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Brown the onions
Something that not all cooks incorporate into their tomato sauce, but that really adds to the richness of flavor and creates the umami undertone, is caramelizing the onions before adding them to the sauce. This utilizes the Maillard reaction, a crucial element of basic cooking that releases the amino acids and sugars of food to create mouthwatering flavors. This is accomplished through the correct combination of heat and dry conditions, turning onions from pungent to deliciously sweet and heavenly additions to the sauce.
The Millard reaction
The Maillard reaction is often referred to as the "browning reaction" because of the color generally produced by implementing this technique. It is used for all different kinds of food but often thought of primarily when cooking meat. It is a delicate balance to get the correct brown color on the outside of the meat without overcooking in on the inside. The tomatoes should be perfectly tart as is, so adding a little bit of sugar can help balance out the inherent tart, bitter flavor with a slight sweetness that rounds out the flavor of the sauce. And of course a healthy dose of salt brings out the natural flavors of all of the ingredient! Once you've got everything combined, the longer you can let it simmer, the deeper and richer the flavor will be.
Creative Use for the Basic Sauce
The most wonderful part about the sauce detailed below is that it can be used for a wide variety of different dishes. Certainly it makes a perfect topping for your classic Italian dishes, spaghetti, lasagna, chicken or eggplant Parmesan. But it can also be utilized for Middle Eastern dishes, such as shakshuka. There are many other dishes that have a tomato base, such as BBQ sauce, minestrone. One recommendation is to make a big batch of this sauce so you can use it to enhance your cooking for weeks to come.
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