Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cooking with Dr. Monkey

Today's episode: oven roasted tomato sauce!

I started by buying a box of locally grown Roma tomatoes:
I like to use Romas for this sauce because they're less watery than other tomatoes. I've made this recipe with canning tomatoes but it was far more labor intensive than this one with Romas is.
I sliced off the tops of the tomatoes and I made an 'X' in the bottoms of them all, tossing out any rotten ones of course.
Then I scalded them in boiling water. I put them in the boiling water for a couple of minutes then I fish them out with my big ol' holey spoon and I drop them into a big ice water filled container.
The skins slide right off and I them break the tomatoes into smaller pieces and I put them in to my Pyrex pans. I add a few cloves of garlic to each pan of the tomatoes.
Before I had started scalding and peeling my tomatoes I had sliced up one big yellow onion and two big red bell peppers. I then covered them with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. I then broiled them in the oven until the skin on the pepper turned black. The broiled onions and peppers cooled while I got the Romas ready for oven roasting.
After I got all my tomatoes scalded, peeled, and in my Pyrex pans I peeled the red peppers and put them in my mini food processor along with the onions and all the olive oil from the roasting pan. I pulsed it until it became a paste and I put the paste on top of the tomatoes:
I also put in a little more sea salt, crushed black pepper, and some ground oregano, which we grew and dried our selves. Then I put all the pans in the oven and turned it on to 400 F.
I let them cook on 400 for about 30 minutes then I turned the temp down to 350. They cooked at 350 for about an hour then I turned them down to 300. After cooking for about an hour on 3oo I turned them down to 250 and let them cook up for another hour. The smell of slow roasted tomatoes makes the house smell heavenly.

After cooking for about 4 hours I took my tomatoes out and I poured each pan in my big sieve. This drains off most of the water and it leaves the pulpy slow cooked tomato mixture. I then consolidated all the tomatoes into two big Pyrex pans and I put them back in the oven which I turned back up to 300 F.
A word of warning: be very very careful when draining the hot pans of the excess liquid. The tomatoes have a tendency to slide everywhere and the water is searingly hot. BE CAREFUL.

I let the now consolidated tomato mixture cook down for another hour and fifteen minutes and then I took them out and spooned them in to my big food processor. I pulsed up batches of the thick rich sauce until I all of the tomato mixture was sauced. This is what it looked like by the time I got done:
It was almost thick enough to stand a spoon up in. The flavors had condensed and concentrated in the five plus hours that I cooked it. I had planned to can this batch of sauce but I really couldn't get into boiling a huge pan of water, sterilizing my jars and lids, and then gingerly putting the hot jars in a boiling water bath. So I decided to freeze this batch instead. That meant that I had to let the sauce cool down a bit and then I had to spoon it into freezer safe containers.

And here's the end product:
This recipe kicks all kinds of ass. It's super tasty and thick and rich. When you heat it up later you can use it on pasta, pizza, meatloaf, put it in soups, or even spread it on a piece of bread. It's also versatile in that you can freeze it for up to six months or you can can it and use it within a year, as long as you store it away from direct sunlight. Yes, you won't get a huge yield out of your big box of tomatoes, but what you do get is incredibly tasty. I don't recommend adding any kind of meat to the sauce until you get ready to reheat it, home canners can't achieve the high temps that are needed to kill all the bacteria in meats.

Of course you can add any other spices, veggies, or herbs to your sauce, I like to keep mine simple and add to it when I get ready to reheat it. You can also make this sauce if you have home canned tomatoes or make it with store bought cans of tomatoes if you like. The key is slow roasting and draining off the water in the tomatoes as you cook them down. This is my third batch that I made from fresh tomatoes and I may do another but I'll probably just can some tomatoes outright and make more sauce when I need to warm the house up in the dead of winter.


mbarnato said...

This is an amazing recipe! Talk about your slow cooking... I've never tried an oven-roasted sauce and am very tempted. The yield *is* a little less than I'd like for a box of tomatoes, but the end result is so much denser than regular tomato sauce; looks well worth it.

phairhead said...

I think yr label describes this post quite nicely: FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD

kirby said...

What a beautiful box of tomatoes. I'm going to have to do something like this, because I don't know if my home canned tomatoes are going to last until winter. They're just too tempting.

K.Line said...

I can practically taste how delicious it is!

Blueberry said...

I'm glad that "Cooking with Dr. Monkey" means you are doing all the work, because I don't think I'd be up to the task(s). Looks great!!