December 13, 2009

Big Pot O' Sauce

The only thing that keeps me from making gigantic pots of pasta sauce every few months is a lack of freezer space.
I think I might hate my tiny freezer almost more than my tiny kitchen. I mean, in some ways I love my tiny kitchen because it's incredibly energy efficient—I can get from stove to sink without moving a step.
However there's nothing to love about my freezer. It's just too small for all the things I want to put in it.
But sometimes you have to find a way, because some incredible bounty falls into your lap, like, say, a bushel of luscious ripe plum tomatoes.
Of course, that was not my incredible bounty. Tomato season is over around here.
Instead, I wound up one sunday morning with this:
Which is an incredible piece of beef shin from my local farmer's market. I love beef shin—it's a great, versatile piece of meat—but I don't like to buy it in a supermarket anymore. I feel the same way about any part with marrow or any 5th quarter cut (like oxtail). For these cuts, I definitely want to get something from a grass-raised, hormone-free cow. I haven't really pondered the logic of it; it's just the way I feel.
Anyway, I stopped at the beef stall and inquired, as I always do, if they had any soup bones. The answer, up til that point, had always been no. But this week, to my surprise, the guy pulled a package out of the cooler. "This was supposed to be osso buco, but it didn't work, so we're selling it as soup meat," he said.
Imagine my delight when I saw the giant meaty slice of shin in front of me, selling for the price of soup bones.
Of course I bought it, visions of long simmered pasta sauce forming in my head.
I took it home and salted and peppered it. Look at it. Isn't it lovely?
Then I browned it in some olive oil:
After that I added a couple of diced onions and carrots, about a cup of red wine, some sprigs of thyme and rosemary, 3 cloves of smashed garlic, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. After those softened, I added two cartons of pomi strained tomatoes (One of my favorite packaged tomato products— I learned about passato di pomodoro when I lived in Rome), a large can of tomato paste, and about about a quart of water.
Several hours of bubbling later, I ended up with this:
I took the shin meat out, shredded it, moistened it with some of the sauce, and served it over homemade pasta for dinner. The rest I ladled into pint containers and jammed into my overflowing freezer.
Did I mention how much I hate my freezer?
If you're obsessive about fat, you could refrigerate the sauce overnight and skim the fat off before freezing it, but I didn't find the sauce too greasy. Of course, I'm definitely not obsessive about fat.
Best of all, because this sauce has no visible meat, I can even get the Vegetarian to eat it. She's only 7, so what does she know?
At least I'm giving her fodder for later therapy. "And then my mother would feed me pasta sauce that had been cooked with meat, even though she knew I was a vegetarian!"
I figure I won't be able to get away with this kind of thing for much longer.


Anonymous said...

That looks yummy!Just came across ur website and I'm loving it! We share the same name yay!

Jessica Dineen said...

You really know how to make a piece of raw meat sound appetizing. On an unrelated note, I like your style and I think you should write a book about food!

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