Intro from Sue: Finally am posting this witty and perfectly timely recipe for making your own homemade sauce as we head into March and another deep freeze. It comes from the muli-talented and multi-tasking Johanne DuRocher. When is there NOT a time for deliciouso home made sauce? I shudder to realize Johanne created this wonderful post for me when tomatoes where seasonal and came in baskets–but I like to roast tomatoes in the winter before I use them to intensify the flavour and think you will still get delightful results. And now to the good stuff….
The title for this post actually is, Making tomato sauce when it’s your first time and you’re flying to Winnipeg in 36 hours. (And obviously not ready for either, nor are you Italian, but having a bushel of ripe tomatoes and enough wherewithal in the kitchen to wing it, it’s a go.)
It was Thursday night, pushed to the last minute. I still had, oh, say five hundred things to do before I was about to head out of town for one week. I can multitask.
It’s been years since I wanted to do this and so one day late in the summer I rode home on my bicycle with a basket of roma tomatoes from the farmer’s market- that’s the first step in making sauce. I had even asked one of my Italian colleagues at work to take notes as she made sugo the weekend prior with her family. Sonia had a few pages of instructions for me about making it The Authentic Italian Way, which I really wanted to know and duplicate. I was pretty pumped- I wanted to achieve Italian flavours, not whatever sauce flavours I’d achieved before. I was very excited to make my sauce pass off as the real Italian home made sauce.
Sonia had all the steps mapped out. Step 1: the tomatoes must be quite ripe (check) and then “you put them through the machine that removes the skins and the seeds.”
There’s a machine? I didn’t know that but ok, I can do this, I can blanch, sister. I can seed. And then she said “and then the tomatoes are crushed,” and I said, pardon? “Oh yeah, the machine crushes them too at the same time.”
“Oh. So you mean *you* don’t do that-? But I could do that, right? I could blanch, seed, crush by hand?”
Already my authentic sauce dreams were starting to run. Making sauce the real Italian way is ambitious to even Italians (another sauce lesson). But they’re compulsive and can’t help themselves so there is sauce year after year.
When I came home on Thursday night, it was after a full office day, a hair dresser’s appointment and a gift shopping blitz for said Winnipeg trip. It was 8pm and I still had a list of to-dos, not to mention blanching.
This recipe is what happened on that night and, let me be the first thousandth person to tell you that everyone makes sauce differently. This I would call extreme sauce making. No blanching (obviously) no seeding (as if) and I crushed with my potato masher. It was also 30 degrees in my place.
If you can still find a nice basket of farmer’s market tomatoes, get your sauce going and then get thee to Winnipeg. And note: I finally ate this sauce with spaghetti pasta and it is incredibly delicious- has a lovely garlic flavour, umami-lovin weight and tomatoeyness. I’ve also been told that it’s preferred to the real authentic Italian mama sauce we have. Ha!
Johanne’s Tomato Sauce
1 large basket of Roma tomatoes, quite ripe (about 26)
1 bulb of garlic (I used green garlic but regular garlic is equally fine)
1/4 onion, grated (this proved successful for spraying my dress, not scenting the sauce this time. Cheese grater issues, but do your best)
Jars for canning
Step 1. Slice your tomatoes in half, length wise, and then place them on an olive-oil greased foil or parchment paper or straight up on a baking sheet flesh side up. Basted them with olive oil if desired. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Side note: not all my tomatoes fit onto my baking sheet so I seeded and diced the rest and reserved them raw, un-roasted, for later.
Step 2. Place tomatoes in the oven at 350F for say, 40 minutes or when they look slightly deflated, like this:
Transfer roasted tomatoes to a large sauce pot. Add reserved tomatoes.
Prepare jars for canning: while the tomatoes are roasting, sterilize your jars by adding them and their lids (removed) to a large pot, then fill the pot with boiling water and continue to boil on the stove. Keep boiling as you make the sauce- can’t hurt to leave that going.
Step 3: Back to your sauce: mash the tomatoes using a potato masher. I’m thinking an electrified device would also work and give you a smoother sauce, whereas the masher gives you a somewhat chunky sauce. Have fun.
Step 4: Add an entire bulb of grated fresh green garlic. Grate 1/4 of an onion and add. Mash some more.
Step 5: Heat sauce to a simmer and maintain the gentle boil. Stir occasionally and assess thickness- simmer longer to help reduce the liquid volume. When your optimal thickness is reached, remove from heat. This might take 30 minutes to an hour. Plenty of time to do your nails, wax your legs, pack a suitcase.
Step 6: Using oven mitts, empty out the boiling jars from their water bath and fill with sauce. Screw on lids and let cool on rack at room temperature to seal.
Makes: 2 1/2 jars (seems like not a lot of sauce, makes one appreciate homemade Italian sauce…..) The half-filled jar will have to be consumed within one week or frozen. Sealed jars will keep for months.