Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Slow-Cooker Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce


Is it just me, or has storebought tomato sauce gotten CRAZY expensive?? If I try to get a decent brand that is made with olive oil instead of soybean oil, doesn't have added corn syrup or sugar, and isn't loaded with salt, it's something like eight bucks for a jar. So, I decided to make my own.

Tomato sauce is long-simmered to break down the ingredients, so it seemed like a perfect candidate for a crock pot recipe. I wasn't quite sure how to go about it, but the America's Test Kitchen Slow-Cooker Revolution cookbook provided some guidance. According to the authors:
The biggest hurdle was choosing the right tomato products, as many of our tests produced sauces that were either too watery or too thick and overpowering. Our solution was a combination of four different tomato products (paste, crushed, diced, and sauce).
Armed with their base recipe, I made few changes to streamline the process and improve flavor. They use a lot of dried oregano which I don't particularly care for; I used a dried Italian herb mix instead. Anything labeled "Italian seasoning" that is just dried herbs without salt or sugar should work. If not I would substitute dried basil. I nixed the addition of fresh herbs because I prefer to use them freshly-chopped and scattered over the finished dish rather than cooked and mixed into the sauce. I also used frozen chopped onion for ease of preparation. The texture isn't as nice as fresh but that is not noticable for a long-simmered sauce. For the fire-roasted variation they added liquid smoke. I don't care for the flavor, so I used smoked salt instead. Of course you can just use regular salt, with or without the liquid smoke. Finally, I cut way back on the cooking time. They suggest 9-11 hours on low but after trying it I felt that I got a brighter flavor when I only simmered for 6.

This makes a lot of sauce, so you can freeze or can whatever you have left over and save it for another recipe.

SLOW-COOKER FIRE-ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE
Makes 9 cups

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bag of frozen diced onions or 2 fresh onions, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried Italian herb mix or 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 28-oz can fire-roasted (or regular) diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 28-oz can fire-roasted (or regular) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-oz can tomato puree
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp smoked salt (or use 1/4 tsp liquid smoke + 1/2 tsp regular salt, or just the salt)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high. Saute the onion until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and dried herbs and cook for a minute or two or until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan. Simmer about 5 minutes or until thickened, then transfer the mixture to your slow cooker.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer on low 5-7 hours.

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