Baked Tomato Sauce
This is a rather modified version of the one presented on Alton Brown's Good Eats program on the Food Network. Baking the tomatoes first gives the sauce a very rich flavor and allows some of the sugars to caramelize nicely.
Unlike the Alton Brown version, I use a variety of tomatoes from my garden, and I don't remove the seeds. Saying that cooking the seeds will cause the sauce to be bitter is an old myth that they obviously never bothered to test out. The fact is that the juicey goo that surrounds the seeds is one of the most flavorful parts of the tomato.
As for the varieties of tomatoes, I grow several types of heirloom paste tomatoes as well as regular heirlooms and cherry tomatoes. Whatever I pick goes into the batch whether red, yellow, pink or black; paste, beefsteak or cherry they all go in.
If I'm using cherry tomatoes, they go in the gaps between beefsteaks or if I have a lot of them, they get a pan of their own that goes in the oven an hour after the larger tomatoes have started baking.
I also went with dry herbs because it is a waste to use fresh unless you are overloaded with them. In fact, I think that the dry herbs make for a better flavor given the extended cooking time.
And lastly, I cut the wine from the recipe. Adding the wine did not release any special tomato flavors, it just gave the sauce an overpowering flavor of alcohol. If you like your tomato sauce to taste like booze, go for it. Personally, I lke the tomato flavor.
- Food mill or sauce maker
- A couple of roasting pans
- Pressure canner (optional)
- Tomatoes, halved. Enough to fill a roasting pan one layer deep
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion finely diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (from a jar is fine for this)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice per pint jar
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
- Place the tomato halves into your pan, cut side up.
- Sprinkle the salt over the tomatoes. This helps start drawing out the liquid.
- After a few minutes, sprinkle the pepper over the tomatoes, or just grind it directly onto them till it looks like enough.
- Mix the Italian herbs into the oil (helps keep them from burning) and drizzle it over the tomatoes.
- Top with the chopped onions and garlic and then toss it in the oven.
- Cook at 325 for one hour. Check how they are doing, and reduce heat to 300 if it seems like things are starting to overcook already. This is also the time to put in any pans of cherry tomatoes that you may have. Cook for an additional hour
- Finish them off by turning it up to 400 for another 30 minutes.
- Process through your sauce maker. I have a cheap one, so I usually put my discards through a second time to get some extra sauce out of it.
- Cook it in a sauce pan until it reaches your desired thickness.
For canning, I put the sauce in pint jars and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar. I then pressure can them at 11 PSI for 10 minutes.
Swiped from the Food Network show Good Eats with Alton Brown.
Disclaimer: This recipe has not had any official testing when canning. Tomatoes are borderline high acid foods, and I add the lemon juice to raise their acid level. I also pressure can as an additional precaution. I haven't gotten sick from it yet, but you play at your own risk.
You should never use any sauce from a can where the lid has popped back up, and you should boil it for a few minutes before using. This cooking time is also a good time to add fresh herbs and garlic to liven it up a bit.