Recipe: Jammy Tomato Sauce

by Cate on February 25, 2020

An unusual mix of ingredients comes together to make one of my new favorite recipes … let’s make Jammy Tomato Sauce.

Jammy Tomato Sauce

Truth be told, I wasn’t looking for another recipe for tomato sauce, because I have several I rely on already, and really, how many recipes for the same thing do I need?

Apparently just one more.

The word “jammy” in the title intrigued me, followed by a few of the ingredients, namely anchovies and the balsamic vinegar reduction.

I modified the ingredients slightly, as one does, and put the pot on the stove on a recent Sunday afternoon. After about an hour, I snuck a taste. Mmmm. And several hours later, I couldn’t stop eating it straight up from the pan.

Just typing these words about it is making my mouth water all over again.

Anchovy haters, don’t be alarmed, I’m right there with you. Can’t stand them either. But I’ve also cooked with them often enough to know that they melt when heated, and truly impart a little bit of magic in the finished dish. (Great dishes with anchovies where you’re none the wiser: Pan Seared Steak with Anchovies and Lime, Linguine with Green Olive Sauce and Zesty Breadcrumbs, Roasted Cauliflower Spread, and Panzanella to name a few)

The sauce is thick and rich with a hint of a seafood taste as the finish. Although the original author suggests thinning the sauce for a few uses, I didn’t.

I served it with homemade meatballs.

With ravioli.

Slathered onto grilled sourdough bread.

And topping homemade pizzas.

All the things. It’s seriously that good.

Make it and come on back and let me know how much you loved it.

Jammy Tomato-Anchovy Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Phyllis Grant (slightly modified by me)

2 28-ounce cans of diced or crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, with their juices
1/2 cup red wine
5 oil-packed anchovy fillets (I used six)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and microplaned (I used five)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic reduction, homemade (instructions to follow) or store-bought aged and thick balsamic
1 tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest (I skipped)
2 teaspoons sherry or white wine vinegar
3 sprigs thyme (I skipped)
1 teaspoon salt
A few turns of black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes (I skipped)

Optional: Make the balsamic vinegar reduction if you don’t have thick, aged balsamic on hand. Place 6 tablespoons (or more) of balsamic vinegar in a small pot. Place the pot over high heat until the vinegar boils. Turn the heat down to medium low—just low enough so that the vinegar is simmering. Keep simmering until the vinegar has reduced a bit more than halfway. (It won’t be thickened yet. Don’t worry. It will thicken up as it cools.) Save 2 tablespoons for the sauce and any excess for a topping.

Place all the sauce ingredients in a large pot. Stir. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat as low as possible to maintain a very gentle simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 hours, preferably, until nearly all the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes have the consistency of a loose jam or a dense apple-sauce.

Stir every 20 minutes or so to make sure the tomatoes don’t scorch. If the sauce base thickens too quickly or seems to be getting dry, add a bit of olive oil, wine, or water. The longer you let it simmer, the more intense it will taste. Remove the thyme sprigs. Season to taste.

Depending on how chunky a texture you like, purée half or all the sauce with a hand blender or in a food processor. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or freeze for up to 6 months.

A few things to do with this jammy goodness:

Dinner for 4: Cook 1 pound of pasta in salted water until al dente. Reserve a large mugful of pasta water. Drain the pasta. Coat the pasta with 1 cup (or more) of Jammy Tomato Anchovy Sauce and as much pasta water as you need to loosen up the sauce and generously coat the noodles (start with 1/2 mug and keep adding). Put the remaining pasta water in a pitcher on the table. Serve this dish with any of the following toppings: pine nuts, chopped parsley, goat cheese, Parmesan, olive oil, balsamic reduction, bread crumbs, coarse salt, capers, or olives.

Lunch for 1: Grill or toast some bread. Rub a peeled garlic clove all over the warm bread (it will disappear into the bread). Spread the bread generously with warm Jammy Tomato Anchovy Sauce. Top with an egg (poached or fried), a splash of olive oil, lemon zest, and coarse salt.

As a base for a pizza: Spread the sauce over pizza dough and then top with slices of mozzarella and anchovy fillets. The moment you take the pizza out of the oven, top with a generous handful of baby arugula, a few splashes of olive oil, balsamic reduction, and toasted pine nuts.

As a condiment: Use on a sandwich instead of chutney or ketchup.

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