Part 3 of the Better Know a Mother Sauce series – Tomate!
And we’re back again with our next mother sauce – tomate! In case you didn’t know I’ve been making my way through the five mother sauces, so if you’ve missed the first two installments of this series, also known as Better Know a Mother Sauce, be sure to check out veloute and bechamel. Now it’s time, once again, to get out your berets because it’s time for le classique sauce tomate or, in other words, classic tomato sauce (pardon my French – I haven’t used it since high school).
The best word to describe this sauce? Easy. It’s so easy to make, but pays off big in the flavor department. It’s just onions, garlic, carrots, celery, salt pork, crushed tomatoes, and chicken stock. You start it on the stovetop and then finish it in the oven, so it’s very hands-off and low maintenance.
To start you render the fat from some salt cured pork, which is not the same thing as bacon. After a mild stress-out I found a package at my local grocery store near the bacon, so I think it’s readily available at most regular stores. Once the fat is rendered you cook onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in it until they have softened before adding in the crushed tomatoes. Then you add chicken stock, herbs (I took the plunge and bought some cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni, but you could just add them straight to the sauce) and bring it all to a boil before transferring the pot to the oven. Then it’s hands-off while the sauce simmers in the oven for a couple of hours.
After a couple hours in the oven the sauce is ready — it just needs to be pureed and strained, unless you are me and forget to strain it (P.S. It still tasted great).
So you might be wondering if the long cook time is worth it – I mean there are plenty of wonderful stove top tomato sauce recipes, so why deal with simmering a pot of all this stuff for a couple hours? I guess it all depends on what you want – if you want a deep tomato flavor infused with porky goodness then this is your sauce. It’s savory and rich without being heavy and can stand well on it’s own just tossed with some pasta. I subscribe to the belief that there’s always room for one more tomato sauce recipe and I will definitely use this approach again.
So, that’s it for now – I’m getting up very early tomorrow to make my own demi-glace and, pending success (please send good thoughts), I will share what that’s all about sometime next week. So, in the meantime here’s the recipe for le classique sauce tomate. Enjoy and au revoir!
Better Know a Mother Sauce: Tomate
This sauce is one of the five mother sauces of French cuisine. Simmering it in the oven creates a rich and savory sauce that can be used as a base for so many dishes!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: Sauces
- 1 ounce salt pork, chopped
- 1 white or yellow onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1/2 cup carrots. diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (i used San Marzano)
- 1/2 quart chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3-4 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 crushed black peppercorns (see note)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- In a stock pot over medium heat cook the salt pork until the fat is rendered.
- Add the onion, garlic, carrots. and celery to the pot and cook until the veggies start to soften. about 10 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes (plus juices), chicken stock, and herbs. Bring the sauce to a boil and then transfer the pot to the oven. Cover and let it simmer in the oven for at least two hours.
- After the two hours, remove the pot from the oven and fish out the herbs (see note). Puree the sauce using an immersion blender or in batches with a stand blender.
- This recipe makes approximately 4 cups of sauce.
I wrapped the herbs and spices in cheesecloth, which makes it easy to remove before pureeing the sauce. If you don’t have cheesecloth you can just toss the herbs in the sauce, but be sure to fish out the bay leaf before pureeing. Also, I recommend eliminating the whole peppercorns and seasoning the sauce at the end with fresh ground pepper. You would not want to bite into a whole peppercorn![br][br]This sauce can be used as a base for many other recipes that call for tomato sauce. You can also make a big batch and freeze it for later use.