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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pizza Sauce - What is it?


  Parent Pizza Cooked 
  Originally uploaded by Foodmomiac.

Jill has now submitted this question TWICE, so I figure it's high time I answered it.

Dear Foodmomiac,

Every time I try to make pizza sauce it tastes like spaghetti sauce.  Can you share your recipe and help explain the difference between the sauces?

Thanks,
Jill

OK, I didn't answer this for a reason. I had NO clue. But, after getting a lecture from Michael on all of the questions I was ignoring, I decided that I should probably do some research.

Now, when WE make pizza, we have a few things we do in terms of sauce. On pizzas I make for myself, I often forgo sauce all together. I prefer a white-style pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, garlic, carmelized onions, toasted pine nuts and olive oil. But, the rest of the family thinks I'm nuts, so we usually do use sauce. In Toledo, we bought our pizza sauce from Sofo's, the local Italian market. Here in Chicago,  we've tried all sorts of things, many of them from Trader Joe's. Our reliance on canned pizza sauces is probably the source of my dislike of the sauced pizza.

Your question really made me curious, though, Jill. I don't really understand what the difference is between spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce, and to be able to tackle this in a homemade fashion, I realized that I needed to do some research.

I did some googling, which led me nowhere, really. I found some crappy recipes (one can tomato paste, one can tomato sauce, blah blah blah). I found a lot of commercial sauces. I decided to turn to eGullet, and that's where things started to become clear.

On eGullet, they have these Cook-Offs, where anyone who wants to can cook a certain item and then discuss it with others making the same thing. There have been a Chili Cook-Off, a Bibimbap Cook-Off, a Fried Chicken Cook-Off. Lots of Cook-Offs. The Cook-Off that helped me, though, was the Pizza Cook-Off.

So, here's what I found out. True, Neopolitan pizza has an uncooked pizza sauce. You want San Marzano tomatoes (canned is fine). Crush them, and you are basically good to go. Seasoning is very limited. You really don't need any seasoning at all, because that's what the pizza toppings are for. Want a basil flavor? Put basil leaves on the pizza. Want garlic? Crush some directly onto the pie. This kind of sauce is right up my alley. It's simple, it's pure, it's not overloaded with all of the heavy-handed seasonings that personify pasta sauce.

Hope this helps Jill!

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