Faced with the sort of data-gathering exercise in which achieving exciting results requires a session of unutterably tedious work, I thought last night might be the time to replicate the Marcella Hazan tomato sauce recipe I’d found at Justin Can Cook. It’s simple. It requires no supervision for almost an hour. And it offers lovely flexible results.
My original plans for the sauce dictate a theme today of Songs about Pizza. It turns out that pizza is culturally loaded, and by that I don’t mean pepperoni, mushrooms, and extra cheese. I mean (for our amuse bouche) ska-punk-synthpop nostalgia by The Aquabats!, whose conceit is that the band is a team of superheroes saving the world through music.
The sauce recipe is dead easy. Into a pot, put:
–5 tablespoons butter (so, a bit over half a stick)
–1 can of whole tomatoes, the 28 oz. size
–1 onion, cut in half
Set the pot over a medium flame and leave it there for 45 minutes, maybe a little longer. When you think of it, go in the kitchen and mash the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon. You will be reminded to visit the kitchen by the sauce smelling delicious.
The thwacking part is useful, as it puts one in the mood for a little retro punk rock… say, for instance, the Vandals. These are frivolous punk rockers in skate shorts. They do not have a serious message, unless they are deeply concerned about gender-identity in the pizza delivery industry. And they might be. But that would be more appropriate for a San Francisco-area band, and the Vandals are from Los Angeles.
Be warned that unless you’re sedulous about the thwacking or invoke an immersion blender, the sauce will not be uniformly smooth. The impression of smoothness in the bottom photo is the result of steam clouding the camera lens. In real life, this sauce is lumpy.
When it’s done, decant it into a storage container and discard the onion. I’ll confess that, in a fit of Economical Homemaking, I stashed the onion in a ziploc bag in the fridge. We’ll see if I use it for anything before it molds. (Bets are now open with excellent odds.)
What got the pizza craze started was that I’d bought a two-pack of whole-wheat thin crusts at Walmart.
Do not do this thing. Just don’t. These crusts do not absorb sauce or cheese, so what you get out of the oven is a flaccid swamp of melted cheese embedded with sullen toppings, loosely attached to what’s essentially Wasa. When people ask “Wasa matter?”, the answer is “this is not pizza crust!”
Fortunately, generous people have recommended pizza crust recipes against that happy day when I stumble over a bread machine. In the mean time, if you do not make your own crust, the Pillsbury crust is better than this. Boboli, which I loathe, is better than this. The cardboard disk underneath a Totino’s frozen pizza tastes better than this (and has superior texture, too). Nobody will mistake a Walmart-crust pizza for delivery or even for DiGiorno.
Doesn’t that look depressing? It’s the first pizza where I’ve ever wanted to discard both toppings and crust and just lick the sauce off. The sauce is great. It’s going to reappear tonight with Cajun sausage, chicken, and shrimp, a situation in which it will be much more content.
Meanwhile, since this pizza makes a sensible person want to howl and snarl, we’ll wrap up with System of a Down, possibly the only band to write songs about the Armenian genocide of the 1910s, though this song is not about that.