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Old 02-05-2007, 03:52 PM   #1
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Reduction - how to?

Hi,

I've been making a lot of food lately, cooking that is. I've got some great cookbooks I am really enjoying! A lot of the recipes call for reductions, however, and I'm having some problems.

For instance, homemade pasta sauce. That's an easy one! I had a recipe that called for those little plum tomatos, reduced down, with some other ingrediants. I don't remember all of them offhand, but it's not that important.

I reduced it in a pan, on a lower heat. I had cut up the tomatoes pretty finely, put them in with the other "goodies". I think I added some water, along with seasoning. Whatever the recipe called for. :p What ended up happening was the tomatos seemed to kind of "dry up" around the edges of the pan, into some semi-crusty material. The sauce wasn't very "sauce" like, it was more like tomato-water, very runny. I see a lot of people's homemade sauce and it looks wonderful, so I know I'm doing something wrong.

Could someone give me a (good tasting) recipe for a nice tomato sauce, along with directions on how to cook it, to make a nice thick, rich sauce, with good flavor? I think the problem was my cooking method, the book wasn't clear on it. Everything I've ever made from that book was excellent, though, so I think the ingrediants weren't the problem. I think it was my lack of experience. ;)

Thank you,
David

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Old 02-05-2007, 04:20 PM   #2
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First off, unless its summer time and you have a garden or a farmer's market around, use good quality canned, peeled tomatoes.

IMO the rule of thumb is the less processing the better, so I always use whole tomatoes and crush them with my fingers or put them through a food mill. You need to smash them up into very small pieces and then let them cook down with your aromatics and herbs and some red wine if you have it. Simmer the tomatoes uncovered, stirring and smooshing the tomatoes. After an hour you'll notice the texture will be thicker and the color will be darker. Continue cooking and reducing till you get the consistency you want. Don't forget to taste and adjust the seasoning frequently.

Dice up an onion fine. Finely mince 3-5 cloves of garlic.

Sautee onion in olive oil.

Dump 2 cans of good whole, peeled tomatoes into a bowl. With your hands, squeeze to smoosh the tomatoes up as fine as you can get them.

Add the garlic to the pot.

Add a can of tomato paste to the pot.

Stir the garlic and tomato paste and cook for a minute.

Add tomatoes and juice.

Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as dry oregano, basil, rosemary, etc. to taste. I'd add a shot of soy sauce at this point, too. It's a very good flavor enhancer.

Stir to combine. Keep smooshing the tomatoes.

Add a cup or so of red wine. Bring to boil, stirring.

Lower to a simmer.

Simmer uncovered stirring frequently to prevent it from burning.

Taste it. It may need salt, sugar or more herbs.

Let it cook down till you get it how you want it. Keep tasting it and adjust seasonings.

Once you have it where you want it, add any fresh herbs you want to use, simmer for a min or two and then you're ready.

Bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms (esp. porcinis), meat, clams, etc. etc. can be added too.
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:24 PM   #3
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All fine home made tomato sauces are made from canned tomatoes. Something I learned hard way.
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:46 PM   #4
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jennyema, that's perfect! Exactly what I was looking for. Sounds like I goofed on a few fronts, but now I understand. :)

The only question - more of a why - why add the tomato paste? Isn't that an uncooked form of what you're trying to make?

I live in Hawaii, btw, so it's always summer here. I can get pretty good fresh veggies year-round. I'm gonna try the canned stuff though, since both you and CharlieD suggested it. Peeled sounds good too, that would explain why my sauce never reduced well.

Thank you so very much!

Thank you also Charlie. :) Saved me trouble by learning from yours, hehe.

David
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:54 PM   #5
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Tomato paste adds sweetness and body. You can omit it if you want, or experiment re: amounts.
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Old 02-05-2007, 05:46 PM   #6
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Am with jenny on the tomato paste, actually the entire recipe, but think the paste adds some more tomato flavor than just the canned or fresh stuff.

As far as the fresh, go to a local farm stand that will have just a bit overripe tomatoes, OK, they are overripe. They are kinda in that place between ripe and garbage. Don't have the words to explain them better.

And really love to make a sauce with them. But there is only a week or two window here, otherwise we use the canned. And the product, as many have said, is good.

Like to add diced carrots along with the sauteed onions, when the sauce is finished they have broken down and only give a sweet taste.

And often add a piece of fresh pork butt or shoulder to the pot, after browning it.

It not only gives a great flavor but pick a nice piece of pork and you will have not only a good sauce but remove and cut the meat and you will have a great piece of meat to slice and eat.

Stay away from the loin here, you want a fatty cut.

And use seasonings liberally.

Love making tomato sauce.

If I can do it you can too. Believe me on this one.
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Old 02-05-2007, 05:54 PM   #7
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Thank you so very much. :) :)
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Old 02-05-2007, 05:58 PM   #8
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Here is another deadly secret, deadly because if somebody tells you this secret they have to kill you , but not me, always add some sugar to your tomato sauce. The results is unbelivable. You'll have to experiment with how much, as I usually just add stuff to taste.
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Old 02-05-2007, 06:03 PM   #9
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Hmm, I will have to try that. I think I'll try without sugar the first time around, then with sugar the second, so I can see the difference. I can imagine how it would influence the flavor, though, sounds great! Thanks for the tip.

Please don't kill me,
David ;)
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Old 02-06-2007, 12:26 PM   #10
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I agree with Charlie on the sugar. It balances out the acidity in the tomatoes and wine.

Rather than making a whole batch without a pinch or so of added sugar, spoon out a few Tablespoons of sauce while it's in the middle of cooking.

Taste it. Then add a pinch of sugar, stir it in well, and see what you think.

If you like how it mellows the acid, add a bit of it to the sauce -- add less than you think because you can always add more.

It is important that you taste and adjust seasonings throughout the cooking process, so you can always add more seasoning but will have a dilemma if you add too much.
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