The Five French Mother Sauces

SCS 012| Sauce Tomat

In part four of our five part mother sauce series, we talk about Sauce Tomat, the base for many variations of modern tomato sauce. We finish up our talk on thickening agents, with a quick discussion on purees, bread crumbs, and food grade gums like Ultra Tex 3 and Xanthan Gum. In the main technique segment, we go over Escoffier's classic recipe for Sauce Tomat, and then cover some modern variations.


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There are 15 Comments

pm_odonnell's picture

Hey Jacob I had a question on using a puree as a thickener.  Usually when you cook using a mirepoix the aromatics have given all they can to the food.  In this instance I'm thinking about a braised short rib.  The vegies still taste really good and are fun to snack on because of all the flavor, I am torn using them as a side dish just because of the presentation vaule....or lack there of.  I hate wasting them and after hearing that you can use purred vegetables to thicken a sauce I was curious if you could us your mirepoix to thicken your braising liquid that you end up reducing to glaze your short ribs.  


jacob burton's picture

@ Patrick,

You could use the mirepoix, but you would have to puree it really fine in a blender. Anything too course and you're sauce will look broken and chunky. Make sure you pass it through a chinois before you serve.

GreenBake's picture

Any extra water to allow the proper extraction of the juice? I just made some (blended) mirepoix and was wondering about this.

GreenBake's picture

Is there any technique other than a chamber vacuum or leaving blended sauces in a fridge overnight to bring back the color of a blended sauce?

I remember from my days wearing braces that sonic (high-frequency) sound can sterilize stuff. Recently I saw a Sonic Foamer for beer that is suppose to bring the dissolved carbon dioxide to the surface in a foam:

Comments (including, “Are you insane?!” are welcome.

jacob burton's picture

@ GreenBake,

While the pureed mirepoix will add flavor, the puree as discussed in the above comment was also intended as a thickener. Adding water would drop the viscosity which could possibly lead to better flavor extraction but cancel out the thickening properties of the puree since it would now be fairly watery. If flavor extraction is really what you're after, juice the mirepoix instead of blending. You can then go back and use a food grade gum as a thickener, such as Xanthan or Ultratex.

Ultratex does need shearing power to hydrate and disperse properly, but in my experience, it requires less shearing power than xanthan gum.

GreenBake's picture

It’s really hard to find canned whole tomatoes without calcium as an ingredient (either from California or Italy). Finally I found some at Costco (of all places).


It’s the Solania brand of San Marzano tomatoes. The ingredient list is whole peeled tomatoes, tomato puree, citric acid and salt.

GreenBake's picture

I tried the San Marzano tomatoes and the first thing that struck me is how sweet they were. They were flavorful, but the sweetness almost overcame the flavor of the tomato. The balance seemed off.


Has anyone compared San Marzano tomatoes from Italy and any variety of similar tomatoes from the U.S.?


I’m looking for a flavor vs. sweetness comparison of the tomatoes by themselves and incorporated into a sauce.

GreenBake's picture

Ultratex 3/8 doesn’t require heat, but does require a certain amount of shearing power to thicken, I believe. One characteristic of Ultratex 8 is that it works better than Ultratex 3 for acidic liquids (99% sure of this). If someone out there has used these two, please let me know if you have any comments.

Margaux's picture

Truly enjoyed your pod cast. Thank you for your very worthwhile contribution.

Very valuable.



jacob burton's picture

The only techniques I'm familiar with are pulling the air out with a chamber vacuum or letting it settle for a few days in the fridge (not optimal).

I'm sure there's other high tec ways to accomplish this, but whether or not they're practical for the kitchen, I'm not sure.

Brian Campbell's picture

Did my ears actually hear you say something like, "You wouldn't sauté without a sauté pan, would you; so why cook without a kitchen scale?"  Doesn't the non-flared bottom edge of a sauté pan make it very hard to sauté with?  Wouldn't you recommend a skillet instead & save the sauté pan for braising?

Do you really need to salt pasta water if you're putting salt into the fresh pasta directly?  Would cooking in unsalted water cause salt to leach out from the fresh pasta?  I had the impression that salted water was only necessary for cooking unsalted dried pasta.

Can a person banish the evil spirits from his evil colander by reserving some pasta water before pouring the rest through the colander, or do I need to purchase some salted holy water?

jacob burton's picture

@ Brian,

I always refer to a skillet as a saute pan because that's what we call it in the kitchen. But yes, it's technically incorrect, although I think it's sort of ass backwards to call the pan you saute with a skillet and a pan with straight edges that you can't saute in a saute pan. Zalbar wrote an awesome article explaining the origins of the terminology:

"Do you really need to salt pasta water if you're putting salt into the fresh pasta directly?"

No, but then again, I never use salt in my pasta dough. Salt will tighten gluten strands, making the pasta dough less extensible and more difficult to roll out. But if you salt your pasta dough, you don't need to salt the water.

"Can a person banish the evil spirits from his evil colander by reserving some pasta water before pouring the rest through the colander, or do I need to purchase some salted holy water?"

Sure, different strokes for different folks. I usually go straight from pasta water to pan using tongs, but if you want to use a colander and reserve some pasta water, that will work too.

If you want to buy some salted holy water, I just happen to have a few jars left.