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The balance of tomato sauce, decoded.

Chefs have a saying, don't be cowboy, sometimes i think am i being a cowboy, but after long deliberation with myself i have decided that its more that i have just become more efficient over the years, twenty years now i have been a chef, wow thats a long time. So i am going to share a top tip with you that will help transform your tomato sauces, it has other uses to and they will make appearances in my recipes from time to time, so i would pay close attention. A Gastrique is something used by chefs all over the world, its probably something a young or commis chef would not understand, its not until you understand the balancing of flavours that you will understand how to use it, and as i have said before if things are not balanced they tend to fall over, just like a lot of things in life, i often bring life matters back to balance and mostly it keeps me steady. But i am going to tell you the basic way this chefy technique can take your wobbly old tomato sauce and give it some grounding. A Gastrique is a french term i believe related to the stomach.. In a nut shell it is vinegar and sugar reduced. sounds simple but has such a big impact on the balancing of acidity and sweetness that tomatoes absolutely desire, takes them from the humble garden fruit to something that has layer upon layer of flavour(like a sara lee). So your basic tomato sauce, start with good quality olive oil in a pan , lots of diced onions cooked down with a good pinch of salt, i hope by now after trying my recipes and see this pop up all the time you have started to make it part of your cooking practice, celery is good at this point, but not essential, now the chopped garlic and thyme, rosemary and other woody herbs are good also depending on your preference, i am not a fan of tomato paste so i don't use it, its old school and i have moved with the times so give it a miss.. Chopped tin tomatoes the best quality you can find will make a better sauce, but if your on a budget any will do. Bring gently to a simmer, add a little more salt and black pepper, now just on que enter the gastrique, here is the part were cowboy comes in, you probably were wondering what the hell i was rambling about, but a proper gastrique is vinegar and sugar reduced by about half until it coats

the back of a spoon, however been uber efficient i just add the vinegar and sugar straight to the sauce about 1 tablespoon of each per tin of tomatoes, i figure the sauce is going to cook out slowly for a while at this stage and the gastrique will make its self in the sauce, and the when i taste it doing it this way i know it to be true because the balance of the acidity and sugar against the tomatoes is perfect, these are twenty year finely tuned taste buds of countless tasting’s of new menu’s in front of big scary head chefs approval that have helped you to be able to get a little cowboy in your life. Cook slowly and keep stirring frequently as tomato sauce loves to stick, when the wooden spoon is standing up or almost standing up in the sauce by its self then its ready, i use a potato masher to break down the sauce a little more, finish with basil or any soft herbs, good for cooking seafood marinara, pasta dishes, or any tomato based sauce. Yeah ha cowboy or cowgirl

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