Tag Archives: San Marzano

Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy

6 Nov
Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy

Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy

After we harvested the last of our ripe tomatoes before the first freeze hit, I decided to grab a bunch of the green tomatoes and hope for the best. These languished on the countertop for a couple of weeks as they slowly ripened. Yesterday I decided I better do something with the ones that finally ripened. Older tomatoes like this need to be cooked down, so slow-roasting them all day seemed the perfect way to spend my Sunday while binge-watching Chopped episodes. And it made the house smell divine!

While I used fresh tomatoes for half this recipe (I blanched and peeled them first), by all means use all canned tomatoes, and preferably San Marzano. Mine were fire-roasted but plain works equally as well. I had to add some additional water during the cooking since I didn’t have the canned juice to go with fresh tomatoes.

This recipe is halved, but by all means double it, as this tomato gravy can go with a multitude of dishes beyond pasta. We served it over rice with garlicky sauteed shrimp. I plan on poaching some eggs in the leftover sauce for a future meal. So rich and incredibly tasty!!

Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy
Adapted from Serious Eats/J. Kenji López-Alt

2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
8 baby carrots
1/2 medium onion, halved
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Fresh and Canned Peeled Tomatoes

Fresh and Canned Peeled Tomatoes

Lower rack in oven to bottom position and preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a large bowl, crush the tomatoes thoroughly with your hands. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the crushed tomatoes to a container and refrigerate until later.

Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a Dutch oven until butter is melted. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil, and cook for about two minutes until garlic is fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, carrots and onion until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

Tomato Gravy Ready to Slow Cook

Tomato Gravy Ready to Slow Cook

Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and place in preheated oven. Walk away and enjoy your day, coming back to stir about every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add a little water if needed throughout. The sauce should reduce by about half and darkened to a deep red, about 5 to 6 hours.

Remove from oven, then discard onion quarters and carrots. Add the reserved tomatoes and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately over pasta, rice or any which way you want. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to a week or frozen. Reheat from frozen with 1/2 cup water.

p.s. Austin Street Taco followers: I’ve closed my cart down now for the winter, but had a meeting today about a possible and exciting future venue next year! Stay tuned!

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Homemade Tomato Soup (with Grilled Cheese, of Course!)

11 Feb
Homemade Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Homemade Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

I have been wanting to try my hand at homemade tomato soup for years, especially since we grow and can our own tomatoes. When my friend Suzanne over at Pug in the Kitchen posted this recipe, I knew it was time. Besides, I had a can of San Marzano tomatoes that had been in my pantry over a year, and what about those 20 pints of canned jars of tomatoes I forgot about in the garage? How did I forget about canning those from the fall? I grabbed a few for my pantry lest I forget again.

This soup comes together quite easily after some initial prep. And if you are wondering how long it takes for tomatoes to caramelize in a hot oven, it takes 18 minutes according to the smoke alarm that went off during my 20-minute timer. I suggest using a vent fan during this process. 😉

My husband was amazed at the taste of this soup. According to him, it did not taste like tomato soup from a can. Errrmmm… We’ll leave it at that. Oh, and don’t forget to cook up some ooey-gooey grilled cheese sammies for dunking! We used sourdough bread and a combination of Monterrey jack, sharp yellow cheddar, and pepper jack that was leftover from Super Bowl. This makes about 3 to 4 dinner-size servings.

Homemade Tomato Soup
Adapted from Tomato Soup at A Pug in the Kitchen

1 28-ounce can San Marzano or good quality tomatoes, liquid reserved
1 pint homemade canned tomatoes (about 1 large cup fresh), liquid reserved
Ground pepper and sea salt, to taste
Olive oil, for tomatoes and vegetables
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
Small piece of Parmesan rind
3 large leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Additional basil, chiffoned for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place all the drained tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Season to taste with ground black pepper and sea salt. Roast until caramelized or until your smoke alarm goes off (18 to 20 minutes).

Roasted and Caramelized Tomatoes

Roasted and Caramelized Tomatoes

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion and cook until they start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook about a minute more until fragrant. Add the roasted tomatoes and the reserved tomato juice (About 2 cups, add water if you don’t have that much. My canned tomatoes had a lot of of liquid.) Also add the bay leaf and cheese rind. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until vegetables are very tender. Remove the bay leaf, then add the chopped basil. Taste for seasoning.

Simmering Soup

Simmering Soup

Pour into a large blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender if you have one. I need one!) Return soup to the pot, then add the butter and cream and stir until incorporated. Keep warm while you griddle up some grilled cheese. Ladle into bowls, top with additional basil, and serve immediately with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Homemade Tomato Soup

Homemade Tomato Soup

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Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu Pappardelle

20 Feb
Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu

Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu

We cleaned out our indoor freezer last weekend, and lo and behold we found a package of meaty soup bones from our 2014 cow. Not to be wasteful, I knew I had to cook those babies low and slow, to extract all the flavor from the bones and preserve any shred of tasty beef hiding amongst the gristle and bone. Yep, I can do this!

Meaty Soup Bones

Nice Meaty Soup Bones

I had President’s Day off work, and knew I’d be a happy camper just spending the day putzing around the kitchen and cooking, all thoughts of laundry and house chores away from my mind — already completed over the weekend.

This was also a good chance to use up some dried Porcini mushrooms that had been languishing in my bin of assorted bulk spices and what-nots. I looked at the package, fearing they were long expired. Apparently dried mushrooms last a LONG time, as the expiration date was more than a year in the future! Combined with some also-languishing Cremini mushrooms in the fridge, I knew I had the base for a slow-cooked braised ragu. Combine that with some good-quality tomatoes and hearty Pappardelle pasta, and voila! Ragu is served. With lots of fresh-grated Parmesan cheese, of course.

Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu Pappardelle

.25 ounces dried Porcini mushrooms
2 to 3 ounces Cremini mushrooms
2 meaty beef soup bones
Ground pepper and salt, to taste, for seasoning beef
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion
8 to 10 baby carrots
1 rib celery
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 strips of cooked bacon (can also be uncooked)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Up to 1 cup good-quality red wine, divided
Mushroom stock (from soaking the Porcini)
Up to 2 cups beef stock, divided
28-ounce can San Marzano peeled tomatoes
3 sprigs thyme
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
8 ounces Pappardelle pasta
Good quality Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Additional chopped parsley, for garnish

Soaking the Porcini

Soaking the Porcini

Place dried Porcini mushrooms in a glass bowl (I used a Pyrex measuring cup) and pour about a cup of boiling water over them. Top with a folded paper towel to keep mushrooms submerged. (I learned that cool tip from the package of mushrooms!) Allow them to rehydrate for about 20 minutes. Discard paper towel and remove mushrooms, squeezing out the liquid from them. Strain the mushroom stock through a coffee filter into another cup. Set mushrooms and liquid aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place a Dutch oven or other pot with an oven-proof lid on stove over medium high heat. Season the soup bones liberally with ground pepper and some salt, to taste. Dredge soup bones through the flour, patting flour in to coat.

Browning the Soup Bones

Browning the Soup Bones

Add oil and the bones to the pot, browning on each side for about 4 minutes. Don’t forget the sides! Turn off heat, remove bones and set aside.

Chopped Veggies and Bacon

Chopped Veggies and Bacon

Add the onion, carrots, celery, and bacon to a food processor (you can also mince these by hand). Pulse until finely chopped.

Next, finely chop the Porcini and Cremini mushrooms.

Porcini and Cremini Mushrooms

Porcini and Cremini Mushrooms

Turn heat back on under the pot, and check for amount of oil. Add additional if needed, you’ll want about a tablespoon. Add the vegetable mixture, mushrooms, and cayenne pepper and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. In the last minute or so, add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Cooking the Veggies and Bacon

Cooking the Veggies and Bacon

Next, stir in the tomato paste and 1/2 cup wine, mixing until completely combined. Stir and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Reducing the Wine

Reducing the Wine

Pour in the reserved mushroom stock and about a half cup of the beef stock. Add the can of peeled tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Also pour in the liquid from the can. Stir until combined, then submerge the soup bones into the sauce. Bring up to a simmer, toss in the three sprigs of thyme and cover tightly. Place in preheated oven.

Tomato Sauce and Soup Bones Ready to Braise

Tomato Sauce and Soup Bones Ready to Braise

Cook for three hours, or until meat is tender and falling off the bones. Once tender, remove pot from oven. Remove soup bones to a plate and let cool for about 10 minutes or safe enough to handle.

Shredded Braised Beef

Shredded Braised Beef

The sauce will have thickened by this time. Stir in up to another cup of beef broth and red wine and bring up to a slow simmer on the stove.

Meanwhile, cook the Pappardelle pasta according to package directions. Reserve some of the pasta water before draining.

Once the beef is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers, discarding any gristle/cartilage.

Beef and Mushroom Ragu

Beef and Mushroom Ragu

Return the shredded beef to the sauce and stir in the chopped parsley. Pour in a small amount of pasta water to further loosen up the sauce. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings, if needed.

Plate the cooked and drained pasta on a platter, then pour the ragu sauce over top. Grate a generous amount of Parmesan cheese over top and sprinkle with additional chopped parsley. Serve on plates or in bowls.

Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu

Braised Porcini Mushroom and Beef Ragu

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