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Marcella Hazan recipe--mystery phrase

In a simple recipe for spaghetti sauce, she writes: "simmer..45 minutes..until the fat floats free from the tomato"
what does that mean??

I am cooking canned tomatoes, butter, salt, onion--I do not think the "fat" was ever NOT "free" from the tomato
What does "until the fat floats free of the tomato" mean?

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  1. Oh, that is such a great recipe! I believe it takes about 30 mins and it just means there is a lot of fat (melted butter) on top of the sauce. It's excellent and so easy. Enjoy!

    1. Marcella uses this description several times, and it's one of those things that once you see happen, you realize it's the only way to describe it.

      With Marcella, as many have found, when first trying any of her recipes, I trust her implicitly and do exactly what she says. She's never steered me wrong yet!

      5 Replies
      1. re: bdumes

        I would like to buy her cookbook. Is there one you would recommend in particular?

        1. re: oana

          Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

          1. re: cassoulady

            Great thank you so very much :).

            1. re: oana

              It had been the cook book of the month at one point I know, you may want to search for that.

              1. re: cassoulady

                Thanks so much Cassoulady. I found it on Indigo and it's going on the card as we speak :).

      2. I've made other recipes from that book in which she says that . . . and I've never seen it happen. I agree with you - when was the oil not "free" from the tomatoes? No idea. So I just simmer for approximately the amount of time she specifies, and it comes out right.

        1. Like bdumes says, it is one of those things that once you see it happen, you know it right away. The fat looks completely separate from the other ingredients, "floating" on/around the top, as fat floats on water. So as the tomatoes cook, and they release their natural water content, any oil, butter, etc. will come to the surface.

          1. it sounds like the tomoto onion butter sauce- yum, you will see after a while that the butter will rise up, so it looks like a bit of oil on top of the mixture ( which is fine).

            3 Replies
            1. re: cassoulady

              ditto the above, with a lot of sauces, but esp the tomato sauces, the sauce is done when the oil separates and floats on the surface of the sauce. it you are not always manically stirring you will see it. Im not sure what causes this, maybe the gradual evaporation of the water in the sauce.

              1. re: jen kalb

                hazan's "floating oil" instruction is similar to that in indian recipes. the oil float is seen as a good thing in indian cooking, too -- an indication that the sauce is ready.

                1. re: alkapal

                  The recipe does not call for this, but I give about 3/4 of it a whirl in the food processor once it is done. then mix it back in with the rest of the sauce, it gives it a creamy texture. SO likes the creamier sauce. MMMMM.....