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I made this sauce as a glaze for a meatloaf. Yes, I know I write a lot about them. My mom makes a great meatloaf with duck sauce on top. Always build on old recipes and take them in new directions, even if they are delicious.

1. I started with Duck sauce (3/10). Good classic glaze, but not multi-dimensional.

2. Duck sauce is sweet, so something tangy may provide an appealing contrast: Dash of Apple cider vinegar

3. So far, we’ve stimulated the sweet and sour region of the mouth. For salty, I added ketchup (2/10) (Yes I know there’s lots of sugar too)

4. These are three strong flavors on the palate. Sometimes, a subtle, deep flavor can act as a backdrop for a dish, linking its elements: Molasses (2/10). It also gave the sauce a nice color.

5. What about texture? I added some canned crushed pineapple (2/10) and pineapple chunks. The acid adds brightness to the sauce and a pretty appearance.

6. Some things have no reason. We bought creamed coconut (1/10) for some drinks and had extra. I’ve been wanting to use it in some dish, yet realized that it could make the sauce really good or, possibly, a complete disaster.

The sauce turned out great. It was sweet, but not treacly (disgustingly sweet). The molasses gave it a pleasantly caramelized and roasted flavor. However, the pièce de résistance was the coconut flavor. I don’t know why, but I think the flavor and aroma is so fresh tasting.  Try the sauce and see if you can describe why the coconut makes it. I would put this on chicken, meatloaf, and maybe ribs. It would make a good dipping sauce too.

My only regret about the sauce was not making enough. Oh yeah, and not measuring my ingredients!


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Ingredients:

  • penne pasta (rigatoni or practically any similar-sized pasta will work)
  • heavy cream
  • freshly parmesan cheese
  • marsala cooking wine (real marsala wine will work as well, but I’m only 18 and couldn’t buy the real wine)
  • fresh parsley (It is as important in Italian cuisine as olive oil)
  • 2 containers mushrooms (I would suggest a crimini mushroom or any mild, tender, and small mushroom)
  • 1 vidalia onion

1. Start by chopping onions in half inch squares. I used vidalia, yet any sweeter onion will work. Cut the criminis in half, if necessary, to make bite-size pieces. Sweat the onions over medium-high heat in butter. After a minute or two, add mushrooms, garlic (using a garlic press), salt and pepper. You know you are finished sweating when the onions become clear. If the onions are browning, then you are caramelizing.

2. Add about one or two tablespoons of flour and stir to form a roux. A roux is just a thickening agent made, in this dish, with butter and flour. Add the wine and set the fire to a simmer. Cook the wine for a minute or two. Next, raise the heat to reach a boil. The boiling causes the roux to reach its full potential and thickening power. Add grated parmesan cheese, stirring constantly. I used a zester.

3. Boil the pasta until al dente (read container for instructions). Before draining the pasta, ladle in some starchy water to help reach the desired consistency. Note for the perfectionists: I cannot give exact amounts; one just has to trouble-shoot. Add more cream or wine until you have attained a good balance of flavors and the perfect texture.

4. To evade the mistake that I made, make the sauce looser than desirable; when the sauce comes in contact with the starchy pasta, it will thicken naturally. Similarly, as the sauce cools, it will thicken even further. I garnished with chopped parsley, some lemon juice, and salted to taste.

The moral of the story is: even a picnic’s no picnic. In other words, just because it’s a pasta dish, does not mean that it does not require the same meticulous care and attention that a soufflé or a beef wellington does. Serve with crusty italian bread. For this, there are no substitutions.

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