Pomodoro Perfecto

Basic Italian Tomato Sauce                                             makes just under 3 quarts

A perfect pomodoro! 

I love pasta. Few things give me such primal satisfaction as a bowl of al dente spaghetti lovingly coated with a simple, delicious sauce of tomatoes & olive oil with just a hint of basil. A final shower of robust, aged parmigiana reggiano cheese atop the spaghetti makes my soul sing.

Even thought it’s winter some decent tomatoes can be found. If it was now summer’s end, I’d be searching for the best farmer’s market tomatoes, but hot house tomatoes supplemented by a can of imported Italian tomatoes will do just fine right now, here at the tail end of winter. A fantastic sauce can be made of such stuff.
This recipe is easy but demands some attention. Like most Italian food, your results are defined more by time and care than by a lot of complexity. Take your time, watch the pot, drink a glass of wine, pull as much flavor out of the tomatoes as you can – patience rewards well in the case of good pomodoro sauce. Generally speaking I prefer roma tomatoes for this recipe, as they hold less water than other varieties. But honestly any tomatoes will do, even cherry tomatoes, but you might have to prolong your simmering time to evaporate more liquid and concentrate your sauce.
Food mills are cool.
You will need a food mill, which is a hand-crank precursor to the food processor. It very effectively removes the skins and most of the seeds from the sauce simultaneously as it purees the tomato pulp. I have a very fine food mill that I bought for about $30. It’s a very useful device. You should get one. (Good too for making large quantities of fresh organic baby food, BTW.)
Happy Cooking!
Are these the best tomatoes you can find?
They better be!

• 7 pounds of fresh tomatoes

• ½ cup finest quality extra virgin olive oil
• 1 28-ounce can of peeled Italian tomatoes (I used Cento brand this time.)
• 4 large basil leaves
• 1 clove garlic

• 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Do This:

Wash tomatoes and roughly cut into quarters. In a large pot add olive oil and then both canned and fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic clove, and salt. Put on the stove over medium heat. Stir tomatoes with a wooden spoon, lifting from the bottom to circulate salt, olive oil, and tomatoes evenly. Allow tomatoes to cook, undisturbed, until steam rises and the tomatoes just start giving up their liquid.
Smash tomatoes to
break up.
Reduce heat to medium low and cook tomatoes slowly for three to four hours, stirring every twenty minutes or so. Occasionally break up tomatoes with the wooden spoon by gently smashing tomatoes against the side of the pot. Every once in a while scrap the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen any accumulations of dense tomato pulp and stir into the tomatoes.
After three hours check your tomatoes for flavor, adding a pinch of salt if you feel it is necessary. Being the winter you might find that the tomatoes are a bit tart. I suggest a tablespoon of sugar in that case. You will know your tomatoes are ready when they easily mash with the wooden spoon and the skins separate without much resistance.
At this point I like to let the tomato sauce relax for an hour before milling, to concentrate flavors and let a bit more liquid evaporate.
Ready for the mill. 
In stages, grind up the tomatoes.

Now, using the medium-sized grinder plate in the food mill, puree the tomato sauce into another container, removing and discarding the skins and seeds that build up in the mill. This sauce is now ready for other use. I use it plain for simple spaghetti pomodoro, as the base for a Bolognese, puttanesca, or carratierra sauce.

This recipe was suggested by Lara, good friend and fellow pasta-phile. Enjoy.

2 thoughts on “Pomodoro Perfecto

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