Smoky Charcoal Grilled Tomato Sauce. It’s the most insane and beautiful way to preserve this magnificent fruit. And you should do it right away, while you still can.
I decided I’d make up my annual massive batch of Smoky Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce and low and behold… my oven was broken. And really it was just as well. Because my coming into a bushel of roma tomatoes coincided with a massive heat wave. Not even my little window a.c. unit could hack it.
Oh man I love smoky charcoal grilled roasted tomato sauce. The flavour. The joy it brings me. And funny enough I am not really a fan of tomato-saucy things. You know… I prefer pesto to tomato almost anytime. But… sometimes you need it. Sometimes you need to make lasagna. Sometimes you need a dollap of tomatoes in your curry. Sometimes you DO want a tomato sauce pizza. So…
Another thing: Tomatoes just suck most of the year. You know it. I know it. They taste like a permanently-in-the-fridge tomato, which everyone knows is inferior to the sweet, off-the-vine, still-warm tomato. I would do anything to capture that. And this tomato sauce comes awfully darn close.
If you don’t have a smoker or a charcoal grill do not fret. You can still go for the oven-roasted method, or use a regular grill (as I did below). If you’re looking for that charcoal flavour goodness then I suggest you place some charcoal or wood chips (or both) in a container and get it going on the propane grill along with your tomatoes.
You don’t have to stop with tomatoes only. The last batch I made I decided on a whim to throw a couple red peppers, a red onion, and a couple bulbs of garlic on the smoky grill, also. It infused the flavour of that batch into an even richer, more flavourful version. And I was able to skip the onion-sauteeing phase.
The storage part is up to you. This year I vacuum-sealed all of my sauce in 3.5 cup portions, so they stacked beautifully in my freezer (thanks to Malcolm’s vacuum-sealer + brilliance).
You may choose to can the entire batch. I had used all my jars for pickles, so this version worked great for me. You may also choose to can the tomatoes whole (once you have peeled them and squeezed out the seeds, of course). But I was so excited to use my new vegetable mill, I couldn’t miss the chance for thick, delicious, READY sauce.
What is your favourite way to preserve tomatoes? I want to know. Share in the comments.
What should I use this sauce for? I’d love to you know what you think…
Smoky Charcoal Grilled Tomato Sauce METHOD:
- Toss the amount of tomatoes you want to tackle in some olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
- Prepare your charcoal grill. I used a smoker, that I turned into a charcoal grill for the process.
- Wait until it is hot.
- Slowly char the tomatoes, about 5 minutes per side.
- Remove the tomatoes and set aside. This is when you could skip making sauce, and simply can or freeze the tomatoes. In this case, let the tomatoes cool for a bit, peel the skins off (they’ll slide right off) and squeeze most of the seeds out. Then proceed.
- To make sauce, peel and squeeze the tomatoes for preparation. OR…I HAVE AN EVEN BETTER IDEA… I highly recommend you invest in a food mill of some sort. There are very inexpensive ones out there, and you can often pick one up from auctions or garage sales.
- Process the tomatoes through the food mill. This removes all the lectin-rich excess you don’t want or need in your sauce. Make sure you put the pulp-goop through the mill another time or two. This releases an even thicker puree. (You can put roasted peppers through the mill, also.)
- Saute some onions in a massive pot (or divide between two). Throw in a pile of garlic, and the tomato puree. Add some sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Add the grilled onion and roasted garlic now, if you like. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for a few hours (at least two). The longer you simmer, the thicker your sauce will be.
- Meanwhile, scoop some of your sauce onto a few cookie sheets. Place the sheets in the oven at 400 F or so, for a couple hours. Make a roasted paste that you can add to your sauce at the end. This step is entirely optional.
- Once you’ve reached your desired thickness, remove from heat. Season to taste once more. When you’re ready, and it’s cooled enough, store in freezer packs, vacuum-sealed packs, or go on to properly can.
And voila: Smoky Charcoal Grilled Tomato Sauce — as easy as can be.