Friday, November 6, 2009

Simple Italian Tomato Sauce

Italian Tomato Sauce (Salsa al pomodor Italiana) is fairly simple to make and comes in many variations depending upon the region of Italy a person originates from. I believe the northern Italians make a lighter sauce as opposed to the southern Italians who make a heavier sauce called gravy.
My paternal grandmother who came from Itri, made a very delicious heavy tomato sauce. She would start with salt pork chopped into a paste with fresh parsley and garlic. The salt pork would go into the sauce pan and melt down to become the oil and the base for the sauce.
My grandmother would make a small meatloaf out of ground veal and pork and hamburg, instead of meatballs, inside which she would put hard boiled eggs. She would then brown the meatloaf in the melted salt pork which would add to the flavor of the base for the sauce. She would then remove the meatloaf from the pan, and add 2 small cans of tomato paste, adding water to the cans to release the paste left behind, and pour the two cans of water to the paste in the pan, stirring until heated and smooth.
She would then take a jar or two of tomatoes that we had preserved when tomatoes were in season and pour them into the sauce pan and stir in until they came to a boil, then allow to simmer for hours with the meatloaf back in the pan. The gravy would be a reddish brown color and was absolutely delicious.
Today, I make a lighter, chunkier, sauce that can be varied to your liking regarding heavier with tomato paste or lighter with Italian plum tomatoes and kitchen ready tomatoes. Everything Italian starts with the same infusion of heating the olive oil in the sauce pan, then adding the chopped onions to the olive oil first because they release liquid which keeps the next ingredient, smashed chopped garlic, from burning.
This is where I add my seasoning. Salt and Pepper to taste, a sprinkle of thyme, oregano, and dried parsley, and a sprinkle of red pepper seeds, stirring to allow the flavors to meld. At this point, you may add a little red wine if you are so inclined, and allow to simmer for a short while. You may also add broccioli, pork loin, chicken, or Italian Sausage and allow the browning to remain in the pan. If you start the sauce with Italian Sausage, you will have all of the flavor you need, right from ther beginning.
I then add a large can of peeled Italian Plum Tomatoes or fresh tomatoes and crush with my potato masher. When these tomatoes have returned to a simmer, I then add a large can of kitchen ready tomatoes, smooth or chunky and bring this back to a simmer and allowing the tomatoes to simmer until I am ready to introduce to the pasta.
This is where the Italian Kitchen Table begins it journey.

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