Posted Sep 2, 2011 in Food | 1 Comment

The Sauce: Unedited

Call it Gravy, call it pommodoro, call it whatever u want; at the end of the day it still remains and forever will be Tomato Sauce. Loose or chunky, watery or thick it comes in a variety different textures, flavors and colors. Tomato sauce has been around since the Aztec and Maya civilizations of Latin America, the tomato (pommodoro in Italian which means “golden apple” was discovered when Europeans crossed the Atlantic and brought back to Spain, and then Italy; this fantastic fruit, yes fruit, that eventually made its name as a staple of Italian cuisine.

We can all agree that the tomato, synonymous with Mamma’s Sunday Gravy is a staple of the Italian kitchen; Now Here’s the kicker, there is no one tomato sauce that is considered to be the standard, it is not like a tomato Provencal, who’s recipe is dictated and written in stone in the Larousse Gastronomique.

Tomato sauce varies from mother to mother, grandmother to grandmother, house to house, village to village, and so on and so forth. The Latin American tomato sauce is used in one way, the Italian version another and guess what?; the Spaniards and French play with tomatoes too, and they have their own way of dressing it up and selling it.

So what to do in this crazy world of tomato sauces? Should you forgo the 2 hr prep time and confusion on whether or not you want yours to be chunky or smooth? Sweet or sour? Thick or liquid? Why add this level of stress in your life? Is there no app for this? Before freaking out and running to your local supermarket to stock up on Ragu, Prego and Classico; Take a minute and finish reading my rant and maybe just maybe you’ll see the light at the end of that rose tinted tunnel.

Tomato sauce should be simple, devoid of complication and complex techniques, it should be seen as the foundation to your meal, simple enough to accompany a plate of pasta and bold enough to be added to your cacciatore. So here’s the deal, go to the store, preferably a great Italian Store like Cavallaro’s or Milano’s (please support my people) and get yourself four cans of high quality whole tomatoes, to avoid confusion, go straight for the San Marzano DOP, these are a little more expensive, but definitely worth it, they taste like real tomatoes, and the DOP (denominazion d’origine protetta) guaranties what’s in the can, so you cannot really go wrong,

Once you have the tomatoes you will need 4 medium/small onions diced, a small handful of garlic crushed and chopped, some fresh basil, and about a quarter cup of olive oil salt and pepper to season. In a pot, heat up the olive oil, add half of the diced onions with a little salt and pepper to let the juices come out, sweat the onions until they start to become soft, then add your garlic. Continue sautéing until onions are translucent; then slowly add you tomatoes, I prefer crushing them by hand, and however a potato masher can come in handy if you’re afraid to touch your food. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a slow simmer.

Whole cooking time should be about 2 hours on low simmer, or until one quarter of the liquid has evaporated; Halfway through the cooking process add the other half of the onions stirring occasionally. Once the sauce is ready, season with salt and pepper to taste, add freshly torn basil and let cool before separating into smaller containers for freezing.

The sauce will be great for immediate consumption, and even better the next day. Enjoy it and play with it, who knows maybe you’ll develop your own recipe… just please do not add carrots or sugar.

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