Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Step One: The Mother Sauce...

When I first moved from the island of Maui to the San Francisco Bay Area, it was to take a job at a famous Italian restaurant in the city of San Jose. One of the first things I learned to make was what they called Marinara sauce - a simple sauce of tomato, garlic, onion, oregano, salt, pepper and a little sugar. This sauce was simple and quick cooking (about 35 mins), and also known as salsa pomodoro. However you want to refer to it is up to you, all I know is that it’s delicious on its own with pasta or it can be the base of many other sauces. In French terms it’s a mother sauce; indeed, very much so an Italian “salsa madre”. I have always used this recipe because in my opinion it is the best version I’ve ever tasted.

To make this sauce you will need........... 1 white onion diced very small, 2TBS of finely minced garlic, 1TBS dried oregano, 2TBS sugar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste and 6lbs of canned pear shaped tomatoes in juice. In a heavy bottomed pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, start heating the oil. Add the onion, and stir over medium heat until the onion starts to give off aroma. Now add the minced garlic to the onion and cook stirring always until the onion is translucent and the garlic is white. Now add the canned tomatoes stirring everything and mixing well. Next add the sugar the oregano, and again mix well. As the tomatoes begin to come to a boil turn the heat down to low and let them simmer for 35 minutes. While the tomatoes are simmering begin to mash them with a potato masher in the pot. Crush them according to how chunky you would like the finished product to be (I crush them quite a lot so that the sauce has body and bits of tomato). As you are crushing the tomatoes add the salt and pepper to your taste. When the sauce is finished, you can toss it with fresh Tagliatelle; tear some basil leaves on top and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Left over sauce freezes well, or can be refrigerated for up to 6 days.

I have pureed this sauce and then thickened it with tomato paste to be used as a pizza sauce. You can also add some pepper flakes to the pureed sauce and make a spicy sauce to toss over penne pasta. I’ve also used it to flavor reduced stocks to get acidity and a different flavor enhancement. The possible uses for this simple recipe are limited only by your imagination. So try it out for it truly is a mother sauce waiting to be used. I will be printing different recipes here and maybe just share my feelings on foods and the restaurant business. Ciao.

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