Cretan cookbooks refer a lot to their famous "red sauce". But what is the recipe? Nobody says.
I couldn't find any exact definition or recipes, but a quick google search showed a lot of jarred "Crete-style" sauces that appeared to be a mix of sun dried tomatoes, feta, and herbs.
Meaghan, thanks for googling but I do not think that is quite it. I think the feta would not be an ingredient - I have never seen it recipes which include the red sauce. My guess is tomato, carrot and sweet red pepper. But the trouble is that is only a guess.
The thing is that it is not just a sauce that happens to be red; it is the "famous Cretan red sauce".
I was curious, googled and found nothing. Maybe write to one of the Crete or Greece tourist boards? to a Greek chef in the USA or UK?
Thanks. I have written to the two tourist boards but no response at all. Good idea about the chefs. Will try that.
Can you give us a few recipes that use the sauce? It may be helpful in determining what's actually in it.
Here is one. There are others where the ingredients are different but they always have tomatos and some other erd ingredient in them. No consistency even though it is "famous". Mystifying.
Greek Chicken with Red Sauce
Makes 8 servings
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 chicken (about 3 pounds), cut into serving pieces
1 cup red wine
2 cups fresh or canned chopped tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
2 to 3 whole allspice berries
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
I'm thinking it may be a basic Greek tomato sauce since the cuisines of Greece and Crete are so similar. Here's a link to a recipe:
And of course, there are many variations!
I'd be interested to know if Cretan Red Sauce is actually famous, when googling the term brings up your question on this site on the first page of results and Cretan recipe sites don't mention it (admittedly I've only done a cursory probe into Cretan cuisine). They do mention various Tomato sauces though. I explicitly associate the term Red Sauce with Italian-American food, so I'm curious as to where you've found the term. Which cookbooks? Which cooks? Is it actually Cretan or a variation on Italian-American? (I find the transformations that immigrant foods in the USA go through to be fascinating as it creates a whole new cuisine).
It is from restaurants and tavernas on Crete itself, in the area around Kissamos at the western end. It seems to be a mountain/hill/country thing. The menus include items with "red sauce" in their titles and the staff call it the "famous" Cretan red sauce. But I am beginning to think that you may be on to something - it clearly is not all that famous in a wider area.
In Greek cuisine there is a concept of "kokkinisto", which means cooked in red sauce, with tomatoes as a base. I am not sure if that's the case here. Meats are often cooked "kokkinisto". I have seen many kokkinisto versions that involve tomatoes and red wine, and sometimes cinnamon...
Thank you. Kokkinisto seems to fit the bill very well. I am happy to take that as a final answer.
Many thanks to all the people who helped in this search.
Now I will cook a kokkinisto recipe at the weekend.
I've been to that part of Crete and have taken several cooking programs on the island as well. I think the "famous red sauce" is the sauce described in your recipe--a basic tomato sauce with connamon and allspice added.
Well, there you go, Richard. The recipe you found sounds wonderful.