Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Great Pizza / Sauce / Gravy Debate:

I have always stated: line up 10 different cooks, Italian or otherwise and asks them how to make pizza sauce / gravy and you will get 10 different answers.

That said, we turn again to The Pizza Therapy Forum for some answers.

VICIII asks:

I cannot make a good sauce: what's the secret?

I can buy better sauce than I can make.
That is the only thing that is sold where I can not make it better at home.
Whos got a good basic sauce. A sauce that would be used at a pizzeria..

Paul explains:

The secret: Fennel and anise. High-quality canned tomatoes.

This recipe for marinara sauce almost nails Toronto-style pizza sauce:


with the following changes -

- drop the garlic

- double the basil

- add 1/2 tsp fennel seed (crushed between your palms)

- add 1/2 tsp anise seed (crushed between your palms).

I have also discovered that "local" canned tomatoes are miserable. When I switched to using only tomatoes imported from Italy ("Mastro" brand, Italian plum tomatoes, $2.00 per can instead of $1.00 per can), it made a huge difference.

The sauce should not turn out to be entirely consistent - bite-size lumps of tomatoes should remain.

Stalden adds:

Hey VicIII
I was in the same boat as your were, made pizza for awhile but could not come up with a good sauce recipe that I like. Came close, and some of them not too bad, but never had one that jump out at me.....until recently.
I discovered San Marzano plum tomatoes. Go to youtube video and follow his recipe:

Home made Pizza Sauce

I have made this only one time but I love it, the only thing I would do different, not too add the red pepper flakes if you do not like it hot, and watch the water, the can of Marzano I had, had a lot of juice, so play that by ear, you can always cook it down to your desire thickness.

Experiment any way you want to, but using the San Marzanos would be an excellent base to any pizza sauce. the only drawback Marzano plum tomatoes are expensive, I pay around 3.29 a can, and depends where you live may be hard to find. I live in a small town and have to travel over 20 miles to get them, but it is worth it.

Another alternative is trying the San Marzanos that are grown in the States, or even try to grow your own which I am going to try next year. Hope this helps you and post a message when you try the recipe.

Papa Don states:

The question is, what do you want in a sauce?

In a red, I like alot of fresh oregano, garlic, some red wine, and a hint of fresh basil.

I use tomato puree and tomato paste, with some dry red wine and the aforementioned spices.

Keep in mind that such toppings as Italian sausage will influence the final result because of the spices included in those.

For a white pizza, I use sauteed red onion, lots of garlic, and artichoke hearts.

I top the pizza with fresh spinach, and baby portabellas sauteed in red wine and pepper. No butter or oils.

Here is a recipe for a wonderful tomato sauce for pizza, pasta, or whatever: (note - I use fresh herbs whenever possible)

20 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper (might be a bit much for some people, gives a nice "bite")
1 cup finely diced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
1 cup white wine (I use red wine.... go figure)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans place tomato halves cut side up. Sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper, onion, garlic, and herbs. Bake tomatoes for 2 hours.

Check the tomatoes after 1 hour and turn down the heat if they seem to be cooking too quickly.

Then turn the oven to 400 degrees and bake another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and process tomatoes through a food mill on medium die setting over a small saucepan. Discard skins.

Add wine, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes (the wine brings out flavors due to a compound in the tomatoes that is soluble in alcohol, and red wine will temper the acidity in the tomatoes, giving a rich, full flavor).


Thanks Papa Don.

You can read the rest of the discussion at The Pizza Therapy Forum.

Your comments are most welcome.

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