Homemade marinara sauce



Homemade marinara sauce
Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano (see Kitchen Notes)
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage (optional)
1 28-ounce can peeled whole Italian tomatoes (see Kitchen Notes)
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (also optional)
12 ounces dry pasta, cooked to package directions (I used spaghetti)
1. Heat a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-low flame. Swirl olive oil and butter together in pot until butter is melted and fats are combined. Add onion and a pinch of salt, and sweat, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes, add garlic and oregano (the fragrance will be wonderful). Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently and lowering heat if necessary. You don’t want the aromatics to brown or burn; you just want the onion to be very soft.
2. If you’re adding sausage, brown it now in a separate skillet with a drizzle of olive oil over medium flame, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. You don’t want it crispy brown, just not pink. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.
3. When onions have softened, add tomatoes and their juices to the Dutch oven. Using a hand masher, break up the whole tomatoes. (You can crush them by hand in a bowl before starting to cook, if you prefer, but the masher is quicker and less messy – also, any juices you end up washing off your hands are juices that don’t end up in the sauce.) If you’ve cooked some sausage, add it to the pot now. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover.
4. Cook the sauce for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. About halfway through the process, remove it from the heat and, using an immersion blender, blend the sauce to the desired mix of smooth and chunky. Don’t overdo this – you want some texture and some chunks. If you don’t have an immersion blender, pulse (don’t purée) in a food processor. Resume cooking until the sauce is somewhat thickened.
5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Time it so the pasta is a minute or two shy of al dente when the sauce is done. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine, adding pasta water a bit at a time if it seems dry. Cook for another minute or two to finish pasta and let it absorb some sauce.

6. Divide among four shallow pasta bowls and top with some Parmesan, if desired. Serve.