Homemade Azorean Meat Sauce

Since we arrived in Portugal I’ve had to learn how to do lots of things I didn’t know before. I have had to learn how to tell when bananas are ripe, I have had to learn how to do laundry, and I had to learn how to cook sauce from nothing. I fully admit that I never tried to make sauce before I lived on this island; I would buy a jar of Newman’s Own, Barilla, or Classico warm it up, and put it on some pasta. I would call it a meal.

One of the first nights we were here, John had practice with the junior team. He had told me which sauce to buy at the supermarket, since I had not learned yet how to translate Portuguese labels, and I tried to make dinner for when he got home.  What we had purchased was in fact tomato paste (polpo do tomate) and my old routine of warming it up and putting it on pasta was probably not going to suffice. I have come along way and tried many different ways to make sauce using polpo do tomate, but this is the best I’ve done.

Prep & Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2 people

You will need:

  • 1 small can (or large bottle, if you happen to live in Portugal) of tomato paste, or polpo do tomate
  • 2 ripe, medium-sized tomatoes (roma are great, but really anything larger than a cherry tomato should do the trick), diced with juices
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 lb lean beef
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbs Azorean pimenta paste (this I do not yet know how to acquire in the states… I will update ASAP)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan, warm-up the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent (I even let some of them get a little caramelized… it’s up to you!). Add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and the oregano and cook until tomatoes are soft and skin begins to separate from pulp. Once the tomatoes are nice and soft (10-15 minutes), add the ground beef. Stirring until brown and spread evenly throughout sauce. Add 1/2 cup tomato paste and mix thoroughly. Add pimenta if you are lucky enough to have it. They literally sell it by the gallon here on Sao Miguel in every type of store. Simmer for 10 minutes to 8 hours. Eat at your leisure.

Serving suggestions:

I eat mine over zucchini “pasta” but John eats his on spaghetti. Get wild.

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