Pasta has been one of my favorite dinner staples for the last 20 years. I especially like spaghetti with tomato sauce.
I have been looking for the perfect tomato sauce ever since I started cooking my dinner, but I have never gotten it 'right'.
I have made sauce with oregano, with thyme and with basil. I have made tomato sauce with and without chili, with and without garlic, and sometimes with a lot of black pepper. But to no avail. I never got the sauce I was looking for, and I had almost given up until last month, when I read the blog of smitten kitchen.
"I could no longer resist this sauce, and frankly, I don’t know why I even tried to: food bloggers obsess over it, and they’re not a bad lot to base a recipe selection upon. Adam of Amateur Gourmet fell for it five years ago. Molly at Orangette raved about it over two years ago, with a bonus approval marking from Luisa at Wednesday Chef. Then Rachel Eats fawned over it too...", she wrote.
It sounded so simple. Almost too simple: Canned tomatoes, onion, butter and salt.
Could that be the 'secret' recipe I had been looking for? Really? Really??
Tomato sauce with butter and onion
(from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking)
(-makes enough sauce to lightly coat most of a pound of spaghetti).
28 ounces (800 grams) whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if you can find them)
5 tablespoons (70 grams) butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste
* I also added a pinch of sugar to take the edge off the canned tomatoes.
Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (it fit just right in a 3-quart) over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add a pinch of sugar and salt to taste and keep the sauce warm while you prepare your pasta.
It worked. It really, really worked!
This sauce is so silky, and tastes like velvet on pasta.
How can that be, you might ask? It's the butter. It transforms the tomatoes to a sauce that reminds me of sun baked tomatoes in the summer. The onion adds sweetness and rounds off the sauce so the only thing you need to add, is salt. Make sure you taste the sauce before you add the salt, as some canned tomatoes come with salt.
Since I made this sauce for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I have made it four or five times already. I love tomato sauce, and I finally found my 'secret' recipe.