at the place i work we make our basic tomato sauce by rough-chopping and sweating onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil, then adding canned tomatoes and simmering it quite a long time. 2 hours or so. then we run the whole thing through a food mill and season it.
it's sweet because the tomatoes are good-quality italian tomatoes canned in season, and because of the carrots.
maybe you could try to source out a good quality brand of canned tomatoes. look for one that's called "passata di pomodori." that's what we use and it's quite good.
if you have an abundance of fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, don't hesistate to use them in a sauce...might even be better than the canned.
I'm sure Eddie will have the pro's answer but here's mine: I'd mill it after cooking to assure that all the rich and mellow flavor is out of the skin before milling. Using the food mill will pulverize everything and make it smooth, without any tough bits of skin. Personally, I like to hold back some solid bits of tomato to add after using a mill or strainer, for some textural interest.
but the obvious answer is that it would be pretty hard to run it through a food mill before cooking the onions, carrots, and celery. and this way you can just rough chop them since you're pureeing the whole thing anyway. incidentally, we used to use a stick, but found that it made for too pasty a sauce, so switched the food mill, which takes out more of the solids.
personally, i like a smooth tomato sauce....and this way the flavors meld together well, you get a lot of sweetness from the slow-cooked carrots, and then you get any tomato skin out of there.
but....this isn't my system....i just work here! 100 ways to make a sugo....or a gravy.....or whatever you wanna call tomato sauce.
the red color of the sauce can be improved by adding some tbsp of canned tomatoepuree at the end of the cooking. but sometimes i'm just in hurry, mostly at home, and gives the sauce less than 20 minnutes of cooking, the color remain even if the flavour is not potentially the best. but it's better to cook it very short or very long, the middle sucks.
Elakin, I never saw a recipe for red sauce with carrots. It sounds like a wonderful sauce. I love to do sauces! Could you please give me the recipe for about sixty people? When I do a pasta bar at the sorority, I like to put out several different sauce choices. The Autumn squash soup that I made recently had to be run through a food processor too. The machine 'burped', and I looked like a walking food explosion. LOL! When I got home that night, my husband looked at me in shock. "What in the world happened to you?" he asked. The soup was so smooth and beautiful that it was worth the wearing.
To make a tomato sauce from fresh tomatos you should peel off the skin and de-seed which also removes the excess water from with in the tomato so when you cook down the fresh tomato you taste is coming from the meat of the tomato (which is the walls of it).
I grow my own tomatos and can them, since it's a ton of work I bought a 'mill' of sorts where all you do is cut them down to an appropreite size to fit thru the feed tube. Trun the handle and the machine spits out the skin and seeds seperately from the tomato juice/meats.
Real Fresh tomato sauce needs alot of work to make it into a tomato sauce as we know, that comes in cans. All the recipes I have for a BASE tomato sauce include carrot and onion (about 1/2 also contain celery). You wouldn't serve this base plain sauce yet.... . It takes hours and hours to cook out the water and TONS of tomato paste to thicken fresh tomato sauce, plus some other basic seasoning.
In my experience the real bright RED happens from the tomato paste. The more paste added the redder it gets. Regardless of how ripe your base tomatos were.
What you're referring to as "Napoli" sauce sounds a lot like marinara, or a plain tomato sauce (no meat or fish). It's an extremely personal thing amongst Italians.
Here are my observations and beliefs. Bear in mind, my dad moved to the USA from Naples ("Napoli") when he was 24 years old.
* There is not now, nor ever will there be, sugar in tomato sauce. This is an abomination in most Italian households. It's a "shortcut" to cover up lousy tomatoes. If the tomatoes are bad, have pesto, have white clam sauce, but don't doctor up tomato sauce with sugar.
* There are two schools of tomato sauces. The long-cooked and the very briefly cooked. Plain tomato sauce can be cooked very briefly and one of the benefits of this method is the brilliant red color to which you refer. Yes, more intensity of flavor and thickness can be achieved by adding tomato paste but I only do this when I'm making a meat sauce. Meat sauces are generally longer-cooked but even this is personal. My mom had a friend who cooked her gravy so long it could take the paint off a Buick. This is not necessary and yields a highly acidic product which will have your family reaching for the Rolaids. Cooking time of one hour is sufficient after all the meat has been pre-sauteed and added to the saucepan.
* Buy ONLY whole-peeled tomatoes. Chopped, crushed, diced, pureed or sliced tomatoes are ways for manufacturers to sell less than top quality tomatoes. As my dad says, "If you had a perfect tomato, would you crush it to sell it??" I've got to agree. Stewed tomatoes are another thing - they are perfectly fine to use in certain recipes. They're just cooked prior to canning. That stuff they call "tomato sauce" in cans is absolute garbage. Avoid that at all costs.
Tomato sauce is very versatile and can be your best friend on a busy weeknight. Find your favorite techniques and you'll never be caught short as long as you have a can of tomatoes in the house.
hi pastachef.....sorry it took me so long to get to your request.
where i worked in italy, we made our basic "sugo" and then doctored it up a la minute in the pans during service.
here's the basic sauce....i'll guestimate to try to make it work out for 60 people, pastachef.
8-12 carrots, peeled and cut up into rough pieces
4 onions, rough chopped
1 bunch celery, rough chopped
4 cans of good quality peeled tomatoes.
bay leaves, s & p, fresh basil
sautee the veg. in olive oil just to sweat them...don't brown. when they're starting to get translucent, add the canned tomatoes, bay leaves and fresh basil leaves if you've got 'em.
stir and let it all simmer a good long while. at least an hour and a half. until it's well reduced and the veggies are very soft.
pass it through a food mill. not a food processor. a food mill is manual....hand cranked. it purees and at the same time strains out the seeds and any bigger sized chunks. sometimes it's called a mouli.
season.....and that's it.
that's the basic sugo. it goes well on spaghetti with grated parmeggiano...or you can use it as a base for other tomato-based sauces like a tomato cream, a puttanesca....and on and on...
hope it works for you
p.s. we didn't use any tomato paste at all where i worked. it wasn't super bright red but more of a reddish-orange.
Just a quick side note for Chiffonade...about canned tomatos. Now I've never processed my home grown tomatos in a metal can so perhaps everything I'm about to say is wrong (but I can't see how commercial canning could be so different from home canning, I believe they both rely on heat?), so I give you that as my disclaimer but....
When I can my home grown tomatos I use them only once their vine rippened (for the best flavor). But what happens when you can a beautiful ripe tomato (never been touched with heat tomato)....the heat from canning turns your whole tomatos into chuncks and bits, so when you pull the jar from the water bath the solids all rise to the top of the jar and 2/3's of the jar is (what looks like water) on the bottom. I have to shake them up to remix the solid with the liquid before I can give them to a neighbor, people are grossed out with how they really look.
Why I mention this is I believe your wrong about whole canned tomatos. To the best of my ability to be logical, it seems to me that the tomatos that survive the canning process whole MUST be underripe when their canned. Only very firm tomatos hold their shape when canned. I've also noticed that regardless of the tomatos breed (ie. plum vs. big girl)
I hope you'll consider this thought? I don't believe your whole tomatos are as ripe as the cheaper chrushed ones........
But again, perhaps commercial canning does something different, because they can do some other things like hold carrots in refridgerators for months and my home grown carrots wilt in a day or two, regardless of how I store them.
...When I can my home grown tomatos I use them only once their vine rippened (for the best flavor).
Makes me wish we lived near each other! How I envy you, canning home-grown tomatoes. I only can cooked items like pickled string beans and jams.
Commercial tomato canners need to use product that is not pristine for cost reasons. If a hunk of a tomato has to be cut out because it's blemished, you can't pack the remaining part as a "whole peeled tomato." So they cut them up to use the remaining part.
My dad told me a bunch of things about commercially processed cheese that made me wince. String cheese started out as a mistake. He also told me that commercially sold chocolate milk is returned milk re-processed to kill anything in it, then flavored with chocolate because it can't be re-sold as fresh milk.
Let's face it, to stay afloat, commercial canners need to use as much of their product as possible, sometimes resorting to unscrupulous measures.
I don't have a food mill at work, but today I used your carrot sweetener by pureeing my cooked carrots in the food processor. I was totally thrilled with the way it took the sour edge off my tomato florentine soup! Believe me, that lesson will be used in many different ways. I can't wait to try a bunch of other things now. Thank you!!!