This is it: The sauce chef Mike Isabella made for his “Top Chef All-Stars” main-course finale. It was praised to the skies by judge Gail Simmons. It will be on the menu at Isabella’s new restaurant, Graffiato.
Because it is boldly flavored, a little sauce goes a long way. The chef recommends serving it alongside roasted or grilled chicken.
Make Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Servings: 4.75 cups
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, cut into small dice
- 5 medium cloves garlic, cut into very thin slices
- 1 pound pepperoni, cut into thin slices
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted (see NOTE)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 8 to 12 ounces canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juices
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 fresh bay leaf
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and garlic; cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until they are golden and fragrant.
Stir in the pepperoni; cook for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and evenly coated, then add the toasted fennel seed and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute, stirring.
Add the tomatoes and their juices (to taste), the broth and the bay leaf; stir to incorporate. Once the mixture starts to bubble at the edges, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The pepperoni slices will be soft, with a deeper color. Remove from the heat.
Working in batches as needed, transfer to a food processor or a high-powered blender (including the bay leaf). Puree until smooth.
The sauce is ready to use. Or cool, cover and refrigerate or freeze.
NOTE: Toast the fennel seed in a small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the skillet often to keep the seeds from burning. They will become fragrant and slightly darker in color.
From Washington chef Mike Isabella.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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