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Old 01-30-2009, 07:20 AM   #21
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Thanks for everyone. I'm going to try this hopefully tomorrow or Sunday if DH doesn't distract me :)
All suggestions are good so I'll go through them to come up with my "trial" method.
Is there any trick to not burning the garlic? Just keep it moving while I'm sauteeing?
I especially appreciate the tips on alcohol. I really like the taste of many alcoholic beverages (especially beer, wine, & dark colored liquors like bourbon) so cooking is a good way of enjoying it without getting tipsy (although we all know what is eventually going to happen to the leftover wine!). However, the information about how alcohol helps release the flavors in the tomatoes is excellent science to know.
I've come to the conclusion cooking is one big chemistry experiment (which is good because I liked chemistry)!
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Old 01-30-2009, 07:47 AM   #22
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My thoughts... double the amount of olive oil as the fat helps marry and carry the flavors. Also double if not triple the dried oregano. A half tsp is too little to really flavor the sauce. And do taste before adding sugar, as others have said. Also a little trick for canned whole tomatoes. Open the lid and cut them up in the can with kitchen shears. Another thing I sometimes do is add a tablespoon or so of good Parmesan cheese to the sauce. It adds another nice dimension to it. Please let us know how yours turns out!
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Old 01-30-2009, 01:57 PM   #23
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Thanks, Laurie, especially in reference to the oregano, I LOVE oregano (I think it's the Italian in me)!
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:54 AM   #24
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I made the sauce this weekend...I had used a whole white onion and 8 oz of fresh mushrooms so I used a whole can of tomatoes (28 oz vs. 14.5 oz) since it seemed like a lot of onions. I used the sweet basil and 4 small/medium cloves of garlic. I tried infusing the basil at the beginning and put some end at the end although I suspect I put the basil in too early (I simmered for a lot longer than 20 minutes - I had simmered covered, was I supposed to simmer uncovered?) I had also tried some wine.
I was a bit disappointed - it wasn't bad - I will try it again - but it was missing something that made it marinara. I had added sugar (I had used tomato sauce not paste) - I wonder if I added too much and it supressed the flavor I get in restaurant marinana.
I will try it again - I will definitely add more garlic and perhaps some rosemary, too.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:12 AM   #25
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Could you post the recipe with amounts used? I suspect that you used too much onion and mushrooms for the amount of tomato sauce used. Did you chop up the garlic? You probably also should have simmered it uncovered. Tell us what you did exactly and we might be able to help you perfect the recipe.
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:04 AM   #26
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Chunky Marinara Sauce

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped (I used a large white onion - I didn't quite use the whole thing, but with the ones I use it was close to a cup of chopped onion)
8 oz chopped portabella mushrooms (fresh)
4 small clove garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
White sugar
1.5 tsps dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt (possibly more)
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp Black pepper
1 lb grilled Turkey sausage
Sweet basil (2 sprigs)

I grilled & chopped the sausage ahead of time. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Infuse with about a sprig sweet basil (chopped) then use a slotted spoon to remove. Add onion and mushrooms and cook 2 to 4 minutes until onions are translucent and some of the liquid is cooked out, stirring frequently (I probably cooked closer to 5-6). Add garlic when onion is almost done. Mix in whole tomatoes (break up once they are in the pan), tomato sauce, wine (about 3/4 cup), bay leaves, oregano and salt. I threw in some extra oregano since I put in the whole can of tomatoes instead of just half. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer. I simmered covered and after a half hour it was barely reduced so I figured uncover was the way I wassupposed to do it. I also checked for taste and added a lot of sugar (a few teaspoons) because the tomato taste was pretty pronounced, pretty acidic - I suspect it was supposed to be and I should have left it. I added turkey sausage and sweet basil near the end but I still had about 15 min of simmer after that so I should have waited.

Thanks, Laury!
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Old 02-02-2009, 12:52 PM   #27
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I would suggest browning whatever meat you are using in the pan and deglazing so that you have the fond to flavor the sauce. Also, after browning, cooking the meat in the sauce helps deepen the flavor.

I would also suggest adding tomato paste. It's not interchangeble with tomato sauce.

Paste gives you concentrated flavor and sweetness.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:19 PM   #28
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Thanks, I will try that.
The tomato paste suggestion sounds good - my sauce did seem to be a bit watery.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:20 PM   #29
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What did you feel was missing? Too watery? Not enough flavor? Couldn't taste the basil? Too sweet? Not enough salt? Maybe we can help you better if you can explain what disappointed you and what you liked about other marinara sauces you liked.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:28 PM   #30
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It was a bit watery - Jennyema's suggestion to use paste instead of sauce should help with that.
In general, not enough flavor. I couldn't taste the basil very well, but I likely added too early (it's only supposed to be heated with the sauce about 5 mins, correct)? It was not too sweet. I'm big on salt so I likely could add more salt (and pepper, too).
Is it possible that I overcooked the tomatoes and they lost their flavor?
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:51 PM   #31
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OK based on what you've told us, here's my take on what you could do. It seems to me that you were after a spaghetti sauce as opposed to a traditional Marinara. You want it to coat and stick to the noodles better, right? Here's what I recommend you try next time. And by the way, I don't think you overcooked the tomatoes. Actually since they were whole tomatoes and you cooked it covered - that may have contributed to the wateryness. More cooking would have probably improved it.

1. Use at least a 1/4 to 13 cup of olive oil.
2. Use canned tomato sauce instead of whole tomatoes. Try to find a low sodium one.
3. Add no sugar until you have tasted it.
4. If you use dried basil, use 3 tsp at least and add at the beginning - maybe when you are cooking the onion. If using fresh, add towards the end and make it a couple of heaping tablespoons at least.
5. Add a couple TBs. of oregano or more. Oregano is the "Italian" taste to me.
6. And do brown the meat as Jennyema suggested.
7. Try some sweet Italian sausage instead of the turkey sausage.
8. Add a couple generous sprinkles of red pepper flakes for a little fire.
9. Cook the mushrooms before you add them to get rid of some of their liquid.
10. Taste, taste, taste as you go and add salt or sugar or seasoning as needed.
11. There's no such thing as too much garlic. Add more!
12. Don't be afraid to add more herbs and seasonings if you're not happy with it.

Sorry it's such a long list but I have made hundreds of spaghetti sauces and am about to make one today so I've had lots of practice getting the flavors I want. After I make mine today I'll send you the exact recipe so you can give it a try. I've just made it my mission for you to learn to make the perfect sauce for you!!
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:36 PM   #32
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Turkey sausage comes in both "Sweet Italian" & "Hot Italian" (also "Breakfast", "Chorizo", "Andouille", & more specific flavors than I can list here). It's no different in flavor from pork sausage except for the FAT.
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Old 02-03-2009, 07:51 AM   #33
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If you feel you are up to the challenge! What type of tomato solution (ie, whole tomatoes, sauce, paste, puree) sticks to the spaghetti better? What ingredient helps with this?
I would like to work on a true marinara, also. That may be a matter of changing the tomato base.
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:44 AM   #34
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Here's the recipe I promised you. I made it yesterday with Sweet Italian sausage. You could use the turkey sausage mentioned by BreezyCooking, but I can't guarantee the results. It is the fat and the pork flavor that add so much to the sauce. There is a reason that Low fat and No Fat foods often taste lousy. It's because the fat carries the flavor to the taste buds. It's why many consider French cuisine to be the best in the world. they use lots of fat. Not PC, I know, but facts are facts. Here's the recipe.

Spaghetti Sauce

1 large yellow or white onion chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 822 gr. (29 OZ) cans tomato sauce ( preferably low sodium 280 mg or under- like to season it myself)
5 T. olive oil (use cheaper stuff- not virgin, but ok if used. virgin is better for salad dressing used raw)
1 T. basil (dried) or 3-4 T. fresh
1 to 2 T. oregano
1/2 c. white or red wine
2 T. parmesan cheese

**3-4 (1/2 lb) sweet or spicy Italian sausage


Saute garlic and onions in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.
**If cooking with sausage, saute first until almost all done, pour off excess grease, then saute the onions and garlic. Add the tomato sauce, wine and herbs. Bring to a simmer and taste it. If it tastes too salty, add 1 or 2 teaspoons sugar. When all ingredients are added, put in the parmesan cheese. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes uncovered. The more you simmer, the more condensed it becomes so take care that it does not reduce too much. Either take off the heat or cover to prevent further evaporation.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:16 AM   #35
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I find this to be quite a process for a small amount. All of these recipes look delicious, the only thing is, I would make at least twice the amount. I find spaghetti sauce is something that freeze very well, and only gets better. I usually run the hand blender through it. My kids are not crazy about chunks of anything. Once it is done, I put it in 1 cup and 3 cup containers and freeze it. Then pop it out and put it in vacuum sealer bags. I use the 1 cup containers when I make pizza, and the 3 cups for when I make meat sauce. I also buy ground beef at whole food club and brown it all at one time. I put 3 cups in a bag and freeze that as well. Take out a bag of meat, bag of sauce, and start the water for the pasta. By the time the pasta is done, so is the sauce. Homemade pasta in about 20 minutes. The pre-browned ground beef is also good for quick Sloppy Joes or Tacos. Saves the time, mess, and I can get the boy’s homework done in about the same time. I make marinara about once every two months, and we have homemade pizza, and meat sauce pasta about once a week.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:04 PM   #36
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Thanks for the recipe - I'll likely try it in a couple weeks. Point taken on the fat - I try and keep my distance but it does taste sooooo goooood!
What is the basic difference between marinara and ordinary spaghetti sauce? The use is obvious but what is it about the ingredients or preparation that sets them apart?
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:26 PM   #37
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You know what Vermin8? In my opinion - absolutely NOTHING sets it apart. It's just semantics. Both "marinara" & plain basic "spaghetti sauce" are virtually the same thing. You'll find the same problem with lots of sauces. The only important thing is that you like the sauce - not what it's called.
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Old 02-03-2009, 02:17 PM   #38
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In America, "Marinara sauce" is a bold tomato sauce with herbs like oregano. No meat or seafood or mushrooms, etc.

"Spaghetti sauce" is any sauce you want to put on spaghetti made any way you want to.
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Old 02-04-2009, 07:22 AM   #39
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Thanks, Breezy & Jennyema, that's what it seems looking at various recipes. It seems the methods and basic ingredients (tomatoes & onions) are basically the same, it's the spices and additions that are different.
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Old 02-04-2009, 10:57 AM   #40
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It's all about what YOU want it to taste like!!
I make my spaghetti sauce with meat, usually sausage or meatballs, and porcini mushrooms. I use red wine, canned whole San Marzano tomatoes -- never sauce -- tomato paste, garlic, onion, herbs and love.

It's tasty.

I portion it and freeze it, flat, in ziplocks. Just had some I made some months ago the other night.
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