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Old 01-24-2006, 05:32 PM   #1
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Fix my Sunday Sauce. Comprehensive Breakdown.

Okay. Last time i cooked my sunday sauce i came out extremely wrong. I honestly can't tell if it was Bitter, or Salty. Really have no idea.

I am going to run down EXACTLY what i did for you guys, hopefully some of you can chime in and tell me what went wrong.

First off i seasoned 3/4 lb of Ground Pork, and 3/4 lb of Ground beef, with an ample amount of salt and pepper. Then i browned this meat.

Next step, i got a few tables;oons of olive oil going, and threw in about 5-6 cloves of garlic, sauteeing for 1-2 minutes over low heat.

At this point, i added a dice onion and a diced red bellpepper, and sauteed this untilt he onions were clear, until they were soft. maybe 10 minutes.

At this point, i added a can of tomato paste, and simmered this over low heat for an additional 3 minutes or so.

At this point, i added in a 30 oz can of whole peeled italian tomatoes, which i had crushed by hand, about 1 cup of liquid i gathered from soaking Porcini Mushrooms in Spring Water, a few porcini mushrooms, and about 3/4 cups of a Pinor Noir red wine, along with the pork and beef.

At this point i also added 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar to combat bitterness(I guess it didnt work)

Also at this point i added about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Sea Salt, uncrushed, a good amount of black pepper, about maybe 2 teaspoons of Italian Herb Seasoning Mix.

I simmered this on LOW HEAT, well around 3-4 setting on my stove, uncovered, for about 2 hours or so, until it thickened HEAVILY and was like a meat paste almost, not quite, but very thick.

I added some fresh parmagiano reggiano and finely minced italian parsley upon serving, over a bed of speghatinni.

The sauce was either bitter or salty, i cannot tell. I stirred frequently, about once every 5-10 minutes.

(Side Question) Is it best to cook a sauce like this covered, or uncovered?

Please tell me what went wrong with this sauce.

If any of you can give me a critique, or some comprehensive evaluation, i would be very appreciative..

Thank you in advance

Please offer any tips you can, as i LOVE making a sauce that takes a few hours. So rewarding.

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Old 01-24-2006, 05:48 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mylegsbig
Okay. Last time i cooked my sunday sauce i came out extremely wrong. I honestly can't tell if it was Bitter, or Salty. Really have no idea.

I am going to run down EXACTLY what i did for you guys, hopefully some of you can chime in and tell me what went wrong.

First off i seasoned 3/4 lb of Ground Pork, and 3/4 lb of Ground beef, with an ample amount of salt and pepper. Then i browned this meat.

Next step, i got a few tables;oons of olive oil going, and threw in about 5-6 cloves of garlic, sauteeing for 1-2 minutes over low heat.

If the garlic burned, it would be bitter. It should never get beyond gloden brown.

At this point, i added a dice onion and a diced red bellpepper, and sauteed this untilt he onions were clear, until they were soft. maybe 10 minutes.

Keeping an eye on the garlic...

At this point, i added a can of tomato paste, and simmered this over low heat for an additional 3 minutes or so.

If you saute the tomato paste at this point, it brings ot the natural sugars in the tomato, eliminating, or at least reducing, the need for sugar later on.

At this point, i added in a 30 oz can of whole peeled italian tomatoes, which i had crushed by hand, about 1 cup of liquid i gathered from soaking Porcini Mushrooms in Spring Water, a few porcini mushrooms, and about 3/4 cups of a Pinor Noir red wine, along with the pork and beef.

Sounds good.

At this point i also added 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar to combat bitterness(I guess it didnt work)

I'd skip the sugar. Depending on the tomatos you use, they may not be necessary. Also the tomato paste helps.

Also at this point i added about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Sea Salt, uncrushed, a good amount of black pepper, about maybe 2 teaspoons of Italian Herb Seasoning Mix.

The sea salt could be part of the problem. You could defer salting the sauce until after you reduce it. The reducing concentrates the saltiness. You can always taste it then add as much salt as you beed, later in the process.

I simmered this on LOW HEAT, well around 3-4 setting on my stove, uncovered, for about 2 hours or so, until it thickened HEAVILY and was like a meat paste almost, not quite, but very thick.

I added some fresh parmagiano reggiano and finely minced italian parsley upon serving, over a bed of speghatinni.

Do you like it that thick? If not, you could add a little water or chicken broth during the cooking to keep it a little looser.

The sauce was either bitter or salty, i cannot tell. I stirred frequently, about once every 5-10 minutes.

(Side Question) Is it best to cook a sauce like this covered, or uncovered?

I cook sauce partially covered. I put a wooden spoon under the lid so it remains open an inch or two on that side.

Please tell me what went wrong with this sauce.

If any of you can give me a critique, or some comprehensive evaluation, i would be very appreciative..

Thank you in advance

Please offer any tips you can, as i LOVE making a sauce that takes a few hours. So rewarding.

MLB:

I hope my comments help.
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Old 01-24-2006, 05:54 PM   #3
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What you did looks pretty good to me.

Until you have a very good handle on how much to season, TASTE before adding salt. Generally it's a good idea to season each layer separately (eg, the meat, then the onions/peppers, thenthe tomatoes) but what you did was fine. But you should taste before adding the sea salt. It could have been too much.

But I suspect it was probably bitter. Old garlic can be bitter. I had to throw out a whole batch of garlic/onion I sauteed a few weeks back. Luckily I tasted it before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. It was horrible and would have ruined it. Again, TASTING as you go along is important. Also, though some people don't agree , I sure can taste bitterness in the green stem that is in the middle of sprouted garlic. I always remove it.

Another common cause of bitternes is burning/scorching. It is very common for tomato sauce to burn or scorch on the stove because there is only one source of heat -- from below. I usually simmer tomato sauce, chili, stew, etc. in the oven because it heats more evenly that way and is less likely to burn/scorch.

The "potato trick" does not work. It's a wives tale. If your sauce is salty or bitter the potato won't help. If it's salty, make up a batch without salt and combine. If it's bitter, there's not a lot you can do. You can sometimes save the top layer of sauce if the bottom has scorched.
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:14 PM   #4
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So the amounts are OK? Is 3/4 cups of red wine an optimum amount?

Based on your past experiences, about how much salt should this recipe call for?

I ALWAYS remove the green sprouts from garlic, and on most garlic i buy there aren't any at all. Perhaps im using too much garlic?

Thanks so much for your feedback and im looking forward to alot more... I really want to perfect this as it is a *special day* me and my fiancee share together.

How about sauteeing the onions and peppers. Is it possible to make these bitter as well?
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:16 PM   #5
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ALso - ive heard that the amounts of salt in measurements differ. IE, 1 tablespoon of Sea Salt is not the same as 1 tablepoon of Kosher salt or table salt.

Any idea what measurements these things require to make them equal?

IE im sure the coarseness affects density....
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:18 PM   #6
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Your amounts sound fine to me. Like the others, I think you should possibly cut back on the salt a little. I can't really tell you how much though. Like Jenny said, taste it as you go along. That is really important. Also, keep in mind that as the sauce cooks down the salt will become more concentrated so it will get saltier as it cooks longer.
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:20 PM   #7
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GB, the thing is mate, i like my sauce to be extremely thick.

Does sauce get more bitter and salty the longer it cooks?
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:21 PM   #8
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the comment i made about the onions and bellpepper becoming bitter is crucial and i hope someone will acknowledge it( Hope that doesnt sound rude, honestly, its not!)

As i like to cook them long enough so i do not taste a crunchy texture of them. I absolutely loathe that.
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:26 PM   #9
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I don't think cooking the veggies that long will cause bitterness. Cook em as long as you like without worries.

Yes the longer you cook the sauce the saltier it will taste if you have already added salt (which you should have). As you cook it you are reducing the amount of liquid, but the amount of salt stays the same so it will taste saltier. My suggestion would be to cook the sauce the way you did almost. Season the meat like you did, but maybe use a little less salt. You said you used ample salt. How much do you think that might have been? When you add the onions and peppers salt those as well. It does not need a lot, just a pinch. I would skip the sea salt that you added later though. Then as the sauce cooks down, taste it. Maybe after an hour give it a taste and adjust the salt and pepper then. Remember you can always add, but you can't always take away.
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:33 PM   #10
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GB you are a god send i hope i am tasting saltiness rather than bitterness as the saltiness can be directly addressed..i will do as you say for certain...any other tips of making this slow simmer sauce? Also, when you cook a sauce like this, do you cover it, or not?
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:36 PM   #11
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When I make a sauce like this I leave it uncovered and cooking over very low heat. I like my sauce thick and leaving the lid off will encourage evaporation with with thicken the final product.
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Old 01-24-2006, 06:42 PM   #12
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I add a bit of sugar to take away the bitter/salty taste.
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Old 01-24-2006, 08:12 PM   #13
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My only other thought to a 'bitter' taste may be the wine you're using; I don't mean the type as much as the $$ - the old adage, 'don't cook with anything you wouldn't drink' is so very true. If it was an inexpensive bottle of wine, it could very well add bitterness. I'd also use an Italian wine to make a red sauce; most Italian reds are lighter - think chianti - and Pinot Noir is a pretty hefty wine.
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Old 01-24-2006, 10:09 PM   #14
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Marma, it was a very fine bottle of wine. I only drink the finest.

As for all of your other replies, you guys are some really helpful folks.

I only wish i could be more helpful to you guys.
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Old 01-25-2006, 12:15 PM   #15
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I agree with GB.

Re "saltiness" of different types of salt ... that has to do with the size of the grains. A T of sea salt will usually taste less salty than table salt because fewer grains of sea salt can fit into a T measurement.

Food always tastes better when salted (to nearly all palates that is). This is the first lesson you learn in culinary school. You taste a dozen bowls of chicken stock with varying amounts, starting with none to a **** of a lot . You learn that somewhere in between is the right amount. It makes the food taste notably more savory and brings out individual flavors. But that midpoint is very much an individual taste. You need to find out what tastes best to you. And you do that by experimenting and trial and error.

YAs a general rule, you should season as you go along, rather than at the end. But another rule is that you can always add more salt later in the cooking process but can't do much about it if you add too much at the beginning.

So try lightly seasoning each layer with a pinch of salt. Then let it cook for a while, taste, correct seasoning. Cook, taste, correct seasoning, till done.

TASTE TASTE TASTE. ALL THE TIME WHEN YOU COOK.

Plus, make sure there is no possibility that you have scorched the bottom of your cooking vessle and stirred the scorched matter into the rest of the sauce. That will make it terribly biter and unappetizing.
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Old 01-25-2006, 01:29 PM   #16
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many ppl have commented on the salt and like them I wouldn't season ground meat *before* it is added to the pot

let me comment on the garlic...garlic cooks faster than onions/peppers (plus it is chopped finer) so saute the onions/peppers first and add the chopped garlic in the last 2-3 min. of the total cooking time (10 min) for the onions/peppers; garlic becomes bitter if sauteed too long. Keep the heat low when sauteeing veggies so that they don't burn.

You might want to consider changing the early sequence so that you saute onions/peppers about 7 min, then add garlic and sautee 2-3 min, then add ground meat. This assumes, however, that you are using a small amount of oil to saute the veggies which will be in addition to the fat in the ground meat.

If you're looking to use the rendered fat from the sauteed ground meat as the fat for the veggies, you can brown the meat, remove meat from pot, saute the onions/peppers then add the garlic to the mix, and when done, add back the ground meat and continue with the recipe.

Also, considering that the tomatoes+mushroom soaking water+wine adds a fair amount of liquid, you would want to simmer it uncovered on a low heat to evaporate the liquid, concentrate flavors and allow flavors to blend.

ON SALT - in general, you will find that a fine grind sea salt actually tastes saltier than ordinary supermarket table salt. When measured by volume, Kosher salt delivers less salt than an equal amount of fine grind salt simply because the granules are larger and take up more space in the measuring spoon. However, don't get hung up on salt measurements. Salt lightly in the beginning - remember that you're reducing the dish by long simmering and concentrating all the flavors. If, at the end, the dish is not sufficiently salty for your taste, you can adjust the salt at this point.
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Old 01-25-2006, 02:57 PM   #17
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Yes, the "saltiness" of a certain measure of salt dissolved in liquid depends on the size of the salt crystal. The finer the grind, the more salt fits into the measuring spoon and therefore the saltier the liquid will be.


Another thing I forgot to ask: What is in that Italian herb seasoning mix? And how old is it?
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Old 01-25-2006, 04:03 PM   #18
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It is not very old at all, maybe couple months. It has like dried oregano, basil, etc.....
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Old 01-25-2006, 04:21 PM   #19
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Taste it. Oregano can be bitter tasting, especially the turkish kind.

But it all depends on your palate. Taste spice blends before you use them if you aren't sure exactly what they taste like or if you fear they are old (like over a year).


From McCormick's website: "Turkey is the principal supplier of Oregano to McCormick. It is stronger flavored and more bitter than the Greek variety. The Mexican type has a distinctively different flavor which is less minty, more hay-like and less bitter than the other sources."
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Old 01-25-2006, 08:13 PM   #20
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What do you all think of this recipe. For a basic tomato sauce. I see he adds basil at beginning and just sautees basil leaves? It seems like this would burn the basil, check this out.

Your opinions please. Also, the Lemon and Brandy juice, you think that would be tasty in there?

Ingredients:
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed with flat of knife and sliced thinly
1/2 to 1 cup diced, fresh basil. (It's your call. We usually use close to a cup)
1/2 cup red wine. (Good enough quality to drink)
1 T turbinado (raw) sugar (or Splenda)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes.
1 t lemon juice (optional)
3 T brandy (optional)
If you have good fresh tomatoes, blanch them in boiling water until the skins are loose and wrinkled. Cool in cold water and remove skins before dicing. If you squeeze through strainer with mesh small enough to catch the seeds, the removal of the seeds will make the sauce a little less bitter. We usually don't remove the seeds. We can't tell that it makes enough difference to go to the trouble)
Preparation:
Sauté onions in olive oil over low heat, covered, for 10-12 minutes.
Add garlic and basil, re-cover, for another 5 minutes or so.
Uncover and add wine. Reduce by about half.
Add tomatoes and S & P and simmer for 15 minutes. You can reduce the sauce further and intensify the flavor. We like to add the brandy and lemon juice about 3-4 minutes before finishing.
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