Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Basic Tomato Sauce

I'm not going to be pretentious and write-off jarred sauces as sacrilegious and terrible because jarred sauces are pretty delicious and an easy shortcut. However, I will say that if you have the time and ingredients to make your own, you should. My recipe is rather quick and simple (less than 10 ingredients) and only takes about 1 hour from prep to completion. It's not super authentically Italian by any means, but it tastes good and that's all that matters.

Ingredients [yields between 3 to 4 cups of sauce]:
28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes*
1 cup diced onion
6 cloves minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
+ baking soda (optional)

*I'm going to repeat what I said about San Marzano tomatoes in my Pasta Puttanesca post: San Marzano tomatoes are a type of plum tomato and it's the best tomato for making sauce. Why? Let me list the reasons: 1) it has a hearty flesh 2) and few seeds and 3) lots of natural sweetness 4) and it's more expensive so you know it's good. If you've never had them, just give them a try and there's a really good chance you'll be converted.
First, start by dicing the onion. I like to just lop off a piece (since I'm not using the whole thing), slice it, and then cut in perpendicular to the slices.

Also, mince up some garlic. I don't mince it super finely for this recipe because I like a chunkier sauce with little flecks of garlic, but you can do what you prefer. In fact, if you don't like biting into garlic pieces, you can put in whole cloves (that are crushed) and fish them out later.
Once your mise-en-place are ready, you can start cooking.
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat up a bit of olive oil. Then add in the onions, garlic, and bay leaf, season with salt, sugar, and oregano, and saute for a bit until the onions are soft.
Add in the canned tomatoes (juices and all) and use a wooden spoon to start breaking them up a bit. You could also use a potato masher if you prefer a smoother sauce but I don't mind a few big chunks of tomato here and there.
Place a lid on the sauce and allow to simmer for anywhere between 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how thick you like your sauce. If the sauce tastes too acidic, you can add in a tiny pinch of baking soda (seriously a TINY pinch) to neutralize the acid. The sauce should bubble up (which is the chemical reaction between the acid and base) and then when you taste it again, it the acidity should be greatly reduced. Be careful though because too much baking soda will just zap all the tomato-y flavor out of the sauce.
Once the sauce is done, you can toss it with some pasta OR you can see how I used it (in Wednesday's post).
Here's the recipe page:

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