Light tomato sauce

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Measure Ingredient
2 pounds Ripe plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons Lard or vegetable oil
1 cup Onions; finely chopped
3 \N Garlic cloves; minced
\N \N Salt
1 pinch Sugar (opt)

(caldillo de tomate)

1. Heat a cast-iron griddle or a large heavy skillet until very hot.

Add the tomatoes and cook, t urning, until blackened and blistered all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

2. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, peel the tomatoes.

Squeezr them between your fingers to break into large chunks; do not seed.

3. In a heavy medium nonreactive saucepan, heat the lard until very hot but not smoking. Add the onions and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Lower the heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt. If the sauce seems too tangy, add the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool.

4. Transfer the tomato sauce to a blender and puree. Strain the sauce through a sieve set over a bowl, pressing against the solids with a wooden spoon to force through as much of the puree as possible. The sauce can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Note: you can enrich the sauce after it is made by saut‚ing it in one or two tablespoons of lard or butter just before using it.

Building Block: A good tomato sauce is crucial in Mexican cooking.

Roasting the tomatoes adds a smoky flavor to the sauce. You can also season the sauce with chilies, herbs and spices (for example, bay leaves, cloves, cumin or Mexican oregano) Uses: Serve with stuffed poblanos or as a pasta sauce. Use as a braising liquid for fish, poultry or meat (great with meatballs), as the base of a stew or as you would any tomato sauce. Stir into soups for added flavor.

Lessons from Zarela's Kitchen by Zarela Martinez Food and Wine Magazine Dec 1994 Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 12-18-94

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