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Tomato sauce--secret ingredient?

slacker Jan 31, 2007 02:48 PM

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. litchick RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 02:54 PM

    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
      beaubourne RE: litchick Aug 27, 2013 09:54 AM

      yum, i love anchovies... this sounds great

    2. m
      mazchristo RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 02:55 PM

      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. s
        slacker RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 03:15 PM

        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. jenniebnyc RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 03:19 PM

          Dash of cinammon

          Dash of sugar

          Beef broth

          Some itaian grandmas I know add flour.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jenniebnyc
            boppiecat RE: jenniebnyc Jan 31, 2007 03:47 PM

            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
              rose water RE: boppiecat Jan 31, 2007 04:00 PM

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

          2. Clare K RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 03:21 PM

            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
              ChiliDude RE: Clare K Aug 27, 2013 08:45 AM

              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
                coll RE: ChiliDude Aug 27, 2013 09:31 AM

                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
                  CindyJ RE: coll Aug 28, 2013 06:05 AM

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

            2. Chinon00 RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 03:35 PM

              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. Foodielicious RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 03:41 PM

                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. FoodFuser RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 03:53 PM

                  Crushed/ground fennel seed.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: FoodFuser
                    OldDog RE: FoodFuser Jan 31, 2007 08:08 PM

                    Yes! and a turkish bay leaf or two.

                    1. re: FoodFuser
                      wincountrygirl RE: FoodFuser Aug 28, 2013 03:56 AM

                      That's where my fennel sausage comes in!

                      1. re: FoodFuser
                        Kelli2006 RE: FoodFuser Mar 3, 2014 11:58 AM

                        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. DanaB RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 03:58 PM

                        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
                          emilyj67 RE: DanaB Aug 22, 2013 06:01 PM

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

                          1. re: emilyj67
                            sweetpotater RE: emilyj67 Aug 24, 2013 09:30 AM

                            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
                              beaubourne RE: sweetpotater Aug 27, 2013 10:01 AM

                              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
                                emilyj67 RE: sweetpotater Aug 27, 2013 10:19 AM

                                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
                                  wincountrygirl RE: sweetpotater Aug 28, 2013 03:59 AM

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

                            2. t
                              thejulia RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 04:00 PM

                              I like grating a carrot into it for added sweetness.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: thejulia
                                EarlyBird RE: thejulia Mar 4, 2014 03:30 PM

                                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
                                  rudeboy RE: thejulia Mar 4, 2014 03:52 PM

                                  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. b
                                  BellaDonna RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 04:03 PM

                                  Rib of meat (cooked)

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: BellaDonna
                                    truman RE: BellaDonna Aug 23, 2013 07:52 AM

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

                                    1. re: BellaDonna
                                      beaubourne RE: BellaDonna Aug 27, 2013 10:01 AM

                                      EVOO in your PASTA SAUCE? NO WAY! :P

                                      1. re: beaubourne
                                        mbfant RE: beaubourne Mar 2, 2014 03:13 PM


                                    2. MaineRed RE: slacker Jan 31, 2007 04:33 PM

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

                                      1. emglow101 RE: slacker Aug 22, 2013 06:29 PM

                                        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
                                          hotoynoodle RE: emglow101 Aug 24, 2013 07:22 AM

                                          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. ccbweb RE: slacker Aug 22, 2013 07:28 PM

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

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ccbweb
                                            EarlyBird RE: ccbweb Mar 4, 2014 03:30 PM

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

                                          2. b
                                            Burghfeeder RE: slacker Aug 23, 2013 01:42 AM

                                            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.


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Burghfeeder
                                              foxspirit RE: Burghfeeder Aug 23, 2013 07:28 AM

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

                                            2. maria lorraine RE: slacker Aug 23, 2013 01:46 AM

                                              Pimenton a la Vera (smoked paprika).

                                              I like La Dalia best.

                                              1. vanderb RE: slacker Aug 23, 2013 02:22 AM

                                                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. Bada Bing RE: slacker Aug 23, 2013 03:42 AM

                                                  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. w
                                                    wincountrygirl RE: slacker Aug 23, 2013 03:50 AM

                                                    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
                                                      maria lorraine RE: wincountrygirl Aug 23, 2013 03:54 AM

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

                                                      1. re: maria lorraine
                                                        wincountrygirl RE: maria lorraine Aug 23, 2013 05:25 AM

                                                        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
                                                          coll RE: wincountrygirl Aug 23, 2013 01:11 PM

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

                                                          1. re: coll
                                                            monavano RE: coll Aug 23, 2013 01:30 PM

                                                            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
                                                              wincountrygirl RE: coll Aug 23, 2013 02:55 PM

                                                              It's a sin not to!

                                                            2. re: wincountrygirl
                                                              maria lorraine RE: wincountrygirl Aug 25, 2013 10:02 PM

                                                              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
                                                                hotoynoodle RE: maria lorraine Aug 26, 2013 10:30 AM

                                                                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
                                                                  maria lorraine RE: hotoynoodle Aug 26, 2013 07:29 PM

                                                                  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
                                                                  wincountrygirl RE: maria lorraine Aug 27, 2013 04:06 AM

                                                                  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
                                                              ChiliDude RE: wincountrygirl Aug 27, 2013 08:48 AM

                                                              Thanks for the cinnamon and nutmeg suggestion.

                                                              1. re: ChiliDude
                                                                wincountrygirl RE: ChiliDude Aug 28, 2013 03:56 AM

                                                                Thank my mom in law Celestina!!

                                                            4. p
                                                              Puffin3 RE: slacker Aug 23, 2013 06:12 AM

                                                              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
                                                                monavano RE: Puffin3 Aug 23, 2013 08:27 AM

                                                                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
                                                                  Puffin3 RE: monavano Aug 23, 2013 11:30 AM

                                                                  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
                                                                    monavano RE: Puffin3 Aug 23, 2013 12:54 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      coll RE: monavano Aug 23, 2013 01:13 PM

                                                                      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
                                                                        monavano RE: coll Aug 23, 2013 01:30 PM

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

                                                                        1. re: monavano
                                                                          coll RE: monavano Aug 23, 2013 01:44 PM

                                                                          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
                                                                          Puffin3 RE: coll Aug 24, 2013 05:23 AM

                                                                          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
                                                                            coll RE: Puffin3 Aug 24, 2013 06:01 AM

                                                                            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
                                                                    westsidegal RE: Puffin3 Aug 25, 2013 10:51 PM

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

                                                                    1. re: westsidegal
                                                                      Puffin3 RE: westsidegal Aug 26, 2013 02:08 AM

                                                                      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
                                                                        monavano RE: Puffin3 Aug 26, 2013 10:16 AM

                                                                        They play together just fine!

                                                                        1. re: monavano
                                                                          hotoynoodle RE: monavano Aug 26, 2013 10:45 AM

                                                                          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
                                                                            Puffin3 RE: monavano Aug 27, 2013 12:02 PM

                                                                            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
                                                                              beaubourne RE: Puffin3 Aug 27, 2013 12:11 PM

                                                                              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
                                                                                monavano RE: beaubourne Aug 27, 2013 12:27 PM

                                                                                Thank you.

                                                                                1. re: beaubourne
                                                                                  Puffin3 RE: beaubourne Aug 28, 2013 05:50 AM

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

                                                                            2. re: Puffin3
                                                                              maria lorraine RE: Puffin3 Aug 27, 2013 12:45 PM

                                                                              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. monavano RE: slacker Aug 23, 2013 08:13 AM


                                                                          1. CindyJ RE: slacker Aug 23, 2013 02:56 PM

                                                                            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. westsidegal RE: slacker Aug 25, 2013 10:49 PM

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

                                                                              1. j
                                                                                jpc8015 RE: slacker Aug 27, 2013 04:11 AM


                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                1. re: jpc8015
                                                                                  coll RE: jpc8015 Aug 27, 2013 04:14 AM

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

                                                                                  1. re: coll
                                                                                    jpc8015 RE: coll Aug 27, 2013 04:32 AM

                                                                                    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
                                                                                      monavano RE: jpc8015 Aug 27, 2013 05:16 AM

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

                                                                                      1. re: jpc8015
                                                                                        coll RE: jpc8015 Aug 27, 2013 05:32 AM

                                                                                        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
                                                                                        hotoynoodle RE: coll Aug 27, 2013 08:15 AM

                                                                                        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
                                                                                          monavano RE: hotoynoodle Aug 27, 2013 08:29 AM

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

                                                                                          1. re: monavano
                                                                                            hotoynoodle RE: monavano Aug 27, 2013 05:34 PM

                                                                                            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
                                                                                            coll RE: hotoynoodle Aug 27, 2013 09:31 AM

                                                                                            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
                                                                                              linguafood RE: hotoynoodle Aug 27, 2013 09:36 AM

                                                                                              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. b
                                                                                          beaubourne RE: slacker Aug 27, 2013 09:53 AM

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

                                                                                          1. c
                                                                                            Chowrin RE: slacker Aug 27, 2013 12:50 PM

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

                                                                                            1. Samuelinthekitchen RE: slacker Aug 27, 2013 07:35 PM

                                                                                              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. m
                                                                                                Mila64 RE: slacker Mar 2, 2014 10:58 AM

                                                                                                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
                                                                                                  coll RE: Mila64 Mar 2, 2014 12:47 PM

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

                                                                                                  1. re: Mila64
                                                                                                    JTPhilly RE: Mila64 Mar 3, 2014 03:40 PM

                                                                                                    +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. tim irvine RE: slacker Mar 2, 2014 11:14 AM

                                                                                                    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. Gastronomos RE: slacker Mar 2, 2014 11:30 AM

                                                                                                      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. Sandwich_Sister RE: slacker Mar 2, 2014 01:00 PM

                                                                                                        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. mbfant RE: slacker Mar 2, 2014 03:10 PM

                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                            linguafood RE: mbfant Mar 2, 2014 03:13 PM

                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                              mbfant RE: linguafood Mar 3, 2014 02:03 PM

                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                Gastronomos RE: mbfant Mar 3, 2014 03:12 PM


                                                                                                                1. re: mbfant
                                                                                                                  linguafood RE: mbfant Mar 3, 2014 03:33 PM

                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                    jpc8015 RE: linguafood Mar 4, 2014 07:22 AM

                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                      linguafood RE: jpc8015 Mar 4, 2014 08:20 AM

                                                                                                                      That was my interpretation as well.

                                                                                                            2. j
                                                                                                              jpc8015 RE: slacker Mar 3, 2014 06:18 AM


                                                                                                              1. rudeboy RE: slacker Mar 3, 2014 11:22 AM

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

                                                                                                                1. p
                                                                                                                  Puffin3 RE: slacker Mar 3, 2014 12:11 PM

                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                    linguafood RE: Puffin3 Mar 3, 2014 12:29 PM

                                                                                                                    Like in this post?


                                                                                                                  2. cowboyardee RE: slacker Mar 3, 2014 02:42 PM

                                                                                                                    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. l
                                                                                                                      laliz RE: slacker Mar 4, 2014 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                      a splash of red wine vinegar

                                                                                                                      1. Novelli RE: slacker Mar 4, 2014 12:32 PM

                                                                                                                        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. RealMenJulienne RE: slacker Mar 4, 2014 02:32 PM

                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                            jpc8015 RE: RealMenJulienne Mar 4, 2014 02:50 PM

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

                                                                                                                          2. JTPhilly RE: slacker Mar 4, 2014 03:08 PM

                                                                                                                            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.

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