Basil, (pronounced like Nasal) or Basil pronounced like . . . Fawlty Towers? I’m a Fawlty Towers anglophile Basil pronouncer myself. I had a dear friend once roll her eyes back in her head when instead of emphasizing the “O” in Innovative I emphasized a long flat “A” ala the English way. Drove her mad, it was so cute to watch.
The sauce to my left here is chock full of Basil as you see but not Innovation. Not that it’s bad in any way, early reports mark it as . . . well . . . remarkable! To my kind taste testers out there a big Tommy Tom’s Tomato Sauce thank you!
Not every thing I, or you, cook needs to be innovative. Sometimes, most times in my opinion, the traditional recipe given the right set of ingredients can provide a remarkable dish. In point this very large pot of tomato sauce you see above is simple to make, no fancy this or that just tomatoes and the basic building blocks of a good sauce. I made this batch about a month or so ago and can’t give you an exact recipe but I will lay out the process for you and ask you to innovate for yourself. (I’ll stop now.)
The first thing you need is a big bunch of fresh tomatoes, enough to fill your favorite pot. These little jewel toned heckling aids came from my garden this year. Last year the yield and size were pitifully small. Not so this season. This crop wasn’t just bumper, it was bumper to bumper. Time for a small aside.
I have neglected you my readers and I apologize. I was unexpectedly offered a ticket to Burning Man this year and jumped on it. It took me away from cooking and writing for too long.
My trip: Driving and dust, music and mayhem. It was all those things and more. And yes, not wanting to stand out or seem the prude, I went topless and blended right in. The Utilikilt is mighty comfortable and I have a much better understanding as to why skirts are so popular.
Back to my tomatoes! The bus pan above I picked the week before I left for Black Rock City. This 5 gallon pot is what I picked when I got home. Holy Romas Batman, that’s a lot of tomatoes for a home garden. As I said, bumper to bumper. So what to do with all of these fantastic vine ripened lovelies? Can ’em! So can ’em I did. The first batch went like this.
Dice 2 large onions course and half a head of garlic fine and saute’ in a very large pot. Reserve half an onion uncooked to add later. Wash, core and half the tomatoes and toss into hot pot. Cook tomatoes down and reduce liquid by 1/4th. Some cooks don’t but I prefer to spoon off the scum before the next step.
Here’s where I have some fun. Take off the heat and ladle tomatoes into a blender and . . . well . . . blend. Return the tomatoes to the pot and repeat the process. This does not give you a perfectly smooth sauce but rather one with some lumps and character, like me. The last 2 blender cans full add the reserved raw onions and blend with the sauce. The raw onions add a sweet little bite that cooked onions don’t. Return to the heat and slowly bring to a boil. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Now here’s the secret sword thrust: Add some sugar. Tomatoes are acidic as you know and adding just a small amount of sweet balances out the flavors.
To finish I tossed in a few handfuls of freshly chopped basil and set to put my sauce up. In another pot I placed jars and lids in tap water then brought them to a boil together. With a large set of tongs I reached into each jar and gently tipped the hot water back into the pot. The jars steaming hot and my sauce taste tested and bubbling I sanitized my ladle in the boiling water and canned my latest pride and joy. As I said, early reports have come back favorable. Don’t forget to place the hot lids on top of the hot jars with the hot sauce. Make sure the top of the jar is wiped clean and no tomato bits are outside of the seal. This will cause your tomatoes to spoil and your guests to get sick. I let my jars cool on the counter and check to make sure that the dimple on the jar lid has sucked down indicating a good seal.
So if you don’t have tomatoes in your garden run down to the Farmer’s Market and get them before there gone. In only takes a little bit of time in the kitchen and you can enjoy the sweet, vine ripened taste well into the winter.
Eat Well and Smile Often!!
p.s. Tommy Tom’s Tomato Sauce ( I like it!)