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A classic bolognese-style sauce that is extremely versatile, with an extra dose of Chilli.
• Tomato Paste
• Tomato Puree
• Red Wine
• Mixed Herb
• Brown Sugar
I love my carnivorous meals, the more meat the better. But the price of meat has me picking cheaper and cheaper cuts as a way of staying under budget. Where I used to frequently make curries with nice cuts of meat, high petrol costs has meant I'm having to pick up mince more and more often. Curried mince really doesn't have the same effect, so tomato-based bolognese sauces sound ideal.
Very simply, I got some mince (about equal amounts to the sauce, so 500 grams for a 500 ml pack) and cooked it in a pan. A little bit of oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan, and a bit of salt and pepper to season, were the only additives to the sauce. Simply cook the meat, add the sauce, mix together, and add to your pasta or rice. Add some capsicum and chilli beans and you have a Chilli con Carne. Incredibly easy to prepare. The entire meal was done in under 10 minutes (cooking the pasta was the longest part of the process).
The sauce was very tasty. The garlic flavour was present but not overpowering, and the tomato base wasn't too sweet. While it is a "Chilli" mix, it only left a warmth to the mouth. No large kick to it, which will appeal to the vast majority. Personally I'd be inclined to add a couple of birds eye chilli's in the future, just to get it that extra bite.
But overall, this makes meals very simple to prepare. The price tag is a little on the high side, but the quality of the product is something you could easily use to trick your guests or significant other into thinking your cooking skills are higher than they really are.
This sauce has a nice kick to it. Not too hot, not too spicy, but just right for me. I used it to make a Mexican dish and shared the meal with my aunt and cousin, both of whom enjoy spicy food, and they were equally impressed by it. I already had some mini tortilla shells so I thought it would be interesting to fill them with a spicy mixture of beef and onions together with a small quantity of fresh lime juice and finely chopped coriander. The combination was then topped with mozzarella mixed with a little cream.
I chose a chilled lager to serve it with as I prefer beer to wine; aunt and cousin were not given a choice! The tortillas did not look particularly interesting but the taste was divine. We all ate far too much, even though I had supplied a side salad to ensure the meal was balanced, and then sat around for at least an hour talking and finishing our beer because we were not inclined to do anything else after all that exercise!
Having test driven the sauce and used around half of the packet, I mixed the rest with cooked beans and served it next day over rice with a yoghurt and shredded mint garnish. What I thought would be a mid-afternoon snack turned out to be quite a substantial meal and I ended up taking some to work for lunch next day! The rest I put into the freezer.
A couple of days later I defrosted the bean-and-sauce mixture to see how it would react to being frozen. It was reassuring to find it had lost none of its flavour. If anything, it was marginally more intense. It is useful to know that this sort of dish is suitable for freezing as I like to have a few prepared meals available for days when I am working late. This ensures that I eat properly and don't have the need to stop at a fast food outlet. The sauce ingredients are of high quality and when mixed with beans provide a satisfying and healthy meal.
I have tried three different sauces in this range now and have enjoyed all three. Because they are so different there is no overlap in flavour - each complements a different range of meal options. Next time I purchase the chilli version I am going to try it in a mixed fish curry. This is something I first tasted in Spain; the main ingredients are tomato, chilli, white fish and garlic - but of course you can add other ingredients to suit. I think this sauce will go particularly well with this combination. Watch this space!
Oh how do I love thee, let me count the ways... one-mississippi... two-mississippi... three-mississippi... OK, enough of the Roger Rabbit impersonations.
Seriously though, this sauce rivals my own recipe for first place in my stomach's heart. A rich, full-flavoured, garlic, chilli, tomato sauce... what's not to love? And versatile... my lord, how I put this through the paces. Mixing some with sour cream to make a spicy dip... check. Stirring some through rice to make a flavoursome bed upon which to rest my weary chicken kebabs... check. Added to left-over mince and mash in a ramekin to make a mini-Cottage Pie... check. As-is, with fish'n'chips... check. Everything I would use a regular tomato sauce for, this was an ample substitute.
Using it in exactly the same way you would a pasta sauce or tomato sauce made it a brilliant and versatile sauce that rivalled anything you would buy at the supermarket in every way possible... except for the price-tag. It's a tad steeper on the scale... but then, it's all about scale. Scale of production that is. These sauces are batch-made, not bulk-made. There's no fancy Quality Control Procedures administered by a fleet of corporate drones whose sole function is to ensure there is an equal measure of -blah- in every bottle/can/pouch. This sauce wasn't "made", it was "crafted" by a real person with some passion about it. And that shows.
Overall, this was a wonderful experience, and has me rethinking my own "tomato and garlic pasta sauce' recipe that I make whenever the season is good and there's a tonne of tomatoes on the market. I honestly doubt that I will ever match this sauce, but when you aim for the top of the tree, you're likely to barely make the bottom branch, so aim for the stars and you'll get closer to the top of the tree at least!
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Big Al runs the outfit, (with Mama's guidance of course), and it ain't easy being the boss. Which is why he goes for The Sicilian - the Godfather of frozen pizzas.
It's got a premium base, quality toppings as far as the eye can see, and of course - our famous secret herbed sauce. Big on looks and big on taste. So the next time you gotta reload, whether it's a sit-down with the family - or something to feed the crew - think Big Al's Chicago Grand - the Pizza made by a made guy.
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