This week I bragged to Nancy Leson, "I have done something I have never done before and that I thought I never would do. It all goes back to a trip to the hardware store."
Nancy, with only the slightest of eye-rolls asked, "So what'd you do now, Stein?" She probably wasn't expecting tomatoes.
Last spring, my wife, the lovely and talented Cheryl DeGroot, returned from the hardware store with a give-away 2-inch tall tomato plant. We've never tried to grow them before, but when she put this one in the ground she had to step back fast.
That vine got huge fast and has been cranking out Roma sauce tomatoes at high volume right into this month. As they ripened, we saved them in the crisper drawer. Last weekend, equipped with 11 pounds of ripe Romas, I made a fresh tomato sauce for the first time ever.
Why never before? Those little bits of tomato pulp creep me out. I've always made my sauce from straight tomato paste thinned with chicken broth. As the tomatoes accumulated, I realized that I finally had the excuse I needed to get the Oxo food mill I'd been jonesing for. With that, I could puree them into a pulp-free sauce.
I simmered the cut-up tomatoes for 15 minutes, then cranked them, all squishy and fragrant, through the mill. Perfect tomato puree with no seeds or pulp. It was pretty thin; but, after pouring it over the minced onion, carrot, celery, anchovies, garlic and pancetta I'd sauteed in olive oil, it cooked down just fine.
Now that Nancy has officially designated me an "artisanal" tomato sauce maker, I'm growing a novelty beard and getting some tattoos right away.
Nance claims her Beefsteak vine is still producing like mad. She's been enjoying them with burrata, a cheese made from mozzarella and cream: disgracefully rich. I want some.
"The man who can't visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot." – Andre Breton