A watery stew in need of serious help inspired this sauce. The idea is to create an intense sauce through a series of reductions of wine and that weak-tasting stew liquid, then add it to the stew pot. For those times when you don’t have stew on the stove, substitute a low-sodium broth for the stew liquid. The sauce is great with meats, vegetables, rice and noodles.
Good tasting extra virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, chopped semi fine
2 branches fresh thyme, or a ½ teaspoon dry
6 fresh basil leaves, or a generous teaspoon dry
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 whole cloves
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 cups full bodied red wine
2 to 3 cups liquid from a stew, home made broth, or good tasting low sodium chicken broth
1. Film the bottom of a 4-quart saucepan with olive oil. Heat it over medium heat and add the garlic, herbs and a little salt and pepper. Carefully sauté the garlic so it doesn’t burn, but softens a little (about 2 minutes). Stir in the tomato paste and sauté over medium to medium low heat, stirring often, until fragrant.
2. Now pour in the wine and simmer it down, stirring to blend in the tomato paste, until it’s reduced by about two-thirds. Add the stew liquid or broth and boil that down until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon and tastes delicious. Use immediately or store until needed. Refrigerate up to 5 days; freeze up to 6 months.
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.