02 March 2007

Tomato Sauce

I make two basic tomato sauces: a simple one without meat for pizza, calzones, and nearly anything else you can think of, and a long-cooking meat sauce for pasta.

Simple Tomato Sauce

I make a very simple tomato sauce for pizza:
  • 2 28 ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes.
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil and add the onion and garlic to soften. Do not brown.
  2. Add the tomatoes, and break them up with a fork.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Simmer for 45 minutes with the pot loosely covered: you want some of the liquid to evaporate. If you want, puree the sauce with an stick blender (I always do). You can also do this in a counter-top blender.

Here's my mighty 2-piece stick blender. It's a Cuisinart, of course.

Sunday Tomato Sauce

OK, you can make this any day of the week, but it takes a long time (5+ hours, mostly unattended), so Sunday is a good choice for me.

This is an Italian tomato sauce as I've been making it for 30 years. It evolved from my mother's sauce: I still go to her constantly for recipes and cooking advice.

I know it's bad karma to use dried herbs, but if it was good enough for mom, it's good enough for me.

This long-cooked sauce (some might call it a sugo), of course, is for pasta. You can make a much simpler sauce for pizza (shown at the top of the page) and that sauce works for pasta as well.

I'm often asked if this sauce can be made with turkey sausage. Of course not.
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 or more cups red wine
  • 1 6 pound 10 ounce can San Marsano whole tomatoes (I get these at Costco).
  • 3 lbs Italian Sausage (sweet, hot, or a combination)
  • 1 recipe meatballs
Since I'm cooking for seven, I always make double this recipe. You need a very large sauce pot (I use a 16-quart with a thick bottom). It makes enough for at least 6 pounds of pasta. It's enough for at least four meals for seven people, with meatballs and sausages left over for sandwiches. I freeze sauce and meat in 1-gallon freezer bags.
  1. Heat the sauce pot, and add enough olive oil to about 1/8"
  2. Add the onions, and immediately add salt. You want to soften the onions, not color them, and salt will draw out water. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the garlic. Stir.
  4. Remove the casings from four or five Italian sausages, and add the meat to the pot. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon, and brown.
  5. Add the oregano, basil, and bay leaves. Stir.
  6. Add the red wine, and simmer for five minutes.
  7. Add the San Marsano tomatoes. This will cool the pot enough for you to crush the tomatoes with your hands. Work quickly, or take the pot off the heat.
  8. Brown the remaining sausages in olive oil and set aside.
I generally cook this sauce (covered) for six hours (at least four), adding the browned sausages and meatballs an hour before serving. Use the lowest heat possible, and stir frequently. Add water when the sauce gets too thick.

Serve the sauce over pasta; spaghetti, ziti, riggatoni, and most dried pastas work well. Serve with Parmigianno Reggiano and crushed red pepper to taste. Use left-over meatballs and sausages for sandwiches.

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