Meet the Mother of French Tomato Sauces

In the culinary world, the term “Mother Sauce” refers to any of the five basic sauces, the culinary starting point for making a wealth of magnificent secondary sauces, her daughters. The reason the five main sauces are called Mother is because each is the head of her own unique family of sauces.

In our presentation of Mother Sauces, we have reached the Classic Tomato Sauce. Although the Tomato Sauce resembles a traditional tomato sauce one might find on pasta or a Marinara sauce for your favorite pizza, this sauce has a more complex flavor that requires time to achieve. Salt pork must be rendered, then aromatic vegetables sautéed. Tomatoes, a bone stock and a ham bone are all simmered together for several hours. And not on your stove top but rather in the oven to allow even cooking without the danger of scorching.

Originally, the Sauce Tomate was thickened like her sisters with a light roux. Some traditional chefs still prepare the sauce in this manner. Many modern cooks today do not since the tomatoes themselves are enough to thicken the sauce. Since I am all about easy, I skip the roux unless I’ve messed something up, causing the sauce to scream “thicken me!” Nearly every time, when allowed to simmer and stew in its own juices, the sauce naturally thickens. If a roux is desired or required, simple melt 1 tablespoon of butter into a small sauté pan. Add 1 tablespoon flour and cook over medium-low heat until the flour has cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Classic Sauce Tomate
For the Sachet
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme
4 fresh parsley STEMS
10 black peppercorns, crushed

Heat oven to 300 degrees. While the oven is heating, tie the sachet ingredients in a cheesecloth sack using a piece of kitchen twine. Set aside until ready to use.

For the Sauce Tomate
2 oz Salt Pork, diced
2 Cups Yellow Onions, diced
1 Cup Carrots, diced
1 Cup Celery, diced
1 Garlic Clove, minced
2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
1 quart (4 cups) Chicken Stock (see note)
1 Ham Bone
Dash of Kosher Salt to taste
Pinch of Sugar to taste

Note: Look for a Chicken broth made from bones. If possible, Veal Stock is the preferred stock for this truly French Tomato Sauce.

In a heavy, oven-safe Dutch oven, render the salt pork over low heat until all the fat of the pork has liquefied.

While the salt pork is rendered, dice the onions, carrots and celery. Set aside while the garlic is minced. Once the pork is ready, add the vegetables and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent but not browned.

Add the tomatoes, the ham bone, the stock of choice and the sachet. Bring everything to a low boil. Transfer the pot to the oven with the lid slightly a jarred. Let simmer for two hours.

Remove the pot from the oven. Fish out the sachet and ham bone. Puree the sauce using a blender or food processor until smooth, working in batches if necessary

Note: If your pot is one that will allow it, use an immersion blender. Be careful as the sauce is hot and could burn you.

Season the sauce with a little salt and a small amount of sugar to cut the acidity edge of the tomatoes.

The sauce is now ready to serve or to give birth to other sauces. If desired, the sauce can be held for a day or two in the refrigerator, then reheated.

Classic Creole Sauce
1 quart (4 cups) Classic Sauce Tomate
¾ cup Onions, chopped
¾ cu celery, chopped
½ cup red bell peppers, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 lemon, zested
Kosher Salt to Taste
Coarse Black Pepper to taste
Cayenne Pepper to taste

Start by making the classic Tomato Sauce. This can be done a day or two ahead of time to make life easier.

Dice onion, celery, and peppers. Set aside. Peel and mince garlic, set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the diced vegetables and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Ladle in the tomato sauce, then add the bay leaf and oregano. Zest lemon directly into the pot. Bring everything to a simmer and let cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the flavors merge nicely.

Just before using, remove bay leaf, then season with salt, pepper and cayenne.

Serving suggestions: Over rice with sautéed shrimp.

The first time I read a recipe for Portuguese Sauce, I totally freaked out. It called for a tomato that I had never heard of, tomato concasse. What in the world? Was it a type of tomato? Was it a brand of tomato sauce? What on earth?! Turns out, there is no need for panic. Tomato concasse is just a fancy word for tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded and roughly chopped. The best way to peel a tomato is to score the bottom, then blanch in boiling water for a few seconds before plunging into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Peel the skin from flesh, split in half or quarters, scoop out the seeds and chop what’s left into chunks. That’s all there is to it.

Portuguese Sauce
1 quart (4 cups) Sauce Tomato
2 cups tomato concasse
¾ cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
¼ cup parsley, chopped
Kosher salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste

Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes. Set aside.

Chop onion, mince garlic and chop parsley. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, sauté the onions until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.

To the sauce pan add tomato concasse and continue to sauté until the tomatoes are soft, about 10 minutes over low heat.

Add the Tomato Sauce, bring to a low simmer and reduce sauce for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

This rich sauce can be used in just about any dish that may require a tomato sauce. I like to serve mine over a bed of Penne Pasta and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan Cheese.

Provencale Sauce
1 quart (4 cups) Sauce Tomato
2 cups Tomato Concasse
¾ cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons crushed black olives
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

Make the Tomate Sauce a day or two in advance.

Prepare the tomato concasse, then set aside.

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, sauté the onions for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic and Herb de Provence. Continue to sauté until the tomatoes are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomate sauce, followed by the capers and olives. Bring everything to a simmer and allow the sauce to reduce for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

This sauce is very fragrant and is best served with poultry or fish.

Spanish Sauce
2 cups Classic Sauce Tomate
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
½ cup Onion, chopped
¼ cu Green Peppers, diced
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 dash Kosher Salt or to taste
1 dash black pepper or to taste
2 drops Tabasco Sauce or to taste
10 Green Olives

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the onions, green peppers and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft. Add the tomate sauce, bring to a slow simmer.

Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco Sauce. Add green olives. Serve immediately.

This sauce is nice over grilled chicken or served over pan seared seafood such as shrimp or scallops.

And now only one remains – the Velouté Sauce.


Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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