Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Batch Cooking: Spaghetti Sauce

Pops had a military reunion this weekend, and Thursday night we had about 20 people over for a spaghetti dinner. I figured as long as I was making spaghetti sauce from scratch, I might as well make a nice big batch and freeze what we didn't need for the dinner.

I managed to resist the idea of cooking the sauce overnight. Last time I cooked my sauce too long it got very bitter. So, we roasted the veggies up the night before and puréed with some of the tomato so all I had to do was throw it and some seasonings in the crockpot the next day. Simple! Nonetheless, about 2 hours before our guests arrived, I realized the sauce was VERY acidic.

I knew that a lot of people used sugar to cut the acidity of the sauce. A tablespoon of sweet in this entire batch of sauce would probably have been fine, if I had realized that's all I needed. Still, the gut reaction of NO NO NO from my low-carb days persisted, and I decided I'd find another way.

 I knew I could use baking soda to eliminate acid! So I sprinkled it on!

 I was fascinated as it immediately bubbled up.

 ... And then overflowed my pots as I mixed it in and it continued to create a boiling red lava elementary school science experiment. Too bad I didn't realize until afterward that the suggested dosage of baking soda was around a teaspoon. Oops.

Tasted it and at first it was much sweeter, then I was sure I had ruined it because it tasted soda-y, but still acidic too! I put in some balsamic vinegar because I figured the sweet taste would help with any residual acidty, and the acidic vinegar would correct any overdosing of baking soda. I let it cook for an hour and tasted again, everything was FANTASTIC. WHEW!

After cooking up two big crockpots of sauce for the reunion, I still had almost three pots'-worth of sauce left in a roasting pan in the fridge. Sunday we decided that cooking this in the oven was just a bad idea, and threw it into crockpots for the day. Knowing that the next batch had more tomatoes as compared to the mirepoix (onion/carrot/celery mix) from the first one, I made sure to add some more veggies. And I also made sure to caramelize them for maximum sweetness.

A little carrot, nutmeg and balsamic vinegar for the sauce. Used the residual balsamicy-carrot oil to caramelize the onions.  This batch of sauce is much less acidic than the last one! Score one for Team Moon!

The folks at the spaghetti dinner had a blast, by the way. Apparently they couldn't stop raving about that sauce all weekend. Win!

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