The cooking world suffered a great loss with the passing of Marcella Hazan. We reflected on all of the cooking wisdom Marcella handed down over the years -- especially her tomato sauce. To honor Marcella, Food52er MrsWheelBarrow is throwing a virtual dinner party this Saturday, October 26th. She invites you to participate by cooking for those you love and sharing the memories with the hashtag, #DinnerWithMarcella. We are celebrating with two of Marcella's classic recipes that will surely unite your loved ones around the table.
Click through on the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes, but we've also written you a handy grocery list and game plan below.
2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes or 2 cups canned imported Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice 3/4 cups canned plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juice 3 onions 2 pounds celery 2/3 cups pancetta, cut into strips 2 cups polenta Parmigiano-reggiano, for serving
You probably have butter, salt, pepper, and oil in your pantry. If not, be sure to pick those up, too.
1. First, get the polenta cooking. Using the top half of a double boiler or small pot (which you will set inside a larger pot), bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Measure out the polenta and slowly pour it into water, stirring vigorously in one direction for 5 minutes. Once the polenta begins to thicken, fit the pot into the double boiler and cook for 1 1/2 hours. For step-by-step instructions and genius tips see Middione's recipe.
2. Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very low simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and mash tomatoes with a spoon. Don't forget to check on and give your polenta a stir!
4. While the sauce and polenta continue to cook, onward with the celery. Cut peeled celery stalks into 3 inch-long pieces (cutting on a diagonal looks nice).
5. Put the oil and onion in a saute pan, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it wilts completely and becomes colored a light gold, then add the pancetta strips.
6. When the pancetta's fat becomes translucent, add the tomatoes with their juice, the celery, salt, and pepper, and toss thoroughly to coat well.
7. Adjust heat to cook at a steady simmer, and put a cover on the pan for 15 minutes.
8. This meal is meant to be served family style, so get out your trivets, gather around the table, and crack open a bottle of wine. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).