How To Make Sauce Tomat

Sauce Tomat, better known as tomato sauce, is a French Mother Sauce based on tomatoes. This base can consist of fresh tomatoes cooked down into a liquid, canned tomatoes, tomato puree or even tomato paste.

“Hey, wait a second now, how is tomato sauce a French Mother sauce when it’s clearly Italian?”

Well, you do know it was the Italians that taught the French  to cook right? But that’s a whole other post. Suffice it to say that just like all the other mother sauces, “Sauce Tomat” is an incredibly versatile base sauce that can have any number of variations.

But before we start playing around with tomato sauce, it is important to first understand the classic version. My favorite classical recipe for Sauce Tomat is Escoffier’s version.

Escoffier’s Sauce Tomat Recipe

Although most of the sauce recipes that I’ve been giving for the Mother Sauces yield 1 quart (1 liter), this recipe will yield 2 quarts since you can almost never have enough tomato sauce, and it is always better the next day anyway. For Escoffier’s recipe you will need:

  • 2-3 oz (56-84 g) Salt Pork. Salt pork comes from the belly portion of the pig, just like bacon. However, unlike bacon, salt pork is never smoked, and the fattier (more white), the better.
  • 3 oz (84 g) Carrots, peeled and medium diced
  • 3 oz (84 g) White or Yellow onion, medium diced
  • 2 oz (56 g) whole butter
  • 2-3 oz (56-84 g) Flour, All Purpose
  • 5 lbs (2.25 Kilos) Raw, Good quality tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 qt (1 lt) White Veal Stock
  • 1 clove freshly crushed garlic
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  • Pinch of Sugar
  1. In his book, Escoffier calls for you to “fry the salt pork in the butter until the pork is nearly melted.” The term frying can be misleading, and what he’s really calling for you to do is to render the fat.
  2. To render out the salt pork properly, place the salt pork in a heavy bottom saucepan with a tablespoon of water, cover with a lid, and place over medium heat. Check in about 5 minutes. The steam from the water will allow the fat to render out of the salt pork before it starts to brown or burn.
  3. After the salt pork is nice and rendered out, add in your butter, carrots and onions, and sweat over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, or until they become nice and tender and start to release their aromatic aromas.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the carrots and onions and continue to cook for another few minutes. You’re essentially using the residual fat from the butter and salt pork to make a blond roux.
  5. Add in your raw tomatoes.  Roast with other ingredients until they start to soften and release some of their liquid.
  6. Add in your white veal stock and a clove of crushed garlic.
  7. Cover the pot with a lid, and Escoffier says to put it in a moderate oven, which is about 350 degrees F or 175 C. If your sauce pot won’t fit, you can always just simmer it on your stove top. Bake in oven or simmer for 1.5-2 hours.
  8. Escoffier’s classical recipe also calls for you to pass your finished sauce through a Tamis, but if you’re looking for a smooth tomato sauce, I would instead recommend that you first blend it in a blender, and then press it through a chinois.
  9. Once you have passed your sauce through the chinois, finish by seasoning it with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar.
  10. Note on Sugar: The addition of sugar is used to balance the natural acidity of the tomatoes. Your tomato sauce should not taste sweet, unless you enjoy putting ketchup on your pasta.

Modern Variations on Escoffier’s Sauce Tomat

The major difference between Escoffier’s version of sauce tomat and modern variations that are taught in culinary school are two fold. (1), The Roux is omitted and instead of using fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes and tomato puree are used in the respective ratio of 2:1 and, (2) Instead of using white veal stock, modern recipes call for the simmering of a roasted ham bone.

Other than that, the process is pretty much the same as discussed above. Follow the same recipe and process, except use 3lbs of canned tomatoes and 2lbs of tomato puree instead of the 5lbs of fresh tomatoes. Simmer for two hours with the addition of a roasted ham bone and omit the veal stock since the tomato puree and canned tomatoes offer plenty liquid for simmering the sauce.

Another modern touch is the common use of aromatic fresh herbs including bay leaves, thyme, basil and oregano. Add these at your own discretion, at the end of the cooking process so that the flavor of the fresh herbs does not break down.

Basic Light Tomato Sauce

If you’re looking for a lighter version of tomato sauce to serve with a more delicate dish such as poached fish, use the ratios and procedure below.

  • 1 part mirepoix, (Onions, Carrot and Celery, at a 2:1:1 Ratio), small dice
  • 4-5 parts fresh or canned tomatoes
  • Fresh Chopped Garlic and Herbs To Taste
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • Butter and Heavy Cream to finish (Optional)
  1. Start by sweating your mirepoix over medium heat in a sauce pan with a little bit of olive oil.
  2. Once the mirepoix becomes nice and soft, and starts to release its sweet aroma (about 5-10 minutes) add in your tomatoes and fresh chopped garlic.
  3. Simmer for 1.5-2 hours. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Add fresh herbs to taste.
  4. At this point, if you desire a smooth texture, you can blend your sauce and then pass it through a chinois.
  5. Finish with swirling in some heavy cream and whole butter off the flame. This is optional, but if you’re not averse to butter and cream, it will add a nice flavor and mouth feel.

Further Information

There are 8 Comments

Cholas318's picture

This might sound like a dumb question, but would you be able to explain what "4-5 parts fresh or canned tomatoes" means in the Basic Light Tomato Sauce?

throckmeisterz's picture

It's a ratio with the mirepoix. Say you use 1 lb of mirepoix; you would need 4-5 lbs of tomatoes. The basic light sauce is so simple that it doesn't require strict measurements: throw it together in the quantities you like, and, if it tastes good, you're doing it right. You really can't go too wrong with it.

Randy658's picture

Hello Chef,
This sauce is awesome. It is simple with a delicate flavor. One thing I've wanted to ask as I have been making this for a few weeks now is- after the piece of salt pork is rendered, is it to be removed? I have been removing it prior to adding the carrots and onion.

The first time i made it, there was a piece of meat from the salt potk that had made it past the oven stage, so i tasted it. It actually tasted really good.

So around the fourth time i made it, i used a 1:1 meat and fat from the salt pork. I removed the fat portion after rendering, but left the meat in and ended up blending into the finished sauce. It provided a richer flavor and is best after one or two days. I use the sauce over breaded pork and it compliments it nicely. I also use it to top deep fried zucchini and yellow squash lightly garnished with splintered green onion. Thanks so much for the insight and tips throughout the site Chef. Any suggestions are always welcome.

jacob burton's picture

Hey Randy, a couple options.

You can do a "chunky" style sauce where everything is fine diced (including your salt pork and mirepoix), and simmered until tender. This gives a nice textural element that's sometimes desirable (place any woody herbs like thyme in a sachet so you can easily pull them out after cooking).

You can also pull the salt pork out after rendering the fat, add the other ingredients, and cook as normal. When the cooking process is done, you can either strain the sauce like normal, or blend it smooth. Either way, you can then add the rendered salt pork back into the sauce.

Most important though, is seeing this recipe for what it is: a base technique. Now that you've made this sauce a few times and understand it's classic preparation, it's time for you to start tweaking it to your liking. This is how new sauces are created.

Great job, and welcome to the Stella Culinary community.

Randy658's picture

Hello Chef,
Thanks so much for the options.  The simple base is just right for the squash which is very mild as it is.  I like to preserve the flavor with out diluting it.  Conversely, I would like to try some variations for the sauce, might you have some suggestions for what else a sauce variant would compliment, vegetables or protein?  I am already tweeking the braised chicken sauce and have yet to ruin it :)

Thanks again Chef.

Randy658's picture

Also wanted to add that the chunky variation would be great.  I just tossed the sauce in the oven but I will definitely fine dice the mirepoix next time around.   Sounds great!
Thanks Chef!

Randy658's picture

Hey Chef,
One last thing.  I had read about making the chicken stock on the site.  In your opinion, store bought stock vs stock from scratch for the sauce tomat, worth the labor for flavor or other benefits perhaps?


jacob burton's picture

Hey Randy,

Yes, the home made stock is not only worth it for the flavor, but also the mouth feel it will give your finished sauce, since store bought stock doesn't contain gelatin.

For variations, I like to use this sauce for braising, especially in the winter time. You can braise a lamb shank, and then finish the sauce with garlic and rosemary. Or you can braise chicken thighs, and finish the sauce with fresh basil.

My recommendation would be to use the sauce as a cooking medium, and then add one or two complimentary flavors to customize the sauce.

A good resource for jumping off ideas is The Flavor Bible. Look up tomato and then the main ingredient you're serving with the tomato sauce (chicken, pork, beef shank, etc), and then pick a few complimentary flavors to add to your sauce.