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Old 01-28-2009, 08:54 AM   #1
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My next project - Marinara Sauce

For those of you who haven't seen me in other chats, I'm a new cook. The DC crowd has been pretty nice about the helpful hints.

Anyway here is my project this weekend:

Chunky Marinara Sauce

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt


DIRECTIONS
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 2 to 4 minutes until crisp-tender, stirring frequently.
Mix in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until flavors are blended, stirring frequently.


I like my food flavorful and heavily seasoned so I am going to experiment - increase the garlic, add black pepper, and fresh sweet basil (possibly fresh rosemary).

Is there any difference between using whole vs. diced vs. crushed tomatoes tastewise or does it only make a difference in the texture?

I also want to use red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon - which one is more full bodied?). Do I put it in right after the onion/garlic saute when I first put in the tomatoes & tomato sauce?

If I perfect this, next time I'll try using fresh Roma tomatoes, but for right now I don't want to expend the effort until I know the recipe is to my liking.

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Old 01-28-2009, 08:59 AM   #2
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Use San Marzano tomatoes, I posted a thread here about them. If they are whole, break them up in the pan. I just dump the whole can in and cut them up with a paring knife using the back of my wooden spoon as a cutting board. I don't think dried oregano adds anything to anything. Use fresh if you must. With good tomatoes you can leave out the sugar (I never add it anyway) and only simmer for about 20 minutes.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:01 AM   #3
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Sounds like a winner! If you want more garlic flavor, mince it, and add it later. I don't know how much difference it will make, but I always cook the tomatoes in the oil until they start to break up before adding additional sauce.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:02 AM   #4
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Cabernet is more full bodied. However, I've been using white in my red sauces lately. Usually Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:08 AM   #5
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The only thing I would switch out is the tomato sauce for tomato puree and might not have to add the sugar.
The onions til translucent and some of the water/liquid is cooked out, not crisp-tender.
As far as the wine, either, but something you would drink. Before the tomatoes are added, and let it simmer a minute or two to burn off alcohol and reduce alittle.
Chopped basil is a good addition just at the end to wilt alittle, but not overpower the whole sauce.
What are you using the sauce for/on?
Sounds yummy idea.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:35 AM   #6
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If you want a clean, smooth sauce you can infuse the oil with the garlic and basil then use a slotted spoon to remove them. Add the onion to sautee, deglaze with the wine and add your tomato puree or sauce, season with salt and pepper.
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Old 01-28-2009, 09:50 AM   #7
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I've heard of the San Marzano tomatoes but I don't know if they have them locally - I've seen Sons of Italy, but that's the only "special" brand I've seen. I might check the local Wegman's.
I plan on using this marinara as spaghetti sauce but would like to adapt it for chicken parmesan or meatballs. For this spaghetti sauce, I've got some turkey sausage I'll put in at the end.
Let me get this straight on the garlic - saute a garlic clove with the onions? Does it make a difference whether it is chopped or minced? I prefer minced since it seems like it has more flavor. And put in a couple (minced) cloves near the end with the basil? If I use fresh oregano instead of ground, do I add at the end or put in when I would have put in the ground?
I also would like to put in fresh mushrooms - saute with the onions or saute separately (maybe with the turkey sausage) and add at the end?

Thanks for the advice on the wine, I would not have thought of that. Thanks to everyone!
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:07 AM   #8
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There are many ways to go about it, however there are some things to consider.

Since you like minced garlic, you should add that to the onion when the onion is almost done. This way the garlic wont burn. If you like the flavor of garlic but don't want the pieces in your sauce, the do this: add 3 table spoons of olive oil to a pan, add 2-3 smashed cloves of garlic. Tilt the pan a bit so the oil and garlic pool up on the side, and place that edge over the burner. Heat the oil/garlic just until the garlic begins to turn brown then remove with a slotted spoon. This will infuse nice garlic flavor without the pieces in the sauce. You can add fresh basil with the garlic too and remove them the same time. Add more fresh basil towards the end of cooking the sauce. Use the now infused oil to saute the onion/mushrooms.

If you want mushrooms, add those with the onion. Keep the mushrooms in one layer so they will carmelize and not steam. Make sure you season them with salt and pepper.
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:24 AM   #9
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FWIW:

Marinara Sauce, in reality, leaves little room for additions.

There are many tomato sauces that are NOT Marinara, which is a specific Italian sauce that consists basically of tomatoes cooked down with olive oil, garlic and generally basil. It is used for tomato based seafood sauce. Hence the name, Marinara.
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefJune View Post
FWIW:

Marinara Sauce, in reality, leaves little room for additions.

There are many tomato sauces that are NOT Marinara, which is a specific Italian sauce that consists basically of tomatoes cooked down with olive oil, garlic and generally basil. It is used for tomato based seafood sauce. Hence the name, Marinara.
Actually....

Quote:
Marinara sauce originated with sailors in Naples in the 16th century, after the Spaniards introduced the tomato to their neighboring countries. The word marinara is derived from marinaro, which is Italian for “of the sea.” Because of this, many people mistakenly believe marinara sauce includes some type of fish or seafood. However, marinara sauce loosely translates as “the sauce of the sailors,” because it was a meatless sauce extensively used on sailing ships before modern refrigeration techniques were invented. The lack of meat and the sheer simplicity of making tasty marinara sauce were particularly appealing to the cooks on board sailing ships, because the high acid content of the tomatoes and the absence of any type of meat fat resulted in a sauce which would not easily spoil.
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:34 AM   #11
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Looks good. I would be very, very surprised if Wegmans does not carry the kind of tomatoes you're looking for. (I really, really miss Wegmans.)

FWIW, my grandmother never, ever put sugar in her tomato sauces. She always used bay leaves. I know a lot of families, even other Italians, use sugar, so I'm just throwing it out there.
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:55 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefJune View Post
FWIW:

Marinara Sauce, in reality, leaves little room for additions.

There are many tomato sauces that are NOT Marinara, which is a specific Italian sauce that consists basically of tomatoes cooked down with olive oil, garlic and generally basil. It is used for tomato based seafood sauce. Hence the name, Marinara.
Okay, Jeekins... I left out the word "sometimes" between "is" and "used."

The point I was making was that there is nothing in real Marinara Sauce other than tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and herbs -- NOT including cilantro!
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Old 01-28-2009, 11:16 AM   #13
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I was referring to your statement on the origin of the name "Marinara", not how it's used.
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeekinz View Post
I was referring to your statement on the origin of the name "Marinara", not how it's used.
I didn't make a statement on its origins. musta been someone else.
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:23 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by quicksilver View Post
As far as the wine, either, but something you would drink. Before the tomatoes are added, and let it simmer a minute or two to burn off alcohol and reduce alittle.
.
Actually, you should add the wine after you add the tomatoes. You don't want to burn off the alcohol first.

Wine is used in tomato sauce both for its flavor and for the fact it dissolves alcohol-soluable flavor components.

Alcohol releases flavor components in things like tomatoes and other ingredients that water and oil can't -- so it makes your food tastier.

So it's important to add wine to the tomatoes so it can do its magic. Simmering the sauce for 1/2 hour or so will allow some of the alcohol to evaporate, so it wont taste strong.

I'd also suggest not using the sugar unless, after tasting the sauce, it seems too acidic.

Also, you'll probably need more salt.
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Old 01-28-2009, 02:22 PM   #16
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First & MOST IMPORTANTLY - DON'T get confused or whacked out by all the suggestions or things well-meaning folks here say you MUST DO to have a successful sauce (& that includes ME - lol!). That's ridiculous. Nearly everything having to do with cooking is subjective & personal. I can guarantee that a sauce recipe that you absolutely love, 10+ folks will turn around & say they hate & can't wait to jump in & tell you what you're doing wrong - lol. That doesn't mean your sauce is bad in the least. Food & taste is personal - there's no good or bad.

That said - my 2 cents are 1) any dry red wine works fine in sauce. I've probably used nearly all of them at one time or another, although a California jug Burgundy or Chianti is probably what I have on hand most of the time. But either of your choices are terrific as well. 2) Please, PLEASE DON'T add any sugar until you taste your sauce. More great tomato sauces have been ruined by the addition of sugar simply because a recipe "says so" than all others combined (in my opinion). And if you do want to add some sugar, add a tiny amount at a time & then re-taste. It's easy to add more; impossible to remove. And 3) NEVER allow your garlic to burn. I always add it far later in the process than recipes instruct in order to avoid this. Once you've burned the garlic, you have to start again from scratch. There's no remedy.
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Old 01-28-2009, 02:39 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by quicksilver View Post
The only thing I would switch out is the tomato sauce for tomato puree and might not have to add the sugar.
The onions til translucent and some of the water/liquid is cooked out, not crisp-tender.
As far as the wine, either, but something you would drink. Before the tomatoes are added, and let it simmer a minute or two to burn off alcohol and reduce alittle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
Actually, you should add the wine after you add the tomatoes. You don't want to burn off the alcohol first.

Wine is used in tomato sauce both for its flavor and for the fact it dissolves alcohol-soluable flavor components.

Alcohol releases flavor components in things like tomatoes and other ingredients that water and oil can't -- so it makes your food tastier.

So it's important to add wine to the tomatoes so it can do its magic. Simmering the sauce for 1/2 hour or so will allow some of the alcohol to evaporate, so it wont taste strong.
Imagine that, my great grandmother, grandmother, and father, all who emigrated from Frazzano, Sicily to Saint Bartolomeo, Galdo, Italy, to Chicago, to New Jersey and made all their own wine had it wrong all these years!
Who would have thunk it!

Maybe in restaurants that's done, but I'll stick with what i know. 53 years and counting.
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Old 01-28-2009, 04:55 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quicksilver View Post
Imagine that, my great grandmother, grandmother, and father, all who emigrated from Frazzano, Sicily to Saint Bartolomeo, Galdo, Italy, to Chicago, to New Jersey and made all their own wine had it wrong all these years!
Who would have thunk it!

Maybe in restaurants that's done, but I'll stick with what i know. 53 years and counting.
No. It's quite commonly done everywhere.

It's just simple food science.

Take vodka sauce for example. Vodka is used because it has a very neutral flavor. It's only purpose in the sauce is to release the alcohol-soluable components in the tomatoes. That's why it is added to the tomatoes and cooked and not vice versa.

Shirley Corriher: "Alcohol is a solvent. ''Some compounds dissolve in water,'' she said. ''Some dissolve in fat. But alcohol dissolves both fat-soluble compounds and water-soluble compounds. You're pulling flavor compounds out ... so that they can contribute to the flavor in the sauce.''

(Corriher) recalled Patricia Wells, the Paris-based food writer, asking about the vodka in penne alla vodka: ''She said, 'Shirley, why is it that a little vodka in a tomato sauce makes such a huge difference in the taste of the sauce? I boil it after the vodka is added so most of the vodka is gone.' But there's obviously a compound in tomatoes that alcohol dissolves and pulls out into the sauce. And then it doesn't matter what happens to alcohol. It's done its job.''
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Old 01-28-2009, 07:12 PM   #19
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I don't use the wine to act as a solvent/dissolver. Never had to.
I reduce it to alittle more liquidy than balsamic vinegar to add flavor. But since I'm using probably double the quantity of ingredients as first posted, to use immediately and some to freeze, my way imparts a different flavor, and it's what this family is used to...as BC said, " there's always going to be someone who disagrees.
And as Chef June said, the unadulterated version doesn't even have wine.
To each his own.







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Old 01-28-2009, 08:42 PM   #20
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I've added wine/booze to different things at different times. Any time I added wine past the point where I could reduce it, I found the flavor too strong and it interfered with what was in my glass.

Personally, I don't think straight wine (without reduction) adds anything positive to a sauce....IMHO.
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