This week the challenge for 52 weeks of cooking is entitled "Mother Sauces". For those of you not familiar with the five French mother sauces, this article on about.com sums it up nicely. They're called mother sauces because once you know how to make them, you can make some slight changes for an endless amount of sauces. For example, once you learn hollandaise, you can make béarnaise, dijon, foyot, choron, maltaise or mousseline sauces. See? It's all about building a foundation to work upon.
Before I get to the recipe, I have a confession to make. I had no idea what mother sauces were before I did this challenge. When I saw the title I thought, "Oh, sauces your mom was really good at!" So I made a tomato sauce (which we call gravy). Lucky for me, tomato sauce will qualify. Since I have until Sunday to complete the challenge, I might try to conquer another one of these mother sauces. There's no crime is doing the challenge twice, is there?
Tomato Mother Sauce
2 large cans tomato puree
1 12 oz can tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomato (I like petite diced, no salt added)
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
Pour puree and diced tomatoes into a large pot and turn heat to low. While that heats through, saute the onion and in a pan with about a tablespoon of oil. Once onions are translucent remove from heat and add 2/3 (the remainder can be used in meatballs) to the sauce. Repeat the process with the carrots, only add all of them to the puree. Scoop the tomato paste out of the can and into the pan you just sauteed the onions in and put over low heat. Add some water to the can to get the last bits out and pour this over the puree. Add abut two teaspoons of each spice listed above and stir the paste until it all comes together and thickens up. Once it has the consistency of a very thick sauce, add it to the puree that's simmering in the other pot. Stir so that it all combines. Let simmer for at least an hour, but it's best when it simmers all day and really has a chance to get thick.