Sauce tomate is one of the five mother sauces of classical French cooking, as codified by Auguste Escoffier. It consists of salt belly of pork, onions, bay leaves, thyme, tomato purée or fresh tomatoes, roux, garlic, salt, sugar, and pepper. This sauce resembles the traditional tomato sauce that we might use on pasta and pizza, but it’s got much more flavor and requires a few more steps to make. Obviously in a kosher kitchen, you’re not going to find a salt belly of pork lying around anywhere. To duplicate this flavour profile, I would suggest using something that adds fat, saltiness and if you can, a touch of smoke. So, for the fat, I would suggest some nice olive oil, good quality, but nothing too expensive. For the salt and smoke aspects, you can add extra salt or even some of the smoked salts out there. That would be a nice double whammy. If you want to have it be meat based, you can always add a little smoked deli meat instead. That will get you most of what you need, though you may need a little more fat (oil). If you cook the sauce low and slow, the meat will break up and virtually disappear in the sauce. If you don’t want to go the meat way, you can go the fish one instead! Try adding a filet or two of anchovies right at the beginning when you are sautéeing your onions. The anchovies will disintegrate in the sauce, and it will have that je ne sais quoi or umami taste that people can’t place, but know that they like!
So, if tomato sauce is the mamma, then these two variations are her babies:
- Creole = onion + celery + garlic + tomato sauce + bay leaf + thyme + green pepper + hot sauce
- Spanish = creole sauce + mushrooms + olives
There are dozens of other variations out there, in fact, way too many to list (unless this site was devoted to only tomato sauces!) Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of sauce week with my all time favourite sauce: Hollandaise!