So I decided to make a simple marinara sauce over the weekend. The main ingredients were two I had not used before (Escalon 6 in 1 Tomatoes and Ortiz Anchovies) and was specifically trying to evaluate them. The basic recipe was also one I had never used before (not ideal for evaluation, but I was feeling experimental):
28 oz can of Escalon 6 in 1 Tomatoes
3 Ortiz Anchovies (Jarred one with the little fork)
3 cloves purple garlic
Olive Oil (maybe a tbsp)
Penzy's Dried Sweet Basil (maybe a tbsp)
Penzy's Dried French Thyme (maybe a tbsp+)
Penzy's Chili Flakes
So I prepared the sauce (roughly 40 minutes of simmering). I then boiled the penne to a touch under al dente using Harold McGee's minimal water technique. Finally I finished the pasta over low heat in the sauce for about another 15-20 minutes (very little pasta water remained, but I added it to the sauce as well).
When it was done I threw on some flaked Parmigiano Reggiano and served. I was underwhelmed. The sauce was fine but not especially good. I had over-reduced it a bit, so the texture approached tomato paste. The flavor was pretty good but not the least bit memorable. I was kind of chalking it up to a minor failure, despite liking the Escalon 6 in 1 better than the DOP tomatoes I have previously used
So I packaged up what was remaining and put it into the fridge over night. I used the remainder the next day. I again prepared the penne to a bit below al dente using the Harold McGee minimal water technique (this time using more water than the last). I left just enough water in the pan to make the sauce soupy after adding the remainder of what was essentially a loose homemade tomato paste. I boiled it down over medium heat until the sauce had a good consistency.
I tried the sauce, and I was floored by how much better it was. After adding the flaked Parmigiano Reggiano, I dare say it was better than any marinara I have had in a restaurant. It was shockingly good.
I have made a lot of braised dishes, soups, and some other types of tomato sauce. I am used to them tasting better the next day. But I have never experienced such a dramatic difference in the quality. So my question is why was this just so much better? I have tried to isolate what is different from other sauces I have done.
1.) Maybe I simply couldn't enjoy it as much the first day because the consistency of the sauce was not ideal for carrying the flavors. The only reason I am leaning away from this is because the first day the sauce did not really taste more intense than the second day. So I don't think it was a case of the first day having flavors too concentrated.
2.) I have not used anchovies before. Is their impact on the dish intensified after additional time sitting?
3.) I also have not used the 6 in 1 tomatoes before. I don't think it is likely, but do they somehow benefit from additional time more than other tomatoes?
4.) Is the reduction to loose tomato paste-like consistency somehow a benefit when it comes to the melding of flavors overnight?
5.) Is there possibly an advantage to adding the cold tomato almost-paste directly to the pan I boiled the pasta in (versus adding the pasta and some pasta water into the sauce pan)?
If you can speak to any of the above points, certainly chime in. And if you have another thought as to what is responsible for the dramatic difference in flavor, I am all ears.