Monday, September 2, 2013
Roasted tomato sauce II
This summer has been all about the roasted tomato sauce. So far I have cooked and frozen around 20 quarts, and the season isn't over yet.
The whole roasting idea started for me back in the fall of 2011, when my friend Joe sent me his wife Joel's recipe for roasted green tomato sauce. My garden was inundated with unripe tomatoes that year and Joe was trying to help me to make use of them all.
Since then I have adapted Joel's basic method to roast all combinations of tomatoes, often fully ripe ones. Every batch is a little different, but all are rich in flavor and delicious. You can see by the picture above that I've been using mostly ripe tomatoes this year, but the beauty of roasting is that it doesn't really matter which ones you use. Any combination of tomatoes that you can get your hands on, at practically any time of year, will work. Best of all, roasting a large batch of fresh sauce at high heat is faster and easier than simmering on a stovetop.
This batch is a pretty big one (I had to use a giant 13.5-quart dutch oven to fit all the garden tomatoes I had on hand), and so you'll need to make adjustments to cooking times and ingredients depending on how much sauce you're actually making. But don't worry. Play around and experiment as much as you want, because it's really pretty hard to screw up a roasted sauce.
Just core the tops off all of your tomatoes.
Slice off the bottoms too.
Then cut the tomatoes into pieces like this. (I don't peel the skins, if you were wondering, nor do I clean out the seeds.)
In a dutch oven saute some chopped garlic, onion, carrots, celery, hot pepper if you like, plus plenty of fresh herbs. I used rosemary, oregano, thyme and marjoram for this batch. Don't be shy with the olive oil; the more of it the better as far as I'm concerned. Oh, and I'm not shy with the garlic either; there are around 10 cloves in here. (There are also four carrots, four celery stalks and a huge red onion, but as I said, play around and adjust at will.)
I've been making sauce both with and without different types of meats this summer. In this batch I added two pounds of ground pork after the vegetables and herbs had softened, then let the pork brown a bit before moving on to the next step. (You can use beef or veal instead of pork; or, for a plain tomato sauce, just skip the meat altogether.)
Next step is to add in the tomatoes, stir it all up, cover and toss into an oven that's been preheated to 450 degrees F.
At this point the amount of sauce you're making will determine the cooking time. This batch of tomatoes nearly filled my 13.5-quart dutch oven, and so I waited a full hour before removing the cover for the remaining time it took the sauce to cook.
About an hour and a half later (2 1/2 hours total cooking time) the sauce was done.
Once it had cooled I doled it out into sturdy plastic containers for freezing.
As I said, I'm at 20 frozen quarts and counting at the moment, and I'm betting that I'll wind up with a dozen more. Which is to say that, should you find yourself in my nabe at any point during the coming Maine winter, give a knock on the door. Who knows, I may be in a generous mood.
Just bring along something red of your own to go with. If you catch my drift.