Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The clouds parted, the darkness lifted, and the Dollar General challenge was born....with a breakthrough in tomato sauce

On one of my more clever brainstorming sessions as of late I came up with it. I really wanted to cook again. Outside the confines of work, total freedom, just me, good product, and some friendly competition. Add in a strong desire not to break the bank on ingredients and a need to really push us, the Dollar General challenge was born. Six courses minimum, a small pantry yet to be determined, and all product must come from a 30 minute shopping spree at the Dollar General. No real specifics yet but loosely, the pantry will have salt, sugar, oil, and a couple other items. No fresh produce, no raw proteins......think I gotta buy a better can opener. I just sent out word to Brennan. Chris, any sundays off in the near future?
I'll write more when I get a more concrete rulebook drawn out. I'm excited. This is stripped down cooking. Brennan actually hesitated when I told him. I think he did anyways. All he said was ".....sounds challenging." Absolutely people. This will be bare bones manipulation of product that you have no control over how it came to be cooked, processed, and pumped full of god knows what to make it cost only chump change and have a certified expiration date later than the one stamped on my tombstone. That's not morbid people, just fact. When flying cars are zipping around, people will still be munching on Spam made in the 1980s.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our proud non-offical sponser Dollar General. It's one stop shopping ya'll. Everything you need to feed, clothe, and keep up a household of two or twenty. I'm serious any potential corporate lawyers that stumble upon the blog. No sarcasm here. There is a Dollar General days away from opening up a stone's throw away from the house and it's exciting when you live in nowhereville.
Anyways, I have been struggling with tomato sauce for years. When I say years, like my struggle with bread, I am not exaggerating. There is this plane of being that a simple tomato sauce exists on. So many subtle differences. Tart, sweet, spicy, rich, bitter, acidic; an unbelievable range of palate sensory. Then bring in application ie. for pasta, pizza, proteins. There are so many ways to go with it. All of mine seem to fall flat or are overdone, overworked, overthought, overdumped with too much junk. Until yesterday.
1 spanish onion, small dice
8 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 carrot, shredded fine
1/2 large bulb fennel, small dice
1 T chopped thyme
1 T chopped rosemary
1 t crushed red pepper
3 bay leaf
1/2 C good (chianti or something big) red wine
1 #10 can San Marzano peeled tomato
1/2 C roasted garlic cloves
1/4 C black truffle shavings
Sweat then caramelize the mirepoix in EVO...extra virgin olive oil and some kosher salt. Add everything else except the last two. Simmer 35 minutes. Add the last two. Simmer 10 more minutes. Trust me on the roasted garlic and truffle if you can find it. I had leftovers from Valentine's prep, tossed them in just cause and yes, magic harmony. #10 can of tomato is like 3 qts. Enjoy...
PS.... we have a guest blogger this week I hope. I asked Becca, my wife to offer us a little perspective. The topic I threw at her is "so I married a cook, now what?." Should be intriguing I think. No pressure Becca.
Halibut en papillote on the brain.....night night...

1 comment:

  1. Love this idea Mike, let me see what next month holds and make some time for this one. Im tired of missing all the fun. Looking forward to hearing Rebecca's perspective as well....