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Trying to make Rao's marinara sauce, close but seem to be missing something.

This should be easy as it’s just a handful of ingredients, but, I can't seem to get close to what comes out of the jar. Well, it's kind of close, but it's missing something. I believe the jarred stuff you buy is purely vegetarian, no salt pork is used to make it (optional in the recipe). However, it has what I can only describe as a meaty taste or mouth feel that mine does not. In general it is just richer in flavor. Mine does seem to be sharper, or I guess acidic. I can eat the stuff right out of the jar with a spoon and be happy, where mine falls short of that.

Heck, I have even mail ordered their tomatoes and olive oil just to be sure it wasn't an ingredient thing, and I really didn’t get any different results (as expected).

First, I was wondering if I am cooking at too high of a temp. I have a Wolf range, and I usually let it cook on the low setting, even though there is a simmer. If I put it on simmer, it doesn’t seem to bubble at all, which I in my head sound wrong, but maybe I am simmering away the flavor.

The recipe, and the demos I have seen of it, has you separate the flesh from the juices, and add them in one at a time (flesh first, then the juices). I am wondering if you are supposed to roast the flesh for a bit before adding in the rest of the liquid.

I am really guessing here. Any input would be wonderful on how to make a marinara sauce that matches the richness of Rao’s.

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  1. The thing I've noticed about Rao's is the quantity of EVOO, but I've only had Rao's in a jar. However, if you use a lot of very good olive oil, it will certainly make your sauce richer tasting! It's also possible you are burning your garlic. That would give an off-flavor. And if your tomatoes are acidic, try adding some grated carrot or even a pinch of sugar to your sauce.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Isolda

      Now that you mention it, my sauce does not seem to be as oily as theirs. I was trying to stick as close to the recipe, but going on looks I think they must use more. Ok, that is first on my list to try :)

      As for the acidity, I will try that too. I have heard of people also just adding a whole carrot to the sauce to absorb the acid and taking it out at the end - anyone know if that works?

      1. re: ryanlm

        The carrot doesn't absorb the acid, it counter balances it with its natural sugars. I'd cook the carrot in large pieces with the other ingredients the, at the end, toss it out.

        1. re: todao

          I was taught by my grandmother to use a couple of sticks of celery to absorb the acid . I still do it works fine.

      2. re: Isolda

        FWIW, the sauce has 40 calories from fat per half-cup of sauce. That's about 1 teaspoon oil, I think. So if the recipe makes 7 cups, as they say, that should be 14 teaspoons of oil, or almost 5 tablespoons.

        Click on the nutrition tab --
        http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/sto...

      3. Your Wolf range has a variety of BTU output ratings for its burners so trying to address the temperature setting aspect of your question would be an exercise in futility. I can tell you that using the "simmer" setting on a burner simply establishes a standard flame which, relative to the size and style of vessel you're cooking with and the amount of ingredients it holds, may or may not "simmer" the ingredients.
        As for flavor. Try browning your tomatoes (lightly, don't overdo it) in some of that olive oil before adding them to the rest of the ingredients. That should produce a deeper flavor. Also, as ryanim so aptly pointed out, be careful not to burn (or even brown) the garlic.

        1. In my family, we always put a pinch of baking soda into the sauce to help with the acidity of the tomatoes.

          1. More butter, more EVOO and probably more salt will do it.

            1. Oh wow, I would love to reproduce Rao's. How long did you simmer?

              1. Rao’s Marinara Sauce

                2 cans Rao’s Imported Italian Peeled Tomatoes
                1/4 cup Rao’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil
                2 oz. saltpork, cut in small pieces (opt.)
                3 tablespoons minced onion
                2 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
                6 leaves fresh basil, torn
                Pinch of dried oregano
                Salt and pepper to taste
                Place Rao’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add saltpork to pan. Saute 5 minutes or until fat has been rendered.  Discard saltpork.  Saute onion for 3 minutes or until translucent .  Add garlic and saute until just softened.  Stir in Rao’s Imported Italian Peeled Tomatoes, reserved juice and salt.  Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook for about an hour or until flavors have combined and sauce is slightly thickened.  Stir in basil, oregano and pepper and cook for an additional minute.  Makes 7 cups.

                1. Just a suggestion, I usually put a whole yellow onion (peeled of course) into the sauce while it simmers to cut the acidity and then discard at the end (or eat :) )