I humored this thread and made tomato sauce with 6 pounds of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and herbs. It came out well, but I absolutely find it tastier and more satisfying when I make it with lard and or butter instead of olive oil. I think it comes out thicker, richer, and darker in color.
This is so interesting, my husband is from Coccaglio, Italy (NORTH) where they rarely use much garlic in their cooking and his family never uses sugar (his grandfather was a chef). Sugar isn't mentioned in his mom's cookbooks, either. He said sometimes they add sugar to try to correct an over-acidic flavor, which never really works well. I wonder if this is more of a Naples thing? It's amazing how different the cuisine is there by region - don't get me started on dialects! I thought trying to learn Italian so I could speak to his parents and friends was hard, no wonder, half of what I learned was dialect curses!
Originally Posted by Belforte
I make it with tinned tomatoes, but I'm sure fresh would work and be nicer.
2 tin tomatoes (about 400g total)
some basil/bolognaise herbs (originical recipe was fresh thmye)
a few cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
You may need to add some water if using just tomatoes.
Bring to boil, then simmer till reaches desired thickness. Blend till smooth.
I freeze mine in batches
It's really yummy!
I think it comes from those that are Italian of German influence, way, way up North. I say this because I learned from a Croatian girl who lives on Ischia and speaks German so has quite German friends there. My neighbour whose MIL is in the north of german extraction uses sugar as well, but my Neapolitan neighbhour does not and I have asked a few Neapolitans and sugar is not used. I think you are correct it is to correct the acidity, when I make it though the tomatoes are over ripe, not green in any way, so I do not think there is really an issue of acidity, but I was surprised how tasty the sauce was.
You are also right about garlic it is used much more in the south, but interesting around Naples, the recipe usually calls for onions or garlic, not both, that tends to be something of a non italian invention.
And as romantic as the concept of Cucina Povera is, in reality it was not as nutritious as the Northern diet, with dairy and meat whereas as the South it was more pasta, chick pea and lentil based (the better off ate meat and I can still buy organs, bones, lard in the supermarket and butcher and tripe is still sold on the street)
If you look at Marcella Hazan, her recipe for bolognaise, which is delicious, is very northern, as it originally is from Bologna, where there was butter and milk. It is as follows:
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
3/4 pound ground beef chuck
black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1½ cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
1. Put the oil, butter and onion in the pot, and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until is has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.
2. Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, & a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.
3. Add the milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating – about 1/8 teaspoon – of nutmeg and stir.
4. Add the wine, let simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is stirring, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, continue the cooking, adding ½ cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
This is a great recipe for bolognaise sauce and works well if you do zucchini spaghetti, but is more elaborate than the tomato recipe asked for. I warn you though, you will never go back to a quick and easy sauce after you try this, you will be chained to the stove, along with your pot of broth!
It also follows peacecorpscaveman idea of the butter, butter is definitely valid, the reason we do not see it so much is that most immigrants were from the south with the tradition of olive oil.
Italian cuisine is quite fascinating and what I find fascinating is that the Mediterranean Diet got it quite wrong, focusing on pasta. There is a great recipe for chocolate sauce for mardi gras (pancake Tuesday) that includes pigs blood, officially you cannot get it anymore but in the countryside the old people still make it.
Apologies for the long post...
Life. Be in it.