The Perfect Italian –American Tomato Recipe
The first step in making the perfect tomato sauce is using great ingredients, cooked slowly and thoroughly till rich and complex.
The tomato sauce is also known as red sauce. Although a lot of people might know it as gravy. While the Italian-American gravy has its root from Italy, it is definitely as American as it gets.
This is not a Pomodoro sauce that is light and fresh. It is neither the marina sauce you heat up from a jar or the sauce you drizzle gently over perfectly al dente noodles. It is called red sauce. The hearty, ribbed sticking Italian-American tomato sauce is made essentially to fill you up with flavor and pride, both in equal measure.
This recipe was curated after dozens of tests and I can boldly say it is the second best red sauce you’ll ever taste. Yes, you read that right.
As earlier stated, in making the perfect tomato sauce you require the best ingredients. And the first question all everyone’s mind which is also the most important is always “What tomatoes do I use? I mostly get my tomatoes from the farmers’ market. Alternatively, if you are not able to get directly from a farmer, a can of good tomatoes is your best bet.
Canned tomatoes in various forms- crushed, chopped, in sauce, etc. are readily available in supermarkets across the country. But what works best are whole-packed tomatoes because they are usually of high quality and also offer you the freedom of chopping them to whatever size you wish.
There are various methods of pureeing your tomatoes- you could go mechanical or analog (squishing the tomatoes through your fingers). I prefer the latter because not only does it deliver the best texture for a chunky sauce it is also extremely therapeutic.
Olive oils are also very essential in making the perfect Italian-American Tomato sauce. It brings out the sweet-smelling flavor of the sauce and adds a rich mouth-coating feel to the sauce texture-wise.
- 4 cans of peeled tomatoes
- 60ml (1/4 cup) of olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 4 tablespoons of finely chopped garlic
- I teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium sized carrot, cut into large chunks
- 1 stem fresh basil
- 4 ounce minced fresh parsley
- 1 medium onion, cut into half
- Preheat oven to 300oF(165oC) with the rack placed in the lower position. In a large bowl, place the peeled tomatoes, then squeeze the tomatoes between your fingers crushing them completely till they are no larger than 1/2 – inch pieces remaining. Place 3 cups of crushed tomatoes in a sealed container and reserve in the refrigerator.
- In a Dutch oven (alternatively a stockpot could be used) heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, add garlic and cook until it is softened but not browned. This usually takes about 2 minutes. Add oregano and pepper flakes into the oil and stir for about a minute. Add carrot, tomatoes, onion and basil leaves, and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to give taste. Allow the mixture boil on a high heat..
- Transfer the Dutch oven with its lid a little closed into the oven. For 5-6 hours, stir the mixture once every 1-2 hours until it is reduced by half and now has a deep red color (reduce oven temperature if the sauce is bubbling too rapidly or brown bits become too darkened)
- Remove from the oven. Remove onion halves, carrot and basil stems using a tonsil. Season generously with salt and pepper, then add minced parsley and dried oregano leaves along with additional olive oil as desired. The Italian-American Tomato sauce can be served immediately or allowed to cool before transferring to airtight containers and refrigerated for up to 1 week. It can also be kept frozen in airtight containers for about 6 months. To reheat, gently warm in a saucepan with 120ml (about ½ cup) water, stirring constantly until everything thaws and heat through.
Special Equipment Required
Dutch Oven, Wooden Spoon