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Thread: Tomato sauce

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    λεγιων ονομα μοι sycld's Avatar
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    Gay Tomato sauce

    This past weekend, I went to an enormous family reunion for people from my grandfather's rural village in Southern Italy. Many of the people were from Italy and didn't speak English, and some refused to speak anything but Calabrese dialect (even to me and my dad who only really know standard Italian). All the people there were from a cluster of families that were relatively wealthy compared to their fellow land-working peasants, because they all were preferentially sold land from the noble barons when they sold off their holdings. As a result, in order to the keep the land in these families, there was a lot of intermarriage between cousins. Thus everyone there was my cousin a couple times over.

    I suppose the point of that previous paragraph was to explain some things about me, but is otherwise irrelevant.

    So at any rate, after my big fat inbred family reunion I've been staying over at my parents for a couple days while they're away up state NY. I decided to make a quick dinner of tomato sauce with herbs from their garden and frozen ravioli.

    This got me thinking about how much Americans screw up tomato sauce, and my preachy mood got me in the mood to pontificate somewhere on the interwebs about how to make a good Italian-style tomato sauce.

    You don't need much. Here are the basics:

    BASIC STARTER INGREDIENTS:
    • Olive oil
    • A can of diced tomatoes (however big the "large" ones are)
    • Pepper
    • Salt
    • Onions (1 small) at least, though some add celery and (*shudder*) carrot*
    • Garlic, easier if in powdered form. If fresh, I WILL MURDER YOU IF YOU DARE TO BURN IT.**
    • Dried oregano (or as a second-best choice, dried basil, simply because its flavor is much less intense. Also oregano has a more umami flavor, whereas basil is a bit sweeter, so take that into account with other seasonings.)
    • OPTIONAL (but highly recommended): red wine (almost any will do, but sweeter wine requires more savory seasoning to balance the flavor)
    • EVEN MORE OPTIONAL (but classic): fresh herbs, obviously oregano and basil as a first choice


    OTHER OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS: cayenne pepper (a staple in my family's sauce), mix-ins like sauteed eggplant or mushroom, etc.

    *These three vegetables are magical because they caramelize when you fry them in oil and release all sorts of delicious flavoring agents. In fact, they are so important the combination of the 3 have a proper (French) name, mirepoix, and many restaurants pre-fry the mixture and keep it on hand as a base for a huge array of foods. At Trader Joe's you can get it unfried pre-chopped and mixed. (Even though I shudder at carrots in tomato sauce, it is more than acceptable to add them, and it's a good way to use up some old ones.)

    **I AM SERIOUS HERE. Garlic is delicate and fries up fast, so you have to be super-careful or it will burn. YOU KNOW IT'S BURNT WHEN IT IS VERY VISIBLY BROWN. Most Americans are used to the flavor of burnt garlic, so you might not care, but I will drink the blood of you and your loved ones.
    Also, I personally dislike the form that's pre-chopped in oil, because I feel the oil takes out a lot of the flavor from the garlic, or if you add the oil it's usually something cheaper than olive oil and it makes it harder to control the amount of oil. But it's your choice.


    Before I go into how to put it all together to make red gold, here are the two things that Americans do to mess it up completely:

    1) TOO MUCH OREGANO. This is BY FAR the #1 cardinal sin of any American tomato sauce, and the primary reason why most "fine dining" Italian restaurants in the US are the bane of my existence. If you can taste the flavor of oregano over everything else, you added WAY to much, and your life is forfeit.

    2) BURNT GARLIC. See the note (**) above. This is not done as often since garlic powder is just so much more convenient and is effective in imparting a good flavor.


    Making it

    1) Dice the onion up into square pieces and fry it in 2 tablespoons olive oil until transparent and limp, but not brown. The dice really doesn't matter, maybe like 1 cm, but of course it should be even for even cooking, and the smaller the dice the faster it cooks.

    If you're using fresh garlic: start frying the onion first, then when it's nearly done, maybe more than 3/4 through, then add the garlic. Remember that the garlic should not become uniformly brown, or you've burnt it.

    If you're using celery or carrot: I don't make soup or other things that call for mirepoix, so I don't have the best feel for it. But I would definitely add the carrot and celery first, since they'll take longer to fry up.

    2) Add the tomato. Lower the heat to a simmer, medium-low to low-medium.

    3) Add your herbs and seasoning: dried oregano (NOT TOO MUCH OR SO HELP ME; if you add more basil then you'll have to add more), garlic powder (if not using fresh), salt, pepper.

    If you're using wine:The heat needs to be a little higher briefly to help drive off the alcohol. Add it, turn it up to medium high for 2 to 4 minutes, and reduce the heat again.

    4) Allow the sauce to simmer for at least 20 minutes or so. It really doesn't have to simmer for hours on end, despite some people's claims (who probably also add too much oregano and thus should die).


    That's pretty much it.


    So go ahead and try it. Just don't do anything to make me murder you and take revenge out on those you care about, including everything listed above as well as overcooking the pasta and whatever other abominations that I have not listed but upon which you may perilously stumble in your wretched ignorance

    Enjoy!


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  2. #2
    Senior Member Nermy2k's Avatar
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    I've actually been looking for a tomato sauce recipe belive it or not so I'll try this one out.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nermy2k View Post
    atmosfear did you suck gina's dick
    Quote Originally Posted by atmosfear View Post
    fuck yes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nermy2k View Post
    I've actually been looking for a tomato sauce recipe belive it or not so I'll try this one out.
    Nice; let me know how it turns out, if you try it.


    PANDAS
    If you don't like them, then get the fuck out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Think View Post
    Atheists are quite right

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    Senior Member Nermy2k's Avatar
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    Well I decided to add some sugar to it since I was going to use it as a pizza sauce and used fresh, but really ripe tomatoes instead of canned. for oregano i ended up adding two tbsp plus one tbsp of mixed italian herbs (all dry). It took a long ass time to reduce since the tomatoes were so juicy, but overall it turned out really well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nermy2k View Post
    atmosfear did you suck gina's dick
    Quote Originally Posted by atmosfear View Post
    fuck yes.

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