Things may be a bit lite here as I get ready for the surgery later in the week. Thanks to some of you, I have breakfast bought and the freezer fairly full. Plan to cook up a bunch of hamburgers today or tomorrow to finish things out. To all who hit the fundraiser, my sincere and profound thanks!
One thing I have gotten done was I put up five containers of Puttanesca sauce for later. For those unfamiliar with it, it is allegedly the pasta sauce used by prostitutes in Rome to give them the stamina for their work. Hence it being named ‘whore sauce’ or ‘sauce of the whores’ depending on who’s doing the translation and how nice/diplomatic they are being.
There may be as many myths behind the sauce as there are variations of it. Some foodie types hold that it is mostly vegetarian, as whores did not have money for meat other than the anchovies, and can only be made with a specific type of tomato picked in the light of a waxing moon by girls dressed as Vestal Virgins. Others hold that it was a much more robust meal including minced meat. I tend towards the latter, as did some colleagues from Italian space efforts with whom I enjoyed a delightful time discussing the sauce, variations, and food in general. Lot of laughter, and some delight that I knew about it and the roots of the word.
My own recipe is constantly evolving, often based off what I can find at the time. However, what sets a puttanesca sauce apart are two things: the use of olives and the use of anchovies. Both are good sources of nutrients, and for most of history not terribly expensive. Roasted garlic is also a common ingredient, as it might be offputting to clients if you had extreme garlic breath.
I started this batch with a shade over 2.5 lbs of fresh ground chuck (on sale for $3.99/lb). Browned and drained it.
Then began adding various ingredients. The olive mix/tampenade I used to get pre-lockdown no longer being available (big FU to the health nazis who used the chance to get rid of most salad/olive/food bars), I found one that is for making muffuletta sandwiches and went with it. I also found some smoked kalamata olives at a good price, and decided to give them a try. Normally I use fire-roasted tomatoes, but came across these (at a better price) and decided to give them a try. Homemade Italian seasoning, though very little is needed. Smoked salt, fresh ground pepper, raw garlic, roasted garlic, and mushrooms also came into play.
As mentioned, anchovies are a key feature of this dish. I dump a can in just after browning the meat, and by the time everything is in they have already dissolved. You don’t get chunks, but lots of salt and an interesting addition to the flavor that if you don’t tell people anchovies are in it they rarely can tell. DO NOT ADD SALT UNTIL THE VERY END AFTER TASTING! You usually don’t have to add much because of the hairy little fishes.
I crushed and chopped three or so cloves of regular garlic and added it in. Going in early helps get the flavor spread around IMO.
To my mind, it’s hard to add too much roasted garlic, and I almost always wish I had put in a bit more. That’s just me. In this case, I had roasted a head of garlic a couple of days before and had it in olive oil until putting all of it into the pot. Again, with simmering/cooking, it tends to dissolve.
I tried the smoked olives and they are different — and very tasty. So, got a bunch out of the jar, did a rough chop (remember, this was a peasant/prostitute dish, not fine dining for the aristocracy), and added them in. Covered, threw in the oven at 250 for about three hours, and the result is what you see in the first picture. Final seasoning included a little bit of smoked salt and some balsamic vinegar to make the brightness of the olives pop. Very tasty, and became dinner and five decent-sized containers for the freezer.
NOTE: I used very little of the Italian seasoning, as the olives/mix and anchovies really do a good job of seasoning all on their own. Be careful and taste before adding anything.
Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.