2 Tb. plus 1 tsp. Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic
One and one quarter tsp. ground cardamom (1 ¼ tsp)
Three quarter tsp. dry mustard (3/4 tsp)
One quarter tsp. ground allspice (1/4 tsp)
4 Tb. unsalted butter, in all
2 Tb. olive oil
One and one half cup onions, cut into one half inch pieces (1 ½ cup)
1 cup red bell peppers cut into one half inch pieces
1 cup yellow bell peppers cut into one half inch pieces
1 cup green bell peppers cut into one half inch pieces
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into one half inch pieces, about one and one half cup (1 ½ cup)
1 medium butternut squash, cut into one half inch pieces, about 3 cups
5 stalks celery, cut into one half inch pieces, about one and one half cup (1 ½ cup)
1 fennel bulb, cut into one half inch pieces, about 2 cups
1 Tb. minced fresh garlic
One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable stock
1 Tb. lightly packed dark brown sugar
Combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter with the olive oil in a 14-inch skillet of 5 quart pot, preferably nonstick, over high heat. As soon as the butter begins to sizzle, add all the vegetables and the seasoning mix. Stir well, then cover and cook, uncovering to stir and scrape the bottom of the pan frequently for 4 minutes. You will see that the vegetable color is a little brighter and their texture is somewhat tenderer, and the fragrance is crisp and earthly. Continue to cook, still uncovering to stir and scrape, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 4 minutes longer. Now the fennel will be wilted, transparent and tender, and the bottom of the pan will be dry. At this point the vegetables are partially cooked, but still retain some of their crunch. Along with the vegetables natural taste there is a subtle taste of anise from the fennel and the beginning of a brown flavor. The finish is a light herbal taste from the seasonings which almost sparkle on the tongue.
Add the tomato sauce, stir, re-cover and cook, uncovering every 2-3 minutes to stir, scrape and check to be sure the mixture is not going to scorch- just until the vegetables are pasty and thickly coated with sauce, and the liquid has evaporated, about 7-8 minutes. If you feel that there might be a risk of over-browning, then lower the heat slightly. Add the stock, brown sugar, and the remaining 2 Tb. butter.
This red sauce will have a lovely sweet taste, notice how the brown sugar counteracts and balances the acidity of the tomatoes. The undertone is like browned flour. In a few minutes, each of the tastes will blend together to make a rich and complex set of flavors for the final dish. Stir very well and cook just until the butter is thoroughly melted into the sauce and the vegetables are tender, except for the celery which should still have a little crunch, about 2-3 minutes. Serve hot over pasta.