Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chianti Sauce

A warm welcome to new follower Shenae!

In our last episode, we made a tasty no-cook, all-purpose tomato sauce. Today, we’ll use the sauce as one of the key ingredients of a Chianti sauce that’s great anywhere you might use the Vodka Sauce that inspired it. (The photo at right is similar to the one in last week’s tomato sauce article- sauce on fresh pasta, topped with baked flounder - except the plate in the foreground is topped with the Chianti Sauce. For comparison, the plate in the background has the tomato sauce.)

If you’ve ever made Vodka Sauce, you know that while it’s simple to make, it requires a bit of patience; the cream needs to be added slowly so it doesn’t separate and ruin the sauce. Chianti Sauce is similar, using Chianti in place of vodka, and substituting fat-free half-and-half in place of the traditional cream. (As a general rule, I’ve found that if you’re cooking creamy things but want to make them reduced-fat, fat-free half-and-half is your friend.)

This recipe makes about 3 pints of sauce. You’ll be making it in a pan on the stove-top, so be sure the pan you use is deep enough to contain all the ingredients.
Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep pan. Saute 1 tablespoon of diced onion and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic until the onions are transparent but not brown.

Remove the pan from the heat and add 1 cup of Chianti. (The mixture won’t usually flame up, but if it does, it’s ok. The flames will stop in short order.) Put the skillet back on the stove and cook till the volume is reduced by about half.

Reduce heat to low. Add 2-1/2 cups of tomato sauce (either the one from last week’s recipe or any other) and stir to combine. (I also added fresh mushrooms to mine at this point, but feel free to leave that out if you so desire.)

Ok, here where the patience part comes in. Whisk in 1 quart of fat-free half-and-half slowly, adding it no more than ¼ cup at a time, and stirring constantly to keep the half-and-half from separating. As you add each bit of the half-and-half, be sure to blend it into the sauce completely before adding the next bit. (Adding the entire quart should take at least 10 minutes.)

After all of the half-and-half is incorporated and the mixture just starts to bubble, add 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary.

Cook the sauce over low heat, stirring constantly for about 25 minutes, until the sauce is the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, and you’re ready to top your favorite dish and serve.
And don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of the remaining Chianti. No sense wasting it, you know!

As always, if you’d like a cookbook-style, notebook ready copy of this recipe, ask and it shall be sent!

See you next week with something special, for someone special. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. Well, how can an Italian like me say no to this? ~Mary

  2. Thanks for making my night, Mary! If you make this, let me know what you think.