of flavors that I want a pasta sauce to have. Add the fact that the sauce just gets way tarty even after mixing it with generally neutral tasting spaghetti, and you can see why I just don't open a bottle of sauce and place it on my food.

So every time my gf gives me that signal that she needs to eat something now! All I have to do is get hold of a couple of these ingredients:

1. Meat (poultry, bacon, beef, sausages)
2. Couple of whole tomatoes
3. 4-5 cloves of garlic
4. 1 onion whole
5. 1 table spoon of unsalted butter
6. 1 table spoon of olive oil
7. oregano, basil dried
8. freshly crushed black pepper
9. red dried pepper
10. milk
11. corn starch
12. red wine [cabernet sauvignon] (optional)
13. Oh yes..the salt! the salt!!
14. Cumin powder (optional)


Cut and ready to go
Depending on what type of pasta you are cooking, the meat should be cut in such a way that it takes the shape of the pasta. I feel this is a necessary step to make the food look homogeneous but if you like it all out of place and funky, be my guest. It's up to you. I had sausages cut in long, half-length fries, shape and did blend in quite well with the spaghetti.

Couple of whole tomatoes
I like to pre-boil the tomatoes before it actually goes into the pan because 1) it saves time 2) it saves time. Usually to do that, I first place them on a clay bowl with salted water (the presence of salt boils the water at a higher temperature, middle school chemistry) and then place them on a 700W microwave for about 4 min. That usually does the trick. If the tomatoes are still intact and if there aren't visible cracks, then let it sit more for a minute or two. Just be careful that, due to conduction, the bowl will be super hot and needs that oven-hand-thingy to take it out.

Cloves of garlic
Fresh garlic make great seasoning and that's a well known fact.  Cut them into fine slices first and them fine them off cutting at right angles from the initial cut angle. This gives it a fine mesh of chopped garlic. If you are cooking for a japanese guest, you might want to give the garlic a break. Also the peppers. Instead add salt. Maybe a bit of wasabi?

Finely slicing the onion, similar to how you place them on salads do great, however, grating them would be the ideal choice. You want the onion to be there without having to bite on an onion, so I usually grate them.

Corn starch
Half a table spoon of corn starch with water. This should help give the sauce the body.

Actual Cooking:

Tomatoes in

Heat the skillet pan on medium heat and place the onions and garlic first and let it roast oil free. The is unconventional to the standard put-the-oil first but since I am a bit extra careful about my olive oil getting burnt, I usually wait just a sec more of onion/garlic roast to place in the olive oil later. Once the oil is in, I saute the mixture for a while and then add the spices; basil, cumin powder, oregano, crushed pepper, salt and red dried pepper and cook them the mixture for a while. Once you have a firm, semi solid mixture on your pan, I let the meat/vegetables in.

The way I usually do this is that, I divide the pan into half; one half for the meat to just get heated up nice and easy, while the pre-made mixture sits silently waiting to mingle with the food. Once the meat is "grilled," they are mixed together.

The next step is to place the tomatoes, along with the a quarter of the sauce from the bottle. I usually go for more than what I need so that I can just store it for a later time. Gently stir the mixture and if you have the red wine, it's all about pouring the it onto the skillet. If not put the corn starch thickener to the sauce and let it simmer for a while.

The final step I very much like is introducing milk and butter to give that final texture, color and rich natural milky flavor to the pasta sauce. The milk adds a bit of white. creamy texture to it while butter, well, butter makes everything taste just like kick-ass-heaven. A table spoon, and not more, should suffice.

Let it cool down a bit, sprinkle some crushed pepper on top.
And there you have it, nice and chunky.
Bon Apetite!

Sauce Level Upgrade Infinite


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