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Marinara/Red sauce/Tomato Sauce/Gravy Help?

Nanners84 | May 4, 201208:06 PM     46

So making the perfect marinara sauce has been a recent quest of mine, so I was hoping some chowhounders could help me out. I should preface the rest of my post with saying that I know the "perfect" marinara is different for everyone, and while I am open to different opinions, the kind of marinara I'm trying to achieve is a full-bodied marinara with slight sweetness but also a bit spicy, just a little heat. I don't care if it's "authentic" or not, just tasty. So, a few questions ...

1. Wine. What does this contribute exactly to the sauce, aside from imparting the wine taste? I had tried using a red wine before, but I didn't like the bitterness that it left behind. It wasn't a garbage wine or anything, it's something I like to drink, but the degree of bitterness I enjoy in my wine, I don't like in my sauce. I tried another time with white wine, a pinot grigio, and I liked this much better, I thought it cut out some of the tinny and acidic taste of the tomatoes. But I traditionally see recipes call for red wine, so I was wondering what others opinion on this was. Also if you use wine, do you like to add it before the tomatoes and cook it down, or let it cook down along with the sauce?

2. Cooking duration. I always hear Italians talking about how their grandmothers cooked their sauces all day, yet I've seen other sources say that marinara sauce is to be cooked under thirty minutes. One of my Italian friends has also said that he cooks it all day in a crock pot and that it gets rid of the acidity, yet also have seen a poster on here in the past say that doing so brings it out. I want to make marinara with meatballs in the future, so the idea of tossing them in the slow cooker to absorb flavor appealed to me, but if it doesn't make much of a difference I'd rather forgo it.

3. Carrots & celery. I've read in some discussions that the addition of carrots also helps cut the acidity with their sweetness, but when I used carrots and celery in the past it actually seemed to dull the overall flavor. I didn't like the texture it added either, even though they were all finely cut and cooked down before the addition of the sauce. I've found that I don't mind them in a bolognase, but in my marinara, I can't seem to make it work for me.

4. Tomato Paste. Why are some so adamantly against tomato paste? I'd actually prefer if it was omissible, I always use just a tiny bit and have the rest go bad in my fridge!

Sorry for such a long post, and thanks in advance to any feedback!

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