Righty-o, it’s time to tackle tomato sauce and its various smalls.  Like I said earlier, compared to brown sauce, tomato is a walk in the park.

Tomato sauce

is–obviously–tomatoes, either fresh or canned (I prefer canned–Muir organic, specifically), tomato purée, mirepoix, herbs, a little salt and sugar, white stock, and whatever pork oddments you have lying around–salt pork, bones, fatback, anything.  Render the pork, sweat the mirepoix, and then put everything together and let it simmer for a few hours.  Remove the herbs (greatly facilitated by making a sachet–a little cheesecloth bundle containing the herbs and tied off with string) and the pork, purée the sauce, and that’s that.

Tomato’s the first mother sauce I made at culinary school, under the watchful (some would say “draconic”) eye of Chef Jamie Eisenberg.  I was really surprised by how good actual tomato sauce is–infinitely better than anything you can get at the store.  It’s a little time-consuming, I admit, but still pretty easy, and something that absolutely belongs in everyone’s repertoire.  It’s perfectly good as-is–you don’t need to go navigating the realms of small sauces here, which is probably why there are only three small tomato sauces.  You can use it as a dipping sauce or to dress pasta or make a pizza.  Pretty much anything.

If your tomatoes are especially acidic–which does sometimes happen–you might want to make a gastrique to tame it.  To make a gastrique, caramelize a bit of sugar and deglaze it with some good vinegar (I’d advise cider, rice, or Champagne vinegar–something really mild).  Use that to finish your tomato sauce, and you should be in good shape.

Now, as for small tomato sauces:

  • Creole.  Sauté (or sweat) some onion, celery, and garlic; add that to the tomato sauce along with a pinch of thyme and a bay leaf.  Let it simmer for a little while and then add some finely diced green pepper and a good blast of Tabasco™ or Frank’s Red Hot™.  Let that simmer a little more, and that’s it.  Don’t forget to take the bay leaf out before you use it.
  • Milanaise is one that I wouldn’t go near and it makes me glad that I didn’t grow up in Milan.  A lot of people love it, though.  Á chaque son goût, eh?  Anyway, you make it by adding sautéed mushrooms, julienned ham, and julienned tongue.
  • Spanish, technically, is a smaller small sauce, as creole sauce is its starting point.  To it you add some sliced mushrooms and garnish the finished product with sliced olives, either black or green.


That’s it for tomato sauce.  Pretty easy, huh?  If you get one of the five mother sauces under your belt, I’d recommend this one.