Thomas Keller & Tomatoes
Thomas Keller is kind of a big deal in the culinary world. Almost a divine presence that chefs around the world strive to emulate, but I’m ashamed to admit until now I knew very little about him. I decided that he was going to be the next candidate to investigate on my list.
Thomas Keller has received numerous accolades and has been declared the best American chef by many professionals in the industry. He is the only American chef to own two restaurants with a three star Michelin rating: The French Laundry in California and Per Se in New York. Keller also owns the acclaimed Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc.
When I was scouting for a Thomas Keller recipe I came across thousands of food blogs showcasing his renowned roasted chicken and I decided to spare the blogging world of one more post. I was also trying to find a recipe that would absorb some of the thirty plus tomatoes we received from our farm share on Friday. With no real luck for fresh tomato based entrees, I decided to break open a few cans of San Marzano tomatoes and make his oven roasted tomato sauce. Some might consider this a crime at this point in the season, but don’t worry I will put all those tomatoes to good use in one way or another! You could try to improvise with fresh tomatoes, however, I learned that Keller’s recipes are extremely precise calling for exact measurements and ingredients. I usually have a hard time adhering to a recipe verbatim, but since I am trying to replicate one of Keller’s dishes I actually listened this time!
You could serve this sauce over pasta or use it as a soup base. Keller recommends serving it over a bowl of fresh pasta or parppardelle pasta. I had to forego the fresh pasta this time so I used egg parppardelle instead. If you use parppardelle keep a close eye on it! It cooks in under three minutes and it will continue to cook once combined with the tomato sauce. Right before I served it I sprinkled it generously with freshly grated Parmesan cheese!
Thomas Keller's Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Yields 6-8 servings
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup minced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 cup finely chopped fennel
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Two 28- to 32-ounce cans San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
10 black peppercorns
1 garlic clove
Lay out a 7-inch square of cheesecloth. Put the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and garlic near the bottom of the square and fold the bottom edge up and over them. Roll once, tuck in the two ends of the cheesecloth, and continue to roll. Tie the cheesecloth at both ends with kitchen twine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the oil, onion, leeks, and garlic in a large ovenproof Dutch oven or a baking dish and sprinkle with salt. Put in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to caramelize.
Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, drain the canned tomatoes and remove the seeds. Coarsely chop half the tomatoes. Puree the other half in a food processor.
Add the tomatoes to the vegetables along with the herb packet (satchet), season with salt and pepper to taste, and return to the oven for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and have a full, rich flavor. Run the side of a spoon through the sauce – if it runs back together immediately, it is too thin. Return it to the oven and cook until thickened. (Mine took a little over two hours to finish.)
Discard the satchet and let the sauce cool to room temperature or serve immediately with pasta. You can refrigerate it in a covered container for up to 1 week.
Sources: "Trouble With Toast." Trouble With Toast. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Aug. 2013.