The Mother Sauces, Part 4: Classic Tomato


Classic French tomato sauce is nothing short of luxurious. Unlike Italian tomato sauces that use olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs like basil and oregano, this French mother sauce is a roux fortified tomato sauce made with crushed tomatoes, stock, and salt pork which is fatty cuts of pork cured with salt. Salt pork is one ingredient that differentiates French tomato sauce from Italian tomato sauces. The fat is rendered over low heat, aromatic vegetables are sautéed in that fat to build a flavorful base for the sauce and used along with butter and flour to make a roux.

Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes


Yields 2 quarts (8 cups)
⦁ 2 ounces salt pork or pancetta, diced
⦁ ¼ cup unsalted butter
⦁ 2/3 cup diced carrot
⦁ ½ cup diced onion
⦁ 2 garlic cloves, minced
⦁ 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
⦁ 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
⦁ 4 cups reduced-sodium white veal or chicken stock
⦁ ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
⦁ Kosher salt, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Add the salt pork to a Dutch oven or large oven-safe skillet over low heat. Render until the fat liquefies.
3. Increase the heat to medium-low then add the butter.
4. Add the diced carrot, onion, and garlic once the butter is melted.
5. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Do not brown.
6. Sprinkle in the flour. Stir until all of the flour is incorporated and the roux comes together.
7. Add the tomatoes then whisk in the stock. Add the sugar and whisk again.
8. Bring the sauce to a boil then partially cover the Dutch oven or skillet.
9. Place into the oven to simmer for 2 hours. Alternatively, you can reduce the sauce to a simmer and leave to simmer on the stovetop for 2 hours. Add salt to taste once done.
10. Use a blender or food processor to puree the sauce until smooth. A smooth sauce also means you can use a gravy boat as a serving vessel if you wish.


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