Sauce Tomate

Don't call it marinara.

One of the most versatile of the French mother sauces, Sauce Tomate is the base for sunny caper-and-olive-studded Provençale Sauce and peppery Basque Piperade. Its influence can also be traced to other shores in such dishes as Senegalese Ndambé—cowpeas stewed in tomato sauce—or arguably even Southern tomato gravy. When preparing her version, French chef Hélène Darroze says she adds a small piece of veal to the sauce for depth of flavor, but we use veal or beef stock here.

Featured in: “The Mothers of All French Sauces.”

Sauce Tomate
One of the most versatile of the French mother sauces, sauce tomate is the base for sunny caper-and-olive-studded Provençale sauce and peppery Basque piperade.
Yield: makes 7 cups
Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz. salt pork, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 small carrot (1½ oz.) carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 12 medium white or yellow onion (1½ oz.), coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 12 lb. coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes or two 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups veal or beef stock
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • pinches of sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. To a medium, wide pot over medium heat, add the salt pork and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat begins to render 2–3 minutes. Add the carrots, onion, bay leaf, and thyme, and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the flour lightly browns, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and stock, then bring to a boil. Add the garlic and sugar, season lightly with salt and black pepper, then transfer to the oven and cook until the vegetables are very soft and the sauce is thickened and concentrated, about 90 minutes.
  2. Remove the sauce from the oven, and remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme. Cool slightly then either force the sauce through a fine mesh strainer or blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Use immediately, or transfer to a heatproof container, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.