February 15, 2014

Tony Gemignani talks secrets to great tasting tomato sauce

Q: What are some ways to properly preserve and store tomato sauce?

A: In order to make a great tasting tomato sauce you always want to use the best and freshest tomatoes you can find. Although choosing to use the freshest and best ingredients can be costly, you will in turn not need to add anything extra to your sauce (unless looking to intentionally do so), which will help keep your costs down. When making sauce you want to resist cooking it. One of the true signs of a great, fresh tomato sauce is its bright red color and distinctive smell. When you cook tomatoes you are actually taking away that bright red color and turn them into a more muted red. You also cook out the fresh tomato flavor.

If you like garlic and/or onions in your sauce you actually need to simmer them slightly on the stove top before adding them. This prevents the sauce from turning thick and lumpy. Other seasonings are great to deepen the flavor and add complexity to tomato sauce, but they also should be heated before adding the tomatoes to slow down the aging process. Once made, tomato sauce should be cooled down (if heated) as quickly as possible so as to prevent bacteria from forming. Store it in the refrigerator. Stainless steel containers are best as plastic containers can be nicked and marked and aluminum containers leave a slight metallic taste. As soon as your sauce is in the refrigerator you want to keep it as far away from yeast as possible (it will spoil if they come into contact).

Tomato sauce is an integral part of making pizza. As long as you remember to use the best quality possible and know the proper way of making and storing your sauce, the possibilities are endless.

Here is one of my favorite recipes. It’s a summer sauce using “Early Girl” tomatoes:

Take 10 pounds of Early Girl tomatoes and toss them in olive oil. Roast at 500 F until the skins start to come off or have a light char. Transfer the tomatoes to a large container and add 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 garlic cloves, a drizzle of olive oil and a generous pinch of sea salt. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Once cooled, take off the skins, discard the rosemary and garlic and emulsify slightly with an immersion blender.

Tony GemignaniRESPECTING THE CRAFT features World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco and Pizza Rock in Sacramento. Tony compiles the column with the help of his trusty assistants, Laura Meyer and Thiago Vasconcelos. If you have questions on any kitchen topic ranging from prep to finish, Tony’s your guy. Send questions via Twitter @PizzaToday, Facebook (search: Pizza Today) or e-mail and we’ll pass the best ones on to Tony.