Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Never peel tomatoes again!

I know you’re thinking of turkeys and stuffing, sweet potatoes and pie, but just in case you want to try something different, here’s the next installment of my Italy series. 

Work with a professional chef and you’ll pick up more than a helpful tip. In my cooking class at the Villa Bordoni, one of the Italian staples we made was tomato sauce. Chef Collin’s recipe was simple and as we prepared the sauce, he shared a number of valuable tips.
1)  Use fresh, San Marzano tomatoes. They have less water so the sauce cooks down much faster.

2)      Don’t bother with peeling and seeding the tomatoes. Cut them up and cook them with the onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Pour the sauce in a food mill, crank away and you’ll push through the good flavors, leaving the bitter peelings and seeds behind.

3)      Return the sauce to the pan, keep the lid off and cook to the consistency you prefer.

4)      As for seasonings, use salt, olive oil and fresh basil. Chef Collin never skimped on the salt and olive oil. You might also want to throw in some wine and a pinch of hot pepper,

I’ve been growing San Marzanos since I first discovered they are meatier and larger than Romas. So if you’re planning next year’s garden, you might think about planting them. In Kentucky, I’ve found even San Marzano seedlings to be hard to locate so I grow mine from seed.

Want to add meat to your sauce? I spoke with someone yesterday who spent part of her youth in Italy and still uses a neighbor’s lasagna recipe. She says the key is chicken livers cut up and cooked with the beef. It adds a richness and depth but people who don’t like liver won’t notice. I’m in the “don’t even like the smell of liver cooking” camp, but I might have to try it anyway.

I've posted a couple of tomato sauce recipes in the past. Here's one of my favorites that adds zucchini to the mix.

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