Source: Ryan Shelton, Merchant Roots
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on August 25, 2018.
Makes 2-3 quarts (10-12 portions)
10 pounds tomatoes (preferably dry-farmed Early Girl or Dirty Girl)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, washed and cut in ½ horizontally (no need to remove skins)
1 large pinch chili flakes
1 bunch basil, stem ends removed
Salt, as needed
Stem the tomatoes, reserving the stems, then cut a small x into the opposite end of each. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and prepare a similarly sized ice bath. Once the water has come to a boil, add the tomatoes, a few at a time, and leave in the water for 40-60 seconds. The skins should begin to loosen. Transfer the tomatoes, as you blanch them, to the ice bath.
In a small pot, combine the olive oil, tomato stems, garlic, chili flakes, and basil. Bring the oil to a simmer over low heat and cook until the garlic has turned light gold, about 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool.
Peel the tomatoes by rubbing the skins off with your (clean) hands. Cut the tomatoes in half through the stem end, working over a large bowl to catch the juices. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes with your fingers and squeeze the tomatoes firmly to remove the juices.
Remove the solids (tomato stems, garlic, basil, and chili flakes) from the oil with a strainer. Add the tomato halves to the oil. Simmer over low-medium heat for about an hour, or until the tomatoes have shrunk and wilted considerably (like tomato “raisins”).
Meanwhile, strain the tomato seeds from the tomato liquid by pouring through a mesh strainer over a bowl. Dispose of the seeds. Transfer 85% of the liquid to another pan, saving the reminder in the refrigerator. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer over low-medium heat and reduce until thickened, about 1 hour.
Add the reduced liquid to the cooked tomatoes. Simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture is quite thick, like pizza sauce. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Add refrigerated tomato juice to the sauce – this will keep the flavor of the sauce fresh and bright. Season to taste with salt and store, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.