It’s Complicatedly Simple
A mainstay of Italian cooking is a good marinara sauce. Every family has one, two or more of them. Some are done in a few minutes others take days. Homemade ones differ in the store bought counter parts in that homemade ones are fresher and denser in flavour and made by hands who love what they are doing.
We, here in our kitchen, are a loving lot and wanted to teach a friend how to make a good marinara sauce. The aromatics, onion, celery and carrot took a day to cut up; every knife stroke cutting these into a mince. I would have typically used my food processor to achieve this but I choose to do it by hand so that I could report more clearly on the process.
But first we had to have the best tomatoes. I went to two stores to find Roma’s or Italian plum tomatoes. The first place I found them they were a little pale but cooking them would improve their flavour. The next store the tomatoes were deeply red and smelled like a tomato. Roma’s are preferred because they are fleshy compare to others. Since we would be making only enough for one meal our total weight was a little over 2 kilo’s or 2.25 pounds.
Next I had to uncover my family’s recipe. I looked through all of my files and books and found it oddly enough on my computer. The complete recipe is posted below. Because one of our team, the photographer, wasn’t able to make it to the kitchen today, photos aren’t available. I’ll be making it again soon and those photos will be posted.
Here is the recipe:
You will need:
2 Kilo’s plum tomatoes coarsely chopped
1 medium Onion very finely chopped
1 medium carrot very finely chopped
1 stalk of celery very finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 large garlic clove roughly chopped
1 teaspoon chopped dried chilli pepper (remove seeds)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon each dried Basil, Oregano and Thyme
1 cup good tomato paste
Salt and Pepper to taste (I used 1 table spoons of pepper crushed)
No exotic ingredients here. This should tell you that technique is going to be important.
Cut tomatoes into quarters and place in heavy sauce pan and cook on low until the tomatoes are soft and skins are pulling away from the tomato. About 30 minutes. Let cool before continuing.
Next put the tomatoes through a food mill on fine to remove the skins and seeds. If you don’t have a food mill you can peel the tomatoes first and then cook. Some people do not mind the seeds in their sauce, but I’ve always found them to turn bitter in the cooked sauce. Some have told me that they use a colander for this process and others say that they push the cooked tomatoes through a wire strainer.
With the tomatoes strained put them back in the pot and turn on the heat just above simmer.
When you begin to see little bubbles peculating the surface then add the onion, celery, and carrot and stir in. (The reason you wait until the bubbles appear is because you want the vegetables to begin cooking right away to conserve their flavour). Once the mix begins to simmer again add the herbs and spices plus the garlic. Stir in and begin the cooking of the sauce. After an hour or so the sauce with become thick and bubbly add the tomato paste (this imparts a deep tomato taste) and stir until incorporated and cook for another 15 minutes.
We poured the sauce onto some penne pasta that was nearly cooked topped it completely with sauce, then cheese. This goes in a 350 oven and bakes for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve with wine and good crusty bread and you’re set for a great family treat.
David A. Gunton on Penne for your Sauce paolopresta on My Love is a Rock Start Elizabeth deVries on My Love is a Rock Start paolopresta on The Dish Washin Blues Rich on The Dish Washin Blues