Most times, preparing a weeknight dinner doesn't lend itself to a slow-simmered marinara or bolognese, so a jar of sauce will have to do. There are some really great premium pasta sauces on the market, with a range of flavors from a regular marinara to spicy arrabbiata to mushroom and ripe olives. Sometimes, though, they still don't quite live up to the flavors of a homemade sauce. But, with a few fat-laced, meaty tweaks, your store-bought tomato sauce will turn into a store-bought sauce that tastes homemade.
Meat can add a depth of flavor that's missing from a lot of jarred tomato sauces. While it's an extra step that needs to be squeezed into a busy weeknight meal routine, the payoff is totally worth it. Taking the additional step will elevate the sauce and make it feel -- and taste -- less like you took the easy route of preparing dinner, and more like you home-cooked something delicious. Just try to pick fattier cuts of meat, and not something like a chicken breast.
Meaty Additions To A Store-Bought Sauce Will Bring Texture And Flavor
You can use just any bits of meat you have on hand to boost your jarred sauce, but you should reach for the fattier cuts of meat rather than a pork loin or chicken breast. Fatty meat will add some texture to the store-bought sauce, as well as introduce those excellent umami flavors that mimic a long simmer.
Fat is where the flavor is, and anything meaty, greasy, and cured will go really well in the sauce. Try to find fattier cuts, like pancetta, prosciutto, or even guanciale, but bacon will also do the job. Simply crisp it up, and keep as much of the rendered fat as you'd like in the pan before adding your sauce. Ground beef and Italian sausage are good here if you don't have any of the fattier cuts of meat. No matter which one you choose, brown the meat in a skillet. The meat should be browned and have a crust where it touches the pan. Once that's happened, break up the meat into chunks. You can leave some of the rendered fat and add the jarred sauce, then simmer. If you find yourself with some extra time, use that rendered fat to sauté some garlic, onions, or veggies to elevate the sauce even further.
Vegetarian Or Vegan? You Have Options, Too
If meat isn't your thing you can use a parmesan rind or mushroom powder to elevate the flavors, although a parmesan rind may defeat the purpose of cracking open a jar of sauce for a quick weeknight meal, as the flavors need some time to work through the sauce. Some anchovy filets will add some depth, too. If you're a bit skittish about them floating in your sauce, heat them in olive oil before adding your sauce, and they'll break down completely.
If you're looking to add a little bit of decadence or balance to your jarred sauce, a decent-sized pat of butter will go a long way to fixing the acidity a lot of store-bought tomato sauces are known for. A common fix for acidity is a pinch of sugar, but since store-bought sauces are full of added sugar for this precise reason, you may not want to add any more -- which is why dairy is a great alternative. Along with the aforementioned pat of butter, try a dollop of heavy cream, a scoop of ricotta, or a little mascarpone. They'll go a long way toward balancing those harsh flavors and elevating store-bought tomato sauce from a quick weeknight fix to something almost luxurious. Then again, if you're going to go to the trouble of improving a jarred sauce, why not try making your own Italian tomato sauce? You can always freeze it for those busy weeknight meals.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.