America’s Best Homemade Tomato Sauce

If you’re buying jarred tomato sauce because it’s more convenient than making the real stuff, stop right now. Despite what you might think, you don’t need a long list of ingredients or an entire afternoon of free time. This recipe, borrowed from Patsy’s Italian Restaurant in New York City, will have you saying goodbye to the supermarket sauce aisle for good.Patsy’s has been churning out its famous red sauce since 1944 and is a favorite among celebrities, including Frank Sinatra and JFK. The family recipe utilizes canned San Marzano tomatoes, which you can find just about anywhere. Where most jarred sauces tend to be thick and taste more like garlic than anything else, Patsy’s sauce has a light, refreshing taste and a bittersweet tomato flavor. It’s simple and delicious. Don’t limit the stuff to spaghetti—it also makes a great complement to meatball subs, chicken parm, or baked ziti. And because the recipe makes seven cups of sauce, feel free to share…or not.

Patsy’s Tomato Sauce
¼ cup olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons hearty red wine (Merlot or a Cabernet works well)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. While the onion and garlic cook, pour the tomatoes and juice into a large bowl and squish with your hands until they reach a chunky consistency. Add the tomatoes to the saucepan with the wine and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors meld, about 35 minutes.

2. Discard the bay leaves and continue simmering, covered, until the sauce thickens, another 25 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, basil, and parsley. Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered until well combined, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon through the sauce and pick out the halves of garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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