Cooking Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

06 October 2013
Because I'm very peculiar, I regularly peruse the recent deaths on Wikipedia, and last week I learned of the passing of Italian cookery writer Marcella Hazan, widely credited as the godmother of Italian cookery. I'd not heard of her prior to her passing, but apparently she was a stickler for purity and traditional techniques - and the apex of this was her tomato-butter sauce. Bloggers raved about it, stating every cook should know this dish and if you did, you'd be a convert to her ways forever. So I knew I had to try it, and hunted down a recipe. For a start, there are only four ingredients. As someone who likes to add lots and lots of different spices to food - I think my spaghetti bolognaise must run to about 43 ingredients, including lemon juice, liquid smoke, nutmeg, and two kinds of chilli - this idea took some getting used to.

Yep, that's it.

Anyway, here's the recipe. I've converted it to metric cause I'm always thinking of how I can make your life easier.

Classic Tomato Butter Sauce 

2 400g tins of whole tomatoes in juice
75g butter
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, place over a medium heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Remove and discard onion before serving stirred through pasta.

Simple, sì? 

So I left it to do it's thing. The house filled with a lovely tomato smell. I did notice the onion fell apart in cooking, and I had to fish the pieces out. Anyway, after 45 minutes of simmering...ta-dah, it was done.

I don't take good photos of food

To be honest, at first I found it quite...bland, like tomato soup. After a couple of forkfulls it began to grow on me; there was a definite rich silkiness to the sauce. But yeah, I don't know if I've destroyed my tastebuds through years of overeager Tabasco consumption, but I did find it a bit flat and tasteless and probably wouldn't make it again. Maybe I did it wrong? (One blogger did say this sauce left "no room for mistakes to hide"). Worcestershire sauce may not be the most traditional Italian ingredient, but I like some in my tomato based sauces just the same.


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