I was puttering with my marinara last week and I decided to throw in a little butter – twice, actually – a little in the beginning with the oil, garlic and anchovy, and a nice little knuckle of it at the end to finish the sauce. And while I was throwing in that last hunk of butter in I could hear my foodie friends snorting with derision. “Butter in a marinara? Tu sei pazzo? Are you crazy? A marinara is from Naples; they don’t use butter in Naples.” …..Lighten up, says I. A marinara is whatever you want it to be. In Italy, spaghetti alla marinara is pasta with clams or mussels (or both). It will certainly have some garlic; almost always some parsley; it may or may not have tomatoes – and if it does, they will usually be in chunks, not sauced. That’s pasta marinara in Naples.
In America, spaghetti marinara is pasta in red sauce. How the sauce is made varies – it could be anything from a spicy Fra Diavolo-type thing to a bottled-ketchup-from-the-supermarket kind of thing. Marinara means “sailor’s sauce” – and it seems different sailors like different things. Well, we know that.
…..Italians, by the way, use butter all the time and just don’t tell anybody about it. They’re very nice people but they lie about what they put into their recipes. It is a well-known fact in the world of gastronomy. In Umbria, no one admits to cooking with butter. But all the stores have shelves filled with butter. Who are they selling it to? The Italian grandmothers are the worst. They keep their cooking secrets to themselves. Besides butter, they lie about dadi. Dadi is plural for dado, which is a bouillon cube. Italian grandmothers crumble up a dado into nearly everything they cook and then they leave it out when they tell you the recipe. And you wonder why theirs always tastes better. Very crafty, these grandmothers.
………………………………………..MIKE’S MARINARA REDUX
The differences between this and the marinara I talked about in my very first post on this site — on June 23rd, 2010 – is the addition of butter, the addition of two kinds of oregano, doubling the amount of garlic and a slowing of the cooking process prior to the addition of the tomatoes. Here the garlic, oil, butter, hot pepper and anchovies slowly melt together – rather than sauté at a normal temperature.
Garlic – 6 or 7 cloves, chopped
Olive oil – 3 tbsps
Butter – 3 tbsps
Crushed hot pepper to taste
Anchovy filets – 2 – chopped fine
San Marzano Tomatoes – 28 oz. can
Dried oregano – 1 tbsp
Salt and pepper
Fresh oregano – a large handful, rough chopped
Parmigiano – grated
……1. Put the half the butter and the oil in a large pan and turn the heat on to low.
……2. Add the garlic, hot pepper flakes and anchovies and watch for the first sign of a sizzle. When that happens, turn the heat even lower and stir everything around a bit. Take lots of time to slowly melt the anchovies into the garlic, butter and oil. There’s a wonderful nutty smell when that happens.
……3. That’s the time to throw in the tomatoes and turn the heat to medium high. When the sauce achieves a simmer, add salt, pepper and the dried oregano, turn down the heat and lightly bubble it for twenty minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
……4. When it’s done, toss in the rest of the butter and the fresh oregano.
……5. Throw over a pound of pasta and add some grated parmigiano.