My marinara sauce is legendary. I don’t say that to brag, it’s just true. And it’s a simple recipe, although it will require plenty of time and energy to do it right. I’ll mention a few shortcuts in the notes, but first, here’s the recipe:
10 roma tomatoes
30 beef steak or hot house tomatoes
1/2 cup packed basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
2 heads garlic, minced
Peel and seed the tomatoes, conserving as much juice as possible. I peel and seed them in a sieve placed over a large bowl. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, non-reactive stock pot (NOT aluminum or copper – stainless steel is best) over medium high heat. Add the garlic, and stir until it begins to brown and releases it’s aroma (you’ll be able to smell the most wonderful aroma of roasted garlic coming from the pot. It’s unmistakable.) Add the tomatoes and reduce to low heat. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes fall apart and the sauce thickens to the desired consistency (anywhere from 4-12 hours or more). Add the herbs, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
If you want a much shorter version of this, use crushed tomatoes from a can rather than fresh tomatoes. If you use this method, you may want to add a few tablespoons of sugar to taste as well. In the long method, the sugars from the tomatoes have time to reduce and caramelize, but using canned tomatoes for a quick version doesn’t allow time for this, so a little sugar helps round out the flavors.
If at all possible, use fresh herbs. There’s a noticeable difference when using fresh herbs vs. dried herbs, and I promise it’s worth the extra trouble.
This is just a simple marinara sauce, and can be used as a base for a great many things. Add mushrooms and beef, or fresh garden vegetables, a little red wine (I recommend a ruby port), or anything else you like. Have fun. Experiment. Make it your own. That’s what cooking is all about, anyway!