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Tomato sauce--secret ingredient?

I was wondering if anyone used a special, "different" ingredient in their tomato sauce. I use the regular items--onions, garlic, oregano, maybe some other green leaf type herbs, sometimes red wine, sometimes red chile flakes. Just getting a little bored, and thought maybe there's some secret little ingredient that could be added to make the tomato sauce just heaven.

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  1. anchovy paste melted into the olive oil before sauteeing the onions. ...or anychovy fillets, if you prefer.

    i also like to do a spicy tomato sauce (red chili flakes) with capers and a drained can of very nice tuna (the kind packed in olive oil) flaked in at the end, finish with chopped parsely.

    thinly sliced fennel is a nice addition to a rustic tomato sauce.

    perhaps try a ragu of duck? or try a meat sauce with ground bison? these are faves in my house.

    1 Reply
    1. re: litchick

      yum, i love anchovies... this sounds great

    2. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to sauce, so I stick close to my mom's but have started to alter it just a bit. I use whole tomatoes and crush them by hand. I go easier on the onions and heavier on the garlic to make it taste more like a fresh tomato sauce rather than a blanket of marinara. I usually sprinkle a few pinches of sugar to balance the tomato acid and a splash of vinegar for some background tang. Oregano, basil, parsley (fresh herbs if the season allows). You can try adding chopped carrots and celery to the original saute of onions and garlic. They add their sweetness, but it's not my favorite twist. Also try making your sauce with crumbled sweet Italian sausage for a change of pace. Have fun!

      1. Ah, I was thinking anchovies while typing the initial post. Will definitely give that a try.

        Thanks for the ideas so far. Definitely some good ideas and pointers.

        1. Dash of cinammon

          Dash of sugar

          Beef broth

          Some itaian grandmas I know add flour.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jenniebnyc

            my old italian grandma always saved the cheese rinds to toss in chicken or beef soups. i'll have to try it in sauce.

            1. re: boppiecat

              cheese rinds are great (make for rich fantastic lentil soup too)
              at times, i also add 1/2 a cube of porcini bullion

          2. A parmesan rind. You know that waxy end on the parmesan block that you usually throw away? Keep the next one in the freezer then throw it whole into the sauce while it cooks next time. Take it out before serving. Adds a rich flavor without too much cheesiness.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Clare K

              I tried that once and I do not know if that added anything to the sauce, or as my wife calls it 'gravy.' It was the rind of Parmigiano Reggiano sent from Italy by a friend who lives in Genova.

              1. re: ChiliDude

                Romano will add more taste than expensive parmesan. But it won't hit you over the head either way. I just like snacking on it after it's melted myself.

                1. re: coll

                  Gnawing on that sauce-softened rind is the cook's bonus treat.

            2. My standard sauce starts by browning meat, meatballs, etc and setting aside. Afterwhich I:
              1) Add flour and create a chocolate colored roux.
              2) Add finely chopped onions, celery, and carrots and cook in roux until bright (I sometimes substitute green pepper for the carrots).
              3) Deglaze with cold beef stock and bring to boil.
              4) Work in a can of tomato paste, and add back meat and a bay leaf.
              5) Simmer for at least an hour.

              I also use anise and orange zest occassionally too

              1. Try adding a tablespoon or two Worchestershire sauce to your next batch (be sure to cut back on the salt in your normal recipe). It adds complexity, richness, tang, and that anchovie mystique.

                1. Crushed/ground fennel seed.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: FoodFuser

                    Yes! and a turkish bay leaf or two.

                    1. re: FoodFuser

                      That's where my fennel sausage comes in!

                      1. re: FoodFuser

                        I used a TBL of ground fennel seed or a diced fennel bulb if I can get them for a decent price( under $3.00 a lb)

                      2. I can't believe I'm the first to suggest butter. The best tomato sauce ever is the simple-yet-divine butter/onion/tomato sauce recipe from Marcella Hazan.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: DanaB

                          yes yes yes! Last year, I made a huge batch of a buttery tomato sauce, and wow. Nothing better.

                          1. re: emilyj67

                            I was just about to make a lot of this recipe for the freezer, to pull out in batches as a base for other sauces throughout the year. But I'm wondering if the buttery sauce might not be right for the other add-ins I typically use: anchovies, tuna, olives, etc. What do you think?

                            1. re: sweetpotater

                              i see what you mean with the tuna and butter possibly clashing, but i think it'd be fine with anchovies and olives.

                              1. re: sweetpotater

                                I usually only add the butter with a simple tomato-garlic sauce; I'd be inclined as beauborne below. (and wow -- I think this thread has had no activity since 2007, until I commented a week ago, and now it's secret ingredients all day long! :) funny thing.

                                1. re: sweetpotater

                                  Wait - tuna? In the sauce? Or use the sauce on tuna?

                            2. I like grating a carrot into it for added sweetness.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: thejulia

                                I do too. And I put loads of onions in and carmelize them very well before adding anything else. You get the sweetness without having to add any sugar, and it gives tremendous depth. By doing this you can add the tomato in fairly late and not cook it to death and it's very "deep" tasting.

                                1. re: thejulia

                                  oh yeah - good point. I have finely minced carrots and caramelized them for sweetness. They fall apart completely in the sauce, so no one knows that you put a carrot in there.

                                2. Sugar
                                  EVOO
                                  Rib of meat (cooked)

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: BellaDonna

                                    I squeeze in some honey instead of sugar - it seems to cut the acidity more.

                                    1. re: BellaDonna

                                      EVOO in your PASTA SAUCE? NO WAY! :P

                                      1. re: beaubourne

                                        ?????????

                                    2. red wine and lots of hot pepper flakes...really simple recipe on epi: spicy tomato sauce

                                      1. My secret is adding fresh basil from my garden put into my simple tomato sauce.Turn off the sauce, add basil and cover for 10 min,then remove.I found the flavor to be much fresher, rather than cooking it into your sauce.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: emglow101

                                          am not sure that i completely understand your directions, but fresh herbs are best added at the end, yes.

                                          fry the dried ones in your oil before adding onions, peppers, what-have-you.

                                          as for those adding sugar, honey or chocolate? tomato sauce is supposed to have a bitter component to cut the richness of pasta or other foods with which it is served.

                                        2. A pinch of ground allspice. Really brings out the tomato flavor.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                            Oh yes. I do this one too. It's a must.

                                          2. I sometimes use a bit of red wine, but my other secret ingredient is chocolate. A little bit melted in adds a little sweetness to the sauce.

                                            http://burghfeeding.blogspot.com/

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Burghfeeder

                                              That's exactly my secret! A good red wine and some coco powder. Makes a world of difference.

                                            2. Pimenton a la Vera (smoked paprika).

                                              I like La Dalia best.

                                              1. Red wine, lots of garlic, chili, and/or italian sausage and/or chopped olives and when in season chopped up swiss chard or ruccola from a bag in winter.

                                                1. Re: the great suggestion of anchovy paste by litchick and others: one can use a splash of fish sauce instead, if it's handier (which it almost always is, for me).

                                                  I approach long-cooked and quicker sauces very differently. Generally preferring the quicker sauces, I avoid onions, red wine, parmigiano rinds, bay leaf, meats--but all those things make sense in longer-cooked sauces.

                                                  For my preferred quicker sauces, the anchovy/fish-sauce part is important (but no one will taste it as such), and also fresh herbs, esp. basil. Sometimes a VERY small splash of white wine--not so much to taste the wine but to use the alcohol for releasing more flavor compounds from the other ingredients.

                                                  I like to start with olive oil heating in the pan, and if I have a fresh chile like Serrano, I cut one or two lengthwise and cook these in the oil to infuse their flavors. Then I'll add garlic on moderate heat (don't burn). Sometimes I'll use halved garlic cloves rather than minced, planning to remove the halves later. I keep the chiles in the sauce until tasting tells me I have the desired amount of heat. If I want more heat, I mince in chile pepper flakes.

                                                  1. My mother in law was from Sardinia and she always added a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. She made great sauce.

                                                    11 Replies
                                                    1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                      Fascinating. Did she put meat in her sauce? or dairy?

                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        No dairy ever, but she would brown sweet fennel sausage, poking plenty of holes to let out all the goodness, then when they were browned add garlic, onions, brown that, add tomato paste, cook a bit then reduce some red wine then the tomatoes. Salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. It was always good! Actually, she was one of three sisters who made it the same way and they all came out great!

                                                        1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                          I thought I was the only one that poked holes in my sausage, people act like I am committing a sin!

                                                          1. re: coll

                                                            I think that poking a brat is a high crime and misdemeanor is Wisconsin. At least that's what DH tells me.

                                                            1. re: coll

                                                              It's a sin not to!

                                                            2. re: wincountrygirl

                                                              Just wondering if you think the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg in Sardinia has a Moroccan/Moorish/African heritage, like in chicken bisteeya/bastilla.

                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                while sardinia and moorish africa were trading partners, the moors never successfully conquered the island. you will find much greater moorish influence in sicily and even parts of puglia (specifically lucera), where the moors started scrabbling in the 600s til they were finally ousted for good in 1300 by frederick II.

                                                                see also malta, corsica and the saracens.

                                                                :)

                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                  The use of using cinnamon/nutmeg in savory dishes sounds North African/Moorish/Moroccan then, as I suspected. That spicing addition, as you say, came not from settled tribes, but from a cultural/culinary exchange from trading and travel. Sicilia offers its unique and abundant take on food fusion -- it was fascinating to eat there. Love the history of that island and tales of the Saraceni and their contribution to food. Thanks for the info.

                                                                2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                  I don't know - it's really just a hint of it though. I've had some middle eastern dishes that use cinnamon and it's way more than a hint.

                                                            3. re: wincountrygirl

                                                              Thanks for the cinnamon and nutmeg suggestion.

                                                              1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                Thank my mom in law Celestina!!

                                                            4. I never use tomato paste as it contains the skins and seeds which have been ground to a pulp. Once the bitterness from the seeds and skins gets into a sauce you'll never get rid of it no matter what you add. I use either fresh or whole canned tomatoes which I strain to remove the seeds/skins. I do use red wine but I never just add a 'glug' of it. I always reduce the red wine to at least half to remove as much of the alcohol as possible. Alcohol, as JC noted, adds a bitterness to food that can't be disguised. This makes a BIG difference in the flavor whenever red/white wine is used in cooking anything.
                                                              Anchovies/ paste for sure.
                                                              Sliced black olives. My 'secret ingredient' is a little peanut butter added.
                                                              I add a bit of clarified butter never table butter. The milk solids in table butter don't react well with the acid in tomatoes.

                                                              17 Replies
                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                Are you quite sure about tomato paste and "bitter seeds", which I've never experienced?
                                                                From CI:
                                                                "To make the paste, ripe tomatoes are heated and ruptured, a process called “break.” The seeds, pulp, and skin are filtered out, and the juice is evaporated into a thick paste. By law, it must be 24 percent solids. While some brands make their own paste, most buy it from large processing plants, which adjust their formula to meet each brand’s “recipe.”

                                                                From Wiki:
                                                                "Tomato paste is a thick paste that is made by cooking tomatoes for several hours to reduce moisture, straining them to remove the seeds and skin, and cooking them again to reduce them to a thick, rich concentrate.[1]

                                                                Then there's this from Chris Kimball:
                                                                "It turns out the seed in [the tomato] jelly ... has three times more flavor compounds called glutamates than the flesh, so when you seed the tomato... you're actually throwing out most of the flavor.

                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                  Notice how he discarded the skins and the seeds.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJQn_d...
                                                                  Just put some seeds in your mouth and crunch them and tell me they aren't bitter.
                                                                  Anyway I'll stick with Heston.

                                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                                    Sorry, can't do that. I make my tomato sauce with skins and seeds and have NEVER noted paste to have any bitterness whatsoever.
                                                                    Different strokes for different folks.
                                                                    No worry, beef curry.
                                                                    The evidence just isn't there, aside from your tasters, but hey, that's why it's called an opinion.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      I too am a paste fan, despite modern notions. Meanwhile, olives and peanut butter seem out of place, unless some type of family thing? My MIL taught me the Abruzzi method though, you do strain out all skins and seeds before they hit the pot. I make up for it by adding all kinds of bones. Smooth as silk, and unctuous as all hell.

                                                                      I have been thinking of making my own tomato paste by sundrying plum tomatoes, I will let you know how that goes.

                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                        Wow, good for you! Please do follow up.
                                                                        I bow down to you!

                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                          I know a pizzeria owner who dried them on his tar roof; not sure how far I will go with this, but eventually I will have to get it out of my system.

                                                                        2. re: coll

                                                                          The amount of peanut butter is like a tablespoon in six liters of sauce and about three tablespoons of thin sliced black olives. Like the anchovy paste they aren't noticeable but do add a 'back-note'.
                                                                          What kind of "bones"?

                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                            Usually country ribs, since they're cheap and you get nice hunks of meat to serve with the meatballs and braciole. My favorite thing is a beef shank or two, so much marrow, but you don't see them all the time. Another thing I will add, in addition to the above, is veal or lamb blade steaks, if I catch them on sale. My MIL was a big believer in lamb in the pot, it doesn't taste gamy at all. I also hear that some families believe in bone in chicken, but the closest I've gone to that is a leftover neck, just to get rid of it!

                                                                            Also something I learned here, not from family, was a dash of vodka releases the flavor of the tomatoes better than anything else. If I have some on hand, I try to remember to do that too.

                                                                  2. re: Puffin3

                                                                    respectfully disagree about adding ANY butter.
                                                                    it gives the sauce a weird smell and taste.

                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                      Ordinary 'table butter' contain milk solids. Milk solids and the acid in tomatoes do not play well together. Use clarified butter. Completely different result/taste.

                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                        They play together just fine!

                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                          in your opinion. :)

                                                                          i don't care for it, but that could be childhood imprinting. i also don't care for that hazan butter/onion/tomato version. tried it once at a friend's house but it's so rich i cannot fathom eating it ever again.

                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                            Yeah, if you like curdles in your tomato dishes. So why do chefs around the world always use clarified butter instead of table butter? Why did Escoffier only use clarified butter? Guess you know better then them.

                                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                                              Not to stir the pot here (no pun intended?), but by your logic, putting cream in tomato sauce would curdle it too. I just watched Heston Blumenthal's In Search of Perfection: Spaghetti Bolognese and he put pats of butter in at the end. If anyone knows food science, it's him.

                                                                              Butter doesn't curdle tomato sauce.

                                                                              1. re: beaubourne

                                                                                Thank you.

                                                                                1. re: beaubourne

                                                                                  Note HB added the (cold) butter pats at the end of the cooking. http://cooking.stackexchange.com/ques...

                                                                            2. re: Puffin3

                                                                              I don't understand about the curdling.

                                                                              Bolognese tomato sauce often has milk or cream. The milk doesn't curdle a bit. And it tastes amazing.

                                                                              Sugo (a scrumptious sauce and dish) also adds milk. No curdling there either.

                                                                              Butter adds richness and emollience to a sauce. I can easily see how an Italian sauce (tomato or otherwise) might be finished with it, just like the French monter au beurre.

                                                                        2. Butter!!

                                                                          1. Mentioned already but worth mentioning again, any or all of the following: Anchovy paste, tomato paste, reconstituted porcini mushrooms along with the strained soaking liquid, Parm cheese rinds. ALL contribute umami to the sauce.

                                                                            1. honest-to-god vine ripened tomatos.
                                                                              olive oil that others will tell you is "too good" to go into sauce.
                                                                              omit the onions.

                                                                              1. Bacon...seriously.

                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                  I draw the line at prosciutto, or guanciale. But I get where you're coming from!

                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                    I typically use pancetta because I make it at home. I suggest bacon because it is widely available.

                                                                                    I love pasta Amatriciana. To me it the height of red sauce pasta.

                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                      Pasta all'amatriciana is so simple, yet so brilliant. I generally make if with lardons-- again, the availability.

                                                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                        I only add pancetta, or the others, to my meat sauce if I have scraps from something else stashed in the freezer. But this is on top of meatballs and the rest. The one sauce I make on a regular basis specifically with that type of meat is A La Vodka, where I use a good amount of chopped prosciutto. I've tried subbing but nothing else will do! But I know what you mean.

                                                                                        My husband doesn't go for "fancy" sauces unfortunately. He hates any sauce with chopped type meats floating in it, the meat has to be a separate course. But I'm lucky in one way, I live in an area where all of the above mentioned are more than abundant. Guess I might resort to bacon if it came to it.

                                                                                      2. re: coll

                                                                                        prosciutto isn't for cooking.

                                                                                        for dishes that include guanciale, like amatriciana and carbonara, traditional american bacon is not a good sub since it is smoked.

                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                          I cook proscuitto. In fact, love crisping it up in the oven and sprinkling it over salads, crostini.
                                                                                          Delicious.
                                                                                          And bacon, being smoky, rocks in all'amatriciana.
                                                                                          It'a another layer of flavor.
                                                                                          I don't care what Nona says!

                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                            i love all sorts of porky goodness. but love my prosciutto room temp, not crispy.

                                                                                            i pay $25+ pp for prosciutto di parma. even as a collapsed catholic am NOT cooking out the fat and changing its god-given mouthfeel of velvet and sin.

                                                                                            bacon, rather than guanciale, in a dish just makes it a whole different thing. i would NOT turn it out of bed, ok?

                                                                                          2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            I wouldn't call A La Vodka exactly cooked. A couple of minutes to warm, maybe.

                                                                                            And I most certainly cook it on the grill, when I wrap it around figs.

                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                              Julienned prosciutto is quite awesome as a pizza topping. Try it some time, it gets all nice and crispy.

                                                                                              And bacon is perfectly fine in amatriciana sauce for people who enjoy the smoky flavor it adds.

                                                                                        2. I swear the best thing to do is put the rind of some parmesan reggiano in the sauce while it simmers.

                                                                                          1. Fennel (and umami), to fake-o the sausage!

                                                                                            1. i cook it for about three hours and let some of the sauce caremalise on the side of the pan before stirring it back in

                                                                                              1. A lamb shank. After your onions and garlic are almost ready, add the shank and brown slightly and add the rest of the ingredients. Then the tomato, basil,a couple of bay leaves, salt and pepper, parmisean and your sausage and meatballs. My grandmother made it this way and I have for the last 30 years.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Mila64

                                                                                                  If it's a special occasion, I always include either veal or lamb bones.

                                                                                                  1. re: Mila64

                                                                                                    +1 For Lamb, I love the flavor lamb gives to the tomato sauce - so mellow and warm

                                                                                                    My family traditionally uses braciole (beef) at the stage where you are putting the shank but I really love it with lamb.

                                                                                                  2. I make it a lot of different ways, but one of the ones they seem to like has grated nutmeg and crushed fennel seed, toasted. It rocks in a Bolognese. I think my Bolognese counts as a tomato sauce since it has a smidgen of tomato.

                                                                                                    1. HFCS. No. Seriously. It is a 'secret' ingredient in many a tomato sauce. I don't recommend it, but I know many who add table sugar to their homemade sauce.

                                                                                                      short of that, doubling the cost by using high quality canned tomatoes, like San Marzano, high quality olive oil that's very hard to come by, dried oregano from an ethnic market that has it fresh, not the bottled supermarket mystery stuff, salt, yes, salt, and black pepper, and some sautéed garlic.

                                                                                                      I sometimes feel like making a marinara by sautéing some sliced garlic in olive oil, adding the hand crushed contents of two cans of whole tomatoes in tomato juice, not puree, a pinch of oregano and salt, black pepper, salt, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

                                                                                                      5 minutes before it's done, I sauté sliced garlic in olive oil in a frypan and when good and sizzling, I pour the whole frypan of garlic and oil into my simmering sauce. Stir, and simmer for 5 minutes. Paradiso.

                                                                                                      red chili flakes are nice as well.

                                                                                                      some Italian cooks like to add the flavor of carrot and celery. YMMV.

                                                                                                      1. No real secret ingredients but if I want it a little sweeter I'll use carrots.

                                                                                                        To make something a little hardy for my Nana who isn't a huge veggie fan I'll also add zucchini and green bell pepper.

                                                                                                        Fennel, Basil, garlic are other things I might add.

                                                                                                        1. you're using too much! The secret ingredient in good tomato sauce is the best tomatoes you can find. Canned is often better than fresh.

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: mbfant

                                                                                                            There really is no reason for not wanting to shake things up some times.

                                                                                                            Sure, a classic marinara with primo tomatoes is great, but there are plenty occasions (as proven in the many, many replies) when one might feel like adding a few things to make it more.... interesting, for lack of a better term. Whether that is anchovies, or grated carrots, or roasted garlic, or roasted red peppers, or pancetta.... or olives, or capers, etc. etc.

                                                                                                            The possibilities really *are* endless.

                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                              Oh yes, I'm well aware of all the things you can add to sauce to vary it. But if somebody asks me what's the secret ingredient of a good tomato sauce, my answer is always going to be "good tomatoes." The question wasn't how to make a good amatriciana, arrabbiata, puttanesca, ragù di carne, et cetera. I am wondering, not for the first time, and I am not being sarcastic, whether the popular US meaning of "tomato sauce" is something other than the Italian meaning, which is a sauce in which only a small amount of other flavoring (such as garlic or soffritto) is added to the dominant tomato. It's not a meat sauce with a lot of tomato, which would be called a meat sauce.

                                                                                                              1. re: mbfant

                                                                                                                +1

                                                                                                                1. re: mbfant

                                                                                                                  You'd have to ask someone who grew up in the US, I suppose, to find out how they define "tomato sauce."

                                                                                                                  Puttanesca is still a tomato sauce in my book, as is amatriciana or arrabbiata.

                                                                                                                  But hey, what do I know. I'm German.

                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                    Typically, any red sauce is considered tomato sauce. I would exclude Bolognese as it is really a meat sauce with a touch of tomato.

                                                                                                                    All the others you mentioned...tomato sauces.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                      That was my interpretation as well.

                                                                                                            2. Butter.

                                                                                                              1. Use a nice pork bone and low simmer for a few hours.

                                                                                                                1. t of peanut butter.
                                                                                                                  Take a little t sauce and add a little PB. Smoothes the acidity.
                                                                                                                  You'll taste what I mean.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                    Like in this post?

                                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3663...

                                                                                                                  2. The clear juicy pulp from fresh tomatoes (with the seeds strained out), added off the heat at the end of cooking - much like other people add starchy pasta water. Makes for a brighter, fresher-tasting, more tomato-y sauce than you can get otherwise.

                                                                                                                    1. a splash of red wine vinegar

                                                                                                                      1. No secrets. Just quality ingredients.

                                                                                                                        I use a total of 6 ingredients when making my tomato sauce.

                                                                                                                        1. EV Olive Oil
                                                                                                                        2. Garlic (removed from oil and discarded after somewhat golden)
                                                                                                                        3. Pepperoncino
                                                                                                                        4. Tomatoes
                                                                                                                        5. Salt
                                                                                                                        6. Basil

                                                                                                                        1. There's not a single drop of Italian blood in my family (except possibly by way of Marco Polo) but here is how we do red sauce. Chop up the celery, carrot and onion in a fine dice, then fry the soffrito in plenty of olive oil until onions are translucent. Add two cloves thinly sliced garlic (see the prison cooking scene in Goodfellas, for reference to proper garlic thin-ness).

                                                                                                                          Nothing too bad so far right? Now here is the gross part. Add two spoonfuls tomato paste and squeeze a couple lines of KETCHUP into the oil and saute for a few minutes before adding the whole tomatoes and crushing them in the pot. I swear the rich sweetness of the cooked ketchup and tomato paste combine to work really well in the final sauce. Simmer until done and finish with a swirl of butter, a splash of fish sauce, and fresh basil chiffonade.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                                                            I saw people from Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia putting ketchup on pizza.

                                                                                                                          2. Its been said so many times - good ingredients matter. Personal taste plays a big role too - Everybody's mamoni thinks his mother makes it the best.

                                                                                                                            But don't discount the love factor - making a great tomato sauce is a labor of love, it is about feeding a family and it is an art, a simple art, but process and patience matters. "Dump and Stir" technique with the same ingredients wont build up the sauce as richly as a properly constructed sauce. . Adding the right ingredients at the right time and a long slow simmer all play a part in creating that rich wonderful tomato sauce.