Recipes Sides:

Estée’s Tomato Sauce with Muscovado Sugar

Alison Roman
Estée Lauder’s Tomato Sauce with Muscovado Sugar


¼ cup olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2-4 chile de arbol
(or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)
¼ cup red wine
2 28oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes
6 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. muscovado sugar (dark brown sugar would work as a substitute)
1 Tbsp. fish sauce (optional, but provides an umami boost of flavor)


The Prep

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring pretty often until the onions are translucent and totally softened, about 8–10 minutes.

Add tomato paste and stir to coat all the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally (and using the spatula to scrape up any bits that start to stick) until the tomato paste turns a deep brick red color, about 3 minutes. Add chile de arbol and thyme and stir to coat.

Add red wine and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until reduced by about half (this will burn off most of the alcohol and concentrate flavors), about 2 minutes.

Add your canned tomatoes (you can crush them in a bowl beforehand, but I like to just crush them right into the pot). Fill each can about halfway with water, swirling to get any tomato-y bits out of there and add to your pot. Reduce heat to medium–low and season with salt and pepper.

Simmer until sauce is thickened and the flavors have all melded together, about 2 hours. Remove from heat and add sugar and fish sauce. Season again with salt and pepper. Serve over buccatini, spaghetti, or whatever tickles your fancy.

Yield: About 2 quarts of sauce (8 cups). If you’re not planning on having a pasta party, this sauce freezes excellently.

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