Getting sauced

In a good way, of course. What do you need in order to make good, homemade sauce suitable for pasta or pizza?

A bunch of tomatoes, for one.

Core them.

Blanch them.

Shock them.

Peel and seed them.

Chop them. In batches, if you’re making a huge amount of sauce as I did today.

Then some garlic. About three heads (not cloves!), chopped.

Onions are good, too. Vidalias especially. About three and a half large onions, chopped.

Spices, oil, and wine.

And some tomato paste.

Sauce is so easy to make. In the winter, use canned tomatoes. In the summer, fresh.

Step one. Saute the garlic, then add the onions and some salt, cooking for about 10-15 minutes until the onions are medium-soft.

Step two. Add the tomato paste and some spices (oregano and tarragon, if you’re us). Cook until the tomato paste begins to brown a bit.

Step three. Add a touch of red wine vinegar and some good red wine, raise the temp a bit to get a good simmer going. Tomatoes need alcohol to release certain chemical compounds, and this will enhance the flavor of the dish. Most of the alcohol – never all of it – will burn away when you raise the temp. Not into alcohol, or have someone with special needs in that department? Skip it. It will be fine. After reducing it a bit, lower the temp and add the tomatoes and the juices.

Step four. Give it about 25 minutes or so, stirring it often.

Step five. Break out the blender. If you can find your immersion blender, that would be easier. Alas, I can’t find mine. Puree the sauce in batches. Like chunky sauce? Be sure you’ve chopped things in fairly bite-sized pieces back at the beginning, and only puree as much as you need to get the consistency you desire. We like smooth sauces, so all of it gets some blender time. If you’re using a blender, take out the insert from the top and cover the hole with a dish towel. Only fill the blender to a max of half the container. Do not ignore these things! If you do, you’ll be cleaning tomato sauce off your ceiling.

Step six. Return to heat. Add pepper and basil (fresh or dried).

Step seven. Jar it. Be sure to follow the rules for canning tomato-based products and sauces. Wipe the rims. Use fresh lids and good bands.

Step eight. Into the pressure canner. Of course, if yours is like mine, it will refuse to cooperate, and there will be no pressurized canning, only spitting and frothing by the canner, with no lift of the weight gauge. Bummer.

I gave the gauge a knock to see if it would manage to lift off. That appears to have done the trick, and we’re under pressure and counting down the processing time. It was a fun day, working on this in between bouts of working on real work, and it will be nice to have homemade sauce available for something that requires it if the mood strikes us just right.

2 thoughts on “Getting sauced”

  1. Annette:

    I somehow lost your email address, and wanted to know if you want any of the books I have up for “swap” on my book club meeting on Monday… You’ve got to answer fast!

    Up for grabs:

    “Heat” by Bill Buford;
    “A Cooks Tour” by AB, of course!;
    “All About Braising” by Molly Stevens;
    “Hot, Sour, Salt, Sweet” – Jeffrey Alford;
    “FNTV Favorites” by the geeks at Food Network TV;
    “Kitchen Confidential” by AB;
    “The Seasoning of a Chef” by Doug Psaltis (My new favorite!);
    “The Reach of a Chef” by Michael Ruhlmann;
    “It Must Have Been Something I Ate” by J. Steingarten;
    “The Nasty Bits” by come on, You know Who!!!;
    “Turning the Tables” by Steven Shaw;

    And others are bringing more.

    I’d love to participate on your behalf…. no guarantee of a “win”, but I’d rather not just sit on the sidelines!

    Postage will be on me!

    Please let me know asap.


  2. Julia, thanks for the offer – I have every one of those except the last (looked at that one in the store one day, didn’t grab me). It’s a bit of a sickness, bringing more and more books into a house that’s already full of them, but I can’t resist. “Hot, Sour, Salt, Sweet” is actually one of my new favorites, as it combines travelogue, photography, and cooking. Just what I’d like to do myself but can’t, sad to say.

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