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Basic Red Sauce?

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I just read the thread on homegrown tomatoes, and it reminded me that I haven't made tomato sauce in a while.  I assume people have good recipes and suggestions.

One of my favorites is simple -- saute some onion and a little garlic in a good dose of extra virgin, add a can of good peeled tomatoes, crush and simmer.  Finish with some fresh chopped basil and parsely.

My big problem (no matter what recipe I follow) is that the water in the sauce always separates -- I pour it in the pasta and end up with water puddling around the edges.

Who's got ideas?  Recipes?  Secrets?

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you might try sauteing a clove of crushed garlic in 3 or 4 T. olive oil, to which add 1 can or package of CRUSHED plum tomatoes (I prefer Pomi, but others are good -- I can't remember the specific name I'm thinking of but recognize the can; its yellow/white/red/green on the label.  Maybe someone else knows what I'm talking about.).  Stir briefly, turn down the heat to medium-low, and cover; simmer for half an hour or until the sauce has thickened considerably.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and chopped basil, before saucing.

Note when saucing:  Drain the pasta first (do not blanch unless using later), then add the pasta directly to the pan; toss to coat.

Note:  You can add any additional seasoning before adding the tomatoes.  You could try for instance, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a couple of anchovy fillets, or a handful of crushed oil-cured olives (or all of the above, if you were making pasta puttanesca).  The possibilities are endless.

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I usually saute chopped white or red onion and whacks of garlic (perhaps add reconstituted porcini, or fresh oyster or cremini) in EVOO. Season. Then I add tinned San Marzano that I crush by hand. Then a bit of dried oregano. Simmer for about fifteen minutes. Then I might add some fresh basil or parsley or mint and/or chunks of fresh plum tomatoes.

I also often start with rendering some panchetta, slab bacon, or guancale. Or add some browned skinned sausage chunks, done seperately so I can check out whether the fat and juices are rank or not.

(I hated tomato sauce for decades but was brought back to the path by Saint Mario.)


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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artichokes add a nice touch, if you're into that kind of thing.  i usually use the jarred "marinated arichoke hearts", which are readily available, when in a hurry.  peas are good too.  those fancy lesiure peas, or however the french spell that brand.

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I hate that water separation problem.  Pomi crushed definitely alleviates it, but I like using whole plums.  Sometimes a blob of tomato paste cures the water separation problem, but I find i have to be careful with the amount.  Too much imparts a sort of generalized reconstituted tomatoey flavor (as opposed to snappy and refreshingly tomatoey, if you know what I mean).  

My dad's tradition for a quicksauce, which I love and try to emulate, is to nearly burn the garlic.  Saute it before the onions and get it really good and brown; as soon as you add the onions and turn the heat down the garlic won't brown much beyond its current state.  It imparts a very strong toasty garlicky flavor I love.  And then I always saute a minced jalepeno or two and saute with the onions for a little heat.

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Bugialli and Hazan both have several very good recipes for basic tomato sauce. The most basic for cooked sauce is: ripe plum tomatoes in a pot with a few leaves of basil and a little salt. Cook til done, pass through a food mill. I do this all through tomato season and it's excellent. From there, you can progress through versions using "odori" (onion, carrot, celery sometimes garlic), suateed with the tomatoes and sauteed before the tomatoes. Broth and wine are also involved in the winter version using canned tomatoes.

If you like cheese with these sauces, the water problem can be solved by stirring some grated parmigiano in, off the heat, before serving.


Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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I saute 1 or 2 garlic cloves (depending on size) in about 2 tbls. olive oil.  Shallots make a nice substitution for the garlic.  I then add a can of diced tomatoes.  I used to use Muir Glen, but have switched lately to Hunt's which have a brighter tomato flavor.  Both brands have a larger dice than the norm, which is pretty comparable to what you get when you crush or dice your own.  Add a little salt and a little sugar (I know purists will object to the sugar, but adding about 1 tsp. helps bring out the tomato flavor).  Add some chopped fresh basil for the last minute of cooking time.

It makes the perfect amount of sauce for a pound of dried pasta.  I then throw on another tablespoon of olive oil at the end.

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With raw tomatoes, I get rid of the water and add flavor by roasting them first. Halve 'em, sprinkle with salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh thyme, basil, whatever.

Roast at 400 for about 35 minutes until a lot of the liquid is caramelized on the pan. Add the tomatoes to some sauteed onions and garlic, and if you're feeling really snazzy, deglaze the pan with red wine, sherry, whatever... Simmer  another 35 minutes or so. Give a whizz with the hand blender and voila.

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I like using whole peeled plum tomatoes too, but sometimes am too lazy to do the crushing.   :wink:

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I diverge from the olive oil approach by using a French recipe which calls for quartered tomatoes to be cooked slowly in butter.  Doesn't actually need much butter, as the tomatoes ooze juice as they cook down.  You can peel them or seed them first, and add any herbs you like.  If you need onion and garlic, I guess I would start them in the butter before adding the tomatoes.  My usual use for this sauce is to top sauteed green beans.

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Wilfrid that sounds straight outta Elizabeth David.  Very nice.

With any tomato sauce, evaporation is the key to both consistency and flavor.  Raw tomato sauce is a whole different, wonderful, trip.

The way I was taught the One True Way to Marinara by an Italian chef who originated from Calabria, I think, but cooked in Sanremo, is:  plum tomatoes, fresh or canned as season dictates, couple cloves of garlic whole, good hit of extra virgin olive oil, whole leaves of basil or another herb I like sage, salt and pepper, stir cook stir cook until reduced, remove garlic if desired, pass through a food mill, correct seasoning, done.  It has never ever failed me.

Marcella Hazan's way of looking for the oil to separate from the sauce as an indication of doneness sometimes works for me; I'd be interested to know if others use it.  Her tomato sauce with bacon or pancetta and rosemary is very good, too.

Priscilla


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ● Twitter Instagram

 

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I wish I had the time or should I say energy to use fresh but I do not.  I started using organic muir glenn diced tomatoes about 2 years ago when making simple tomato sauces.  If you use the diced tomatos you can use the entire contents and not worry about the liquid.  Just let it reduce down for about 10 minutes and you're all set, I've never run into a problem.  They are a little on the pricey side but kings and shop rite run usual specials on them.  Everyone that comes for dinner raves about the sauce.  You should give it a try.  Usual ingredients of fresh garlic, olive oil, fresh basil if you desire, salt and pepper.  If you prefer a sweeter sauce throw in some sugar or pepper flakes for a spicier sauce.  I love it.


"Who made you the reigning deity on what is an interesting thread and what is not? " - TheBoatMan

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Wilfrid that sounds straight outta Elizabeth David.  Very nice.

I was trying to remember where I got it.  I think it was from that Life With Henri book in Reichl's Food Library series.

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I've had the same water separation problem with canned tomatoes & will be looking for others' solutions!

With fresh tomatoes, I've found that being careful to de-seed the tomatoes makes all the difference.

Not hard to do if you slice the tomatoes horizontally rather than through the stem end; then all you have to do is squeeze out the seeds & remove the hard stem "belly button."

Then I just chop them up--I don't even worry about the skin--& cook them only until they collapse.  I usually sautee a lot of garlic briefly first in olive oil & then add the tomatoes.  I like to put in herbs like parsley and/or basil after the tomatoes are done.

When tomatoes are at their peak in the summertime, I don't use very much more than this.  Love 'em....

Sandy

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When the dead ripe red tomatoes are finally here, they don't even need cooking.  Just chop them up and let them sit for an hour or two on the counter with some good olive oil, chopped basil, black olives, and cubed mozzarella, if you like.  Pour over cooked pasta.  No tomato sauce is better.  (I think we did a whole thread on uncooked tomato sauce last year, but since the search function doesn't work, it's worth repeating -- although, I admit, I'm rushing the season by at least two months.  This sauce needs really good tomatoes, because there is no way of improving them.)

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I find that if you simmer the sauce uncovered for about 15-20 minutes before covering it, that it takes care of the water separation problem.  Of course, later on, turn the heat down and then cover or partially cover.

But that's just me...

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When the dead ripe red tomatoes are finally here, they don't even need cooking.  Just chop them up and let them sit for an hour or two on the counter with some good olive oil, chopped basil, black olives, and cubed mozzarella, if you like.

Quite agree. I do this but with chevre and fresh oregano, roasted garlic, sometimes sauteed mushrooms or brined olives. Salad sauce.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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When the dead ripe red tomatoes are finally here, they don't even need cooking.  Just chop them up and let them sit for an hour or two on the counter with some good olive oil, chopped basil, black olives, and cubed mozzarella, if you like.  Pour over cooked pasta.  No tomato sauce is better.  (I think we did a whole thread on uncooked tomato sauce last year, but since the search function doesn't work, it's worth repeating -- although, I admit, I'm rushing the season by at least two months.  This sauce needs really good tomatoes, because there is no way of improving them.)

you have a point, but that has an entirely different flavor than cooked tomatoes.  i am probably in the minority, but i don't really enjoy the flavor of raw tomato.  too acidic, or too something.  i haven't figured it out.  although, mixed raw chopped tomato with garlic, salt, pepper, herbs, olive oil, and patience, and you have yet another thing altogether.  and i suppose that's what you were suggesting!  :smile:

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Or add some browned skinned sausage chunks, done seperately so I can check out whether the fat and juices are rank or not.

i'm making sauce tonite (and using a food mill for the first time on robert and priscilla's recommendation - yay!) and i was wondering what you mean by the fat from the sausage being "rank"?  maybe it's the power of suggestion, but i sniffed the sausage when i was done cooking it, and the oil did smell a bit funny.  i figure it's because i never actually stuck my nose in a bunch of sausage grease, but maybe not?  is this a common occurance?

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also, i'd like to add some cream to this sauce.  is there a best way to do this?  should it be cold?  or room temp?  add it at the end obviously.  i guess by the time anyone responds i will have either a succussful or unsuccessful dish!

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I hope that it went well, tommy. I like to warm the cream before adding it.

Sausage is sausage. It's a skin full of whatever. With many sausages it is common to simmer them in water before frying or grilling and to pierce them to let some of the... rank stuff out.

So I always cook the sausage meat seperately from the sauce and then add it.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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it was ok.

it might be viewable here, if you so desire.  Click me.

it wasn't as watery as it might look.  the food mill is definitely something i need to use more often.  :biggrin:

thanks for the suggestions.

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When the dead ripe red tomatoes are finally here, they don't even need cooking.  Just chop them up

I forgot to specify that you should remove the seeds.  Tommy, I love raw tomatoes -- except for the disgusting yuck around the seeds.  You may like them better without the seeds, too.

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it was ok.

it might be viewable here, if you so desire.  Click me.

it wasn't as watery as it might look.  the food mill is definitely something i need to use more often.  :biggrin:

thanks for the suggestions.

Tommy your plate looks great not too watery at all the best marinara sauces are light light light, JUST LIKE YOURS.  Of course heavier, heartier sauces have their place and time and dish, but often they elbow out the lighter more subtle ones, I think.

I do love my food mill, this week used it for fava puree AND marinara, ON THE SAME EVENING!!!  That's how much I love my food mill.

Priscilla


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ● Twitter Instagram

 

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Speaking of the food mill -- I am reminded of Marcella Hazan's recipe for a fresh tomato sauce with butter.  She suggests cutting tomatoes in half, cooking them for about 10 minutes, putting them through the food mill into another saucepan, adding a peeled onion cut in half and 5 tablespoons of butter.  Cook slowly for about 45 minutes, taste for salt and pepper and remove the onion before using.   This is especially good with gnocchi.

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