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"Tomatoes au Jus"--what is this?

I've come across a simple, intriguing recipe in "America's Best Vegetable Recipes" (by the food editors of "Farm Journal") from 1970 and I'm not sure what I'm looking at. It may be the name au Jus is throwing my expectations out of whack. I'll do my best not to violate Chow rules:

Butter, onion, parsley and juice drained from a can of tomatoes are cooked down to half. In go the (whole? unspecified) tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. This is only heated through.

The instructions "serve in sauce dishes" can mean two things, but surely they mean this is a dipping sauce, so "serve in dishes in which one would serve a sauce" right? And yet it isn't cooked in a way that will break the tomatoes down. Is this a chunky marinara?

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  1. hey I've served handmade pico de gallo to relatives who ought to know better and they think of it as a salad. if people like it let them disregard the nearby accoutrements.

    so I say smear it on bruschetta, over pour over pasta, whatever.

    I'd guess as a pasta sauce. and I'd doctor it.
    remember this was published in 1970 in Italian was still sort of 'exotic'. replace the butter with olive oil, drop the worcestershire (but maybe a few anchovies, olives or capers might be fun) and maybe keep the parsley, but add basil.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hill food

      But it's not presented as an Italian recipe. All it says is "Old-time favorite always in style". It could be New England for all I know.

    2. It sounds like sort of tomato sauce. But where is the garlic?

      1. IMHO, it is a side dish, tomatoes in their juice. By saying to serve in sauce dishes, they mean to serve them in small individual shallow bowls like one would serve Southern greens, both to keep the juice (or pot liquor sp? for greens) with the tomatoes and not soak any accompanying food.

        1. I think it may be simply a recipe for stewed tomatoes using the canned variety. Served in separate side dishes. The 70's sound about right.

          1 Reply
          1. re: miss_belle

            That's how I read it as well.

            Take the whole tomatoes out of the tin; simmer down the flavoured juice to thicken it; reintroduce the tomatoes and heat through.

          2. A cook I worked with told me that, when he worked in Australia, he prepared stewed tomatoes for breakfast every morning. It consisted of draining canned tomatoes, cooking down the juice, then returning the tomatoes and heating them through. It was served as a side dish with other breakfast foods. Sounds similar to your recipe.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mwhitmore

              Along the same lines, I think this would be great to poach some eggs in. Crusty dipping bread a must!

            2. A sauce dish back in the 70's meant a dish one would serve peaches or other types of fruit "sauce," we had lots of rhubarb sauce growing up. For dessert, one would also just have a few canned peaches or pears, in a "sauce" dish.
              It's a small bowl for individual to eat it from, because the sauce would run all over a plate.
              We call the tomato dish "stewed tomatoes." Mom would also put bread in it, and yes served in a sauce dish.

              4 Replies
              1. re: wyogal

                I used to call these 'monkey dishes', a small shallow bowl. Don't know where the name came from.

                1. re: mwhitmore

                  I have recipes that call for a measure of a "fruit spoon," which is the spoon one uses to serve, holds a half pear or half peach.
                  Interesting stuff! Monkey dishes! I just did a couple of googles, and one does indeed get this dish as a result! One can scroll through the pictures of monkeys eating from dishes to pics of these small bowls.
                  and many results for origins:

                  1. re: wyogal

                    On a whim I stuck "monkey dish" into Google's ngram feature, and had an interesting find: apparently the term was used in the 1930s, then disappeared until right about 1970.


                    1. re: wyogal

                      Yes, pic 4 and pic 8 are what I had in mind. Come to think of it, I haven't seen one in a long time. My Mom had a stack of them and used them to serve cottage cheese or canned peaches, Although *she* didn't call them monkey dishes, didn't call them anything that I recall. I *may* have picked up the term in cul school.

                2. 'au Jus' just means 'in (its own) juice'.

                  Usually it applies to meat and its juices, but here it's the tomato juice.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: paulj

                    Ah ha. I had always read that as "with juice" but "in its juice" makes more sense.

                  2. Thanks for the responses, everyone! It does seem like simple cooked tomatoes served in a side dish is what this is describing--I've never seen that, and while I'm much better about eating tomatoes than I was as a kid, this seems like something I would have texture issues with myself. I'll bet my folks would like it though.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ennuisans

                      My grand-mother(Brooklyn,NY--late 1950's) would make something just like this and then add a handful or 2 of crushed Saltine crackers to soak up the tomato 'jus'....
                      I always thought it delish!

                    2. My dad would tell the story of being in Italy (as a WWII soldier, waiting for transport home) and ordering what he thought was "tomato soup". He was quite surprised to get a small dish like you're describing -- one cooked whole tomato, surrounded by spiced tomato juice.