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Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce At Last




So, as a food blogger, you can't escape food trends. You wake up one morning and suddenly every man and his dog is making one pot pasta and then a few months later it's nothing but cake pops as far as the eye can see. Sometimes you get lucky and you are one of the mavericks who makes boozy popsicles before the trends catches on and you can feel like a rock star for two minutes but you usually just sit there wondering where in the hell these trends are manufactured. On the whole, I tend to shy away from many of them unless they truly intrigue me (which is also why I tend to stay away from holiday themed posts because, lets be honest, with 3330000000098898.43 food blogs out there making halloween themed recipes, do you really need any more from me?)


With the recent passing of Marcella Hazan, the grandmother of Italian cuisine who taught generations of North Americans how to cook Italian food, we are seeing a retrending of her famous tomato sauce. This sauce could not be more simple - simmer a 280z can of good quality of plum tomatoes, 5 tbls of butter, a whole, peeled onion halved with a bit of salt for 45 minutes. That's it. That is the recipe that set the blogger world on fire.


I made this buttery tomato sauce last night after years of reading virtual soliloquies devoted to the wondrousness of this stuff. If you google Marcella Hazan tomato sauce, you will be rewarded with page after page of newspaper articles, blogger entries and entire treaties written about this sauce which is probably why I wasn't in a rush to make it. My inner anarchist teenager wanted to stay away from something that was so popular, much like my dismissal of any band that anyone else had heard of when I was 16. I am no longer 16 and so I finally decided it was time.

This sauce was very good. I don't want you to misunderstand because I really did like it but I am not 100% sure that I actually prefer it over the old saute onion and garlic in lots of olive oil then add the tomato kind. It was really, really rich and almost kind of bordering on too heavy and I am not sure if I would make it again. Shack said he really enjoyed it but The Kid immediately asked me why it tasted different and said it was okay but he preferred the sauce I usually make and actually left half of his pasta unfinished. I found that I could only eat a small bowl before feeling like it was enough which is kind of good because it means I am eating less pasta but kind of bad because that sauce had 5 tbls of butter in it in the first place so I am sure it all comes out equal in the wash. I don't use 5 tbls of olive oil in the same size batch of sauce but even if I did, the much olive oil is healthier than that much butter so there is the health aspect as well. Oh my god, I just brought health into it which means I really am getting old. In the end, I think I was expecting too much - I was expecting the culinary version of Walter White's blue meth and instead it was just a really tasty tomato sauce. Am I going to lose my food blogger badge? 

Now, that said, you should all make it and try it because, as I said, it is really good and totally worth the effort and I am sure that most of you will love it so much that it will become your new, go to tomato sauce. I would happily eat it again but I am just not sure that the next time I crave a simple marinara, that I would choose to go this route over sautéed garlic and onion in olive oil. I think what I might do is try it again and replace the butter with olive oil and throw in a clove of garlic and see how that turns out.




Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce


28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, ran through a food mill (Shack hates chunks)
5 tbls butter
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
pinch kosher salt 
1 bunch of fresh basil (I added this and it is not in the original recipe but I think it was great)

Put the tomatoes, butter, basil and onion with a pinch of salt in a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the onion before serving. I wish that I had kept the onion and mashed it up and spread it on toasted bread instead of throwing it out so don't throw it out if you think that sounds like a plan


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