The only tomato sauce recipe you will ever need
"This is the simplest of all sauces to make, and none has a purer, more irresistibly sweet tomato taste, I have known people to skip the pasta and eat the sauce directly out of the pot with a spoon"- Marcella Hazan
The most famous tomato sauce on the internet is from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. There has been a lot of ruckus on the internet since the passing of Marcella Hazan 7 years ago in 2013 about her classic "tomato sauce with onion and butter". Some have criticized her excessive use of butter, others that she was Italian and the use of butter is not authentic. That’s actually not true. Italian cuisine is extraordinarily varied by region and butter is used increasingly more than olive oil as one goes north. Regardless, keeping an open mind, a recipe could be extraordinarily delicious even if it weren’t the Italian way. Which this one is. Beware inferior interpretations such as "Tomato butter sugo with fettuccine and feta" which pale to insignificance once you´ve made the real thing. Give the lady a break. Marcella Hazan started her cooking and writing career after she moved to US from Emilia-Romagna in the North of Italy. Some very old recipes there might use pig fat (Strutto in italian). These might be the reasons her recipe uses butter instead. The butter is a treat, and doesn't "ruin" fresh tomatoes. It complements their sweetness and makes for a lovely, delicate yet decadent sauce. As we all know..."everything is better with butter"!!!
Having seen the virtues of this recipe touted all of over the blogosphere, and believe me I´ve seen a few, I never really thought of it as significantly different. Returning to it I realise its probably the only tomato sauce recipe you would ever need.
This is so simple and so phenomenally good. I've spent years tinkering with olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, blah blah blah, but now I'm just making this sauce as written. It is delicious! I Love this sauce!!! It smells and tastes like all the best, small, back alley ,hole-in-the wall Italian restaurants you’ve ever been to. This sauce is one of the most talked about tomato sauces of all time for good reason. It's the definition of quality ingredients (and restraint!) that make it so successful. All you need are ripe tomatoes (or your favourite canned San Marzano tomatoes, which have fewer seeds and a sweeter, rounder, less acidic taste than other canned tomatoes).
knob of butter, a peppy white onion, and salt. There's nothing to hide
behind, no frills, fanfare or filigree. Just as Julia Child changed the way Americans cook French food, Hazan changed how they cook Italian food. It also may
be her easiest recipe. It gives the sauce an unparalleled velvety
richness. There is such endless tinkering with tomato sauce, people plunder their herb gardens in the name of tomato sauce, others throw olive oil at it.The simplicity of this recipe allows the primary ingredients, the tomatoes and the butter, to shine. The onion is a whisper, not a shout (or, God forbid, a
partner with garlic in a mugging). The butter, astonishingly, adds an
unctuousness, a luxurious taste and feel that perfectly complements the tomatoes.
In its original form, this is the purist's tomato sauce. And as a result, it goes well with just about everything, It's an ideal bed for spicy meatballs, a perfect partner for al dente strands of spaghetti with flecks of Parmesan strewn on top, a bath for Italian sausages and—perhaps my most favourite use—a welcoming landing pad for heels of crusty bread. The fact is its pretty much the perfect foil for any of those other things like beef mince or mushrooms that get added to pasta dishes regularly. And I wouldn't dare forget the soft, jammy onion swimming in the tomatoey mixture. Marcella instructs us to remove it from the sauce and use it for something else, but I've found it's a pretty excellent cook's treat. Of course you you could brandish a stick blender to include the onion in it, I´d rather you didn´t ,it is great as written if you want a more delicate flavour. Marcella I am no neophite, but I know what I like. I am sure they will debate your sauce until the end of time, what a legacy you have left.
Casa rosada´s recommendation: We think this is an unsurpassable sauce for home made potato gnocchi (below). Its excellent for batch freezing too.Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter
Marcella called for 2 cups of tomatoes when using canned, but feel free to use a whole 28-ounce can (closer to 3 cups), if you like. You can scale up the butter and onion, if you like, or don't—it's genius either way.
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Quantity Serves 6, enough to sauce for 1 to 1 1/2 (750g) pounds pasta
900g / 2 lb fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below, or 500g /2 cups canned imported Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
75g / 2 1/2 oz butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
1/4 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste
Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Before tossing with pasta, you may remove the onion (as Hazan recommended) and save for another use, but many opt to leave it in. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table.
The blanching method: Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them into coarse pieces.
The freezing method (from David Tanis, via The Kitchn): Freeze tomatoes on a baking sheet until hard. Thaw again, either on the counter or under running water. Skin them and cut them into coarse pieces.
The food mill method: Wash the tomatoes in cold water, cut them lengthwise in half, and put them in a covered saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Set a food mill fitted with the disk with the largest holes over a bowl. Transfer the tomatoes with any of their juices to the mill and puree.
FOR THE GNOCCHI
1 pound potatoes (clean but not skinned / not new potatoes)
1 cup flour (130 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium egg
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE: Recipe above
Mix together the flour and salt and place on a flat surface, make a well in the middle and add the potatoes and egg, mix together with your fingers to form a soft dough, it should not stick to your fingers. On a lightly floured surface, cut small amounts of dough to form ropes and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) pieces, then slide each piece on a fork and squeeze a little (but not too hard). Sprinkle with a little bit of flour and toss, so they don't stick together. Let the gnocchi rest for 20 minutes before cooking.