Even though I’m fasting, our garden homegrown deliciousness still needs attention! Yesterday we harvested 20 pounds of tomatoes and today I’m making another batch of my Roasted Tomato Meat Sauce — and I’m going to walk you though it step by step!
I’ll be providing you with the rough estimates of the ingredients that I used (in both the step by step and the recipe card at the end) today in my kitchen. However, tomato sauces aren’t something that I think you should EVER need to follow a recipe exactly, they are foods from the heart not from a recipe. Use your senses – taste, smell and vision to come up with what tastes the very best for you and your family!! The only rule I always follow when making tomato sauce is to always cook it slower/lower temperature on the stove then you think you should, it burns & sticks to even the heaviest bottom pot and can easily ruin an entire batch.
And I apologize in advance because this post is has become seriously long. Too long for my personal liking but so many of you are asking to see/know more of the behind the scenes for these types of recipes and not just a recipe card to print out.
Step #1: Wash, Core & Quarter Tomatoes and place on a baking sheet with sides
I started out with roughly 20 pounds of fresh picked tomatoes, mostly cherokee purple (that’s the green looking tomatoes in the pics) and beefsteak varieties, which are very juicy and seedy. Since we’re nearing the end of the tomato growing season, there was lots of icky parts that I had to cut off in addition to removing the core. I ended up with 2 very full 2/3 sheet pans full of cored/quartered tomatoes (2/3 sheet pans are the largest pans that you can fit into a standard 30 inch oven)
Step #2: Roast tomatoes at 425-450 degrees F for 1+ hours
Ok, perhaps I should have mentioned earlier in this post that making sauce for me tends to be an all-day affair, just like it was for my grandmother & mom… not that I make my sauce exactly way they do (they always added bones for flavor, but I don’t remember them roasting tomatoes) but it always was an long process. But the flavor of their sauces was always amazing.
I have my tomatoes in the oven right now, as I type and it’s been an hour. I tried to warn you that I’m writing this post in real time as I’m making the sauce, so that I don’t miss out any little tips for ya 🙂 I want you to feel like you’re right here in my kitchen with me, just like how I learned to cook in the kitchen of those who came before me.
And yes I could use them now, however they just aren’t roasted enough for me. What I want is lots of brown/black bits on the tomatoes and for some of the clear tomato liquid to have evaporated. The secret to this Roasted Tomato Sauce is the ROASTED flavor! So I set the timer for an additional 30 minutes, kicked up the heat to 450 and rotated my pans, bringing the total roasting time to 90 minutes…. and then I ended up letting them go a complete 2 hours.
When my tomatoes are done, I very carefully transfer them to a large polycarbonate food storage container to cool and so that I can see roughly the yield. I have a complete set of these commercial containers and think that they are essential for every home cook!
20 pounds of fresh picked tomatoes yielded 5 quarts of roasted tomatoes (before saucing).
Step #3: Roast bones at 425 degrees F for 1+ hours
I used all beef bones today, because it’s what I found in the freezer, roughly 4-5 pounds. (note-to-self: buy more bones!!) You can add raw/frozen bones directly into the sauce or you can roast them first. I always prefer using roasted bones for bone broth and sauces, the flavor is stronger and deeper. I actually think bone broth made with raw beef/pork/venison bones tastes really yucky. And as an added bonus when you roast your bones first, you get to pick at the delicious roasted meaty bits before adding the bones to the sauce/broth, well except if you are fasting then you can at least smell them….
OH and try to use large bones, ones that are large enough that you’ll be able to pick them out of the simmered sauce easily without leaving little bits of bones in your sauce! I prefer beef knuckle bones.
Place your bones in a pan or casserole dish with sides (I just use one of the pans I roasted the tomatoes on), season liberally with sea salt and pepper, roast at 425 for 1-2 hours or until the meat easily pulls off the bones and the fat is rendered and delicious – tasting or looking – depending on wether your are fasting or not (can you tell it’s a bummer to fast while making sauce?!?!)
Oh – and if I didn’t have any meat bones in the freezer I’d use a few chicken bones (not very meaty) as a last resort. We just want to use the bones to add nutrition and flavor to the sauce.
Step #4: Saute lots of onions & garlic
I know what you are thinking, these bones are taking FOR-EVER to roast, right??? And Oops, I forgot to take a picture for this step for you, sorry!!
Since my bones still have a while to go, I’ll get my onions and garlic ready. Today I used my food processor to chop the onions and garlic, since I was doing a bunch and had lots of little onions from our garden to use up. And I admit that I hate chopping onions, it’s a task that I tend to pawn off on Ray whenever possible, days like today when I need him to chop onions it’s a bummer that he’s a work 🙁 ok, not really, I do love my alone time!
I used about 1 whole head of garlic (10 cloves) and ended up with about 2-3 cups of finely chopped onions. Heat your heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add in some fat (ghee or other healthy cooking fat you prefer) and saute your onions/garlic until soft, roughly 3-5 minutes. Please don’t let them burn or brown.
Step #5: Add meat (ground pork/sausage, venison or beef) & season to taste.
Today I used a total of 4.5ish pounds of meat — 2 pounds of plain ground pork (from the last 1/2 heritage hog we bought), 1 pound of ground beef & organ mixture that I get from a local farm and 2 links of hot italian sausage I found in the freezer.
People, this is how I really cook, there isn’t a plan or a recipe, it’s what I have on hand and what I feel like using… I don’t make special purchases for ingredients, especially meats, for things like this sauce. I always have something on hand to use up.
You can use any mixture of meats or all of one kind, I especially like to add in a little ground organ meats to be sneaky-healthy. Ground venison is also great to use in this sauce, especially if you have a surplus from hunting season, however I do like to use it along with another fattier ground meat like pork/beef for balance.
I also added lots of sea salt, 2-3 tablespoons, 2 teaspoons italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon black pepper and a couple pinches of crushed red pepper.
Step #6: Make roasted tomatoes into “Sauce”
While my bones are finishing up roasting and the meat/veggies are sauteing, I make my roasted tomatoes into sauce by using my food grinder/strainer attachment for my kitchen aid mixer. It removes the skins and seeds, leaving only the pulp and juice behind. They also have a hand crank version you can buy (we have one that we use for making lots of tomato juice) You can alternatively puree them in your blender then strain them using a fine mesh strainer, but in my opinion since the seeds get chopped up it yields more of a bitter end result.
Step #7: Add sauced tomatoes and roasted bones to the sauce
Ok, so I tried to fit everything into my pretty green Le Creuset dutch oven, but it wasn’t big enough so I had to get out my GIANT stock pot. And I’m too lazy to get my ladder out to take a picture of inside of the pot on the stove… and my kitchen is a mess…. and I’m kind of over taking pictures in my dirty kitchen… just trust me it’s all in there!
My mom always liked to make her sauce sweet, she would add a couple shredded carrots into her sauce to sweeten it up and they basically cook away to nothing. I don’t add the carrots, though since Ray prefers a more acidic/sour sauce and this sauce is already sweet on it’s own with the roasted tomatoes.
Step #8: let it cook….. low & slow
On the stove, in your slow cooker or in the oven for a few hours. OR you could quickly in your pressure cooker for 40 minutes. But since I made such a massive amount of sauce, I’m keeping mine on the stove, over very low heat for the next several hours (it’s 2 pm right now and I’ll let it go until about 7 or 8 pm) When your sauce is done, carefully pick the bones out of the sauce. If there are any soft pieces of meat falling off the bones you can pull them off and put them in the sauce. My grandmother would add chunks of roast in her sauce then shred them up into the sauce at the end (which I do occasionally too).
Taste your sauce and adjust your seasoning. Most importantly make sure it’s adequately salted.
Step #9: Enjoy immediately or store for later
Your sauce is technically done whenever you think it tastes great after the bones have simmered for at least an hour. Typically, when we aren’t fasting, dinner the night I make sauce will use the sauce.. most often just on top of spaghetti squash or if I’m feeling fancy I’ll use some of the grain-free tortellini from the freezer (pasta dough recipe in my cookbook Without Grain).
Normally when I make a large pot of all-day sauce I don’t “put it up” until the next day – and by put it up I mean freeze or can.
To save your sauce for later, you can pack it up in freezer bags or containers and freeze it for upto 6 months. Or if you’d prefer it can be pressure canned, at 10 pounds pressure for 60 minutes for quart jars/40 minutes for pint jars. (you should always use a gauged pressure canner for canning and not an electric multi-cooker with a pressure cooking function) Once your sauce is canned it will easily last a few years.
As a final note, with both of us Fasting this week – having a pot of delicious Roasted Tomato Sauce on the stove simmering away is seriously tempting, especially for Ray when he got home from work. He did take a few tiny tastes (which in our opinion does not break your fast unless it’s a couple spoons full) and proclaimed that this is the BEST sauce I’ve ever made and hopes that I wrote down exactly what I did – luckily I did – in this post 🙂 Now he’s saying fasting & blood glucose regulation be-damned – I’m tempted to go to the store and get real angel hair pasta!