Hot!“Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce

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Post
BrooklynBill
Cheeseburger
2006/03/04 17:08:02
Beside the usual – garlic, onion, olive oil, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, etc. -- that would constitute a red sauce, is there another, a “secret” ingredient that you always use?
I’m after something that you feel rounds out or makes a sauce.

What’s in your spaghetti sauce?

Bill
Greymo
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/04 17:18:41
quote:
Originally posted by BrooklynBill

Beside the usual – garlic, onion, olive oil, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, etc. -- that would constitute a red sauce, is there another, a “secret” ingredient that you always use?
I’m after something that you feel rounds out or makes a sauce.

What’s in your spaghetti sauce?

Bill



Wine! and lots of love
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/04 17:29:06
I do not know if it is a secret but I use a plain medium hot country sausage. Personally, I think it takes the plain out of the beef and kicks it up somewhat.

I think I overdo with onions, peppers and garlic. I get yelled at because of that.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
V960
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/04 17:34:11
Vodka,
Certain flavors in tomatoes are only soluble in alcohol.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/04 17:38:57
quote:
Originally posted by BrooklynBill

Beside the usual – garlic, onion, olive oil, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, etc. -- that would constitute a red sauce, is there another, a “secret” ingredient that you always use?
I’m after something that you feel rounds out or makes a sauce.

What’s in your spaghetti sauce?

Bill



Red wine, but no tomato paste and no sugar.
Jimeats
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/04 17:42:45
Not a secret but if I'm useing a canned tomato other than San Marzarno I add gratted carrots. Chow Jim
Big Butt BBQ
Junior Burger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/04 19:38:32
I keep it simple. I only use tomatoes from Stanislaus county, Calif.,Alta Cuccina's, Saporito's or Full Red. Olive oil, roasted garlic,garlic powder, parsley, basil, salt, pepper,a big piece of pork butt and a few sweet italian sausages. Simmer for 4 hours and finish it off with a little extra virgin olive oil.
scott123
Junior Burger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/05 04:09:05
My secret isn't the ingredients I add, it's the ingredients I omit. No dried basil and no dried oregano. Fresh basil, sure, but not dried. Dried basil, imo, is an abomination.
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/05 04:34:05
Like Michael, I eschew tomato paste in most versions of red pasta sauce (I make many depending on what I feel like eating--some with Italian sausage, some with pepperoni, some meatless). I think it adds a bitter flavor. Instead, I use a combination of whole tomatoes and tomato puree. I also generally use a pinch of sugar, a pinch (or two) of red pepper flakes. I do not add water--rather I use additions of WHITE wine to keep it from getting too thick as it cooks (no shortage of alcohol to solublize those tomato essences V960).

If I am making a meat sauce with ground meat (Americanized Bolognese sauce), I often start with a mirepoix (mixture of finely chopped onions, carrots and celery) and some chopped pancetta which I saute before adding the ground meat and, just before the ground meat is done, I add minced garlic (which gets bitter if it actually browns).

I also don't use "pure" organo but rather a combo of marjoram and oregano. They are in the same family but I think marjoram has a more subtle flavor.

As Jimeats has said, San Marzano tomatoes are the best for any Italian recipes, but considering they are pricey, I've found that Trader Joe's canned plum tomatoes are very nearly as good and much better than other American canned tomatoes.
RibRater
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/05 06:13:57
Since I make a meatless sauce, fennel seed is probably the most important ingrediant. Provides that "cooked with italian sausage" flavor without the sausage.
roossy90
Sirloin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/05 08:57:45
A bit of bacon grease.
No bacon, just some drippings.
jpdchef
Junior Burger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/05 12:35:39
anchovy's
Mosca
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/05 12:48:32
A drop or two of balsamic vinegar. Or sometimes just a touch of fennel.


Tom
BT
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/05 12:54:22
quote:
Originally posted by roossy90

A bit of bacon grease.
No bacon, just some drippings.



Unless you want the smoked flavor, try what I said above: use a little chopped pancetta instead. For anyone lurking who doesn't know, of course, pancetta is Italian bacon and it isn't smoked, it's dry cured.
Rick F.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/05 13:14:20
Anise seed and powdered allspice.
BuddyRoadhouse
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/05 17:59:02
Mrs. Roadhouse will occasionally toss in a bit of Bar-B-Que Sauce (Guess what brand). This will probably not be much of a surprise or a secret to anyone. What might surprise you is that she also likes to put a little instant coffee or espresso in there too. It's barely noticeable but it does give the flavor a little more depth and richness.

Buddy
shortchef
Double Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/06 09:54:00
Buddy, how much coffee does she use? I've heard of using this but never tried it--don't want to get too much or too little. I usually make it in my 5 1/2 quart crockpot, so you can go from there. Thanks!
Dipstick
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/06 12:31:24
I often add two tablespoons chilled butter right at the end to give it a little extra richness.
Pigiron
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/06 12:58:16
I go even simpler:

-Lots of slivered fresh garlic sauteed slowly in EV olive oil (don't let it brown)
-add tomatoes (fresh diced if in season, otherwise quality canned crushed San Marzano)
-add fresh (never dried) torn Basil
-pinch of sugar depending on acidity of tomatoes.

That's it.
BuddyRoadhouse
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/06 14:06:26
quote:
Originally posted by shortchef

Buddy, how much coffee does she use? I've heard of using this but never tried it--don't want to get too much or too little. I usually make it in my 5 1/2 quart crockpot, so you can go from there. Thanks!
Mrs. Roadhouse is one of those cooks who, unless she is baking, keeps the measuring spoons under lock and key so as not to be constrained by the limits of exactitude. However, she estimates that she will use about 2 Tablespoons in a batch that size. My advice is to start with 1 Tablespoon and see if you like the taste. You can always add more, subtracting is a little tougher.

Buddy
SassyGritsAL
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/06 14:18:30
Teaspoon of sugar to cut the acid and also a teaspoon of bacon grease. I save my bacon grease and put it in a little glass jar and store in the frig. I usually replace it every 2 months. I use the bacon grease when I make cornbread, fresh green beans, etc. Comes in very handy for us southern cooks.
laststandchili
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/06 14:38:37
I usually start with some reasonable quality chianti (not from a box), and reduce by at least one third to concentrate the flavor, but avoid a runny sauce.
I rarely use paste for anything anymore, but I always keep one of the toothpaste tube type containers in the fridge for added depth in sauces, stocks, and gravies when I want a little tomato background. When I do reach for it its never for more than a tablespoon (healthy squirt), so the tube is much better than wasting the remainder of even a small can.

Vayo con Queso
jerseygirl127
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/06 16:14:14
brown sugar .. white vinegar... worcestishire sauce.. it's awesome-- it's a sweet and sour spaghetti sauce and the family loves it!!
Tony Bad
Fire Safety Admin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/06 16:19:24
quote:
Originally posted by Jimeats

Not a secret but if I'm useing a canned tomato other than San Marzarno I add gratted carrots. Chow Jim


Rats...you swiped my answer

My Grandma said the carrot takes the acid out...but if I use good San Marzano tomatoes...especially the DOP cans...I don't bother with the carrots.
santacruz
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/07 16:39:43
Instead of sugar I put 1Tblsp. of Maple Syrup to cut the acidity. It gives it a nice smokey sweet flavor.
Sonny Funzio
Double Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/07 17:48:21
I always use tomato paste (as well as the canned tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes IF they are from the garden). The tomato paste gives a distinctive, rich tomato flavor.

The other thing I do is to fry some of the tomato paste (or some of the sauce itself) to carmalize it ("pince" to you French cooks) ... stirring constantly and being careful not to let it burn (or as Clemenza says in The Godfather "you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn't stick".

Occasionally I add some baking soda or sugar as was discussed on another thread ... but much more often instead it's that "secret ingredient" ... Anisette.
zussers
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/07 18:39:51
Thanks JCBBQ for the fennel idea! I don't eat meat and will try it in my next sauce! I also use SAN MARZANO tomatoes but I also add crushed red pepper to give it some heat!
Tony Bad
Fire Safety Admin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/07 19:31:49
quote:
Originally posted by Sonny Funzio

The other thing I do is to fry some of the tomato paste (or some of the sauce itself) to carmalize it ("pince" to you French cooks) ... stirring constantly and being careful not to let it burn (or as Clemenza says in The Godfather "you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn't stick"



Another good tip from Clemenza was to slice the garlic as thin as possible...almost allowing it to melt away while cooking.

I also liked his line "leave the gun, take the cannoli"
repartee
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/08 05:16:32
I use minced chicken livers and grated carrots.
roossy90
Sirloin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/08 08:53:16
quote:
Originally posted by repartee

I use minced chicken livers and grated carrots.

Are you for real? Chicken Livers in Spaghetti sauce?
Is that a standard recipe everytime you make it?
I dont do liver of any kind, sort, or animalagain.
aharste
Hamburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/08 09:02:01
about a tsp. of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar to brighten the taste
BrooklynBill
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/10 17:31:21
Thank you All, for a great response and a list of fun things to try.

(And please forgive me if I omit anything) ----- We have -- Wine! and lots of love, plain medium hot country sausage, Red wine, but no tomato paste and no sugar, Vodka, San Marzarno tomatoes, No dried basil and no dried oregano. Fresh basil, sure, but not dried -- Trader Joe's canned plum tomatoes. A bit of bacon grease, anchovy’s, fennel seed ,balsamic vinegar, a little chopped pancetta , anise seed and powdered allspice, a little instant coffee or espresso, chilled butter, brown sugar .. white vinegar... worcestershire sauce -- Maple Syrup, crushed red pepper, chicken livers, fried tomato paste,
AND ---- PORK BUTT!!
Finally: More “secret” ingredients that I picked up playing around on Google – curry powder, nutmeg, Asian fish sauce, lemon juice and brandy!

Think I’ll try most of them.

And -- two ending thoughts also found on Google:
1) “There is no substitute for homemade Italian tomato sauce.”
2) “Nobody made sauce like your own mother made sauce!”

Bill
Greyghost
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/10 18:02:36
I know of a woman who tried for years to duplicate her mother's killer sauce without success.
The recipe was written down and the woman knew every step by heart. She became convinced that there was a secret ingredient that she could not figure out...nothing tasted like mom's sauce.

She did finally figure out the "secret ingredient" in her mother's sauce. She remembered her mother constantly standing over the pot stirring the sauce as she...chain smoked...occasionally the ash from the cigarette would drop into the pot. Thus was the case of the secret ingredient solved.
csacks
Junior Burger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/10 19:27:43
Grape Jelly. A couple of tablespoons. CraiG
BrooklynBill
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/12 17:27:38
quote:
Originally posted by Greyghost

I know of a woman who tried for years to duplicate her mother's killer sauce without success.
The recipe was written down and the woman knew every step by heart. She became convinced that there was a secret ingredient that she could not figure out...nothing tasted like mom's sauce.

She did finally figure out the "secret ingredient" in her mother's sauce. She remembered her mother constantly standing over the pot stirring the sauce as she...chain smoked...occasionally the ash from the cigarette would drop into the pot. Thus was the case of the secret ingredient solved.


A great story, Greyghost!

Thank you.
Bill
Pigiron
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/13 01:46:57
quote:
Originally posted by Tony Bad

Another good tip from Clemenza was to slice the garlic as thin as possible...almost allowing it to melt away while cooking.



No, no, no, no, NO! No self-respecting mob-film fan should EVER confuse Clemenza from The Godfather and Big Paulie Cicero from Goodfellas!
Tony Bad
Fire Safety Admin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/03/13 08:42:15
quote:
Originally posted by Pigiron

quote:
Originally posted by Tony Bad

Another good tip from Clemenza was to slice the garlic as thin as possible...almost allowing it to melt away while cooking.



No, no, no, no, NO! No self-respecting mob-film fan should EVER confuse Clemenza from The Godfather and Big Paulie Cicero from Goodfellas!


My sincere apologies You are, of course, correct! Clemenza had more of a ham fisted approach to cooking...what was I thinking??
denverbeau
Junior Burger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/05/27 08:15:48

Pepperoni. Then take it out before serving.
Same idea as the sausage.
sizz
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/05/27 10:54:34
a small can of anchovies .that's why it's called marinara sauce.
Marinaro, is the Italian word for sailor
People who don't like anchovies will dispel this and come up with some cockamamie story why they wouldn't put seafood in their sauce. ................... you know, like I don't like anchovies.... lol .........or, besides we are talking about spaghetti sauce not marinara sauce.
All kidding aside the anchovies disintegrate in the cooking sauce and leave that wonderful flavor that you all came to love in eating a Creaser salad or using the world's favorite anchovies based Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
Adjudicator
Sirloin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/05/27 11:59:18
Vodka
enginecapt
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/05/27 13:41:26
It's hardly a secret, but chopped eggplant and celery.
Donna Douglass
Double Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/05/27 15:33:10
There are many things I don't understand, among them being: garlic powder, garlic salt and celery salt. Why not use fresh or roasted garlic,and fresh celery (leaves included)and plain salt? To my mind, there is just something articial about the powders and/or salts. Everything about home made spaghetti sauce should be fresh, fresh, fresh as can be, with the exception of tomatoes, which we all know are not always available or really good. In that case, only the very best canned variety is acceptable.

Donna
Donna Douglass
Double Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/05/27 15:34:35
Sorry for the typo, that's "artificial", not articial. Forgot to use the spell check features.

Donna
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/05/27 18:19:28
quote:
Originally posted by BrooklynBill


2) “Nobody made sauce like your own mother made sauce!”

Bill


Obviously, the person who said that must have tasted my mother's sauce. That the person actually lived long enough to say that does come as a surprise.
John A
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/05/29 08:06:23
If I told it would no longer be a secret. [|)]

John
abe_froeman
Double Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/05/29 15:09:27
I add lime juice. Makes it tangy. A little sugar to cut the acidity (I'd do this before I started adding lime juice too- I like it a little sweet, but not too much) and crushed pepper flakes.
greyhoundgrrl
Junior Burger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/01 14:03:27
I add a pinch of cinnamon and or nutmeg.
PapaJoe8
Sirloin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/01 14:38:05
Great thread! I want to try everything I haven't already. Here is my secret, although not for everyone, some will love it. Smoked oysters, one can w/ juice, per 32 0z. of sauce. Add them twords the end of cooking the sauce. Sometimes I pick out the oysters and serve them seperate. Adds a very unique flavor!
Joe
arianej
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/02 15:11:59
I don't add sugar. If the tomatoes are very acidic, I add a pinch or so of baking soda, read that as a tip somewhere. It seems to help, either that or I'm hallucinating.

Otherwise, definitely some red wine, fennel seeds, and a 1/2-1 tsp. red pepper flakes.
santacruz
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/02 15:21:18
Another vote for Anchovies....yea!
WVHillbilly
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/02 15:31:05
Sorry, can't' tell you. It's a secret. . . handed down from the old Italian lady who lived next door when I was growing up and was my best friend's g'mother.
Can't tell you though.
PapaJoe8
Sirloin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/02 16:39:13
Shoot WV, thats no fair! Is it yall???? Hey, we wont tell anyone.
Joe
John A
Filet Mignon
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/02 17:49:26
An old Italian lady (Sounds like my Sicilian Grandmother). Hmm, could it be homemade pasta to go in the sauce?

John
NJeileen
Junior Burger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/22 17:03:55
I sometimes add some Pinot Grigio to my sauce.


AndreaB
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/22 23:55:21
Fresh pressed garlic, Merlot, fresh basil, black pepper, and no overcooking the sauce or the pasta!

Andrea
Twinwillow
Sirloin
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/23 00:29:57
Very happy to be the first on this thread to say they use ANCHOVIES !
About 2 or 3 filets or a about an inch and a half out of the tube.
I add the little critters while lightly sauteing the garlic. It just disolves in the sauce. You never actually taste it but, it makes all the difference in the world.
I promise, no one will say they can taste them.
Also, I try to use only canned tomato products WITHOUT citric acid!
San Marzano or otherwise.

Well, I (thought) I was the first Anchovy user.
apronstrings
Junior Burger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/23 20:44:34
Several cans of San Marzano or TJ's plum tomatoes, some tomato paste,sliced garlic,onions,lots of red wine,red pepper flakes, fresh oregano. Sometimes a couple of anchovies to dissolve along with the garlic. Let sauce gently simmer for hours, just like they did back in Bensonhurst.
offlady
Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/25 05:02:20
We ordered spaghetti in Florence, Italy once, and it had liver in the sauce! Needless to say, we couldn't eat it.

I always add extra sugar in the sauce. And finely chopped up pimento.
fabulousoyster
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/25 09:18:12
Sofrito Mix which includes Aji Dule and Recaito.
doggydaddy
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: “Secret” Ingredient in your Pasta Sauce 2006/06/25 09:45:31


Some of the ingredients in my sauce will vary, but I will agree that a mirepoix plus garlic should be sauteed, then some inexpensive red wine added and reduced by a third. I am growing Roma tomatoes and basil right now in anticipation of my future sauce. Any extra tomatoes will be used to make sun-dried. When using fresh Roma's you should blanch and peel them to remove the skin.

While there seems to be some anti-paste factions here, a good puree can help to give some body. If you don't like that, one place I worked at would make a thin roux with olive oil that had rosemary and sage in it. That would be strained into the final sauce.

I will add crushed juniper berries to my meat sauce. It's odd, as here on the east coast EVERY restaurant has a vodka sauce, which to me does not make it anything special. Why order that at any restaurant?

I like sugar, but I think that Italians sort of frown on it. I like the suggestion of anchovies and I use that idea myself when making the red sauce for seafood pasta.

One thing I learned was while working as a sous chef at a very good kitchen. I made a 5 gallon pot of sauce and the chef came up. "Did you put any salt in this?" "Yes." I said assuredly. He tasted it and then grabed a handful of salt and tossed it in. It seemed like it was a lot, but when I tasted it, he was right. Don't be shy.
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