Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pizza Sauce

Living here in the rural Philippines, there are some things that just don't seem to be available. One of them is a good commercial pizza. Back in Seattle, I had so many choices. Getting good pizza was as easy as picking up the phone or driving less than a mile.

Here, the pizzas are all lacking somehow. And, it's not for a lack of trying. One place has really great toppings, good sauce, but a crust that belongs in cardboard packaging. Another place has a good crust and adequate toppings, but just can't seem to put on enough sauce. One name-brand place (I'm leaving off the brand intentionally) puts ranch dressing on their all-meat pizzas (YUCK!). I've often wished they'd get together and make a good overall pizza.

Last night I just couldn't take it anymore. I wanted a decent pizza and I knew I wasn't going to be able to call up someone and just buy it. So, I hit the kitchen.

First up, the sauce. This is the most important part of a pizza for me. Without a good sauce, a pizza falls flat.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 kilogram tomato sauce
  • 750 grams tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 teaspoons dried basil
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 bay leaves

Over low heat, sweat the onions and celery in the olive oil and butter. Cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent. I took the photograph above at this state. The smell, so good!

Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Notice that I've listed the amount by weight. That's how they are sold here. For those buying in cans, I believe that would be about 32 oz. tomato sauce and 24 oz. tomato paste. Stir until smooth.

Lastly, add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer slowly for as long as you have the patience. 30 minutes is good. 60 is better. As with any red sauce, the longer you simmer (within reason) the better it'll be.

When using on your pizzas, be sure to remove the bay leaves. Wouldn't want some poor unsuspecting soul to bite into one. Not yummy!

This makes enough for 16 twelve-inch pizzas. Since my dough recipe makes a pair of twelve-inch pizzas at a time, I split the final sauce up into eight parts. Seven of the parts I put until sandwich-sized zip-top bags and put into the freezer for another day.

The eighth part went onto my pizzas. But, that's another post ...


Arundathi said...

i'm constantly wondering why i didn't cook more when i was in the US and had so much stuff available and realized i now cook out of necessity. want a good pizza? make it yourself!! lol! can't wait to see your pizzas.

James said...

I wonder the same thing. I find that I now appreciate what I'm making more now that things are more difficult.

Pizza pictures coming soon. I couldn't believe that I'd made them when I saw them in the oven!

Natasha said...

I had homemade pizza twice in the past two days! It was so good I had to make it again!
You're right - I find the sauce to be essential as well.

James said...

I just made the THIRD batch of pizza in the past four days. I used Alton Brown's dough recipe while sticking with the same sauce and cheese. Oh, it was BETTER! The 12+ hours rising in the fridge makes a difference.

In fact, I have a FOURTH set of dough in the fridge now to be cooked tomorrow (no samples went out to my test teams of the third batch ... both pizzas were devoured by the locals).

I'm using 250g of mozz and 60g of Parmesan for a pair of 30cm pizzas.

Natasha said...

I discovered that my local bakery sells brilliant fresh pizza dough and now I'm hooked!

Robin Sue said...

James- your site is wonderful! I love the chocolate chip cookie pictures and they looked delicious. Seattle is lovely so I bet you do miss it. Hope you are enjoying where you live now. I posted on Dick's today, ever eaten there?

James said...

Natasha: very lucky you! Although, I'm finding that making the dough is pretty easy.

Robin Sue: Dick's at Gasworks! Fantastic. I've eaten so many Dick's cheeseburgers and deluxe that my body is probably 25% Dick's food by now. Greatest fast-food cheeseburgers ANYWHERE.