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Bisque, Marinara, and Debunking Grandma: The Muir Glen Cooking School, Part 4

Muir Glen Cooking School

You want more tomato tips? We've got more tomato tips, from top chefs all over the country! Read on for canned tomato inspiration, and check out our previous installments below. And don't forget to share your own tomato tips on Twitter using using hashtag #muirglencookingschool.

Earlier lessons from the Muir Glen Cooking School:
Introducing The Muir Glen Cooking School: Part 1
The Muir Glen Cooking School: Part 2
Salsa, Italian Tricks, and More: The Muir Glen Cooking School, Part 3

Muir Glen Whole Tomatoes


I like to take the whole tomatoes out of the liquid and marinate them with garlic and olive oil, then roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for 3 hours. For making a basic tomato sauce, I like to reduce the tomatoes as rapidly as possible. Contrary to many grandmother's recipes, which call for low and slow cooking, which in turn caramelizes the sugars in the tomatoes, which makes them sweet and somewhat dull in my opinion; the rapid cooking preserves the freshness of the tomatoes, retaining some of their acidity and brightness.

-Michael Toscano, chef and co-owner, Perla and Montmartre, New York

Muir Glen Crushed Tomatoes

Tom Douglas

To make a quick marinara, heat olive oil in a pan, add sliced garlic and stir until fragrant, add fire roasted tomatoes and simmer. At the end add some sliced basil and--here's the trick that makes this special--a little pat of butter.

-Tom Douglas, Dahlia Lounge, Serious Pie, Etta's Seafood, Seattle


We make a great tomato bisque and use half fresh and half canned tomatoes, because the canned tomato in the soup gives it more body. I like the combination of fresh and canned flavor because the fresh can be a little too acidy and makes the soup too tangy. The canned tomatoes really balance out the soup. We also do a roasted tomato sauce with canned tomatoes to accompany our lobster ravioli. It's basically the same way you start any tomato sauce, sweating garlic and onions and then adding the tomatoes and throwing the whole thing into and ovenproof pot and put it in the oven. What happens is the mixture gets caramelized on top and we then mix the caramelized portion back into the sauce. Do that every half hour. Cook the sauce at 325 degrees for 2 hours. The sauce ends up really dark and the process takes the acidity out of it. You can use this sauce on any kind of pasta or meat or fish.

-Paul Di Bari, chef de cuisine, Lure Fish Bar, New York

Muir Glen


Chef Al Dimeglio. [Photograph: Laura Togut]

When making tomato sauce using canned tomatoes I will never use sugar in my sauce to balance out the natural acid tomatoes have. How do I deal with tomato's natural acidity? Embrace the acid and balance it at the end of the cooking process by finishing with some good extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. This will be all the balancing you need. By doing this you are layering flavor and using essential flavorful fats that you need in your sauce anyway to calm the acid. After all you are not making dessert!

-Al Dimeglio, Rubirosa, New York

Check back next week for more tips from the Muir Glen Cooking School, and don't forget to share your tips on Twitter with #muirglencookingschool!

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