La Salsa Secca

A Rustic Concentrate

Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Honey from a Weed

By Patience Gray

Published 1986

  • About

Method

The tomato concentrate par excellence is most simply made on the same day as la salsa, by abstracting a quantity of freshly passed tomato sauce before its transfer by litre measure to the second vat, as described on the preceding page.

At this point you line up as many plates as you can find, say 30, and rob the vat, using a breakfast cup – a cup of sauce goes into each plate. A little salt is sprinkled on the surface, and the plates are transported onto the parapet of the roof. Please note: the paste only dries with the help of the north wind, and if the scirocco is blowing it is of no use.

In any case, one has to keep on stirring the paste, with a wooden spoon, and later, with a knife, one pares off the little fragments that dry at the edge of each plate. If it is extremely hot (38-40°C) and a good wind is blowing, by nightfall the paste will have so reduced that you can combine the contents of two plates and use the vacant ones to cover the others for the night. Next day: scrape away at these plates, working the dried bits into the thickening paste. You do this 4 or 5 times a day. By nightfall the contents of the 15 plates can be reduced to 7, covering them again and taking down the spare plates to wash them. On the third day, by stirring and scraping, the paste may have dried sufficiently to be amalgamated onto one large dish, which you cover. Next day: critical inspection, the mass should be convincingly dry and of a deep red colour. If in doubt, continue to work it from time to time until midday. Then take it down, cover with a cloth, let it rest.

Next day you massage this lump of rich red concentrate with the best olive oil until it shines. Then oil some litre or ½ litre jars lavishly inside, rolling the oil around, stuff in the paste and cover with cm (1") of oil.

This is used in winter in preparing legumes; is spread on a bread; enriches the bottled tomato sauce for pasta and in cooking pezzetti; is added to a poultry braise; i e is employed in a thousand ways.