Monday, December 31, 2007

Marcella's Miracle Tomato Sauce - For Bill

Another one for Bill.

It's New Year's Eve morning. I'm in the country, and there are about 8 inches of freshly fallen snow outside.

It's still snowing; the fire is stoked; Walter has headed off to ski, and I'm sitting here with the new kitten, Sylvano,

writing, drinking tea, listening to Trio Mediaeval, and loading music into my new MacBook. Friends are coming over for dinner, and I'm going to make chicken paprikash. The only thing that would make it better would be if I had a larder filled with my own jarred tomatoes. Next summer, which seems so far away, no matter what, I am going to"do the tomatoes."

The next summer - a promise kept

I have a new email friend. Her name is Erin, and her blog is Spice Dish - Life is Delicious in San Francisco, where Erin lives. I've been thinking about her as I sit looking out the window at the trees and the field and the birds.

There is no place I would rather be right now. I wonder if Erin would enjoy spending this morning here with me, having a nice breakfast before heading home to celebrate New Year's Eve in San Fran.

If we could only apparate.

I have already written about Giulian0 Hazan's recipe in which he adapted his mother's original recipe, slicing the onion instead of cutting it in half, and it is very good. But it's high time I mentioned the original because it's a miracle recipe - so much more than the sum of its simple parts.

And if you use fabulous butter,

beautiful tomatoes,

(but high-quality canned will do), and Maldon Salt,

it is so delicious you will find yourself just wanting to eat it straight out of the pan.

Marcella's Miracle Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

Serves 6

2 cups of ripe tomatoes that have already been made ready for sauce or 2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes cut up with their juice (a 14-1/2 ounce can of diced tomatoes will be fine here)
5 tablespoons butter (don't have a fit - this is sauce for a lot of pasta)
1 medium onion, peeled (did I really have to tell this this?) and cut in half
1 to 1-1/2 pounds pasta
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Put the tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion halves, and some salt, and cook uncovered at a slow simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the fat floats free from the tomato. I find it usually takes closer to 30 minutes.

Stir occasionally, mashing any large piece of tomato in the pan, if there are any, with a wooden spoon. Taste and add more salt, if necessary, keeping in mind that you will add some parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the end. Discard the onion, and toss the sauce with pasta. Then add some parmigiano cheese and toss again or put the cheese on the table so the diners can add their own.

Because you want to sauce the pasta lightly, this is enough sauce for 1 to 1-1/2 pounds. If you're making less pasta than that, you can freeze the leftover sauce. If you do this, do it without the onion and without any cheese.


  1. We make this pasta sauce at least twice a month. I guess I should say that I make this twice a month when I'm forced to cook solo. I'll have to add Marcella's son's variation to the quick meal arsenal. Thanks!

  2. This is THE perfect tomato sauce, and one of the few recipes in my husband's small cooking arsenal that won me over when we were dating. It bubbles a few times a month in our kitchen, but we do cut back on the butter now.


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