Memories and Musings

Sauce Sketching

Tomato to try
Tomato to try

Part of the bounty from a recent trip up to Homestead was a large box of plum tomatoes. I went to work preserving them in a variety of ways. Since we have a new smoker I went in that direction with many of them. For the majority of the tomatoes I kept it simple with a minimal dressing of XVOO, salt, pepper and a touch of balsamico. The minimal treatment would allow me to either keep it simple as I utilized them pretty much as is in pasta dishes, homemade pizza toppings, etc. or ‘cut’ into cream sauce or butter sauce or even a “Smoky Tomato Vinaigrette” but I wanted to create one “experimental” tray’s worth of tomatoes to see what directions it might take me in. In essence I wanted to make one batch with built in complexities that I felt would not overwhelm the tomatoes but build on their sweet acidity.

I pulled a batch of our homemade ‘Pepper Paint’, (think of it as a kind of savory maple syrup… but not exactly, more umami with that soy)…out of the fridge. ‘Pepper Paint’ is made from a reduction of rum, soy, sugar, lemon and spices. I drizzled the ‘paint’ moderately on ripe cut up plum tomatoes that I had dressed with XVOO, kosher salt, freshly toasted and cracked black pepper and smoked Spanish pimentón. I smoked the tomatoes (over hickory) and then removed them when they were softening. While they rested I cooked 1/2 of a peeled, medium-diced sweet onion and 1 roughly minced jalapeño in home rendered (lard) manteca until somewhat caramelized. Next I added 1/4 Cup of Spanish Sherry Wine Vinegar and reduced that by half. I pulsed the tomatoes with that (unstrained) reduction and 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste and the returned it all to a sauce pan to simmer for about 30 minutes. I adjusted the seasoning and then stored the sauce after cooling it quickly in an ice bath.

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