Here’s a tomato sauce that I’ve taken up a notch or three. I’ve included a couple of optional ingredients in the recipe. They were in the fridge I didn’t want to just discard them. Plus, they added an amazing depth of umami flavor. How can you go wrong adding homemade duck stock, right?
2 – 28 oz cans whole, peeled tomatoes
1 pound ground pork or sweet pork sausage, casing removed
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
2 medium carrots, 1/4-inch dice
1 large or 2 small celery stalks, 1/4-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Piment d’Espelette or red pepper flakes or to taste
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 anchovies minced or 1 teaspoon anchovy oil (optional)
1 cup regular or pepper vodka or dry red or white wine
1 cup (8 oz) pork or chicken stock, preferably home-made
1 cup (8 oz) crème fraîche (optional)
Strain tomatoes, reserving the juice and roughly chop the fruit. Set aside.
Set a large Dutch oven on medium-low heat, when just hot add pork and crumble as necessary with a wooden spoon; cooking until browned. With a slotted spoon remove the crumbled pork to a bowl and reserve.
Add the olive oil and butter to the Dutch oven. Again, when hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté until translucent. Add carrots and celery and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic, Piment or red pepper flakes, Herbes do Provence, crushed fennel seeds, black pepper, and (if using add the anchovies or anchovy oil) and continue sautéing for another 30 seconds.
Add vodka and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits (known as fond) and cook until the mixture has reduced by half. Add the stock or water and again reduce by half. Stir in the reserved cooked pork, chopped tomatoes and juice.
Simmer on low for about 30 minutes or until the carrots are just tender. Stir in the creme fraiche and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Serve with Ricotta Dumplings  or penne pasta cooked al denté.
Wine Pairing: A light red such as the Marchesini Marcello Bardolino Classico 2018. This wine has notes of red fruit like sour cherry with the spices of black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. It has enough tannin and acidity to hold its own the this tomato sauce.