Tastier tinned tomatoes with this simple trick
The idea described by «Bon Appetit» is simple enough: drain the tomatoes and fry them in a pan before you cook them. They will caramelise and produce more flavour. Tinned tomatoes are pre-cooked, but not enough to develop their full sweetness. They’re between being raw and cooked. So if you heat them up, the remaining water from within the tomatoes evaporates and the full flavour unfolds. By the way, don’t pour away the liquid that’s inside the tin – you’ll need it to deglase the cooked tomatoes. Sounds like a good idea, but is it worth the effort?
Putting the tinned tomato trick to the test
For my test scenario, I bought a large tin of tomatoes and divided it into two equal portions. To judge the result, I decided to cook the simplest and also tastiest tomato sauce in the world: Marcella Hazan’s «Tomato sauce with butter and onions». I poured one half of the tomatoes straight into the pan and pre-cooked the other half, as described in the «Bon Appetit» recipe. I cooked both sauces at the same temperature and for the same amount of time: 45 minutes. I also added butter and onions at the same time. My choice of pasta: spaghetti. A classic.
I simmered both sauces until they’d thickened. In the classic version – without pre-cooking the tomatoes – the chunks of tomato remained visible while the chunks in the pre-cooked version were much smaller and tastier. The sauce also had a better balance of flavours. I like this method, even if the tomatoes don’t taste «ten times» more intense, as advertised in the original article.