A year ago Hy-Vee had their grand opening in our town. As part of it they shipped in a whole lot of black velvet apricots from California. Being an enterprising sort, always on the lookout for new ingredients to cook with and work around the numerous food allergies my wife has been stricken with since she had her appendix out four and a half years ago, I grabbed a bunch and cooked them up with some honey mangos, pear cider, salt and sugar.
The result was magnificent. It was this deep red sauce with a consistency and color strongly reminiscient of marinara that I dubbed Criminara Sauce. I swiftly learned that I could turn most any stone fruit into sauce: plums, apricots, nectarines, peaches, cherries, and also more exotic hybrids like plumagranates and pluots. Mangos, both tommy atkins and honey, were the other major ingredient, and I experimented soon with other fruit such as persimmons, with great success.
I also soon learned to make large batches of sauce that would stretch through several dishes, usually three or four. Given we are on a tight budget and fruit only lasts so long, this works well for us.
Naturally, this year I was on the lookout for the black velvets again, and got as many as reasonable. I've made two batches of Criminara this year, and this second batch is DEFINITELY better than the first. The reason is simple: I let it cook. In this day where so much is instantaneous we forget that some things simply take time. I know that lesson well, and have developed a great deal of patience. For sauces this tends to pay off especially, as they need time to cook together, to let the ingredients alter and perform some incredible alchemy that transforms them into something new.
This is the largest batch of Criminara I've made yet, which means I'll probably get four, maybe even five recipes out of it; that is, four to five distinct things I am going to put it on or in. And now the recipes:
Remove stones and stems from 16 black velvet apricots JUST starting to go mushy and puree in food processor. Repeat process for 4 small red plums. Place in medium-large saucepan. Remove skins and pits from 3 honey mangos and 2 tommy atkin mangoes and dice. Puree in food processor with one dozen baby carrots and add to saucepan with 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup golden rum, 1/4 cup carrot juice, 1/4 cup aged watermelon wine, 1/4 cup pomegranate juice, 1 tbsp kosher salt, 2 tbsp demerara sugar, 1 tbsp turbinado sugar, and 1 tbsp ground paprika. Stir together well and start out for 15 minutes on medium heat (4).
As a side note, we discovered an interesting property of mangos. The two tommy atkins, which are what most of us in the U.S. think of as common mangos, were left on the top shelf in our fridge for a fair while. We kept our fridge fairly cold, cold enough that things on the top or in the back often freeze partially. Well, apparently this causes mangos to first get very solid and then begin to gel; left long enough, the flesh can be slid right out of the skin. They still taste fine, but their consistency changes, and this had happened entirely with one of the two and started to happen to the other (it had gotten very solid and was just beginning to gelatinize in places).
Drop heat to 3 (medium-low) and cook down for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Add 1 tbsp each kosher salt and turbinado sugar, cover, drop heat to 2 (low), and cook for another hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Uncover and continue to cook down on low, stirring occasionally. You're going to cook it for another 45 to 90 minutes, letting it gradually thicken. As you do so, the residue scraped off from the bottom during stirring will lessen. The primary color will already be a deep red, and secondary colors will well up as ingredients mix and react.
For the meat sauce I took a medium saucepan and added a nice layer of golden rum at the bottom, then 1 lb ground turkey, 1 tbsp kosher salt, and 1 tbsp Italian seasonings (marjoram, basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme). Stir together to soak up rum into meat, then brown on medium high heat (5.5), stirring occasionally. Remove stems from six fuyu persimmons; the ones I used I'd had for about two weeks, so that they'd begun to gelatinize. I cut them into eighths and added them to the sauce along with a 4.25 oz (dr wt) can of chopped olives, cooked for about 5 minutes, then added 1/2 lb frozen mixed broccoli cuts, baby carrots, and water chestnuts. Stirring this together I let it cook another 15-25 minutes.
I had mine over angelhair pasta, topped with shredded Italian cheeses (asiago, provolone, mozarella, parmesan, and romano). My wife had hers over brown rice spaghetti topped with Galaxy Foods' faux parmesan topping.
Lastly, as you can see clearly here, Maui approves of this meal.