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Old 09-15-2008, 04:20 PM   #1
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My Last Attempt at Red Sauce

Hi Everyone,
This is my first post. Hopefully not my last! I've always wanted to learn to cook. The trouble is everytime I screw something up I've quit.

Anyways, I love pasta, especially with a light red sauce. In the cafeteria (yeah I know cafeterias aren’t suppose to be that good) of where I used to work. They made a pasta dish with a light red sauce. They'd mix in stuff I choose like broccoli or chicken or mushrooms. And basically Thursdays was my favorite day to eat because that day was pasta day!

Anyways, I don't work there anymore but I miss that pasta! I've tried to recreate it to no avail. I'm sure the basic part is to make the light red sauce.

One of my early attempts at learning to cook was to try to make that light red sauce. Well my last attempt it turned out extremely acidy. I actually hated it. I never took it up again. Today, I'm more determined than ever to learn to cook better despite hitting walls with my meager skill and talent.

So, I want to ask all of you for help! What are some easy tips for making a nice flavorful red sauce for pasta? Is there anything i can do to control the acid taste? Can I mix in sugar? Should I mix in sugar? I think someone mentioned to me at one point carrots will help. Or tomato paste. What do you guys recommend?

Thanks

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Old 09-15-2008, 04:34 PM   #2
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Okay - first off, when you say "light" red sauce, was it lighter in color? Like perhaps some milk, cream, or cheese may have been added? Because the lightness & acidity can be two different things.
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Old 09-15-2008, 04:35 PM   #3
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First, you need to tell us exactly how you make your recipe i.e., ingredients and approximate amounts. This way we will have a better understanding of what you did.
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Old 09-15-2008, 04:45 PM   #4
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First, you need to tell us exactly how you make your recipe i.e., ingredients and approximate amounts. This way we will have a better understanding of what you did.
Hi Kitchenelf, To be honest with you my last attempt was more than two years ago! I started using Prego after that! But if memory serves me well I think I used canned crushed tomatoes likely one can, with chicken stock maybe one cup, garlic maybe a tablespoon, basil also a tablespoon and one carrot that I chopped up. I hope this helps. If not any way you can lead me to a nice easy recipe creating a nice flavorful sauce. I'm actually going to try again this week with fresh tomoatoes from my farmers market.


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Originally Posted by BreezyCooking
Okay - first off, when you say "light" red sauce, was it lighter in color? Like perhaps some milk, cream, or cheese may have been added? Because the lightness & acidity can be two different things.
Lighter in color and thinner than your average marinara, but flavorful. I believe they may have used chicken stock to help make that sauce.

Any ideas? Thanks
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Old 09-15-2008, 04:46 PM   #5
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agree with above and also yes to cut the acid you can add sugar but becareful becuase alittel goes a long way.
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Old 09-15-2008, 04:53 PM   #6
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Marv:

Try this one:

3 Tbsp EVOO
3 C chopped Onions
1 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Garlic - minced
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp dried Basil
1 1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp Fennel Seed - crushed
1 tsp Pepper

2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

2 C Chicken Broth
3 28 oz cans Crushed Tomatoes

Saute Onion and Garlic in EVOO for four minutes. Add Sugar and seasonings and saute one minute. Add Balsamic Vinegar and Saute 30 seconds. Add Chicken Broth and Tomatoes and simmer, covered for 55 minutes over very low heat.

Let us know how it comes out. And WELCOME!

Dave
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Old 09-15-2008, 04:54 PM   #7
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you can sweeten your tomatoes by roasting them.
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Old 09-15-2008, 04:55 PM   #8
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Here's the way I make my sauce using MOST of your ingredient.

Let's say you use 1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes - I use San Marzetti (?? I think that's how you spell it).

First, slowly heat up some chopped garlic in your oil - maybe 1/4 cup oil to 1 TBS garlic. I use enough chopped garlic to plainly see in this so it may even be more than 1 TBS. Cooking will help make it not as strong. Once it's heated (and before it browns) add your tomatoes that you have already squished into pieces and the reserved juice from the can and squishing. Let this cook on medium to medium/high heat for about 30 minutes or so. You'll want to salt and add a bit of pepper. This will reduce a bit which is good.

Once this has heated remove from heat and add a fair amount of fresh, chopped basil (I simply chiffonade the basil). Add it while it is still hot and let it cool on your counter for about 30 minutes. The basil will heat up enough from the heat of the tomatoes.

NOW, when it's time to use the sauce I add about 6 or so kalamata olives to the skillet of sauce. Yes, I use a skillet because I want it to reduce even more. Once reduced even more I toss in my cooked angel hair and just coat and heat together.

It's basic and easy. The key is reducing. I think the type of tomatoes used is the key. A good tinned Italian tomato will be a bit sweeter and not so acidic. Some of the cheaper tomatoes ARE acidic. To correct that in the future you can add a pinch of baking soda or sugar. It may or may not help, unfortunately. Hunt's is a good brand to use if you can't find Italian.

Back to the recipe - Plate your pasta and top with some Parmesan cheese. That should do it. NOW, we also steamed veggies (broccoli, zucchini, whole green beans, squash) and added around the sides and it can easily be topped with a grilled/sauteed sliced chicken breast.
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Old 09-15-2008, 05:18 PM   #9
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hi Dave the Baker, want to try your sauce, but can you tell me what EVOO is, we dont have anything by that name here in South Africa. I also am not good at sauces, need to start experimenting ! thanks.
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Old 09-15-2008, 05:22 PM   #10
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hi Dave the Baker, want to try your sauce, but can you tell me what EVOO is, we dont have anything by that name here in South Africa. I also am not good at sauces, need to start experimenting ! thanks.
Wow one thing I can answer! I believe it is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
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Old 09-15-2008, 05:46 PM   #11
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Yup!
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Old 09-22-2008, 04:56 PM   #12
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I tried it again!

Ok,
I gave it another try. I used real tomatoes from Trader Joes, the only thing was it said Salad Tomatoes on the clear plastic box. I chopped up basil, also from Trader Joes. I also put in onions, garlic and carrots. I used Angel Hair Pasta and cooked some Italian Pork Sausage.
I thought it turned out well. My only criticism is it still was not as flavorful as I remember that other dish was.
The things I want to try next time, 1) Peel the tomatoes and seed them. I could see the need for peeling the tomato but is there a need to seed the tomato? I've seen other people do this, but it seems that they either cut or throw away a sizable portion of the tomato. What do you guys think? 2) Add other herbs like sage. Any suggestions guys? 3) Try a different kind of tomato. Any suggestions on what kind of tomato to use? 4) another mistake I may have committed was that I stored the basil in the fridge. I heard somewhere not to store basil in the fridge. Does anyone concur or can give me a reason why? 5) Does chicken stock add flavor to the red sauce? 6) Oh and one more thing... I also, saw that people let the mixture simmer for 25 mins or so. I probably only did mine for 15 mins or so... could that have an effect?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:03 PM   #13
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i nmight have missed it but did you season it with Salt and Pepper?
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:17 PM   #14
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i nmight have missed it but did you season it with Salt and Pepper?
I did, but a little later in the process and I used Kosher salt. I've seen other tv chiefs use sea salt. Does it really make a difference? I didn't use pepper though I will use that too next time!
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:20 PM   #15
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Why are you making so much work out of a simple sauce? If you insist on using fresh tomatoes your must first dip them in boiling water for about 30 seconds so the skin will slip off easily. Then cut them in half and holding the cut side over a sink, gently squeeze to extract the seeds.

OR

Use a good grade of crushed tomatoes such as San Marzetti, although there are others. Get them plain and add your own herbs and spices. At the grocery store you will note that the fresh herbs are usually in a refrigerated case, so it's okay. Chicken stock isn't necessary but it adds another layer of flavor.

Start with a proven recipe and EXPERIMENT. Keep notes and find the combination YOU like. There are a jillion different ways to make the same thing, so make yours your own.
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:21 PM   #16
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slightly different in flavor but wouldnt make that big of a difference.

not sure how you did it but try this. becuase you should be close to what you are looking for.

cook sauage in pan and remove. sweat the garlic and onions in sausage fat, add carrots and toss. then add the chopped tomatos, maybe some more garlic. and simmer. tomatos should break down a bit. add basil and season.

I would throw in maybe some tomato paste to help with the thickness and taste. just my opinion.
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:23 PM   #17
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Oh Marvinq, Marvinq, Marvinq - lol!!!

First off - don't ever even dream of using supermarket tomatoes for a sauce & expect it to be flavorful. Peeling & seeding has nothing to do with it - the tomatoes have the flavor & consistancy of styrofoam, regardless of what they're called. Unless you have access to good garden or farmers market tomatoes & actually want to go to all the trouble of peeling & seeding them, just BUY good quality canned tomatoes. My favorites are imported Italian plum tomatoes in their own juice or puree. You need do nothing but open the can, & the flavor & consistency is wonderful.

Secondly - were you actually following a recipe, or just throwing things in willy-nilly? I ask because your description of what you did sounds sort of erratic.

While there is TONS of room for leeway, cooking IS a sort of science. A science that is tons of fun & enjoyment & definitely not worth "quitting" just because things don't initially work out. But if things don't initially work out because you're cutting corners or not actually reading thru a recipe, I think you need to sit down & decide to develop a little patience. After just a couple of tries, claiming this to be your "last" attempt at making a red pasta sauce doesn't bode well for you trying & succeeding at something more challenging.

Again - all I'm saying is - take a deep breath & don't be so impatient. Cooking is & should be FUN!!
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:24 PM   #18
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sea salt, kosher salt and table salt are all different. Some salts are added at the end of cooking; these are called finishing salts and are usually sea salts and can get quite expensive. A lot of them have different flavors as well. Experiment. Google kosher salt and sea salt for good explanations.
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:26 PM   #19
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Fixer Upper - You said it all.
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:39 PM   #20
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I agree with Breezy, uness you have fresh tomaotes from a farmers market and are going to skin them, use canned. Get the whole peeled tomatoes, either plum, roma, or italian. They are pretty much the same thing. San Marzano are the best, a bit more expensive, but worth it. Mash them or puree them in a blender.

Trying to recreate a recipe is difficult and takes lots of time, patience and much trail and error. You have to tweak this, then change that, it does not come together all at once. But that is the FUN of cooking. Keeping on until you get it JUUUUUUust right.
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