13 October 2008

I Am Not From Naples

Tonight, between arriving home from work/kissing the Kid/greeting the Spouse and post -dinner cleanup/eventually getting the Kid to bed, I actually made a batch of pasta sauce. My own version of "sugo di salsicce" (when I am feeling as the pompous ass), or "sauce with sausage" (when the spirit of my departed Gee-Maw whacks me with a spoon and tells me 'Don't get full of yourself, kid!' Ouch!). I can hear the collective "So What?" blaring in over the Web, and I don't blame you. Hang with me, kids, just a 'little bit longeeerrrr'...

I have this particular recipe down to basics, easy, simple. I can do a lot of prep work beforehand and store stuff in the fridge to make sauce as the opportunity presents itself. So it was: onions chopped, carrot grated, salsicce, er, SAUSAGE sliced the night before. Praisethelord for Ziploc, hallelujah, yessir! So all that remained was to get all that and the tomato puree in the pot and simmering whilst attending to other important activities like Net surfing, navel gazing, kid tickling, burping, etc.

Everything went smoothly I am happy to say. The sauce was done by time for the Wee Lass' bath, so I let the sauce cool while the Spouse hosed the princess down. Then I read some books with her.

(Digression: bedtime reading with my daughter, most of the time, is one of the highlights of my day. Tonight we read "Where The Wild Things Are"; she and I had great time 'roaring the terrible roars, rolling the terrible eyes, showing the terrible claws'. She can growl pretty good! I say most of the time because there are the days where Her Highness is not pleased to read and just wants to play games on Noggin. Sigh. The attractions of the Digital Age. Now, back to our story...)

So it went well. While my daughter played some pre-bed games with her moms, I divvied up the sauce into containers. Of course, I tasted the sauce as I was ladling it out. Pret-ty goood, as Larry David might say. Although I don't recommend biting down on a bay leaf. Yurrk. Anyway, I had the sauce all Rubbermaided (no ziplocs this time), heading for the sink with pot and ladle in hand and sipping the remaining sauce out of the ladle bowl. Mmmm. Then it happened.

I licked the pot. I licked the pot. Not the lid, not the rim, the inside. I actually stuck my face in the pot and licked some sauce off the sides. Good thing it wasn't hot. THAT would have been embarrassing.

"Kevin, what happened to your face?"
"I stug id a ha pat, ad id borrned my cheegs!"
"AIIGHH, was that your TONGUE!? EEEWWW, shut your mouth, man!"

I can honestly say that is the first time I have ever done that. Ever. Good thing everyone else was upstairs. I'm pretty sure there weren't any cameras rolling, either. Sheesh, next thing you know I'll be eating cheese out of the sink. Oh, wait, never mind...

IRISH GUMBO'S SUGO DI SALSICCE: (makes 2-3 servings for two in my house)
1 medium onion, white or yellow - dice fine
1 medium-ish carrot - grated fine (I use a microplane grater)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 28oz. cans whole peeled tomatos in juice - drain, puree in food mill or processor, strain seeds
+/- 1 lb. Italian sausage - casings removed and sliced into 1/2" pieces (if links)
1 Tablespoon olive oil (evoo okay)
Bay leaves - 1 large or 2 small
salt, black pepper

Heat oil at medium heat in a large saucepan. When shimmering, put onion/carrot mix in, cook until slightly translucent. Spinkle in pinch of salt. Add garlic. Cook 1-2 more minutes. Add sausage. Let sausage brown up - it doesn't need to cook all the way. Skim off excess fat. Pour in tomato puree. Add bay leaves. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 25 - 30 minutes. Let it reduce and thicken. Add more salt if needed, fresh grind some black pepper if you like. Remove bay leaves. Serve over favorite pasta. I like penne or rigatoni with this sauce. Note: Plum tomatos work best, they have less liquid, so the sauce thickens up faster.

Simple. Easy. Good. Works for me. Authentic? Hell, I don't know. I'm not from Naples.

(All props to Giuliano Bugialli. His book on pasta gave me the original idea.)

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