Friday, March 2, 2007

The Mother Sauces....Tomato

Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, Mayonnaise, Tomato Sauce, and Velouté are the mother sauces of French cuisine. We also have added Beurre Blanc which isn't officially a mother sauce, but it also is a solid base other sauces are built from. Once you know how to make these you can add a few different ingredients to each base to make 100's of different variations.

We finally have reached the end of the Mother Sauces this week and the finale is the easiest one of all to make. A Tomato sauce is any of a very large number of sauces made primarily out of tomatos, usually to be served as part of a dish (rather than as a condiment, so Ketchup is not a Mother Sauce) Tomato sauces are common for meats and vegetables, but they are perhaps best known as sauces for pasta dishes.

Tomato sauce isn't exactly one of those things you need to make at home unless you have a garden full of sun ripened tomato's that you want to preserve, or you can cook immediately with.

When I grow Tomato's in the backyard, and I haven't had a chance to do that since I have been in Chicago, I harvest them in September, and make a large amount to be canned, and used throughout the year.

The simplest tomato sauces consist just of chopped tomato flesh (with the skins and seeds optionally removed), cooked in a little olive oil and simmered until it loses its raw flavour, and seasoned with salt. Water is often added to keep it from drying out too much. Onion and garlic are almost always sauteed at the beginning before the tomato is added. Other seasonings typically include pepper, sweet pepper, basil, oregano, and parsley.

Tomato Sauce

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed with flat of knife and sliced thinly
1/2 to 1 cup diced, fresh basil.
1/2 cup red wine.
1 T turbinado (raw) sugar (or Splenda)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes, or fresh sun ripened Tomato's
1 t lemon juice
3 T brandy

If you have good fresh tomatoes, blanch them in boiling water until the skins are loose and wrinkled. Cool in cold water and remove skins before dicing. If you squeeze through strainer with mesh small enough to catch the seeds, the removal of the seeds will make the sauce a little less bitter.

Start by throwing some olive oil in your pan, or pot, heat it up, and add your garlic, basil, onions, and spices. Once your onions are translucent add the rest of your ingredients and bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes and you have tomato sauce.

You can add dried Italian spices too, and I often do, but you can also do that later when you use the sauce later in the year when you are making a recipe.

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