In culinary school, I learned the term Mother Sauce, which refers to a sauce that is the base for other sauces. When I opened Rocco’s and was developing the recipes for it, my cooks and I joked that marinara was “Mama Saucer” because it is an ingredient in many other dishes, and of course it’s the mother of all sauces. It is also excellent on its own, especially with fresh pasta, which is more porous than dried pasta and therefore grabs the sauce and thickens it. I encourage you to make this in large quantities and keep it on hand in glass or plastic containers. It will keep in your refrigerator for weeks or your freezer for months. Once, when I was a kid, my mother and aunts slathered it all over my back, thinking it would cure “the itchies.” I was probably riddled with lice or poison ivy, but whatever it was, they prescribed marinara. At least the trauma of that experience made me forget about the itchies.
Yield: 6 portions
3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped fine
3 tablespoons olive oil
Two 28-ounce cans tomato purée
One 23-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon sugar
Red pepper flakes to taste
1. Cook the garlic and onion in the olive oil in a sauce pot over a medium-low flame, about 10 minutes or until garlic is tender and onions translucent, not brown (this is called “sweating” because it will draw out a lot of moisture and flavor).
2. Add all the tomato products. Pour the chicken stock into one of the 28-ounce cans. Fill it the rest of the way with water and add that and the sugar to the pot. Stir and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with red pepper flakes and salt, and cover. Simmer the sauce for about 1 hour. The sauce should be fairly thin but not watery and very smooth. Uncover and simmer for 3 minutes. If it is too thin for your taste, add a little water if it seems thick.