Never made an Italian tomato sauce. What's you best recipe?

Discussion in 'Whats Cooking? Food, Drink, & Gear' started by PalmRoyale, Jan 19, 2019.

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  1. Feb 23, 2019 #61

    WildBoar

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    Orangehero, There are two basic ways to make tomato sauce: 1) quick and 'fresh'; 2) long simmers over a couple of days, preferably with some meat in the sauce for added flavor.

    2) is the typical 'sunday sauce' common in Italian-American households. That is what I grew up with, and what both grandmothers made. I still cook up large batches this was a few times/ year. And during the summer when we have loads of tomatoes from the garden, we are much more likely to do a dice and make a quick 'fresh' sauce.
     
  2. Feb 23, 2019 #62

    HRC_64

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    Fresh tomato sauce is called 'Salsa'...:)

    Properly 'fresh' (ie, raw tomatoes) are full of water and need to be salted at a minimum. However, even raw salsa's benefit from some time for the flavours to consolidate (chile peppers and the aromatics, etc). So everything is on a continuum...
     
  3. Feb 23, 2019 #63

    DamageInc

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    I like this if short for time:
     
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  4. Feb 23, 2019 #64

    Michi

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    Nice recipe, quick and easy, thanks!
     
  5. Feb 26, 2019 #65

    JustinP

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    I cook many tomato sauces depending on the dish, but my favorite basic sauce of all time is still Marcella Hazan's.

    1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes
    5 tablespoons butter
    1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half

    That's it, besides a little salt if needed. Put the butter and sliced onion in the pot, pour in the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or so, uncovered. Break up the tomatoes when you stir from time to time with the spoon. Also works great with fresh tomatoes.
     
  6. Feb 26, 2019 #66

    Uncle Mike

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    This interested me with the amount of carrots and cooking them so long, so I tried it.

    Veg cut up
    [​IMG]

    Veg cooked in sauté pan (I don’t like to sauté in Le Creuset, it is passed down from mother-in-law and I don’t want to stain it)

    [​IMG]

    Sauce when first all combined

    [​IMG]

    After cooking and blending

    [​IMG]

    Came out very good, very tomato tasting, not carroty at all. I used these tomatoes

    [​IMG]

    Thank you @brianh for the recipe!
     
  7. Feb 27, 2019 #67

    parbaked

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    I use the Cento whole tomatoes...good choice.
    I like this recipe except for the stick blender...my Nana didn't have one.
    Blending can add a little air to sauce and change the texture.
    Best to put the tomatoes through a food mill before cooking...or just crush them with a potato masher.
     
  8. Feb 27, 2019 #68

    Interapid101

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    Great suggestions here. Hazan’s recipe is indeed amazing, and the one we use most often at home. So easy and versatile, easy to add other ingredients. (Anchovies or anchovy paste is always nice.)

    One thing I always add: berbere. A tablespoon per 28 oz of San marzanos works great. If you know anyone from Ethiopia, they’ll probably tell you they make the best spaghetti. Berbere is the secret ingredient. You’ll never be able to detect it (unless you use heaps of it) but it makes the sauce so much more savory somehow. And just a little spicy. Try it! I’ll be shocked if you don’t love it.
     
  9. Feb 27, 2019 #69

    WildBoar

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    Perfect -- I made an almost-identical sauce last week (I included a little wine and some pepper flakes). As far as blending, etc. goes, I let it cook for a while while mashing the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon. After I bit I broke out the potato masher. But near the end I made a quick pass with a stick blender -- mainly to break down the carrots and onions, but also some of the bigger tomato bits. If you keep cooking it a while after using the stick blender any issues with texture due to increased air are not an issue (in my experience).
     
  10. Feb 27, 2019 #70

    parbaked

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    Yes...if you cook it long enough, after stick blending, the air you added gets cooked out but I still think it's better to pick any number of ways to smash the whole tomatoes without adding air...but that's just out of respect for my Italian Nana...
     
  11. Feb 27, 2019 #71

    Uncle Mike

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    All great suggestions. Looking forward to trying the berbere. For me blending is where it’s at
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I’ve catered weddings and events for 100’s of people, but now it’s all about what the grandson likes. And he likes it smooth, not chunky, so I blend.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Feb 27, 2019 #72

    WildBoar

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    Mine would puree the tomatoes in a blender first, but in her defense she came to the US when she was 4 years old. My mom pureed them as well. On my dad's side of the family, they canned dozens of bushels of tomatoes at the end of each summer, and they were all pureed; but once again, they all came over as kids.
     
  13. Feb 27, 2019 #73

    WildBoar

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    Trader Giotto's for the win! :cool:
     
  14. Feb 27, 2019 #74

    brianh

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    Looks awesome, I’m glad you liked it!
     
  15. Feb 27, 2019 #75

    Mucho Bocho

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    Tomato sauce doesn’t require a power too nor is it intended to be consumed through a straw says Grandma Vantangoli.
     
  16. Feb 27, 2019 #76

    WildBoar

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    Yhe beauty is we can make it better than grandma could. Tomato sauce was not constant from the beginning up until the times our grandparents made it -- it evolved to get to that point. And there is no reason for it to stay frozen now in a snapshot from 40 year ago. :cool:

    Heck, the reason they did not use small appliances in my dad's family is because they had no small appliances. When we visited the small town my paternal grandfather was from in '92, the one remaining cousin of my grandfather, who was in his late 70s, had just bought his older sister her first indoor stove. They made do with what they had, just like we make do today with what we have. In 2-3 generations people will think we were primitive with our current cooking appliances.
     
  17. Feb 27, 2019 #77

    brianh

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    Here in NJ, land of the Sopranos, the best two local Italian joints are run by Albanians and a guy named Juan. Tradition isn’t always flavor.
     
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  18. Feb 27, 2019 #78

    Mucho Bocho

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    Sure one can add anything to a tomato sauce, including using electric appliances, even heating up some tomatoes then add jared sauces to it. I'm not convinced that using using a power tool is going to improve the sauce. I don't think cooking the sauce over a wood fired stove vs a induction burner makes it less quality.

    There are more ways than one to skin a cat and technical catsup made in Italy is also an Italian tomato sauce, but it aint what most would call an Italian tomato sauce as the original posted is inquiring about.
     
  19. Feb 27, 2019 #79

    HRC_64

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    Italians commonly use passata,which eliminates alot of these issues, no?
     
  20. Feb 27, 2019 #80

    WildBoar

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    Neither of my grandmothers put in carrot/ onion/ celery. That is something I typically add though, and buzzing with a stick blender helps break them down so the sauce is not too chunky. I would challenge you to try it in person and say it is not a 'real tomato sauce' like the OP asked about.

    That isn't something my family every did. But it is something I have done a couple of times when I wasn't going to be putting sausages into the sauce.

    What it comes down to is there are infinite minor differences between ingredients and techniques for tomato sauce, whether it is made by a 'real' Italian in Italy, a descendant here in the US, or someone from some other part of the world who learned from a chef they used to cook with.

    My two grandmothers made sauces that were distinctive from each other. Red sauces I had while on trips to Italy varied a lot as well.
     
  21. Feb 27, 2019 #81

    Mucho Bocho

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  22. Feb 27, 2019 #82

    WildBoar

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    Well, that explains it! :D
     
  23. Feb 27, 2019 #83

    Keith Sinclair

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    What a great thread. I get an over abundance of cherry tomatoes when they ripen. Could not eat enough in salads so made sauce from them. They are really sweet. fresh basil, onions, garlic, celery. Used to like ground pork in pasta sauce, these days either go vegetarian or Aidells smoked chicken sausage brown it in skillet then add to sauce. Wine, salt, fresh ground pepper. Like a little lemon juice to add a bit of citrus to tomato sauce. A pinch of organic cane sugar.

    Also use home grown cherry tomatoes in curry sauce.

    Going to try some ideas on this thread. Don't think you can lose chopping up a couple anchovies. See if can find Cento whole tomatoes here.

    Been using whole grain pasta and Linguine. Don't knock it before you try it. It is good & healthy.
     
  24. Mar 1, 2019 #84

    nonoyes

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    Another fan of Hazan's recipe which sticks so nicely to starchy noodles. (I put some of the sauce in a saute pan and transfer al-dente noodles straight in to finish cooking).

    For a fresher taste there is a recipe in Ducasse's "Cooking School" for meatballs with couscous. The meatballs cook in a simple sauce composed of fresh tomatoes (blanched, peeled, seeded), a little stock, and a little paprika. I think that's it. The sauce you end up with is fresh-tasting but still mild due to the stock and the fact that is cooked mostly covered. That sauce is excellent. It loses just enough moisture to be thick but remains bright, fresh, and tomato-ey.

    (The meatballs are packed with fresh herbs that might contribute something but the sauce itself doesn't taste of herbs.)
     
  25. Mar 2, 2019 #85

    panda

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    I used to really like store bought Rao's homemade tomato sauce. Word got out that this product is fantastic and to keep up with demand they ruined the recipe. It costs more and doesn't taste as good as it used to.
     
  26. Mar 2, 2019 #86

    WildBoar

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    Rao's has definitely become hit-or-miss. Some sauces are really good, and some not so much. Used to always keep a jar or two of their vodka sauce on hand, but haven't had it now for a few years. I hope it is still one of the good ones.

    On a related note, we started buying fresh pasta and sauces at Superior Pasta in Philly during visits a few years ago. Their sauce have been pretty good. We order a handful of fresh pastas and sauces once or twice a year, and have yet to be disappointed.
     
  27. Apr 2, 2019 #87

    Keith Sinclair

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    Thanks to this thread got some Cento peeled tomatoes, crushed, & tomato paste. It really is a better product. Not a bunch of added stuff. Just good tomatoes.

    Made a sauce much better than the bottled sauces. Almost as good as tomatoes fresh from the garden.
     
  28. Apr 3, 2019 #88

    mille162

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    Panda, I can confirm. Always had a jar of Rao’s marinara for nights we needed a quick prep meal. It used to be only specialty supermarkets carried it, now I can buy at Costco. Had a jar this past monday night tossed with La Fabricco Della pasta. It had an overly strong garlic profile where you can taste an garlic/onion powder, not much tomato taste other than being slightly acidic. Ingredient list has dried oregano, doesn’t specify “type” of onion of garlic used, but the taste is def not the same as it was a year+ ago. Time to go back to making large batches of marinara and canning for later use...

    IMG_5443.jpg
    IMG_5430.jpg
     
  29. Apr 9, 2019 #89

    Uncle Mike

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    Sorry to hear about the Rao’s. We got some on sale a year or so ago and really liked it.
     

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