Author Topic: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?  (Read 9574 times)

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Offline Casanova

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The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« on: November 16, 2005, 05:27:52 AM »
Hi everyone. I've been coming to this forum and reading all the great posts for a long, long time, but didn't actually register to post anything of my own until this morning. Glad to be here and be part of this.

There seems to be a small debate here as to what tomato products to use to make the best sauce. Now, I know that there are a few sauces each with their own unique qualities and flavors based on regionality and personal tastes, but please tell me a couple things: If I were to try and put together that "one sauce" to please the majority of people's palates, would I use a base of tomatoes (either crushed or cooked down) or heavy tomato puree? Would it be a combination of both, possibly? Also, is there any advantage to using one over the other? Thanks for bearing with me!
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Offline lilbuddypizza

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2005, 07:39:58 AM »
I'd go with the puree. I've posted before in which I've said that I have used puree with a MINIMUM of spices, because the stuff was so good.
I find that some people are not fans of the tomato chunks/pieces. It might be a texture thing, like those who don't like mushrooms. A combo might be a good idea.

Offline dkipta

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2005, 07:59:36 AM »
My personal opinion is to go with a ready made sauce specifically Stanaslause "Pizzalolo".  The taste and quality of this sauce blows away most gourmet pizza joints.  I've used this sauce on thin, thick, and deep dish Chicago pies and let my co-workers judge.  They have commented my pizzas are better than anything they've ever had.  Call PennMac.  They stock and sell all these.

Offline David

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2005, 08:26:20 AM »
I don't care what type of Pizza you are making,IMO Puree is far too concentrated and dense to put directly on a Pizza.It should either be added to  Tomatoes to thicken a sauce or you can reduce your tinned Tomatoes by cooking (my preferred method)for a cooked sauce.I believe the reduction method provides a better texture and clear flavour.Their are hundreds of different ways to adjust your final sauce  to your specific taste / needs.I personally liked to add Marjoram,Oregano,a little Garlic Oil and an Onion if I was making a sauce for a NY style.I would then adjust the sweetness /acidity by adding sugar / lemon juice.Good luck.
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Offline PizzaBrewer

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2005, 08:56:19 AM »
I've learned from shopping at my local pizza supply "cash and carry" just how many different tomato products are available to commercial pizzerias that the average consumer never sees.  For example, check out the range of products produced by Stanislaus:

http://www.stanislausfoodproducts.com/products/productframe.asp

I've found the best flavor comes from a simple, uncooked sauce using Alta Cucina whole tomatoes which I puree with a stick blender.  The problem is that it is too soupy unless a good amount of liquid is removed.  If I ran a restaurant (where I suppose I'd run the tomatoes thru a food mill to separate out the seeds) this level of shrinkage would probably not be acceptable.  I've seen it recommended that you add some concentrated crushed tomatoes to such a puree to thicken it up. 

The possibilities and permutations are virtually limitless.  The Escalon salesman at the NY pizza show recommends a sauce made from one can of 6-in-1 (concentrated crushed), one can of their prepared sauce (Bonta) and one can of water.

What does this all mean to the home pizzamaker who doesn't have access to these products?  Simply that I've found I can't make as good a sauce from the standard Hunts/Contadina/etc. products available in the typical store.  However if you search enough you can find whole San Marzanos, Escalon products by mail order, etc.  From there you can do LOTS of experimentation!

---Guy
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline Casanova

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2005, 10:05:06 AM »
Thanks so much to lilbuddypizza, dkipta, David, and PizzaBrewer for your great advice. I've also run into the problem of finding certain products in town or getting them sent by mail to individual consumers rather than business owners. Here in Tampa we have a couple good Italian speciality grocers; one in particular is Castellano & Pizzo. Now that I've gotten really serious about putting together a great pizza on my own, I'll have to get to their store and see just what they have and don't have available. From the times I've been in there, they seem to have a very large selection of everything and many of the items come directly from Italy.

I've been to the PennMac site before. Only problem is, many of their products aren't shown on the site even though they show up in the product search. You're right though, dkipta, the best thing to do is call them directly.

The "texture issue" is evidently a real issue with some, as you mentioned, lilbuddy. I kinda like the chunks/pieces in a pizza sauce - some seeds, too - as long as nothing is truly overwhelming and the chunks aren't that big. Papa John's sauce has the kind of texture I'm speaking about if any of you know what I mean. I don't really care for their pizzas but the texture and look is really good - a vivid red color.

The reduction method David wrote about is primary to one of the Sicilian sauces listed on the forum. It sounds really good, too. Maybe the reduction method with a mixture of 2/3 crushed tomatoes and 1/3 puree with a little water and spices added would yield something pretty tasty. I guess it's kinda like creating Frankenstein's monster - a lot of trial and error is essential to success......LOL   

PizzaBrewer - did you ever try the Escalon salesman's recommendation for sauce that you posted? And when you say "one can" of each of the three ingredients he suggested, are you talking about smaller size cans or the big, #10 (one gallon) cans? By the way, I think you've got the best of both worlds going on: brewing your own beer to drink with your homemade pizza - - magnifico!!     

Thanks again, guys.   
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Offline Skyfish1

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2005, 07:11:21 PM »
I use 6-in-1 Ground tomatoes.

2 cans of tomato paste ( pagliacci )

3 cloves crushed garlic

2 - 3 T oregano

Salt

Pepper

Romanno cheese

No Cooking required

Offline Wallman

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2005, 09:02:22 PM »
Try crushed that have been briefly blended in a blender or with a stick blender. 

I made an uncooked sauce with 1 can Redpack crushed tomatoes, McCormick Italian herb mix, about a tablespoon of olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons sugar, about 2 teaspoons garlic salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and a splash of red wine this weekend. I didn't really measure just threw every thing in to taste. I was surprise how good the sauce was. It was better than a similar sauce with Contadina tomatoes, sauted onions and garlic which was simmered.  The uncooked sauce had a much fresher flavor. I'm sold on the uncooked sauce method.

I used it the next day on a spatchcocked (butterflied) chicken with mushrooms, olives and carmelized onion.  Roasted for about an hour at 350, it was almost as tasty as pizza.

Offline Casanova

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2005, 11:52:53 PM »
Thanks Skyfish and Wallman. I had never read before about, truthfully, had never even contemplated a no-cook method for making a pizza sauce. I always believed that simmering sauces on the stove brought out the fullness of flavor that you couldn't achieve just by mixing the ingredients together straight from the can/box/tube and leaving them at that. I will surely try both of your recipes and see how they come out. Believe me, I'd rather get a great sauce without the cooking if I can. Thanks again.
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Offline mmarston

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2005, 05:31:17 PM »
You can find a bunch of pizza sauce recipes from Stanislaus at http://www.stanislausfoodproducts.com/recipes/recipeframe.asp Just substitute the tomato brand of your choice as Stanislaus products are only available in very large cans for restaurants. Escalon sells small cans of some of their products to the public at http://www.escalon.net/products.asp

The most important thing is to find good tomatoes, if they're too watery just use a strainer to remove some of the liquid.

Michael
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Offline PizzaDanPizzaMan

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2005, 10:56:32 PM »
I too have converted to uncooked sauce. I used to think the same as you, that cooking brought out the flavors of a sauce. But once again, the lessons learned here taught me otherwise. I used to start out by sauteing garlic in olive oil (what could be wrong with that?), then adding tomato sauce, paste and crushed together with some seasonings and even a litte "dago red". I thought it was pretty good sauce, until I tried the uncooked style. Now I have even gotten away from the fresh garlic as it seems to make the sauce somewhat bitter (go figure). I now have come to appreciate my uncooked sauce and may likely never go back to cooked.

Here is my current favorite:

(1) can 6 in 1 tomatoes.
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt (I am currently using Mediterranean Sea Salt from McCormick and I love it. I am a firm believer that salt quality really can make a difference but I am also considered to be crazy by some so take it with a grain of.................SALT?)
1/2-1 tsp. garlic powder (to suit your taste)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
chopped fresh basil
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Also, I found a bottle of Truffle Oil in my pantry that had hardly been used and I decided I should put it in use so I have been putting a tsp. or so in every batch lately and I actually think it kicks it up a bit.

I like to blend these ingredients and allow them to sit at least 24 hours in the fridge. I also like to bring them to room temperature before using. I don't know if that has any bearing on the taste but I feel it not a good idea to put cold sauce on a room temperature skin. I have kept the extra sauce in the fridge for over a week with good results. Any longer than that and it should probably be put in the freezer.

Dan


« Last Edit: December 06, 2005, 10:59:22 PM by PizzaDanPizzaMan »

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2005, 12:35:13 AM »

Also, I found a bottle of Truffle Oil in my pantry that had hardly been used and I decided I should put it in use so I have been putting a tsp. or so in every batch lately and I actually think it kicks it up a bit.


Dan,

That sounds like way too much truffle oil for my taste. What kind are you using?  White? Black?

Maybe this works for you since much of the truffle flavor may be cooked off while the pizza is baking. When I want to use truffle oil (usually on a white pizza), I drizzle just a few drops over the baked pie.

Bill/SFNM

Offline ctimmer

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2005, 01:06:17 AM »
When I worked at the Pizza Hut in the late 60's we used 2 cans of tomato sauce, 2 cans of whole tomatoes (crushed), and the secret spice packet. This was never cooked and I don't know how they make their sauce now.

It seems to me that the cooking process achieves the desired consistency. What if you cooked the tomatoes only to the desired thickness and added the spices toward the end or after the sauce has cooled down. I have not tried this yet.

I like a cracker style crust that works best with a drier sauce but I don't care for the flavor of tomato paste.

PizzaDanPizzaMan - I agree with you comment on fresh garlic, it's sad when the powdered version is better then fresh!

Curt

Offline Casanova

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2005, 05:01:31 AM »
I wanna thank everyone who has come to this page and taken the time to post for keeping this topic alive. There is much to be learned here, and no better way to learn than to lob ideas, suggestions, and personal experiences back and forth among one another.

To Michael: Thanks for the link to Stanislaus' sauce recipes. I'll check them out and try them one-by-one. It's too bad that they only sell in large measures for restaurant use and don't have any production geared toward individual consumers. I've heard a lot about their pre-mixed Pizzalolo sauce and would really like to try it. Did I spell that right?.......LOL I've been putting off ordering from the Escalon site. Guess I'll have to get on the ball.   

To Dan: I'll try your recipe this weekend and see how it turns out. I'll probably pass on the truffle oil, however, unless I can find it in one of my neighborhood markets or grocery stores. And I'm quite sure the "Dago Red" can't hurt the flavor, either. Being Italian myself, I'm familiar with it. I well remember a number of the old timers in the family making it and putting it up in casks in their wine cellars (basements....LOL). Those days were long ago, though.   

To Bill: Is the "altar at Da Michele" at a restaurant (maybe yours?) or at your own home?

To Curt: I prefer the cracker-style crust, too - most of the time. There are times that I go for a crust a bit thicker and even get the hankering for a deep-dish once in a while. I don't know if you're at all familiar with the Shakey's Pizza chain, but they used to have some great pizza and their crust was excellent - in my opinion. Unfortunately, the majority of their stores are now closed in all but a handful of states. By the way, do you know what was in Pizza Hut's "secret spice packet"? 
Some believe it when they see it; others see it when they believe it.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2005, 08:25:39 AM »

To Bill: Is the "altar at Da Michele" at a restaurant (maybe yours?) or at your own home?


Casanova,

The photo is of the wood-burning oven at Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples, Italy which is considered to be ground-zero for the Neapolitan-style pizza. You should make the pilgrimage to Naples at least once in your life for the best pizza (and, perhaps, the best food) in the world. The photo inspires me to try to make pizzas as good as the real thing. Every once in a while I get close which gives me a high all day long.

I do have a much more modest wood-burring oven at my home. 

Bill/SFNM

Offline ctimmer

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2005, 10:36:58 AM »
To Curt: I prefer the cracker-style crust, too - most of the time. There are times that I go for a crust a bit thicker and even get the hankering for a deep-dish once in a while. I don't know if you're at all familiar with the Shakey's Pizza chain, but they used to have some great pizza and their crust was excellent - in my opinion. Unfortunately, the majority of their stores are now closed in all but a handful of states. By the way, do you know what was in Pizza Hut's "secret spice packet"? 

When I first moved to Anchorage I didn't have much money. Fortunately, there was a Shakey's (long gone now) a few blocks from where I lived. Their lunch buffet was only $1.19 at the time. There were many days that was my only meal, but I never went hungry.

I don't know what the PH spice packet had in it. It was heavy on oregano, garlic, and salt. With a little experimentation you could do much better.

BTW - I make a deep dish pizza with my cracker dough rolled thin. Instead of layering the ingredients, I mix everything (sauce, cheese, ingredients) and cook it at little higher temperature than a normal deep dish pie. The trick is to use enough cheese to bind everything together, unless you prefer your deep dish kind of sloppy.

Curt

Offline PizzaDanPizzaMan

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2005, 09:22:53 PM »
Dan,

That sounds like way too much truffle oil for my taste. What kind are you using?  White? Black?

Maybe this works for you since much of the truffle flavor may be cooked off while the pizza is baking. When I want to use truffle oil (usually on a white pizza), I drizzle just a few drops over the baked pie.

Bill/SFNM


Bill,
You are probably right and I doubt I am even using 1 tsp. I rarely measure seasonings and such and the bottle is only 1.8 oz. to begin with. I am more likely using about a quarter tsp. and it is the Bianco (white) version.

I will be trying a white pizza in the near future and I will give it a try on that.

Dan

Offline sebdesn

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2005, 07:08:18 PM »
I have been taking a frozen tomato from the garden and peeling it under hot water,(Still frozen), slicing it up, thawing it,draining the liquid off in a strainer. Then thawing a cube of basil from the garden,(it was shredded with olive oil in the f/p before being frozen in ice cube trays). I spread both on the round,cover with the cheese,and a sprinkle of greek oregano,salt pepper, and maybe a bit of salami or pepperoni, and viola..Its done.(guess I otta find the Italian word for voila)

Bud 

Offline pyegal

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2005, 12:08:56 PM »
As I was unhappy with the watery pizza sauce I took out of the freezer on Friday, I am trying a different sauce today.

The pizza sauce I had previously frozen consisted of Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes, Penzy's Pizza Seasoning, and fresh garlic buzzed with a stick blender. While the taste was fine, when thawed to top a pizza crust, I thought the sauce had too much watery liquid in it that I tried to spoon off.

Today I made some sauce for the fridge and freezer that consisted of the following:

1 can 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
1 can 6oz. tomato paste
1 TB Penzy's pizza seasoning
1 t. granulated garlic
2 TB red wine vinegar
2 TB sugar

After blending all this together with just 1 TB vinegar and 1 TB sugar, I tasted it and decided it needed more of a sweet/sour punch to it and added one additional TB of each, vinegar and sugar. This sauce tasted really good to my taste - that is the key phrase here - "to my taste." The sauce was quite thick, due to the addition of the paste and quite spicy, which I like. I froze three 1 cup containers and have the rest in the fridge to make a pizza tonight.

In years past, I have made cooked pizza sauces and put them up in the freezer. I was pretty satisfied with them then, but after trying an uncooked sauce from advice here on this forum, I found I really liked the uncooked sauce better.

For my pizza experience, I want a really spicy, flavorful sauce loaded with garlic, oregano, basil, pepper, and a hint of the sweet and sour balance from vinegar (or lemon juice) and sugar (or honey). IMO, pizza sauce should be spread rather thinly, and the toppings added sparingly to achieve a balance between crust, sauce, and toppings. If I want a motherlode of sauce and toppings, I'll make a Chicago style pizza. Since I spread the sauce thinly, I want the most flavor for the amount. I can add crushed red pepper, olive oil, and Romano or Parmesan cheese to the sauce after thawing it for use, if desired.

It may be that the frozen sauce is going to be more watery than one not previously frozen. I'm hoping not, but I will post back on the ingredient topic area and report my findings.

Sauce is a very personal taste issue, as is crust style. I'm trying to find my best sauce that I can duplicate with confidence each time.

Teresa aka pyegal

Offline buzz

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Re: The Best Sauce: Tomatoes vs Puree?
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2005, 12:47:38 PM »
If you want some more chunkiness to your sauce, try combining a can of crushed tomatoes (6-in-1, Muir Glen, Progresso, Contadina) with a can of whole peeled tomatoes crushed by hand (drained, of course). It's a very nice combination.