This is one of the staple luxuries that makes me fairly content to be alive ; to have access to this flavour of slowly stewed ripe tomatoes and olive oil, it is just such a coincidence that the incredible culinary wealth of this dish is directly proportional to its sensual flavour ;with a skimmed chicken stock, theres little or no saturated fats, the oil is the only substantial fat, and everything else is just bunches of vitamin fibre and lycoprene, which in stewed tomatoes (in oil) is even more present and easy to absorb, than in raw tomatoes. .
And for me theres also a bit of Mama 's kitchen in this. I dont remember if i d loved it as much as a kid but i cant remember myself at any point in time not being delirious with the rich simplicity of the maternal pasta in a midsummer tomato sauce.
* my Great-grandmother would always add an anchovy with the onions, or salted capers, and my mom never did chicken stock with this, but would add rosemary instead of basil, and cinammon too, and oregano at the end. As a note. The variations are endless really, this is inspired more from the long painfully slow greek oven-finished meat or vegetable stews, always stocky and caramelised, but in a meat-less sieved sauce version with a stock which tastes more latin than greek.
For the Stock;
4-5 chicken bones from legs, or 4-5 drumsticks. (meet wont be needed)
2 red onions, quartered.
4 chunky ripe fresh tomatoes ( almost over-ripe)
1 stick celery, whole.
1 bay leaf
1/2 bulb of garlic, unpeeled but bottom bit cut off.
2 carrots, cut in 3rds
rosemary, dried, a pinch.
For the sauce ;
5 chunky ripe fresh tomatoes ( almost over-ripe)
1 stick celery, whole.
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 banana shallots, finely chopped.
2 slices prociutto crudo
3 crushed cloves of garlic.
grana panado, or parmiggiano, or pecorino depending what you fancy.
Fresh basil, a handfull
splash of red wine
Spagghetti or chunky linguini, half a packet at the most.
Orzo pasta is also good in this, cooked in the stock itself.
- Step one ;
Take 5 of the tomatoes, and open in half, rinsing the seeds off them under a tap.
Put carrots, red onions, chicken, 5 of the tomatoes , bay and a bit of oil and salt & add the garlic unpeeled, in the oven at 200 for 25 minutes.
This will give the stock a roasty flavour.
Let the chicken cool down, then (if you used drumsticks with meat on them) remove the skin & meat and save for sandwiches or salads, or another ragu.. If you have just bones & cartilage, no need for that step.
Put everything including pan drippings (if anything is burns take it off, for example if the onions are too charred take the charred layers off them.) in a stock pot on a low flame.
Cover, add bay leaf, 1 celery stick, pepper, rosemary, add enough water to cover everything by 3-4 cm and let simmer for 2-3 hours. DO NOT bring to the boil.
After this, you can squeeze the veg and sieve the stock into a bowl. This should make you 2-3 cups of dense reduced stock.
Take the other 5 tomatoes, put on a bit of water and boil covered for 2-or so minutes to soak the skin. Take skins off, and crush them on top of a sieve, so you keep the juices.
Then rinse seeds under a tap and crush the flesh of the tomatoes or blend in a blended / or food mill / passatutto.
-Finely chop the shallots and fry with some salt, gently and covered for the first 1 minute , in 3-4 tbsp of olive oil until soft. I know it sounds like a lot of oil but it is the only fat in this meal and its glorious.
-Add remaining roughly crushed garlic, the last celery stick and the rest of the bay leaves
-and 2 tbspns tomato paste.
-splash of red wine, let evaporate.
-Add the Stock (2-3 cups) and the prosciutto chopped very finely. Bring to the boil and lower heat straight away, cover and simmer veeery gently for 1 hr at leats, until everything smells incredible and an emulsion of oil and tomato juices has been formed.
* Make sure its not boiling, or simmering agressively, we want it barely to simmer very gently.
If its too watery, keep uncovered and keep cooking on low flame. you want it a little thick, but not too much.
add basil just before serving.