Marcella's Miracle Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

Serves 6

2 cups of ripe tomatoes that have already been made ready for sauce* or 2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes cut up with their juice (a 14-1/2 ounce of diced tomatoes will be fine here)
5 tablespoons butter (don't have a fit - this is sauce for a lot of pasta)
1 medium onion, peeled (did I really have to tell this this?) and cut in half
1 to 1-1/2 pounds pasta
Freshly grated 
parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Put the tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion halves, and some salt, and cook uncovered at a slow simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the fat floats free from the tomato. I find it usually takes closer to 30 minutes.

Stir occasionally, mashing any large piece of tomato in the pan, if there are any, with a wooden spoon. Taste and add more salt, if necessary, keeping in mind that you will add someparmigiano-reggiano cheese at the end. Discard the onion, and toss the sauce with pasta.  Then add some parmigiano cheese and toss again or put the cheese on the table so the diners can add their own.

Because you want to sauce the pasta lightly, this is enough sauce for 1 to 1-1/2 pounds. If you're making less pasta than that, you can freeze the leftover sauce. If you do this, do it without the onion and without any cheese.

*Tomatoes Made Ready for Sauce

There are two ways to prepare fresh, ripe tomatoes for sauce. First, you can blanch them by plunging the tomatoes in boiling water for a little less than a minute. Drain, skin, and cut into coarse pieces.

Next, is the food mill method, which produces a smooth sauce, and it is the one I use almost exclusively. Wash the tomatoes, cut them length-wise in half, and put them in a saucepan. (At this point, I add a little salt to taste, but you don't have to; you can add salt to the recipe you will use them in.) Turn on the heat to medium and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how thick the tomatoes are getting. I use the disk with the smallest holes to puree the tomatoes and all their juices through a food mill into a bowl, but you can use the disc with the largest holes if you want a coarser sauce. I put them away in one-cup increments. If you like, you can add some fresh basil before you put them away.