At the start of each autumn I head out to the farms and pick up some cheap tomatoes. 20lb's of tomatoes for $20, that's a bargain if ever I saw one. The quality of tomatoes aren't the best, a few bruises here and there - it is the back end of the season after all, but they're more than good enough to make a hearty batch of sauce. Enough for a few meals, short-rib lasagna anyone?
This recipe is adapted from one I found over at Amateur Gourmet, but doesn't just call for the addition of butter and onion, it has a few other components to it, but the healthy dose of butter is key, giving it a creamy texture that is so worth the calories. The jalapeno (with seeds) give you that kick we all love and the basil and garlic for depth. It's a sauce that has many uses, if you only use it with a bowl of pasta you'll be a happy camper. This will be the third year I've made a variation of this recipe, with a few tweaks here and there, but mostly what is listed below. For me it encompasses everything I need without losing the basic sweetness of the fresh tomato. You'll notice that I don't peel all of the tomatoes, that's in part because I'm lazy and I just don't feel the need to. The tomatoes I puree go further, and the tomatoes I chop give that chunky bite you'd expect.
All the other ingredients are a bonus, to be played around with as desired. If heat is your thing, throw in more jalapeno. Just have fun making it. It's time consuming so you want to make sure you're going to love it, pour yourself a bottle of wine and have a productive afternoon.
Using all of the tomatoes, approximately 55, I ended up with roughly 4 gallons of sauce, you can obviously parse it down accordingly along with the other ingredients.
- 20lbs tomatoes, washed and stemmed, discarding bruised portions
- 3 sticks butter
- 2 onions, peeled and halved
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 jalapeno, crushed w/ seeds
- 2 stems basil
- kosher salt
- cracked pepper
In a blender puree 1/3 of the tomatoes until you have a puree, split between two large pots. For the remaining 2/3 tomatoes blanch and peel - in small batches boil the tomatoes in water for a minute or until skin starts to crack, remove and cool. Peel the tomatoes, stem, chop coarsely and add equally to the two pots. Peel the onions and chop in half, placing two halves down in each pot along with 1 1/2 sticks of butter. Bring sauce to a simmer. Crush the jalapeno and garlic and add to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add one stem of basil leaves to each pot. Simmer on a low-to-medium heat for up to 2hrs, stirring occasionally. Season further to taste if necessary.
The sauce is best left to sit and stew in its flavors. I've reheated this a couple of times and found each time and found it to be better each time. As noted above, this produces 4 gallons of sauce. Adjust accordingly, but if you have the tomatoes you've got yourself some pretty good meals ahead of you.