Monday, May 9, 2011

Marinara Sauce

The third installment for Operation: Expand Horizons was a recipe for classic Marinara sauce from America's Test Kitchen.  I must admit that I've been gleefully consuming jars of Prego traditional style pasta sauce for years, having tried several recipes for homemade spaghetti sauce but never finding one that really hit the spot.  This one comes darn close.  It will be tweaked on future incarnations.

Like most of the recipes provided by the lovely folks at the Test Kitchen, this one may seem a little intimidating at first, but don't fret.  All of the instructions, while thorough, are intended to help you do a better job.  Read carefully beforehand, purchase good quality ingredients, take your time, make sure you do your mise en place, and cook away.

As I said, this recipe comes *thisclose* to being my go-to for spaghetti night.  My husband said it needed some spice, and I agreed.   A little red pepper flake would do some good on that point, as would a bit more oregano.  The depth of flavor could be improved if I'd had a drier, more robust red wine.  Instead of the Chianti or Merlot called for, I used Pinot Noir that I already had, and although I'm no connoisseur of wine, I'm pretty sure Pinot is milder.  So blame that part on me.

The only change I made in the recipe was in technique, not ingredients: I did not do any blending or pureeing of the sauce.  We like a little chunkiness to our pasta sauce, so I just tore up the peeled tomatoes by hand before cooking.

I served this sauce atop a pile of spaghetti and homemade meatballs from a recipe by Alton Brown that I've made dozens of times.

Marinara Sauce

Makes 4 cups

This recipe makes enough to sauce more than a pound of pasta; leftovers can be
refrigerated or frozen. Because canned tomatoes vary in acidity and saltiness, it's best to add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste just before serving. If you prefer a chunkier sauce, give it just three or four pulses in the food processor in step 4.


2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes , packed in juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup dry red wine , such as Chianti or Merlot
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 - 2 teaspoons sugar , as needed (see note above)


1. Pour tomatoes and juice into strainer set over large bowl. Open tomatoes with hands and remove and discard fibrous cores; let tomatoes drain excess liquid, about 5 minutes.  Remove 3/4 cup tomatoes from strainer and set aside. Reserve 2 1/2 cups tomato juice and discard remainder.

2. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden around edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Add tomatoes from strainer and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring every minute, until liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to stick to bottom of pan and brown fond forms around pan edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Add wine and cook until thick and syrupy, about 1 minute. Add reserved tomato juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and loosening browned bits, until sauce is thick, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Transfer sauce to food processor (or transfer to saucepan and insert immersion
blender) and add reserved tomatoes; process until slightly chunky, about eight 2-second pulses. Return sauce to skillet and add basil and extra-virgin olive oil and salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

1 comment:

Momma said...

I always have at least one can of this in my freezer. I have a million variations because I can never follow a recipe exactly! Its veggie season now so I usually add squash/zucchini/mushrooms/spinach or something like that to it. Yum!