Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Friday Sauce (Tomato Sauce with Anchovies)

Being the good Catholics that they were, the Martorana family did not eat meat on Friday's. This abstinence was meant to serve as a form of penance. It was also thought that meat brought about concupiscence or lust and freeing one from that desire, freed one to worship God more freely. Whatever. We still need some sauce !

In lieu of meat, they made this sauce, appropriately called Friday Sauce, with an anchovy base. I assure you, it does NOT taste like anchovies. The fish dissolves giving it a subtle, savory flavor contrasted by the sweetness from some sugar and added texture from a layer of caramelized bread crumbs. A Holy Trinity.

I'm sure my Great-Grandmother Marianna thought she was doing right by her boys by curbing their desires with this dish. It doesn't curb mine because I LOVE it !

(from Left: Benjamin, Francisco, Rosario, Joseph (my Grandfather), Marianna Martorana)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion
1 can flat anchovies in oil
1 can tomato paste
3 c water
1 tbsp + 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 lb Rigatoni

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Cut the onion into half-inch pieces and saute until medium-brown (you want to get some color on the onions to really bring out the flavor without burning them).

Coarsely chop the anchovies and add them to the pan along with about half the oil they came in (if you're scared, you can skip the oil). Stir until the anchovies have dissolved, about 2 min.

Onion/Anchovy Slurry

Add the tomato paste plus the 3 cups of water and stir or whisk until all of the paste has distributed.
It will look like tomato soup at this point.

Let come just to a boil and then lower heat and simmer on low, stirring occasionally for 2 hours. Sauce will thicken.

Meanwhile, caramelize the breadcrumbs. In a small pan, melt the butter. Add the breadcrumbs and sugar and stir continuously over medium heat. The breadcrumbs will take about a minute until they start to brown but once they do, they continue to brown very fast. As soon as they are medium brown, immediately pour them into dish. They should look like this:

Now its time to serve. Place a layer of rigatoni on a plate or in a pasta bowl, sprinkle about 2 tbsp of the breadcrumbs over the pasta and top with sauce.

Enjoy ! (but not too much)

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