and if you're going to all this trouble - make a double batch and freeze some
- 1/2 lb button mushrooms, finely diced
- 1 onion, finely minced
- several cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- Sausage, sweet and/or hot
- 1 26-oz box Pomi strained tomatoes, or one 29-oz can tomato puree (I prefer Contadina)
- 1 6-oz box tomato paste (again, Contadina, please)
- Olive oil
- Splash of wine (red or white, whatever you prefer)
- Stock or water
- salt, pepper, oregano, basil
Add the onion and garlic -- just enough to cover the bottom of the pan -- adding oil as necessary to keep from sticking or burning.
Cook until translucent, and scoop out and set aside. Repeat with the remaining onion and garlic, if necessary, until done. Add the mushrooms in the same fashion, cooking only enough at a time to cover the bottom of the pan, until dark brown and highly aromatic.
Once the last of the mushrooms are cooked, reintroduce all the previously cooked mushrooms, onion and garlic. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and a splash of wine.
Bring to a low boil, cover most of the way and reduce the heat to low. Keep at a low simmer, adding stock or water as necessary and stirring every 15-20 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides!
So when is adding more liquid necessary? Well, if instead of dainty little bubbles percolating to the surface of your sauce you get hoary, gloppy, volcanic GLOOPS, you might want to thin it out. Conversely, if the top of the sauce looks watery or transparent, it needs to cook down more. But stirring is of the essence, or you will end up with a layer of water over a layer of tomato mud. And that's no good.
Anyway, go on like this for, oh, three hours. Maybe more, maybe less. How do you know when it's done? I hate to be vague, but you will know. As if by some kind of pazzo alchemy, the sauce will magically begin to change. The color will turn more ruddy and brownish, and the aroma will become deeper and more savory. And the sauce -- if you've been stirring it! -- will take on a consistent, gravy-like texture. I mean, sauce-like.
Season to taste, reintroduce the meat if you used it, and cook another 20-30 minutes to meld the flavors. It's pretty good the day you make it, but it's always better at least a day later.