"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > Recipes & Ingredients > Sauces, Marinades, Rubs
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 12-22-2008, 12:21 AM   #1
Senior Cook
 
ncage1974's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Central IL
Posts: 265
Question Secret to the Perfect Marinara/Spaghetti Sauce?

Topic pretty much says it all. I have found so many different recipes at so many different places where people are giving it a rating of 5 stars and i really haven't found one recipe that just jumps out at me. Pretty much all of them start out with a base of oil / Onions &/Or Garlic. A lot of recipes will call for EVO but i never use it because i don't think you can tell a difference once you cook it. I usually just use veg oil.

Then they add a different combination of tomatoes. Hand Crushed can tomatoes/Crushed Tomatoes/Diced Tomatoes/ect.

Here are optional ingredients that some recipes add: Tomato Paste, Wine, sugar.

The of course they add slightly different ratios of dry/fresh hebs.

Course then you have have your meats if you want to add them. Everything from meatball to short ribs.

Then come your veggies: Carrots, MushRooms, and celery to name a few.

There isn't that much difference in most of the recipes and i have not found a sauce recipe that is that great. I mean all are ok but just nothing spectacular. With that being said i don't know what the "official" difference is between a sauce and a marinara so i put both in my title.

Anyone have some secrets to create a stellar sauce?

thanks,
Ncage

__________________
If you can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen!!!
ncage1974 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 12:43 AM   #2
Chef Extraordinaire
 
kadesma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: california
Posts: 21,371
When you make your sauce/marinara it's all a matter of personal taste..I love evoo and feel it lends itself to a good sauce..I also use dried porcini mushrooma that I rehydrate saving the broth to add ever so slowly to my sauce/gravy.I use browned stew meat to get that meaty taste and to help thicken my sauce.I have a brand of tomatoes I use that are so tasty and sweet they can be eaten from the can...But back to my gravy/sauce I also saute fine chopped onions, and garlic adding marjoram and then rosemary,thyme, basil,oregano go easy on the oregano..lots of fresh parsley choped my sauce starts in the morning and simmers all day I add beef broth and the mushroom broth and my gravy/sauce is a rich brown not red as many restaurants are..the mushrooms are put into the f/p along with some of the meat from the browning and start of the sauce and made into a mix that thickens my sauce and helps it cling to the ravioli or pasta.. This has been done for years my m-i-l taught me and we all love and enjoy making it.Like I said it's all a matter of time spent and what tastes like heaven when you eat it..I feel, use the best and you can't go wrong..If you use something sub standard you will have soemehing you can manage to eat, but you won't rave about it
kadesma
__________________
HEAVEN is Cade, Ethan,Carson, and Olivia,Alyssa,Gianna
kadesma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 04:27 AM   #3
Executive Chef
 
larry_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 3,973
My sauce varies depending on if it is the summer and im using fresh tomatoes or the winter and using canned. If I want it chunky or smooth. With or without veggies....

But the only consistent recommendation I would have is let it simmer for a long time. Sure there are a few sauces I can knock out in 15 minutes if Im really hungry, but i find the best tasting sauces have been simmering for 1 hour +.

On the other hand, I have never been able to recreate my favorite sauces from the restaurants Ive eaten at, so I know what you mean. I too, am also searching for a consistently great pasta sauce, but due to my spontaneous cooking methods, It will always differ each time I make it.
larry_stewart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 06:22 AM   #4
Certified Pretend Chef
 
Andy M.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 47,741
NCage, have you ever tasted the perfect sauce? What was different about it?

Marinara was originally a seafood sauce but has evolved of the years in the US to be a meatless tomato sauce. So marinara is a type of 'spaghetti' sauce.

You found so many sauce recipes because the perfect sauce is different for everyone. As mentioned, it's a personal taste thing. Your perfect sauce may be awful to my tastes.

So no one can tell you the perfect sauce recipe, it is only in you.
__________________
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
Andy M. is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 08:40 AM   #5
Executive Chef
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 4,630
The one and only difference would be the quality of ingredients you use. If you want the best sauce (or any dish for that matter) you need the best ingredients...IMHO.
Jeekinz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 09:20 AM   #6
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Culpeper, VA
Posts: 5,803
Unfortunately, as others have said, this is truly an impossible question to answer because everyone's idea of "perfection" is going to be based on personal preference. You could get a hundred people to post their favorite recipes, try every single one, & STILL not like any of them.

As for me, I tailor my tomato sauces based on what I'm using them for, as well as simply what I'm in the mood for. Even with my own sauces, there's still no one "perfect".
BreezyCooking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 10:02 AM   #7
Head Chef
 
mcnerd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,326
Perfection is in the eye (taste) of the beholder and I found that near perfection is reached by making and tasting it yourself. You can never find perfection in food with your eyes. It must be experienced first hand.
__________________
Support bacteria. It's the only culture some people have.
mcnerd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 11:11 AM   #8
Head Chef
 
GrillingFool's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: usa
Posts: 2,223
Oregano is the secret.
I know this is true because of an Andy Griffith Show episode.
Andy somehow accepted 5 dinner invites.. everyone served spaghetti
and everyone told Andy what their secret ingredient was:
Oregano.

So there ya go.

Personally, my secret ingredient is -gasp- a package of Thick and Zesty Sauce Mix.
I add and saute and chop and such, but I gotta have a package of mix.
It adds a flavor note that, to me, says MOM. And since she is gone, I like little reminders
of Mom.....
GrillingFool is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 11:16 AM   #9
Chef Extraordinaire
 
kadesma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: california
Posts: 21,371
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrillingFool View Post
Oregano is the secret.
I know this is true because of an Andy Griffith Show episode.
Andy somehow accepted 5 dinner invites.. everyone served spaghetti
and everyone told Andy what their secret ingredient was:
Oregano.

So there ya go.

Personally, my secret ingredient is -gasp- a package of Thick and Zesty Sauce Mix.
I add and saute and chop and such, but I gotta have a package of mix.
It adds a flavor note that, to me, says MOM. And since she is gone, I like little reminders
of Mom.....
Amen to that..our sauce/gravy is my DH's mothers.I had her come here and we worked it out her handfuls were bigger than mine so into a measuring cup they went..Now I can make the sauce by heart, but my girls have a recipe to follow til they know it by heart..That packet of mix brings you home and makes you feel warm and happy..Keep it up
kadesma
__________________
HEAVEN is Cade, Ethan,Carson, and Olivia,Alyssa,Gianna
kadesma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 11:30 AM   #10
Executive Chef
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 4,630
There are very bad sauces though, no matter how you cut it. Usually I can't stand restaurant sauces, even if they're advertised as "homemade".
Jeekinz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 12:18 PM   #11
Sous Chef
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Philly PA
Posts: 702
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeekinz View Post
The one and only difference would be the quality of ingredients you use. If you want the best sauce (or any dish for that matter) you need the best ingredients...IMHO.
Ditto on this... (and yes restruant sauces are often just some burnt tomato puree with a shake of italian seasoning... nasty. )

To the OP: follow jeekins advice here...
especially on a Marinara which should be a quick fresh meatless sauce... (the real flavor booster here is probably minced anchovy which everybody is afraid to add) On this the quality of your tomatoes and freshness of your herbs will really make the dish shine. This should not cook for long your ingredients should remain distinct. Marinara is great for a light first course or side to a meat dish.

If your a stating to talk about wine, meat and tomato paste you are making more of a Ragu Neapolitano (or in the Bronx "Gravy") this is your long simmering meaty sauce here your are looking for deep flavor and richness. Here I would start with sweating aromatic vegetables for your base, then brown your meats (sausage metaballs ribs, chops braciole whateve), deglaze with the wine& stock then add your tomato products and additional spices and simmer simmer simmer all day long. Here you want your flavors to blend more like a stew. If you are going for that "Spaghetti & Meatballs" taste this is what you want.
PanchoHambre is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 03:10 PM   #12
Senior Cook
 
QUEEN-GUINEVERE's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Marinara was originally a seafood sauce but has evolved of the years in the US to be a meatless tomato sauce. So marinara is a type of 'spaghetti' sauce.
No, marinara was NOT originally a "seafood" sauce. It was discovered on ships making the long journey across the Atlantic as tomatoes stored well and making a "sauce" out of them could be done in 15 minutes, the time it took for the sailors to boil the water and cook the pasta, the marinara was also ready.

Marinara shouldn't be cooked any more than 15 minutes, as it is meant to be a quick sauce, and not just for pasta. It may be used on veggies and other meats/poultry or IN other dishes. There is no meat whatsoever in a marinara, nor is there a plethora of veggies in it. A "true" marinara is made by heating EV olive oil, saute garlic and onion in it, add your tomatoes -- diced, chopped, whole, whatever -- season with salt and pepper and basil and simmer for 15 minutes. That's it.

It's a SIMPLE sauce that we Italians make and use often and a sauce that others have complicated!
__________________
I cook with wine.......sometimes I even add it to food!
QUEEN-GUINEVERE is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 03:15 PM   #13
Executive Chef
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 4,630
Quote:
Originally Posted by QUEEN-GUINEVERE View Post
A "true" marinara is made by EV olive oil, saute garlic and onion, add your tomatoes -- diced, chopped, whole, whatever -- season with salt and pepper and basil and simmer for 15 minutes. That's it. It's a SIMPLE sauce that we Italians make and use often and a sauce that others have complicated!
That's how I make mine, but sometimes I'll put a dash of white wine in and reduce just before I add the tomatoes. For the tomatoes I use whole peeled SanMarzano and chop them up in the pan using the back of a wooden spoon as a cutting board of sorts. lol

I used to make 200 ingredient sauces, but never looked back after I made my first marinara. I like that you can taste every ingredient and the brightness of the tomatoes.
Jeekinz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 03:26 PM   #14
Senior Cook
 
QUEEN-GUINEVERE's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeekinz View Post
For the tomatoes I use whole peeled SanMarzano and chop them up in the pan using the back of a wooden spoon as a cutting board of sorts.
Oh, Jeekinz, the San Marz's are the best! and they make the best sauce!

Quote:

I like that you can taste every ingredient and the brightness of the tomatoes.
Good choice of words, Jenk's!!!

And that is what you want with a "good" marinara sauce...you want to taste that "brightness" of those tomatoes! Once again, it's a SIMPLE sauce, packed with true tomato flavor!
__________________
I cook with wine.......sometimes I even add it to food!
QUEEN-GUINEVERE is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 03:30 PM   #15
Executive Chef
 
miniman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Basingstoke, England
Posts: 4,687
It is a matter of personal taste and as others have said, adjust the flavourings to suit yourself.
You have the basic ingredients for your sauce, simmer together for a long time to bring those flavours together and then adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. Try adding the different herbs one at a time to see the effect they have on your palate. Don't forget to use some salt to pull out flavours. It will require you experimenting with different flavours and making many sauces, refining each time till you get to where you want to be.

Don't forget to write down what you have done each time with your comments so you are ready to move on next time.

My "secret", I often add a little ginger or paprika, but then I like a little kick to my food.
__________________
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." - Nelson Mandela
miniman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 04:34 PM   #16
Executive Chef
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 4,630
I really want to try the anchovy as Panch recommended. I have some paste at home I might try. I also never used milk in my ragus before, I'd like to try that too.
Jeekinz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 09:49 PM   #17
Sous Chef
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Philly PA
Posts: 702
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeekinz View Post
I really want to try the anchovy as Panch recommended. I have some paste at home I might try. I also never used milk in my ragus before, I'd like to try that too.
I have never used em myself... not because I am squeamish about little fish but because the 'chovies are not an ingredient I ever think to stock up on. I do believe that they are the key secret ingredient to marinara though... keep meaning to try em out as well.

Milk in ragu eh? Never heard of that one.

Pasta sauce does come down to personal like/dislike. The really nice thing about Marinaras and Ragus is that there are no hard fast rules they are open to invention. People tend to like what they know... I rarely order red-sauce dishes out for this reason... nothing compares to Mom's I dont even like my own as much.

There are alot of other great "spaghetti sauces" as well... puttanesca, filleto di pomodoro, arrabiata... all depends on what you are going for.
PanchoHambre is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 10:06 PM   #18
Head Chef
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: NW NJ
Posts: 1,884
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeekinz View Post
I really want to try the anchovy as Panch recommended. I have some paste at home I might try. I also never used milk in my ragus before, I'd like to try that too.
I believe, Jeekinz, that braising the meat in milk makes it a Bolognese. That, at least, is how my Bolognese differs from other ragu/meat sauces.
__________________
"To be broke is not a disgrace, it is only a catastrophe." -- Nero Wolfe/Rex Stout
bullseye is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2008, 10:14 PM   #19
Sous Chef
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Philly PA
Posts: 702
Two Men, Two Italys, Two Ragouts - New York Times

here is a cool article on ragu from the NYT.... about the difference between bolognese and napolitano.... being from southern italian descent the napolitano is closer to our traditiona but bolognese is great too.... so little tomato was really surprising to me at first. Ragu is like Chili for Italian food... so many variations and prefernces and delightful ways to make it. There is no orthodox... this stuff comes from heart and feel. It's my "soul food"
PanchoHambre is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-23-2008, 05:05 PM   #20
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Culpeper, VA
Posts: 5,803
Actually, I've only had one restaurant red sauce that put me off, & that was one that started adding cinnamon, of all things, to their sauce. Now granted, I have seen some supposedly "authentic" sauce recipes that call for a dash of cinnamon, but I'm one of those folks who abhors "baking spices" (cinnamon, ground cloves, etc., etc.) in savory dishes.

It really annoyed me because the restaurant was quite good & our local "go to" place, & after they changed the sauce recipe I could no longer order pasta or pasta as a side dish.
BreezyCooking is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
None

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:13 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.