Red Pasta Sauce aka Gravy

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by mrdecoy1, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. mrdecoy1

    mrdecoy1

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    Just wondering a couple questions, first what are some of the good cookbooks that teach how to make it right? second, if I'm in a pinch how do I take a jar of the super market garbage and make it more palatable?? usually the super market stuff is way too sweet. Please don't suggest fennel or anything like that. Thanks 
     
  2. siduri

    siduri

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    Many people in Italy make sauce so simply that it would surprise americans that it could be even edible.  Italian food is simple first of all.  Why would you need a jar when you can make a good sauce like this:

    Take enough olive oil to film the bottom of a saucepan and have a little to puddle if you tilt it.  You can also add a walnut sized piece of butter.  Or you can use all butter, two walnut-sized pieces.

    warm it (melt the butter if you use it). 

    Simple sauce #1. chop an onion small, and add, cook over low heat until soft and transparent, add a can of good quality tomatoes and let it cook slightly bubbling for maybe 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally so it doesn't burn

    Simple sauce #2. Use only oil, smash a couple of cloves garlic and add, add a 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or a couple of small hot peppers (1 inch).  Let it cook slowly till the garlic is soft but not brown and add the tomato.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Doesn't call for cheese. 

    Simple sauce #3.  Chop a carrot, onion, celery stalk and garlic clove and add to the oil, butter or oil/butter.  Cook slowly until the vegetables are tender but not browned, and add tomato.  Cook 20 min to half hour, covered. 

    Simple meat sauce #4  Take about 1/4 pound hamburger or sausage meat (italian sausage without fennel) (cut the skin and scoop out the meat) .  Brown in oil and butter, breaking up the meat and stirring.  As it browns, Chop carrot, onion, celery stalk, garlic clove.  Add a little more oil to the pan if it's lean meat, and then add the vegetables.  Cook very low heat until soft.  Add a splash of wine if you have it handy, (not necessary though) and scrape up the browned parts that stuck to the pan.  Add tomato.  (If you haven't used wine, scrape up the browned stuff with the tomato).  Let it cook a bit longer, low heat, covered (half hour should do it).

    Simplest sauce of all: Pummarola: no oil or butter. Requires no skill.  can't fail.   Just take a can or two of tomatoes.  Roughly cut up a piece of celery, a carrot and an onion into inch long pieces.  Let it cook slowly till the vegetables are soft.  Use an immersion (stick) blender and puree it all up together.  When you drain the pasta dump a couple of handfuls of parmigiano on it, let it sit a second without stirring (otherwise it ends up sticking to the spoon and the pot instead of the pasta) then dump the hot sauce on it and stir well.  You can add a tbsp or two of butter or oil if you like it. 

    In all cases, salt (and pepper) is added when cooking.

    That would be italian sauce.  Since most people had pasta every day at lunch until just a few years ago, the whole process was pretty simple.  Italian food is based on good ingredients simply done.  You should taste the tomatoes in tomato sauce.  Not a ton of herbs, and other flavorings.  A pinch of sugar may be added if the tomatoes you get are not very ripe.  Canned tomatoes usually work best, unless you have the best tomatoes at the height of the season.   
     
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  3. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Oh goodness here we go.
     
  4. mike9

    mike9

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    Take a small pot and some olive oil with garlic, red pepper flakes and basil and bring that to a simmer then cover and let steep. 

    In another pan put:

    28oz can tomatoes

    3oz tomato paste

    dash balsamic 

    Whisk in some of the oil and cook that for 20-30 minutes and break up the tomatoes

    Taste for salt. 

    Cook your pasta 2/3rds of the way through then remove from the (salted) water & transfer to the sauce and finish cooking.  Serve and enjoy a very fresh tasting dish.

    As for can/jar sauce I haven't used it in years this is so simple and delicious
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  5. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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  6. mrdecoy1

    mrdecoy1

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    Hey Siduri, thank you I printed that. What is your opinion on using only San Marzano stamped and certified tomatoes???? thanks....
     
  7. siduri

    siduri

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    Koukouvagia - /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif - whaddaya wanna do.  I can't help it. 

    mrdecoy - when i go to the states i don't find that san marzanos are the best tomatoes.  I remember there was some brand like redpack or somtehing, that you would least expect to be good and it was better.  Trial and error.  I think they may well export the worst tomatoes, thinking that foreigners won't know the difference - and anyway, wanting to keep the best for themselves.  Here, my preference is for "valleverde" brand.  Not sure you can find them there.  But it's really a matter of taste. 

    If your tomatoes aren't too good, i suggest a teaspoon (no more) of tomato paste in the sauce to round out the flavor. 

    A final detail, always mix the pasta with the sauce as soon as it's drained.  If you want to put cheese for the whole pot of pasta, (when everyone at the table likes cheese) i think it comes better if you add it to the drained pasta as i described for pummarola, it sort of melts, then add the sauce and mix. 
     
  8. michaelga

    michaelga

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    I thoroughly enjoy these posts - as long as everyone plays nice!

    It's interesting to see how things are spun around the world ... or even sometimes across town!

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/bounce.gif
     
  9. french fries

    french fries

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    Thanks siduri for sharing all those simple recipes. Your "simple sauce #1" is what we often make in a bind here. 
    Do you at some point add the tomatoes to the veggies? After blending the veggies? And cook the tomatoes a bit?
     
  10. siduri

    siduri

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    Ah, french fries, it's a deconstructed sauce!  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   you have the chunked vegetables on one side, and the pasta with cheese on the other,  and the tomatoes only in your mind. 

    Seriously, thanks for pointing that out. Yes, you put the tomatoes in with everything else, no frying of anything, just boil it all together (in a hurry i use a pressure cooker).  In the summer, when the tomatoes are wonderful and meaty and red, i use fresh, cut in half so the juice runs out, and cook.  In the winter, a can. 
     
  11. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I made a very quick pizza sauce for my son this week. I chopped up one kumato very finely.  Mixed it with oregano and olive oil and a dash of granulated garlic.  Spread it on a pita, top with mozzarella and bake.  :)
     
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  12. french fries

    french fries

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    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif  Haha... thanks siduri. I'll have to try that one. 
     
  13. teamfat

    teamfat

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    What?  Put the pasta in the sauce to cook some more?  Nonsense!  Everyone on the planet knows you pile the pasta on the plate, pile on the sauce and then, if desired, the parm.  Green can - best stuff!

    Well, that's the way my wife prefers it, but she doesn't complain when I serve her something done in a different style.

    mjb.
     
  14. siduri

    siduri

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    to teamfat /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif

    - however i don't cook it in the pot, since i've added cheese.  I prefer the melty cheese melding with the sauce.  But i know many do and without the cheese it is a good way to get the flavor in. 

    When i was a kid the ads and the picture on the packages of progresso or ronzoni products showed the red sauce in a pile on the dish of white pasta and wondered why we never had it that way.  I knew better than  to ask though.  My mother disdained all things American (in cooking) and would probably have replied with contempt towards me. 
     
  15. teamfat

    teamfat

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    I prefer to have the pasta tossed with *modest* amounts of sauce, not a multi-layer tower.

    Who really uses the term 'gravy' for sauce?  Wasn't that an American mistranslation of some Italian word?

    mjb.
     
  16. siduri

    siduri

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    To quote Koukouvagia, here we go again.  There was a very long discussion on this.   Mainly Italians used the word "gravy" actually - italian immigrants.  (Did you see the episode of the Sopranos when they go to Naples and get a wonderful fish pasta and one of them, Paulie i think, says "where's the gravy?  I want GRAVY!" )

    Translating a term from another language which doesn't really have a term in the language you're translating into is not an "exact science".  People use words in a certain way and they take on that meaning (whether translated or not).

    Immigrants came to america with their sugo, salsa, ragu, pummarola, etc, and needed a word to use in english, some took "sauce" and some took "gravy". You can't have a "correct" word in a language that doesn;t have whatever the word is referring to.  

    Not relevant but this is funny, my grandmother, not knowing the English word for colander asked for a spaghetti-stop-water-go-ahead
    I'm with you on that!  I don't like my food turned into towers, turrets, piles, pyramids, log cabins (a way to give you 6 only french fries that are soggy with some meat thing underneath them) or teaspoon-sized servings put on kilometric plates with sauce under  instead of on top.  I like nice looking food, but it should look like food, not a minimalist painting, which i also hate anyway.  I like food that looks lke it's been scooped from the cooking pot and put on the plate, in all its chaotic glory.  Not like someone pawed it for half hour to get it to look a certain way.  

    I don;t like too much sauce either. 
     
  17. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I'm thinking that maybe it's because of commercials of pasta sauce are what led Americans to do that.  In the commercial they were trying to emphasize the sauce, not the pasta.  And so we saw it and said "oh, the sauce goes on top."  Even with my family I've learned to marry the pasta and the sauce long long ago.  But I have to make extra sauce because everyone always expects to top their pasta with more.  It's a habit they can't seem to break.
     
  18. brandon odell

    brandon odell

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    I don't use canned tomatoes, but I will use a little tomato paste if I don't have hours to cook down the sauce. With all the supermarkets selling vine-ripe tomatoes now, I just can't bring myself to use all canned stuff. I miss the freshness and acidity of a fresh tomato.

    For my basic tomato sauce, I peel and seed two small, or one medium-large tomatoe per serving. I saute chopped onions in a little olive oil until translucent, then add the peeled, seeded tomatoes, along with juice that is made from pushing the pulp from the tomato into a mesh sieve and straining out the seeds. Fresh tomato juice is awesome.

    Next, I add fresh minced garlic, a little salt, and a little finely chopped oregano and thyme. I cook that down and smash it with a potato smasher until it breaks up into a sauce. If I have a couple hours, I'll simmer it on low until its reduced and smooth, then I add a little chopped basil. If I don't have the time, I add some tomato paste to get the right consistency.

    If you like a really smooth sauce, puree it with an immersion blender or food processor.

    If you simply can't get ripe tomatoes, THEN it's okay to open a can in my opinion, not before.
     
  19. siduri

    siduri

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    Hi Brandon,

    Living in Italy, I can say that outside of the tomato season (which is fairly long here, considering the climate) it's rare to use fresh tomatoes in sauce.  They just aren't very good.  When you say the "acidity of a fresh tomato" it makes me think of those vine-ripe tomatoes you can get off season - acidy! Good ripe tomatoes for sauce are not very acid tasting, they're sweet. Off season ones are acid - the outside is bright red, but when you go cook them, yeah, you NEED a couple of hours to get them soft.  And they're never sweet and wonderful.   Maybe you have access to some really special off-season tomatoes, i don;t know, but it's very rare to get useable tomatoes, even here, in winter.  Those round ones on the vine, as i've bought them both here and in the states, are like baseballs, bright red baseballs, but still baseballs. 

    The traditionalists here will can their own tomatoes, and spend an entire day in full summer when the tomatoes are at their best, outside with a giant pot on a large portable gas fire ring outside, sometimes a hundred bottles, (wine bottles, or old fashioned bottles with the spring top and gasket) and straining gadget (like a meat grinder with a long thick tube coming out with holes in it).  But always canned tomatoes in winter.  Most city folk use canned all winter. 

    One thing is canned stringbeans - which are overcooked and grey, or canned peas, which are mushy and disgusting.  But tomatoes for sauce are supposed to be cooked for some time.  And canning is just cooking.  So those two hours of simmering are really not anything different than the (much shorter) cooking done in the canning process.  And with good canned tomatoes (or really ripe in-season fresh tomatoes) don't need a very long cooking.  Half hour will do it, though the napolitan ragu (meatless generally) can be an all-morning affair. 

    Just a curiosity Brandon, Why do you add the garlic after the tomatoes, and not when you do the initial frying of the onion?  I've heard this done before but always wondered why. 
     
  20. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Oh gawd, here we go again.