Dairy Is The Creamy Finish That Your Store-Bought Marinara Needs

Pot of creamy tomato sauce
Pot of creamy tomato sauce - Oksana Mizina / Shutterstock

Sometimes convenience is key, and there's basically no easier dinner solution than a jar of marinara sauce. While some may frown at sauce from a jar, in truth, there are plenty of high-quality, store-bought pasta sauces on the market. Right off the shelf, a good jar of marinara can be paired with spaghetti noodles and parmesan, eggs and garlic bread, or added onto a store-bought pizza crust for an easy, delicious dinner. But even the best jar of marinara can end up tasting a little flat compared to the homemade stuff — it can either be too acidic, too watery, or too sweet. The solution to all of these maladies? A little bit of dairy.

Additions like milk, butter, and cheese add richness to your sauce's flavor and texture. They also help balance out sour and sweet notes and give sauces a more restaurant-like finish, which makes sense since many sauce recipes call for copious amounts of butter and cream. Even if you're trying to avoid dairy, you can use coconut milk to add a similar amount of fat and plentiful flavor. Pick one dairy product to add — or two, or three — and you'll have a tasty, simple marinara sauce to enjoy in no time.

Read more: Ingredients To Take Your Scrambled Eggs To The Next Level

Different Dairies Should Be Added At Different Stages

Person shredding cheese
Person shredding cheese - Fcafotodigital / Getty Images

When the time comes to add liquid dairy such as cream, milk, or coconut milk to your sauce, the biggest concern is curdling. Also known as separating, curdling occurs when acid is introduced to milk proteins, causing them to bind together and form unappealing lumps. Tomatoes — and, thus, tomato sauce — are quite acidic, so preventing curdling is key.

One method is to temper your dairy by mixing it with a few tablespoons of already-heated pasta sauce. This gradually introduces the dairy to the acid, making it less likely to curdle once poured into the pot. To perform the next method, you must first make a roux (butter and flour cooked together) before adding cream or milk. The resulting mixture stabilizes the dairy by preventing separation, thus minimizing curdling. If you don't want to bother with a roux, just mix the dairy with a pinch of cornstarch before adding it to the sauce.

If you're sautéing onions or other veggies for your sauce, cook them in a tablespoon or so of butter. If you don't want your butter to smoke, try mixing it with olive oil. Otherwise, use butter as a finishing touch — just add it to your heated sauce and vigorously. You'll get a glossy, rich product that tastes anything but store-bought. Finally, sprinkle your favorite cheese over your sauce and enjoy.

Read the original article on Mashed.