1/4 cup (or a little less) olive oil (but use more than you normally would -- it's what makes the sauce taste sumptuous)
6 cloves garlic, slivered
1.5 teaspoons red chile flakes (more or less, to your taste -- mine came out nicely hot, but not too hot)
28 ounces canned tomatoes (crushed or diced; doesn't matter, but get the best ones you can find)
a couple of handfuls of small, tender basil leaves, whole (or tear them in pieces if they're larger)
a healthy splash of sherry (first choice) or white wine or even white vermouth
2 teaspoons sugar (I used brown sugar, probably doesn't matter but I like how it colors the sauce)
salt and crushed black pepper to taste
small amount of good balsamic vinegar, to taste
this came out so good that I had to restrain myself from eating it all by the spoonful or on bread.
heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic and chile flakes and cook for a couple of minutes (don't let the garlic brown or burn). add the tomatoes, 2/3 of the basil leaves and sherry, and simmer for about 20 minutes. add the remaining basil leaves and sugar, simmer for a bit, then add salt and freshly crushed black pepper to taste. remove from heat and season with balsamic to taste, starting with a little less than a teaspoon.