Roundup! “What makes a good tomato sauce?”
What Makes A Good Tomato Sauce? Lea & Perrins, Tobassco, Sugar, Wine, Chilli, Bacon…..Opinions Please?
Also a long time ago I thought it was a great question and collected some of the responses and now, a long time later—but tomato season— here they are all in one place!
ephemeron(dead link): CANNED TOMATOES. And fresh tomatoes. I swear by this.
lickystickypickyme: Good tomato sauce starts with pomodori tomatoes you grill till tender, then you peel of the skin. then in a sauce pan with extra virgin olive oil and you add those tomatoes, diced, then a couple of mashed (not cut mashed!) garlic cloves. a pinch of salt and some sugar and black pepper should do it.Boil and stir it all. Then take off stove and into blender.
For an extra touch add fresh basil leaves. Yum
aloha nico: Pretty much the same, no bacon though. I always put nutmeg in my tomato sauces. I really enjoy nutmeg and think everyone else should as much as I do.
Fresh tomatoes, canned just won’t do, garlic, chili, sugar on occasion, usually have a bit of wine in there too.
Also from aloha nico: I’ve dabbled in the crushed red pepper flakes, but it seems to be a staple in so many people recipes so I’m going to have to try it next time. I also use lime and olives on occasion too, depends on the type of meat I’m using.
lapetitefigue: agreed on the tom’s, garlic, wine … i use crushed red pepper flakes as opposed to chili powder, and shallots are a must. oregano. sometimes basil (not till the end if it’s fresh). and a teensy squirt of lemon.
girlwearsmascara: GARLIC, red pepper, sugar and red wine and oregano. and s&p.
figout(dead link): Sugar and a little bit of cinnamon.
tesslynch: San Marzano crushed tomatoes + fresh basil + crushed garlic + wine + sea salt + red pepper flakes
milena: Fresh diced tomatoes, lots of olive oil, fresh basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Simple is good.
ohgrowup: carrot, one. trust me on this
constantwanderlust: I do tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, some onion, a bit of red flake and, at the end, either the juice from half a lemon to brighten the flavors or a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar swirled in (sounds a bit strange, but it really melds in and adds depth).
tktc: Frankly, I like the bite of a little sherry with shallots and garlic on a stewed tomato base. Some red pepper and about 2 TB of brown sugar per quart. Delicious.
I usually chop and sauteed onion and mushrooms and build the sauce around that. I also prefer to cut the tartness of the tomato (I use diced, sauce, and paste), so I add Port wine, olive oil, and sugar. (Brown or white, it’s up to you.) I also let it cook as long as possible and re-add water/chicken stock if it starts getting too thick.
Fresh herbs are great, but I think fresh basil and garlic overwhelm. (Adding roasted garlic is an interesting thing to try though if you have issues digesting garlic, which some people do apparently.) I will always stand by fresh oregano though.
More recently, I’ve been using chicken stock instead of water. It’s not as glamorous as veal stock, but it adds a lot of flavor. (Especially if you boil your pasta in it too.) This kind of comes from my “no meat” rule. Ground beef and sausage just have no place in the sauce. Make a meatball if you have to have it.
Lately, my mom (who makes the best sauce ever) has been adding grated fennel to hers, lightening up on the garlic, and adding extra olive oil before serving it. She also cooks it for a really short time. (I’m torn there because it’s not bad, but it’s… unfamiliar.)
You can also switch up cooking the sauce in a pot vs a skillet. Sometimes using a skillet - which sounds bizarre, I know - is actually really good if you want to cook something down a few times and really concentrate flavor. (I’ve added dry pasta to these and just made sure they had enough liquid to cook in, but enough for it to not be watery and it’s fantastic because the pasta absorbs more flavor.)
I’d also avoid seasoning for spiciness. I feel like that’s what crushed red pepper is for, but from a practical standpoint, it’s also just too hard to regulate in a marinara unless you are used to making chili and jambalayas. (Which I’m not.)
adeandabet: In addition to all mentioned, sometimes I’ll melt some anchovies or anchovy paste with the garlic and onions to form the base - adds the nutty meaty flavor without adding…meat or…nuts. Also, a trick (that I’m still a little skeptical about) that someone once used was drizzling in some honey and simmering it with the sauce for 5 minutes or so before being served…
Any new suggestions?