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Old 07-09-2008, 12:26 PM   #1
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Need a "red (tomato) gravy" primer

Some of you will be glad to know that I am down to my last jar of Ragu in the pantry So, yesterday in the store I perused the "tomato stuff" aisle and started tossing cans in my cart. I picked up a couple small cans of tomato paste and some 28 oz cans of tomato sauce, purree and crushed tomatoes. I know what crushed, whole, diced... I know what that stuff is, I'm not sure what the difference between purree and sauce is. This is where you come in

Typically, like I've mentioned in other posts, I get my meats, onions and stuff going and add jar sauce to the mixture. I obviously cannot do that anymore if I want to have plain sauce left over for the fridge, to use on frozen raviolis, scrambled eggs and such. I don't know if I need to make my sauce separate now, or same as usual and strain some plain sauce out of the meat mixture for other uses..... This is where you come in

So without taking hours and hours to make spaghetti sauce, otherwise I would probably go back to the jar sauces, can someone give me a little primer to get me going in the right direction? Whether or not I need to make the sauce separate now from my burger and sausages in order to have plain sauce for later? Did I pick up the right products? It was hard to find plain stuff, as I was in Wally World and they must have gotten a good buy on the products with crushed/roasted garlic in it, but I figured I could add my own garlic. Unless I hear different.

Looking for any and all input and really looking forward to making my own homemade sauce. Thanks!
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:49 PM   #2
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If you are making a simple tomato sauce with no meats that require long cooking times to extract flavor and tenderize, tomato sauce does not have to take hours.

Sauté some onion in olive oil. Add some minced garlic and a couple of spoons of tomato paste. Sauté the paste too.

I prefer whole canned tomatoes of the San Marzano variety. Add the tomato to the pan and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, season with S&P and add some oregano and/or basil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. If you are using dry herbs, add them early. If using fresh, add them later.

I buy whole tomatoes on the premise that they are the best of the harvest. That the crushed, puree, etc are the ones that didn't make the grade for whole tomatoes.

Certified San Marzanos are generally considered the best but there are a lot of very good tomato products out there.

If you choose to add meats, they should be cooked first. Preferably browned. They finish cooking in the sauce.

I'd recommend you try smaller batches, using half a 28 Oz. can per recipe. So you can try different recipes and don't waste a lot of ingredients on a bad reipe.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:08 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
I'd recommend you try smaller batches, using half a 28 Oz. can per recipe. So you can try different recipes and don't waste a lot of ingredients on a bad reipe.
Good idea on the small batches. Very good idea.
Half a can of what, considering what I bought? The puree, crushed, sauce? I never heard of the stuff you mentioned. I'd like to keep this simple with what is easily available here.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:14 PM   #4
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I just had a convo with SO last night about this and we agreed that (although Burghers are sworn to only use Hienz) there is nothing better than Hunt's Fire-Roasted tomatoes in a can (pop-off top, too!). We try to get the one with garlic added but it's hard to come by.

Sorry I didn't directly answer your questions, but I believe that with a can of these tomatoes, it doesn't matter what you do with them. I add them to anything and sometimes eat them on their own, simply simmered down maybe with some onions/capers/olives whatever's around.

PS I am a jar-sauce-convert also *wink*
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:16 PM   #5
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Since you bought all that stuff, pick a can and try it. I didn't mean to suggest it was bad stuff. Any of them can make a good sauce.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:23 PM   #6
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Jill, the reason you can't get any with the garlic in them is because they are all up here in the Erie Walmart stores
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:37 PM   #7
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Here's a pretty cool page I found that helps explain the differences.
Contadina Product Selection

Looks like I can start with the sauce, then add the other products for the consistency want.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
Some of you will be glad to know that I am down to my last jar of Ragu in the pantry So, yesterday in the store I perused the "tomato stuff" aisle and started tossing cans in my cart. I picked up a couple small cans of tomato paste and some 28 oz cans of tomato sauce, purree and crushed tomatoes. I know what crushed, whole, diced... I know what that stuff is, I'm not sure what the difference between purree and sauce is. This is where you come in
The difference between puree and sauce is that puree is just tomatoes, while sauce is cooked with onions, garlic, herbs and usually S&P. Should be usable as is, unless you want to doctor it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
Typically, like I've mentioned in other posts, I get my meats, onions and stuff going and add jar sauce to the mixture. I obviously cannot do that anymore if I want to have plain sauce left over for the fridge, to use on frozen raviolis, scrambled eggs and such. I don't know if I need to make my sauce separate now, or same as usual and strain some plain sauce out of the meat mixture for other uses..... This is where you come in

So without taking hours and hours to make spaghetti sauce, otherwise I would probably go back to the jar sauces, can someone give me a little primer to get me going in the right direction? Whether or not I need to make the sauce separate now from my burger and sausages in order to have plain sauce for later? Did I pick up the right products? It was hard to find plain stuff, as I was in Wally World and they must have gotten a good buy on the products with crushed/roasted garlic in it, but I figured I could add my own garlic. Unless I hear different.

Looking for any and all input and really looking forward to making my own homemade sauce. Thanks!
Here's a basic marinara recipe (this is pretty much how I make it): Recipes : Quick Marinara Sauce : Food Network If you like spicy food, you can add up to a tsp. of red pepper flakes to make arrabbiata sauce. I always use fresh garlic and onions. HTH.
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:49 PM   #9
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pacanis, i could go on for an hour about red gravy. maybe longer.
it was the first (and probably only) thing that i've really tried to understand and perfect in my cooking lifetime.

there are a huge range of both flavors and textures in the sauce.
from tart - raw tomato flavor; to deeper, sweeter sauces. there's cleaner veggie flavors; to meaty, spicy, or even fishy tasting.

in textures, there's very smooth, to very chunky. thin to thick. even ones with fresh tomatoes added at the very end.

i like the idea of small batches for testing, and agree with all of what andy and gg have said.

i would start with making a thin, smooth, tart sauce. just a heated can or two of chopped and/or pureed tomatoes.
then add herbs (oregano, basil, parsley) a little at a time, and start tasting.
next, add some toasted garlic and onion to see how it sweetens and changes the sauce. if you aren't getting the sweetness you like, add a tsp or 2 of sugar. to thicken it, add a tbsp or so of tomato paste.

that's the very basic sauce. you can change the texture towards more chunky by using hand-crushed whole tomatoes, and letting them cook in. or any combination of smooth and let processed tomatoes in between.

you can decide along the way if you want extra levels of flavor by adding such things as a little anchovy paste (disintegrated in the olive oil while the garlic was browning is best, imo); alcohol, such as wine or vodka; or a tsp of hot red pepper flakes and/or capers to spice it up a bit.

also, veggies like bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini will bring more flavor, and texture. you'll need to experiment on when to add them: if you want them to cook into the sauce or if you want them more fresh. not all of your red sauces will require these.

next, there's the addition of browned meats. start by making beef meatballs. it'll change and deepen the flavor considerably.
then there's browned sausage. another huge change in the sauce's flavor. they're my favourite thing to add, besides browned pork rib ends.

ok, gotta stop now, work calls. not sure if this makes sense yet. i'll edit and add more later.
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:20 PM   #10
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GG, so in reality me buying sauce in the tomato aisle was no different than buying Prego or Ragu in the sauce aisle? Well that stinks I'll put them in my pantry with the ragu and use them up that way. I want to go into this thing cold turkey.

BT, do I understand you correctly in that you cook the garlic BEFORE adding it to the sauce? No Goodfellas slicing it with a razor blade? I always figured you added it raw. Thanks for the tip.
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