Monday, December 17, 2007

Tomato sauce

Making a good tomato sauce is not as easy as it seems. You need to get the proportions and texture right, and then cook it for long enough. In Britain people often add far too much onion and then don’t cook the sauce properly, while in Spain people often use a pressure cooker to make the sauce – which doesn’t give the liquid a chance to evaporate.



You can use either fresh or tinned tomatoes for this (but if you are using tinned tomatoes, then drain them in a colander first, as the juice tends to taste a bit tinny.) There is a bit of a myth in the UK that all supermarket tomatoes are inherently tasteless. In fact, the problem is due to the fact that most tomatoes reach the shops before they are fully ripe and benefit from a few days in a paper bag in a cool place so that their flavour can develop fully. The tomato puree adds flavour, but is not essential (and is curiously hard to obtain in Spain).

The following recipe makes a big pot – it doesn’t take any longer to make a large quantity, and any extra sauce keeps well in the fridge or freezer, or can be used as the base for curries or other dishes.

Ingredients
1 medium sized onion
olive oil
4 kg of fresh tomatoes (or 8 tins of whole tomatoes)
3 cloves of garlic
salt
tomato puree
2 glasses of red wine

Method
  1. Chop the onion finely, and add to a large saucepan with plenty of olive oil. Fry gently.
  2. If using fresh tomatoes, cut the top and bottom off them, then chop them into small pieces. If using tinned tomatoes, drain them and chop them into small pieces. (Don’t bother peeling your tomatoes. If you have enough time to peel 4 kg of tomatoes then you have too much time. Find something better to do with it!)
  3. Peel the garlic and chop it finely. Once the onion is golden, add the garlic and fry for another minute or two, then add the chopped tomatoes, some salt, plenty of tomato puree and a couple of glasses of red wine.
  4. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to minimum and simmer uncovered until the sauce is thick. This will probably take a couple of hours – the sauce should reduce by about half, depending on how juicy your tomatoes are. Your sauce is now ready, but if you want a smooth sauce then wait for it too cool and blend it using a handheld blender or a food processor.

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