Fresh tomatoes in Hazan's sauce?
September 1, 2016 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Can I use fresh tomatoes in Marcella Hazan's renowned sauce recipe? (M.H. previously and again on the blue.)

The recipe as I have seen it (see below) calls for canned tomatoes. But, this being the end of garden season, I have several gallons of fresh tomatoes -- some Roma-size, most smaller like kumquat-size -- to use up.

Also, I found a pound of rinds from Parmesan cheese at the grocery store today. If I toss these into Hazan's sauce, should I cut down the butter?

Here is Hazan's magic tomato sauce recipe:
  • 2 cups tomatoes, in addition to their juices (for example, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes)
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt
Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter and the onion halves in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt.

Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with a spoon. Add salt as needed.

Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta. This recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta.
posted by wenestvedt to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Per her cookbook, yes. You need to prep the fresh tomatoes a bit before starting the recipe - either by blanching them in boiling water for a minute and then chopping them coarsely, or by slicing them in half, cooking them in a pan over medium heat for ten minutes, and then puréeing them in a food mill using the disk with the largest holes.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:16 PM on September 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

Oh, and if this is your first time making the recipe, I wouldn't do the parm rinds, just to get a feel for it in its unaltered form, because it's so good you will probably be making it many more times and will want a baseline. If you do use them, though, it's the salt you would use less of, not the butter, and I wouldn't use the whole pound of rinds.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:37 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

.This is a recipe that really needs the harmony of all three of the ingredients working together. The rinds might throw off that balance.
posted by JPD at 4:46 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Make sure to peel the tomatoes after you've blanched them!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:56 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Holy cow, definitely not a whole pound of cheese rinds at once-- I am going to parcel these out for a while!)

Of course this is all academic until I go picking again: my wife grabbed most of a gallon of little tomatoes -- our entire load so far -- and put some sauce on to cook while I was at work today! But I will take my empty Cambros back to the allotment garden soon and fill 'Em up again, so this is still important info!!

Thanks, all. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 4:59 PM on September 1, 2016

I froze a bunch of tomatoes last summer and made the Hazan sauce with them later, so I don't see why you couldn't skip the freezing step! I second the advice to blanch and peel.
I don't have a food mill, so I used a stick blender.
posted by exceptinsects at 5:41 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not only can you use fresh tomatoes, you can also can the sauce halfway through -- e.g. cook the tomatoes with the onion, then remove the onion and can the sauce (acidifying as usual -- be sure to follow standard guidelines). Then, mid-winter you can open up a jar of sauce, heat it in a pan, drop in some butter / salt, and enjoy a taste of summer.
posted by tocts at 6:16 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you want (and if you can stand to have the oven on), you can put some of those to use in Susie Bright's excellent and dead easy oven-roasted tomato sauce. Link.
posted by rtha at 6:20 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I did this yesterday, with fresh tomatoes. Just confirming what others said- blanch and peel the tomatoes (30-45 seconds in boiling water, then an ice bath). I didn't chop/mill the tomatoes. It worked great!
posted by cushie at 6:52 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

This sauce was literally the gateway to my wife learning to love fresh, ripe tomatoes in their own right. It is one of the best things you can possibly do with fresh tomatoes. The riper and sweeter the tomatoes, the brighter and fresher the sauce tastes. I love to make it with yellow Romas.

(I would not attempt to can an arbitrary recipe like this, especially considering the butter.)
posted by musicinmybrain at 9:20 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

(I would not attempt to can an arbitrary recipe like this, especially considering the butter.)

To be clear, I did not advocate for canning with the butter. After the first step of the process, though, you're left with cooked tomatoes that, while they were cooked with onion, have had all the onion solids removed. Obviously you have to decide your own level of risk, but given there's nothing solid to harbor botulism spores within, and given that you still then acidify as normal (using a little extra acid if you're really paranoid), it's not something I personally worry about (and I've been doing this for years).

The butter comes after the fact, when you open up the jar of sauce. The main benefit is that you effectively can make Hazan's sauce in about 5-10 minutes since you've pre-cooked the tomatoes with the onion (bring sauce to temperature, add butter, season).
posted by tocts at 5:14 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I make this sauce with fresh tomatoes that have been frozen as pulp. I pulp them by cutting in half then smashing through a box grater, which leaves the skin. After freezing and thawing, I strain which removes most of the water leaving fresh tomato pulp that doesn't need to cook forever to reduce. It is the best sauce recipe.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:54 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

You guys, thank you!!! I did the "cut, cook for ten, and push through food mill" routine before the normal recipe, and it worked perfectly.

I made a double batch of sauce today and it turned out SO GOOD. I only let it simmer for like 30 minutes because it was in a wide, shallow pan (4" chicken fryer), not a saucepan as Hazan instructs. The onions tasted so good that I ate them all with crackers -- right away, still warm -- before I did the dishes. Heaven.

The richness and oniony flavor make me think this stuff would be a good Seasonal Affective Disorder remedy so I plan to make a bunch more and freeze it in quart-size Zip-Loc bags for the winter.

Thanks again, everyone -- definitely a new favorite!
posted by wenestvedt at 5:22 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

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