Last week I was in the mood for wingin’ it when it came to crock pot cooking. Although my family is Italian, I’m usually not a huge fan of tomato sauce. We are lazy folks in this house and usually eat our noodles with the chunky garden Prego stuff in the jar (actually, Mr. Beez eats his noodles with Prego, I usually eat my noodles with butter. Even ravioli.) I took a Feast of the Seven Fishes cooking class, and was struck with inspiration to try and make tomato sauce in the crock pot. I knew the basics of it, and I learned at the class that you should always add a little bit of sugar to the sauce (even if you’re going for a spicy sauce), and also that cooking pork in the sauce will give it a richer flavor.
-Hot italian sausage
-Italian Blend spices
-Crushed red pepper
-2 big cans crushed tomatoes
-1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
-1 little can tomato paste
-1 package mushrooms, sliced
-a big onion
-shredded Parmesan cheese (a Parmesan rind would work well)
My first step for any crock pot recipe involving onions and/or garllic is to chop them up and saute them in a saucepan. You can put them in there raw, but I find that doing that causes the onions and garlic to overpower all the other flavors. Sauteeing them gets just the right level of flavor, and only takes a couple of minutes. Every minute is precious, but this first step is time well spent.
Next I threw everything in the crock pot and stirred it up. I didn’t have any particular order in tossing things in. With the salt, pepper and herbs I just added enough that it felt “right.” I used a small handful of sugar and a large handful of cheese. Then I let things cook all day and let the house smell like lovely sauce.
Ta-dah! This was a total success. There was way more sauce than we needed just for eating with the sausage and noodles, so I froze two quarts of it to use later. The sauce was so rich and flavorful. I was proud of such a great outcome when I was just flying by the seat of my pants.