So I'm probably like the 200 millionth person to try, and subsequently extol the virtues of this revelatory recipe, but that's not going to stop me from writing you about it. It's that good. And yes, butter has a lot to do with it, but equal parts of the goodness comes from the simplicity, the near magic that occurs when four simple ingredients come together in a way that is just SO right it makes you sigh, wipe your plate clean, and sigh again.
As you know, I've been part of this amazing little fiction writing group for well over a year now, a group which came together somewhat spontaneously, serendipitously, leap of faith-like, when four (now five)
Of course, since I'm involved (along with a few other serious foodies), there's been a lot of eating as well as writing. Somewhere early on we transitioned from the rotating host providing snacks, to a full-on dinner at each meeting, of which I am--natch--a big fan. I swear my writing has improved tremendously since we implemented this. Of course, as the lovely J-Bow pointed out in a meeting recently after reading a section of my novel, "there's a whole food theme going on in this book..." So maybe it's seeped into my work a bit as well.
(Exhibit A, from one of my chapters:
If it weren’t for the platter of cold cuts on the kitchen table, little rolls of salami and ham and turkey and yellow and white cheese tucked into concentric circles ringed with wet, wilted lettuce leaves, you would never know anyone had died. That platter’s always a dead give-away. It’s the same platter we had on that same table when Uncle Jeff died in that swimming accident. And it showed up about three other times I can remember—one for each of my mother’s sisters. The only thing that ever changes is the lettuce. Sometimes it’s curly (Judith), sometimes it’s shredded (Suzanne), and sometimes it’s those huge flat green leaves that unroll to the size of a ceiling fan (Anita). Today the table is pushed out from the wall, I guess so people can get to the food from all sides, which would make sense if we were expecting a crowd, which means that whoever set this thing up, didn’t know my mother very well.)
Anyway, for me, too often providing dinner for the group involves calling up Rocco's for a Grandma Pizza and salad (so delicious, highly recommend) as I rush from work to home to printing out my pages and neatening up before the group arrives. But the other day, I just wasn't up for this. I wanted something cheap, and something from my kitchen. And my options were somewhat limited, as I had about 45 minutes to shop and prep and do the dishes. That's when I thought of this sauce. Shopping for it takes about 10 minutes, costs less than ordering a pizza, and the whole thing can be ready in 45 minutes with only about 10 minutes of hands on time. Toss together some greens with good olive oil and vinegar and you have an absolutely lick your plate delicious meal. Also, the sauce magically tastes like its been cooking for hours, so you get a ton of credit.
Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion
MAKES 3 CUPS
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1 (28-oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved lengthwise
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring butter, sugar, tomatoes, and onion, to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld and sauce is slightly reduced, about 45 minutes. Discard onion, and season sauce with salt and pepper before serving.
**One time I made this, I left half the onion in and pureed it with some of the sauce. I also put in a clove of garlic, whole, to simmer along with the sauce. Both of these options were lovely, though not completely necessary. It'll be delicious either way.