Day 10: Sauce
First off, before I began reading this section, the expression that always came to mind whenever I thought about sauce for anything was this gem from Anthony Bourdain:
An ounce of sauce covers a multitude of sins.
It is possible that some version of that originated with some other chef or some other restaurant critic or food writer, but it’s Bourdain’s version I think of most. While what he said is not untrue, the sentiment is far too limiting of what sauce really is capable of. Ruhlman writes:
Sauce is a fundamental part of a dish, not an accessory. And that’s how you should think of it. Sauce completes a dish, adding succulence, seasoning, and color to something that, one hopes, is already delicious. That’s how you turn something good into something fantastic. (p. 192)
Continuing the conversation into different types of sauces, including a few recipes that are sprinkled throughout the essay, this is particularly useful for reference later. In fact, I am liable to take a highlighter to these pages so I can easily find the gems of sauce recipes that didn’t merit their own single page.
This section is another example of taking something that I thought I knew at least a little bit about (it is not a foreign concept to me to make a sauce from pan drippings, for example), and it still managed to open my eyes to new techniques and ways of looking at sauce. Even though I knew that sauce can add all kinds of depth and such to any given dish, I still would mentally put it into the “accessory” category. Ruhlman made me see that I should not be so dismissive of sauce.
Recipe: Tomato Sauce
This is something that I have attempted many, many times before on my own. I have a habit of flying completely blind when it comes to certain types of dishes. Making tomato sauce was one of them. I would occasionally reference recipes online and in my many cookbooks, but I never truly followed any of them…not even in my usual “tweaking” kind of way. I just thought that I could wing it and learn on my own.
I have managed to make my own version of tomato sauce a few times, but it is nothing truly extraordinary. I decided to attempt the recipe for tomato sauce in this book because I felt it would be a good idea to throw out some of my bad habits and start with a clean slate where this particular dish is concerned. Plus, it forced me to work with onion again.
Okay, I admit it. I pulverized the onion - but only because it was suggested that the tomatoes can be puréed with a wand blender in the pot. I figured as long as I’m puréeing the tomatoes…
This is the first time I made sauce without using wine or tomato paste. It made for a lighter sauce, which was a nice change of pace. On the other hand, I think I messed it up by simmering it with the cover on the pot, as it came out a bit on the thin side. No matter, it was delicious.