I think my bitterness comes from having made sauce from the garden tomatoes every year and every year being just *this* much disappointed with how it comes out. Not that it has ever been really bad or anything, but just not all I dream of and more. Always a little too runny or too chunky or not chunky enough or a little bland or what's this green thing or whatever. Never *just right*.
What is *just right*? Who knows. I don't know where these standards came from.
But, to give these people a little credit for their new idea and since it really is the best way to get rid of all the tomatoes before they turn into a big gooey yard mess that I'll have to clean up while crying, I decided this season to give it another go.
You know, because the first Try Again was so much fun (read: horrific disaster) that one could only go back to the beginning in order to go in the opposite direction altogether.
Try Again #1 probably would have been fine had I just used the immersion blender in the final steps instead of prying the antique Food Mill attachment from the depths of the cabinet and bolting it on to the front of my mixer.
I'll admit, it was the novelty of using something that my mom had gotten 35 years ago and had quickly stowed away at the back of her own cabinet to never use (sharp, that mom) that allowed me to ignore my inner smart person who was reminding me loudly that this was going to be inefficient, messy, a total pain in the ass and not worth it. Even with all those poignant facts on a constant loud loop in my head, I was still able to blissfully ignore everything and move forward in a haze of delirium which looked a lot like my mom and I cooking together while drinking MGD and talking baseball and not at all like me standing alone in my kitchen yelling swears while red sauce splished and splashed all over the cabinets, counters, sink, floor, me, the dog (she was fine with it).
Which is what totally happened. Right before the stupid Food Mill jammed right up.
Excuse me, but isn't a Mill supposed to Mill things? Shouldn't it just grind up anything it its path and shoot it out the other side?
Apparently I have been misinformed and will have to go consult a better source on precisely what purpose a Mill should serve. (Dictionary says: "machinery that processes materials by grinding or crushing". Um, not always.)
This thing was more like a Food Smoosher. Or a Cabinet Splasher. Or a Big Fucking Mess For No Good Reason Maker.
I'm over it now.
The sauce turned out vaguely delicious. I mean, I'll eat it and it's good and I'll make it again, but next time I'll use the neat and tidy immersion blender (also a nice mom hand-me-down) and avoid the crime scene explosion.
Try Again #2 was much MUCH more successful. To the point where I'm ready to call it quits on ever trying another tomato sauce recipe ever again. Really. It came out that good.
And, guess what else, it was pretty easy and did not require any simmering. I know! That is rad. Our neighbors (our favorite neighbors, in fact, and not because of this recipe although it would be a perfectly good reason) slid this gem into conversation while we were ruminating over just exactly what to do with all the damn produce in our backyards and their farm share. They've been dropping of pints of strawberries, sixers of pretty, pretty brown eggs and heads of lettuce three and four at a time - all the while thanking US for taking it off their hands.
Dude, I told you - rad.
So, you know my ass was all ears (yes) when they said, "Oh, we found this great recipe for tomato sauce and it is SO EASY. And it is also THE BEST tomato sauce you'll ever eat."
I won't lie, I was *this much* skeptical about how good this sauce could actually be. And, important too, how "easy" the recipe really was.
As far as the flavor goes - this is the only tomato sauce (with room for variations that include some spice or cream, etc) I ever want to eat again.
As far as the easiness goes, it's not work-free, but it's also not simmering on my stove for half a day and getting jammed through a faulty food mill, which I will say, is the opposite of easy and pleasant.
At this point, you either want me to stow it OR you want the recipe, so here goes (with my own personal tweaks that make it The Best):
4-5 large ripe fresh garden tomatoes, sliced into 1" rounds
4 good size fresh basil leaves
1 head of garlic, top chopped off
1/3 cup mellow red wine (we used a yum Cabernet)
fresh ground pepper
yum extra virgin olive oil (if you don't want to spoon it into your mouth, find another bottle)
Preheat oven to 450.
Cover rimmed baking sheet with foil and then drizzle foil with some olive oil, enough to slippery the surface. Place prepped garlic head on a piece of foil and drizzle some oil on there, too - and a bit of salt. Wrap the foil around it into a nice package. Put it in the middle of the baking sheet.
Place your tomato rounds in a single layer on the baking sheet around the garlic. Drizzle all the tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Slam it all into the oven for 30 minutes.
Pull out the food processor and add all the tomatoes (they'll be a bit charred and maybe a little grabby when trying to peel them from the foil - try hard). Unwrap the garlic and squeeze in the cloves (they'll be like paste - it's cool). Add the wine, basil and salt/pepper as you like it.
Puree the whole mess until it's one even consistency and no giant basil bits are jamming around in there.
Toss it with some bulky pasta (we used farfalle, but penne or a great ravioli would be lurvely), meatballs, gnocchi - seriously, whatever. Or just eat it out of the Cuisinart with your damn spoon because it's so good you won't care that you just ate sauce for dinner while standing in the kitchen.
Anyway, the reason I know this is The Best is because (aside from my own personal Knowing, which is undeniable) I set it in front of Bubba and when he took one bite he looked at me and said, "That's it. Don't change anything. THIS is it. THIS is what I've been searching for. THIS is what I'm imagining every time I order marinara at a restaurant and THIS is what I never get. I LOVE IT."
There was no hemming or hawing or muted requests to add meat or change it in any way. It was perfect.
This was a big and dramatic moment that required a lot of wine to appreciate fully.
And now I know what I'll do with all these tomatoes.