What better way to bond with someone than over a simmering pot garlicky tomato sauce? This is basically what Iâ€™ve gleaned from sitting in my friendâ€™s motherâ€™s kitchen when I was a kid. You donâ€™t need any fancy equipment, just a bunch of hours to kill and preferably a friend or two to make it with you. Forget 30 minute meals, how about 6 hour ones?
Homemade tomato sauce in all its glory
These are guidelines, not an exact recipe, since your quantity and ingredients may vary. Good olive oil and lots of garlic are obvious, and for herbs, I love fresh oregano and thyme. Some basil would be nice, too. 3 dozen nice sized tomatoes will yiels about 2 spaghetti sauce jars-ful.
Besides the good old standbys like a knife and cutting board, hereâ€™s what youâ€™ll need to have ready:
At least three big mixing bowls since there will be lots of transferring and prepping going on.
A lot of ice for shocking the tomatoes once theyâ€™ve been blanched.
An immersion blender or just a regular old blender.
A big gigantic pot, or what I call a â€œsoup kitchen pot.â€
A slotted spoon.
First youâ€™ll need to boil a huge pot of water. Weâ€™re going to blanch the tomatoes to get their skin off. To make peeling easy you score the tomatoes with an â€œXâ€ on the tops and bottoms.
Once the water is boiling, prepare your ice bath. Just fill a big bowl with half ice, half cold water. Have it at the ready.
Drop your tomatoes into the boiling water in manageable batches, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 at a time. Blanching means you are just flash boiling them, for about a minute.
When the minute is up, fish them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the ice bath.
Once everyone has been ice bathed and is cool to the touch, itâ€™s time to move on to the peeling. It should be really easy, just peel down from where youâ€™ve scored. Place all the peeled guys in a bowl.
Now itâ€™s time for seeding. Slice the tomato across the waist, not top to bottom. This will give you the best access to the seeds.
Next, we seed! Just smush your fingers in there and get the seeds out. Do it over a bowl so that you can strain the liquid later and have tomato juice. If there are a few seed stragglers, donâ€™t worry about it. Just do the best you can.
Once the seeds are out, over a big separate bowl, pull all the tomato-y stuff away from the rough core at the top and drop the rest into the bowl. The bottom halves of the tomato wonâ€™t have the core/stem thingy, obviously, so just mush those up with your fingers and drop them in.
Now comes the delicious smelling part. Used about half a head of minced garlic and just a small amount of chopped onion, maybe a cupâ€™s worth, for 3 dozen tomatoes. In the now empty big pot that you blanched the tomatoes in, saute the garlic and onion in an ample amount of olive oil, a few tablespoonâ€™s worth. When onion is translucent, add the tomatoes, along with salt and black pepper. Donâ€™t over salt, it is going to cook down and concentrate. Start with a scant teaspoon. Also, add some sugar to cut down on the acidity. Four teaspoons worked perfectly for 3 dozen tomatoes, your mileage may vary.
Cook it uncovered until it reduces to about 1/4 its amount. This was accomplished in about 2 hours. Keep the heat high and stir often. It will start smelling like Sicily within half an hour. Once itâ€™s cooked down, puree with an immersion blender, or in batches in your regular blender. Then add fresh herbs, but be frugal about it. As youâ€™ll see the sauce tastes rich and succulent without them and you donâ€™t want to mask the taste, you just want to accentuate it. Simmer for just a few minutes more to let the herbs release their magic.
Just like mama never made.