Jump to content

Pasta-Making And Tomato-Sauce Tasting


mdt
 Share

Recommended Posts

As mentioned by mktye here it would be interesting to do a canned tomato testing. I figured this would be a great thing to pair with a hands on session of pasta making that I have offered to do for a couple of people.

The canned tomato tasting would basically consist of the following:

- select several brands of canned tomato

- blind taste in the raw state

- blind taste a simple sauce

- rate and discuss the results over a huge bowl of pasta while drinking wine. :lol:

The pasta making session would be an overview of how to make basic fresh pasta and some flavored versions. I will also show how to make some filled pasta shapes if people are interested. This will be a hands on course as there is no better way to learn.

This would take place on a Saturday at my house sometime after the picnic. What I would like to know is how many people are interested in the tasting and/or the pasta making session.

Comments and/or suggestions?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm interested. I'd be happy to pick up a few varieties of canned sauce at A. Litteri's (and wine of course).

I could probably also get my hands on a hand cranked pasta maker if we need it-- depending on your pasta production capabilities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As mentioned by mktye here it would be interesting to do a canned tomato testing.
But it was your great idea! :lol:

Possible tomato brands to taste:

Cento (San Marzano)

Flora (San Marzano)

Sun of Italy (San Marzano)

Muir Glen

Contadina

Redpack (these always seem to win the Cook's Illustrated tomato taste tests)

Hunt's

S&W

Pomi

and maybe a brand that is labeled "San Marzano-type"

Other contenders?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But it was your great idea! :lol:

Possible tomato brands to taste:

Cento (San Marzano)

Flora (San Marzano)

Sun of Italy (San Marzano)

Muir Glen

Contadina

Redpack (these always seem to win the Cook's Illustrated tomato taste tests)

Hunt's

S&W

Pomi

and maybe a brand that is labeled "San Marzano-type"

Other contenders?

I think most of the brands you list (Cento, Flora, Sun) as being "San Marzano" are actually "San Marzano Style." Canned tomatoes actually grown in San Marzano appear to be rare. See discussion here. Can I bring the big gallon can of San Marzano Style tomatoes that I bought at Costco?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ummmm....

Has this event been OK'd by the forum host?

Have you requested your propaganda materials?

Finally, please remember that no funds are to be raised at the event itself.

Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think most of the brands you list (Cento, Flora, Sun) as being "San Marzano" are actually "San Marzano Style." 
Okay, then that catagory is covered and probably only one or two of those brands should be a part of the tasting (and mdt likes Sun of Italy, so we should go with at least with that one).

Have you (or anyone else!) found a supplier of "real" San Marzano canned tomatoes yet?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, then that catagory is covered and probably only one or two of those brands should be a part of the tasting (and mdt likes Sun of Italy, so we should go with at least with that one). 

Have you (or anyone else!) found a supplier of "real" San Marzano canned tomatoes yet?

Yes, the Flora San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes I got at Wegmans appear to the the real McCoy. The reference to Sarnese-Nocerino threw me; but after reading the eGullet thread again, I'm satisfied that I have the real McCoys.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Might I suggest that we include a wine tasting component to this event?  I was thinking maybe Robert Kacher wines.

Wouldn't a selection of Italian wines make more sense?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It might, if you can think of a way to narrow the field so that we have a coherent format.

That should not be too hard, but this is quickly turning into an all day affair. Not that a full day of food, wine, and friends is a bad thing! :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ummmm....

Has this event been OK'd by the forum host?

Have you requested your propaganda materials?

Finally, please remember that no funds are to be raised at the event itself.

Thank you.

Piss off. :lol:

I'm in depending on the time. Do we need salad and garlic bread?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well so far it looks like we have a good deal of interest which is great. I will post 2 possible dates later this week for people to comment on.

Found this info on the wines suggested by brendanc.

I will surely need people to bring their pasta machines if they have one. I only have 1 hand crank plus a chitarra.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is some information on the wine importer from eGullet:

Winebow/Leonardo LoCascio --Always good wines but this portfolio is so big there seems to be no particular style or selection standards. Yes the wines are good and some are great but in an attempt to cover all the regions of Italy the overall quality level has been somewhat watered down. There are some great properties here like Allegrini, Altesino, Tiefenbrunner, Anselmi, Castello di Ama, and Bruno Giacosa.

And how do we handle the "simple sauce" part of the operation? That will involve cooking a number of different batches of sauce.

edited to add: Here is a link to Craig Camp's article on Itlaian wines on eGullet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is some information on the wine importer from eGullet:

-

And how do we handle the "simple sauce" part of the operation?  That will involve cooking a number of different batches of sauce.

I am working with mktye to have the sauces made in advance as this is a tasting not cooking exercise. Between our combined experimental scientific backgrounds each one will be made in exactly the same way on the same stove. Besides we will have enough to do between making pasta, blind tasting sauces, and tasting wines.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And how do we handle the "simple sauce" part of the operation?  That will involve cooking a number of different batches of sauce.

To keep it simple, we could do the Marcella Hazan method:

Basically, you take a 28-oz. can of tomatoes, squeeze or cut the tomatoes into chunks, and simmer them with half an onion (peeled but not chopped) and 5 T of butter for 45 minutes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To keep it simple, we could do the Marcella Hazan method:

Basically, you take a 28-oz. can of tomatoes, squeeze or cut the tomatoes into chunks, and simmer them with half an onion (peeled but not chopped) and 5 T of butter for 45 minutes.

:lol: Uh oh, here we go with the Northern versus Southern Italian way to make sauce. mktye have been going back and forth on butter versus olive oil in sauces for fresh versus dried pasta.

To keep from going a bit off topic I will keep my thoughts to myself at the moment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Basically, you take a 28-oz. can of tomatoes, squeeze or cut the tomatoes into chunks, and simmer them with half an onion (peeled but not chopped) and 5 T of butter for 45 minutes.
Ha! ;) This is the exact sauce I was thinking would be good for the tomato taste tests! (And the recipe that I've been "discussing" the merits of with mdt. :P )

mdt has suggested an olive oil-based sauce from a Mario Batali recipe. It also looks excellent.

:lol:   Uh oh, here we go with the Northern versus Southern Italian way to make sauce.  mktye have been going back and forth on butter versus olive oil in sauces for fresh versus dried pasta.

To keep from going a bit off topic I will keep my thoughts to myself at the moment.

:P Maybe we can hold a debate when we are all gathered at the tasting?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How can you people talk about tomato sauce without garlic!!  The nonna I learned from always included garlic.

Depending on the date my pasta roller and I are in.

Of course it should include garlic, but we really want to taste the tomato with as little additional influence as possible. The Batali recipe has carrots and thyme, but that will probably affect the flavor too much.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are going for the purity of the tomato then I would think all additions except possibly salt would then influence the flavor. Assuming you use olive oil that right there could change the body of the sauce. To do this right maybe the sauce should just be pureed tomatoes and a touch of salt. Otherwise there are a number of uncontrollable variables that could affect the flavor of the tomato.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are going for the purity of the tomato then I would think all additions except possibly salt would then influence the flavor.  Assuming you use olive oil that right there could change the body of the sauce.  To do this right maybe the sauce should just be pureed tomatoes and a touch of salt.  Otherwise there are a number of uncontrollable variables that could affect the flavor of the tomato.

I think we will get the purity of the tomato with the 'raw' out of the can tasting. The basic sauce will be to see how the different brands compare when used in a typical manner. This is the basic test that Cook's Illustrated performed and I think they do a pretty good job of testing.

Stay tuned to this channel for more info...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In looking at my schedule the best days for me are either Saturday June 4th or 11th. Email or PM me with your preference. I have no idea about time yet so chime in with suggestions or preferences.

Also if I do not have your email address please send it to me so that we can keep the coordination minutiea out of the thread. I will update the thread with information on how we plan to do the taste test and so forth so everyone can see and comment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And speaking of rolling fresh pasta, has anyone seen the episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown attaches the roller to one and of an ironing board and rolls the pasta out ot the end of the board?

Absolutely! I have that if anybody wants it for reference.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For basic tomato sauce I really like Furmano's canned tomatoes, which I stock up on when they're on sale at Giant (and would be happy to bring).

Thanks for doing this, mdt and hillvalley!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For basic tomato sauce I really like Furmano's canned tomatoes, which I stock up on when they're on sale at Giant (and would be happy to bring).

Thanks for doing this, mdt and hillvalley!

I dig Furmano's too. Pretty good stuff.

I'll see try to swing by Literi's this weekend to take stock of their offerings. As I said before, I'd be happy to get a bottle of tomatoes and a can of wine for the event.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

mktye and I will be bringing all the canned tomatoes and sauces in generic similar containers for the blind tasting. Once we come up with a list of the selected brands we will post it here.

What you all can start to think about is what side dishes you would like to bring as I am sure we will all be getting bored with pasta and tomato sauce.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good point about the side dishes.  Should we avoid very strong flavors with these, too?

Not really. I figure we will do the tastings while we are fresh and save the majority of the food for the pasta feast at the end. Plus with all of us rolling out pasta there is not going to be much room for food on the tables and counter tops. :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok everyone I have 15 people that have expressed interest, which is probably the limit that we can somewhat comfortably fit in my kitchen.

Only one person has chimed in with a date preference. To refresh everyone's memory the dates to select from are Saturday June 4th and Saturday June 11th. Time is TBD.

Please email or PM if you have a preference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I get so many food magazines, that I can't recall the source for the blind canned tomato tasting I read recently. The upshot was that "new product" Progresso canned tomatoes beat out not only standard supermarket brands, but also Muir Glen. I've since bought Progresso canned tomatoes, and they are indeed very fresh tasting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The date for the pasta making/tomato tasting session will be on Saturday June 4th. Time and other details will follow as we get closer to the event.

Here is the current list based upon people that told me that the 4th would work for them. For all you others please let me know.

mktye

bilrus (?)

bkeith

syzygy8 + 1

mnebergal

erin

laniloa

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The brands that were selected for the tasting are listed below and were purchased at local area grocery stores. Will the DOPs stand up to the 'regular' tomatoes? Stay tuned as the results will be posted sometime after I recover from Saturday's event. :lol:

Hunt's

Furmano (without basil)

Ferrara

Muir Glen (whole tomatoes, not plum)

Redpack

Sun of Italy

Cento, DOP (with basil)

Flora, San Marzano, DOP (with basil)

Here are the 2 recipes that were used to make the sauces for the tasting. Everything possible was done to keep things as consistent as possible in our home kitchens.

Olive Oil Recipe Based on Mario Batali's Basic Pasta Sauce from Simple Italian Food

3 oz. extra virgin olive oil

12 oz. onion ~1/4 inch dice

1 oz. garlic thinly sliced

2 oz. finely grated carrot

1 1/2 T dried thyme

3 28 oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes ~1/2 dice

1/4 t salt

Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.

Add onions and garlic and cook until soft and light golden in color (10 minutes).

Add carrot and thyme and cook until the carrot is soft (5 minutes).

Add tomatoes and salt and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until thick (50 minutes).

Butter Recipe From Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

10 ounces unsalted Land ‘O Lakes butter

24 ounces peeled yellow onion (in half onion pieces)

3 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, with their juice, chopped into ~1/2” dice

3/4teaspoon salt

Put the butter, onion, and tomatoes (with their juice) into a 6-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring every 15 minutes, for 60 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the pieces of onion from the sauce and discard. Add salt. Blend with stick blender, twenty 1-second pulses.

Both batches were allowed to cool for 90 minutes at room temperature, then cool for 8-10 hours in the refrigerator, then frozen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well it is the morning after and the flour has all been clean up, well mostly, and my kitchen is back to normal. All in all a fun day with good food, friend, and wine. I am looking forward to the pictures. :lol: The day started off with a couple of shuttle run to the metro to have me return to a full house of DR.com'ers popping corks, setting up their side dishes, and getting things underway.

We then started with a quick lesson on how to make pasta dough. After showing how to roll out, cut, and shape everyone make a batch or two of dough. While letting them rest we started with the first tasting, raw tomatoes. To keep this brief the rest of the day was spent alternating between rolling out pasta and tasting tomato sauces. We finished up with a good deal of eating and discussion about the days event.

Thanks to everyone that attended, I enjoyed it and look forward to some posts in the dinner thread with pictures of pasta dishes in the future.

A word of thanks to jparrott for donating some wine for us to taste.

A specail thanks to mktye for helping me to organize and pull of the day. I truly would not have been able to pull this off with our your help.

The tastings were done blind with scoring from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) for each sauce. We had 10 people attending and scoring, expect for the last sauce where we had 9.

Now here are the interesting results. I am sure that others will comment with details.

Raw Tomatoes

37 Hunts

34 Ferrara

31 Redpack and Sun of Italy

29 Muir Glen and Cento DOP

26 Furmano's

23 Flora DOP

Butter Sauce

34 Furmano's

32 Muir Glen and Redpack

29.5 Hunt's

28 Cento DOP

27 Sun of Italy and Flora DOP

26.5 Ferrara

Olive Oil Sauce

31.5 Hunt's

30 Redpack

27 Ferrara and Sun of Italy

24 Muir Glen

23 Furmano's

19 Cento DOP

16 Flora DOP

Total Scores

98 Hunt's

93 Redpack

87.5 Ferrara

85 Sun of Italy and Muir Glen

83 Furmano's

76 Cento DOP

66 Flora DOP

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...