IMG_0540.JPGMy favorite cooking– from scratch, pulling out ingredients from the fridge, pantry, wherever. I brought home some fresh pasta tonight made from Phoenix Pastaficio‘s pasta made specially for Berkeley Bowl.

As my wife was wildly impressed with the result, here is the process that I used while the pasta water came to a boil. She insisted that I record the ingredients and the process as best as I could remember, and I have done so. Note that your own results may vary slightly. You could use ground chicken or even beef broth and still have a similarly nice result. Don’t sweat it. Basic key is slow cooking, layering of flavors, and the pasta water at the end.

Sautée some ground pork in the skillet. Add some ground rosemary (dried) and stir till mostly browned.
Add minced shallots until they, too get a bit golden.
Add in some sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil. Continue cooking.
Find a decent tomato in your refrigerator and dice and add to the mix. Ditto with about a tablespoon of tomato paste.
Continue cooking.
Add a splash of red wine. I happened to use some cheapo Crane Lake petit Syrah. Be sure to pour yourself a glass at the same time. Sip.
Continue cooking the sauce on a low heat and add whatever handy broth you have; I happened to have some organic vegetable broth. Stir.
Panic briefly and opt to squirt a jism-sized load of Heinz’ ketchup into the sauce. Do you think I’m kidding? I toldja I was running with what was available.
Continue cooking.
Taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remember that at the last few minutes you will be adding in a small handful of olives, cut into bits and pieces. Tonight I used French cured black olives.
Add the olives. Stir.
Taste the sauce. If it is starting to dry up a bit, add some more red wine and/or that handy vegetable broth.

Somewhere along the way your salted pasta cooking water will be ready. Cook according to package directions or, if you’re a bit smarter and time is a concern, use fresh pasta as it will only take about 3 minutes to cook.
Prepare a colander for the pasta.
Take a small ladleful of the pasta cooking water and add it to the sauce. This is important, as it will add a bit of the accumulated starches of the pasta and will add a nice Je ne sais Quois to your sauce.
Taste your sauce. Adjust for seasonings. If you like how it tastes, it’s ready.

If you don’t like it, call first and come on over. I can make this in my sleep, but it’s important to note…it will come out different every time but if you follow these general instructions, you should have a pretty decent sauce.

Oh. And that mention of ‘ragu’? I knew the term was Italian and it had to do with sauce, but wasn’t sure what kind of sauce. A ragu is a Northern Italian style pasta sauce made of ground meat, red wine, onions and tomatoes. So now I know…and so do you.

It came out very well, and my wife was even pushing her limits to have another helping (which pleases me greatly) though there wasn’t much sauce left.