Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Saucy Tomatoes

This post is, as I'm sure you guessed, going to be about making tomato sauce. Before I get to that however, I have to put in a plug for the caramelized onion jam I made a couple weeks ago. I found the recipe here on this blog . The smell as it was cooking was amazing! I did take pictures of the process, but that was before I realized I don't currently have a way to move pictures from my camera to my computer so I can't show them to you right now. Without smell-a-vision, they wouldn't do it justice anyway. I used some of this great jam for the first time tonight. I wanted a quick meal since I had just gotten home from work and the boys were coming home from swimming at a friend's house and were ravenous. I heated some olive oil in a pan, threw in some chicken I seasoned fairly lightly with salt and pepper and browned it on both sides. Then I tossed in a couple big spoonfuls of this jam and let it melt in the pan. I turned the heat down and finished cooking the chicken in the jam. It was fantastic! I have to be honest; when I tasted the jam as I was making it, I thought it was going to be too sweet. The sweetness really mellowed as it cooked with the chicken and it ended up being just the right amount of sweet with a ton of flavor. If you are looking for a slightly unusual jam, try this one. Yummy!

Alright, so on to tomato sauce. I did plant a couple paste tomato plants this year, the first time I have tried those varieties. I planted one Roma and one San Marzano. They have both done decently well. I think I prefer the San Marzano simply because the fruit is more uniform in size and the plant grew a little better for me. The Roma had fruit that varied from the size of grapes up to the size you normally get from a paste tomato in the grocery store. I just wasn't that thrilled with it. Either way though, I didn't plant enough paste tomatoes. I think that to fulfill my yearly sauce needs, I will need at least a dozen paste tomato plants. I'm not sure I will ever have that kind of space. Luckily, I can find local, organically grown tomatoes at my farmers market. This week, I saw that one vendor had paste tomatoes for sale and I asked if they would give me a deal on what they had left. She gave me a decent price and I took somewhere around 5-7lbs of tomatoes home.

I have already canned some of my homegrown tomatoes this year. I have a couple quarts of hot pack tomatoes and a couple quarts of raw packed. I really needed some sauce that I could just pull out of the pantry, heat up and add minimal ingredients before serving. I made the sauce while I was working on the pickles from the previous post. Luckily tomato sauce doesn't require too much attention. All I did was wash the tomatoes, cut them into halves or quarters and chuck them into a large stock pot to cook.

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After they cooked for a while, I ran them through my food mill to remove the skins and the majority of the seeds. I love my food mill. It has made my life much easier. After the skins and seeds were removed, I cut up some onion and added it to the pot along with some garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I let that cook for a while longer and then hit it with my stick blender. We don't care for a lot of chunks in our sauce so the result is a nice smooth sauce that is ready to be used in a variety of ways.

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When I use it for spaghetti, I will probably pour it in a pot, add a few other spices and let it simmer while I get the rest of the meal made and the table set. That should be all it will need. If I use it on pizza, it will need even less since I won't be simmering it before use. The only things that went into the sauce that weren't local were the salt and pepper. I love that it tastes great and I don't feel like I am doing a tongue-twister just to pronounce the ingredients!

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3 comments:

Jennifer said...

Looks Beautiful! I really need to get one of those food mills and I want a stick blender... think I need to put a request in for Christmas :) I've always boiled, peeled my tomatoes for sauce and this would be sooooo much easier.

Potterwatch's Peeps said...

Yeah, after the first few times of boiling and peeling, I went out and bought a mill. So very much easier!

Journey11 said...

I tried San Marzanos this year too and I really liked them. They are prolific!

One of these days I'm going to make my life easier and buy a food mill too. I've been pressing mine through a sieve. :P