Monday, September 30, 2013

Ten Pounds of Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

Pretty much everything I know about Italian cooking, I learned from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, so to honor her passing, I wanted to record how one can scale up her famous tomato sauce recipe (which my sister tipped me off to years ago, well before all the food bloggers). Armed with Hazan's recipe, a few weeks ago I cooked down 10 pounds of Sweetwater Farm's delicious Scipio San Marzano roma tomatoes, producing 10 pints of sauce to freeze away for the winter. I could never bring myself to use quite as much butter as she calls for (scaled up, this would be 6 sticks!), so this is a leaner version, but it still produces the purest, sweetest sauce, a perfect base for all manner of embellishments and delicious thinned into a heart-warming soup. Pick up a flat at the last Fairmount Farmers Market of the season next Sunday. 

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce for a 10 pound flat of tomatoes
10 lb roma tomatoes
4 or 5 small onions, peeled and halved
1 stick of butter (or more if you wish)
salt to taste

1. Set a large pot of water to boil. Core the romas and score them with a cross on the opposite end. Set up a large bowl of cold water with ice cubes. In batches, use a large slotted spoon or strainer to submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water. After about 1 minute, transfer the tomatoes to the cold water bath. The skin will blister and can be peeled off easily in the time it takes to blanch your next batch of tomatoes. If you get into a rhythm, you can easily get through 10 pounds of romas in about half an hour (with two people, it's even more efficient). Coarsely chop the tomatoes for the sauce.

2. In a 7 quart or larger pot, combine all of the ingredients and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer  until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. For this volume of tomatoes, I let the sauce simmer for about 2 hours. Taste and correct for salt. Remove the onions and reserve for another use (such as pizza toppings). If you like, use an immersion blender to create a smoother sauce. Allow to cool completely and transfer to freezer-safe pint jars. This recipe will make about 8 to 10 pints. Label and freeze for winter.

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