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Mike Isabella's Pepperoni Sauce (For Pasta)

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“If you watch Top Chef, you know who Mike Isabella is. He almost won Top Chef All-Stars recently, and he featured this recipe. The judges were over the top about it, and apparently he got a lot of requests for it. This was from Twitter, with no measurements specified. Then, I found the recipe posted at allthosethingsiloveblogspot and was ecstatic! According to Ron this was published in the "Newark Star-Ledger: 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." He served it on a braised pork shoulder. MAKE AHEAD: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.”
1hr 10mins
4 1/2 cups

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, until the oil shimmers.
  2. Add the onion and garlic; cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until they are golden and fragrant.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the tomatoes and their juices (to taste), the broth and the bay leaf; stir to incorporate.
  5. Once the mixture starts to bubble at the edges, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. The pepperoni slices will be soft, with a deeper color.
  7. Remove from the heat.
  8. Working in batches as needed, transfer to a food processor or a high-powered blender (including the bay leaf); puree until smooth.
  9. The sauce is ready to use. Or cool, cover and refrigerate or freeze.
  10. 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. This only takes a couple of minutes.
  11. He also recomends using San Marzano tomatoes for this recipe.

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