Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp basil
1 tbl balsamic vinegar (or a 1/4 cup red wine)
1/2 tsp molasses
pinch of thyme
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Brown the onions in some olive oil or butter in a large sauce pan. Add the tomatoes, molasses, vinegar or wine and spices. Add the garlic cloves, whole or cut in half if you need to remove the shoot, into the pan. Cook for several hours over very low heat, stirring frequently, till tomatoes start to break down. Pull out the garlic and mash it into a paste, then put it back in the sauce (reserve one clove worth if you are making meatballs). If you want it chunky then it's done, if you want it medium then hit it with a potato masher a couple times, if you want it smooth hit it with a wand mixer or blender/food processor.


So, tomato sauce. I kind of half-assed covered it in my failed bracciole, but this time I am going to give you my standard tomato sauce recipe. I'm really not a big tomato fan. I never get them on burgers or sandwiches or things like that. Pretty much the only thing I like fresh tomatoes in is bruschetta. And that only if they are really fresh and besides, it mostly tastes like garlic. But I love tomato sauce. Go figure. So, my sauce starts with sauteing up some onions. You can do them as brown as you like, but since I am using a Pyrex dish (I find steel gives an off flavor to sauce when it's cooked as long as I do it, but of course it might be the canned tomatoes) I just barely soften them to reduce the risk of glass related explosions. You can even skip this step since everything is cooked for so long. You could also just toss everything in a crock pot in the morning and have it be ready by dinner time. But I have a thing for stirring stuff, so I do it on the stove. Once the onions are ready add the tomatoes. I typically use canned, since I don't have a garden. I prefer no-salt added ones, but they aren't always around. Then add your vinegar or wine (I find that both is a little much), the spices and the garlic. I leave the garlic whole or cut in half if there is a shoot that needs removing. This way the garlic cooks in the sauce and can be turned into paste later and added back to the sauce and in the meatballs that I am invariably also making. I would use fresh basil, but this is an old recipe from before I got my plant and I just repotted said plant so I want to leave it alone to reinstate itself. Now add the molasses. Yes, molasses. Most recipes call for white sugar, but I don't really like the flavor it imparts. Reminds me too much of Chef Boyardee, not that I haven't had my share of that. Heh. But molasses cuts the acidity and imparts a nice deep flavor. If you don't like it, go ahead and use white sugar. Or brown sugar. Or no sugar. I don't care. I use molasses. Now simmer it as low as you can for as long as you want. I usually do it for around 4 hours or so. Here is what it looks like at the beginning. Notice everything is distinct, tomatoes, garlic, onion. End of hour one. Pretty much looks the same. A little reduction, lovely aroma. End of hour two. The tomatoes are starting to really soften, the edges are smoothing out, a little more reduction. End of hour three. A distinct amount of reduction, the onions are clear and the tomatoes are soft. End of hour four. That's it! Can't wait anymore! There isn't much watery liquid left, the smell is amazing and it's time to call it done. Pull out the cloves of garlic and mash them up into paste, then add them back in. If you want it chunky you can just leave it like it is. If you want it less chunky you can hit it a couple times with a potato masher to smooth it out some, but leave some chunks. But since I am making meatballs I am going to bust out this little lady. Do you have a wand mixer? You should, they are awesome. I go at it with the mixer until it's essentially pureed. Also, I don't need to mash up the garlic cloves when I do it this way, except the ones for the meatballs.Now is when you want to check for salt and add any that is needed, if you do it earlier it might have too much because of all the reducing. That's it. Tomato sauce. Enjoy.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin