Friday, October 23, 2015

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

I'm in a great mood this morning because I'll be picking up H this evening in Newark and then we're going to get dinner and have a good night's sleep and then head out to New Orleans tomorrow morning! I'm also in an extra good mood because I love today's post.

Apparently this amazing sauce has been floating around the internet for over a decade and I didn't know it. It's a devilishly simple sauce (just three ingredients; four if you count the salt) and even though I was tempted to throw in garlic and herbs and crushed pepper flakes, for my first go, I showed restraint. There's something beautiful about really simple, rich recipes that allow single ingredients to shine (in this case, it's the tomato) but I'm not going to lie; I'm probably going to pollute this recipe with a little garlic and a little heat the next time I make it.

I wasn't sure what to expect because in all of the forums I read, no one described the taste in a descriptive enough manner; in general, the comments were all along the line of, "OMG SO DELICIOUS!" But, maybe this is a "people in glass houses" situation because it's possible I won't be able to describe it properly either. My best attempt is to say that the smell reminded me of cream of tomato soup and then when I went in for a taste, again, I thought hm, tomato soup. The butter adds this unctuous mouthfeel that makes the sauce incredibly velvety and "sticky." I say "sticky" because this sauce stuck to the noodles better than any other tomato sauce I have ever made. The onion added a crapload of natural sweetness that complemented the San Marzano tomatoes. In fact, it might have been a little too sweet for my taste and I think that this recipe is a great way to use up regular plum tomatoes; save the San Marzano tomatoes for regular sauces that need a boost.

Overall, this sauce was a smashing success. I slapped it together on a Thursday evening with about 2 minutes of prep work, 1 minute to smash the tomatoes in the pot, and then it sat on the hob, bubbling away and getting really good all on its own. In the meantime, I was able to prepare an appetizer, a vegetable dish, and cook the pasta. This recipe is a good one and I know it's going to get made over and over again this winter.
Ingredients:
28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes (or regular plum tomatoes)
6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, peeled and halved
salt to taste (1 to 2 teaspoons)

Start by peeling the onion and chopping it in half. Leave the stem end in tact so that it won't fall apart.
Grab a big, heavy bottomed pot and pour in the tomatoes, tuck in the butter, drop in the onion halves, and sprinkle in some salt.

Turn the heat on medium and and wait for the butter to melt and the tomato juices to start bubbling.
Once the sauce starts bubbling, smash the tomatoes to your desired consistency (I like a few big chunks of tomato), and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the sauce continue cooking for about 45 minutes or until the butter has emulsified itself into the sauce.
While the sauce is bubbling away, you can work on some side dishes. I decided to make roasted brussels sprouts with bacon, roasted sausage, and some tomato bruschetta.
Just a few minutes before the sauce is done, put a big pot of water on to boil and prepare the pasta.

Once the sauce is ready, give it a good stir. Add in the drained pasta and and toss to coat each and every noodle generously with velvety sauce.
Serve up generous portions of pasta.
And tada! A delicious, beautiful dish screaming with delicious flavor.
Like I mentioned above, the sauce is super creamy and fruity. The inherent sweetness of the tomato is highlighted and emphasized by the sugars in the onion. It's amazing how complex this sauce is even though it's made up of only four ingredients.
Here's the recipe page:

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