Saturday, March 13, 2010

My favourite pot

I am crazy about food - especially modest cooking at home. I have been meaning to start documenting my kitchen stories and some favorite meals, but I've been unsure of how to begin.

Today, as my favourite pasta sauce was slowly cooking in the oven I realized that I could just start with that. Cooking sauces is definitely one of my favourite things to do and this sauce is so simple and so delicious that it deserves to be the beginning of something.

The ingredients are: olive oil, fresh basil, crushed garlic, bacon, chili pepper and, of course tomatoes.

There is a bit of prep work:

The basil leaves must be removed from their stems and washed carefully - about a packed cup full.
Peel 3 garlic cloves - ready for crushing (I smash my garlic with a heavy ceramic jar before I peel it - mostly because it's kind of hard core but it also bruises the garlic and makes it easier to peel).
De-seed and chop one chili pepper (I use red chilies that I have bought fresh and hung to dry).
Cut the bacon into squares - approximately 1/2 cup or so.
De-seed one can of tomatoes - I tear the tomatoes in half over a bowl and sweep the seeds out with my hands (save the collected juice - it goes in the sauce too). Then strain the seedy juice through a mesh colander into the pot. I use Aylmer brand whole canned tomatoes (very good value) but in my opinion any canned tomatoes are fine as long as they don't have spices added already - also, I de-seed mine but I've made it with the seeds in too and I'm not 100% sure that I can taste a difference.

My favourite sauce

Once that is ready I take out my favourite pot - a beautiful round Le Creuset (thanks mom) and pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil in and put it on the stove top on medium heat. Add the bacon and when it has cooked for a minute or so (it shouldn't get crispy) turn the heat to simmer, wait a minute and add the basil, chili pepper, garlic (crush it right into the pot) and more olive oil, a couple more tablespoons at least, and at least a half teaspoon of sea salt.

Set the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and let the sauce simmer covered on the stove top until the oven is ready. Put the covered pot of sauce in the oven and let it cook for hours - 3 minimum but if you have more time you can turn the heat down to 200 or even 175 and let it cook all day (it smells fantastic while it cooks). Stir occasionally. I often take the lid off for the last half hour to hour to thicken it up.
This cooking slowly in the oven may seem a bit frivolous, but it makes the texture so silky and the taste so full and rich that it is worth it – but alternatively, I suppose you could transfer the sauce from the stove top pot to a slow cooker …

Of course, you should serve this sauce on your favorite pasta topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

I hope that this has made sense – it is the first time I have written a recipe down.