This is a good sauce for perking up starchy root vegetables, and it goes well with polenta too. It doesn’t contain that much pepper, but, together with sea salt and a swirl of butter, a small amount rounds out the other flavours.
Preheat the grill to high. Put the tomatoes, garlic and chillies in a grill pan without a rack and place under the hot grill. Turn frequently until the skins blister and start to blacken. The chillies will need about 5 minutes, the garlic 10 minutes and the tomatoes 15–20 minutes.
Peel the garlic and the chillies and remove the seeds from the chillies. Using a mortar and pestle, grind them to a paste with the crushed peppercorns and sea salt flakes.
Put the tomatoes in a food processor, including any blackened bits of skin, and pulse to a purée. Scrape the purée into a saucepan, add the oregano and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat
Stir in the garlic-chilli paste and simmer for another minute. Swirl in the butter and check the seasoning.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.