Category Archives: sauces | salsas | gravies

Trojan Carnitas and Avocado Salsa

This is a delicious and massive recipe I got from my roommate in Troy. It was a new style of cooking for me and cooking it by the book taught me a lot. Serves six hungry college students. You could also make the salsa by itself for a great dip for chips etc. -Connor

3-4 pound boneless pork butt, shoulder or loin
2 cups water
1.5 cups orange juice
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated orange peel (optional)
3 tbsp whole peppercorns (optional)
1/4 cup brandy or wine (preferably marsala)

Cheddar or mexican cheese blend
Regular tomato salsa

Cut the pork into thirds. Put pork, water, orange juice, garlic, salt, orange peel, and peppercorns into a large pot. Bring to boil, then turn down heat somewhat and simmer, covered, for about an hour and a half. stir occasionally and add more water if needed to keep the pork mostly submerged.

Between these two stages is a good time to start the salsa. (see below)

Uncover and boil pork until water is reduced by half. Stir in the alcohol and boil until liquid evaporates. Stir often while meat browns and crisps. Tear meat into strips with tongs (this can be done during the final stage of cooking or, if you’re a chicken, after the meat has cooled a bit)

3 ripe avocados, peeled and coarsley chopped
6 oz fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed, coarsely chopped
2 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped white onion
2 tbsp fresh cilantro (optional)
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
salt to taste

Put all ingredients into a food processer or blender. process until a chunky puree forms.

Serve the meat and salsa over warmed tortillas with grated cheddar or a mexican blend of cheese.


Dad’s Sauce

Greg’s famous spaghetti sauce. Recipe makes 12-16 servings and freezes well.

1/2 c olive oil
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
2 bay leaves
1 bulb garlic
1 large onion
1 green pepper
12 oz mushrooms
8 oz kalamata pitted olives
1/2 c red wine
1 small can tomato paste
3 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
Parmesan or Romano rind

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Add garlic, basil and oregano and cook for a few minutes more. Add peppers and cook, stirring often for another 5 minutes or so. Than so the same with the mushrooms, followed by the olives.  Add the wine and let it cook down a bit, then stir in the tomato paste and blend well, stirring constantly. Add the diced tomatoes and raise the heat until the sauce starts to bubble. Toss in the Parmesan rind then lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for three hours. Remove any rind that has not dissolved before serving.

Connor’s Bolognese

3 carrots

3 celery sticks

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1 bunch fresh thyme

3 bay leaves

3 cups red cooking wine

12 oz tomato paste

3 lb ground beef


olive oil


Step 1: Put garlic, onion, carrot, and celery in the food processor. Grind until nice and pasty, then put in pot with some oil with about a TBSP of salt. Cook on medium high until the water is mostly gone and the veggies are browning. (15-20 min)

Step 1.5(Optional): For a more wholesome, traditional taste, add a small carton of chopped mushrooms and a chopped bell pepper. Cook until the peppers are soft. If you forget this step until later, its probably best not to add the peppers.

Step 2: Add the beef. Cook on high until the beef is fairly browned throughout. (15-20 min) Pour off some of the excess fat.

Step 3: Add the tomato paste. Cook about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Add the wine. Cook another 5 minutes.

Step 5: Add the thyme stems, bay leaves, and a few cups of water. Cook on low for a few hours, stirring occasionally.

Step 6: Boil off some water if the sauce isn’t quite thick. Salt to taste. Remove thyme and bay leaves if possible. Serve with pasta.


Variation: For a quicker sauce with more zesty surface flavor, brown the beef first in the main pot.  Pour off fat, then add veggies and olive oil. (Don’t use the mushrooms or peppers, they can’t cook enough with this method) Cook veggies for only about 10 minutes. Do step 3 and 4. In step 5, skip the bay leaves and shave the thyme leaves off of the stems into the pot instead of just putting the stems in. Cook on low for about 20 minutes, then go to step 6.

Based on: Pasta Bolognese by Anne Burrill

Baked Tomato Sauce

My new favorite summer tomato recipe, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen.

4 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved or the same amount of ripe garden tomatoes sliced thick or a combination of both
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound pasta
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the oil.  Place the tomatoes cut side up in the dish.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheeses, and garlic and toss with a fork to mix well. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture over the tomatoes, making sure that each cut side is well covered with the crumb mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake until the tomatoes are cooked through and starting to brown on top, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Time the pasta so it finishes cooking about the time the tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven.

Vegetarian Gravy

Complete Vegetarian Cuisine page 172

Mushroom Gravy from Horn of the Moon Cookbook

Double it and freeze half.

Salsa Verde

Great late summer treat – serve cold as a dip for your favorite tortilla chips.

1 pound tomatillos (10-12 medium sized ones)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/4 c fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped fine (leave seeds out to reduce heat)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 t sugar
1/4 t salt

Dehusk and place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Drain and place in a food processor or blender. Process until not quite smooth, then add the remaining ingredients and blend until just combined, with a course texture.


Adapted from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes page 480