The Canned Tomatoes Ina Garten Uses To Thicken Pot Roast

Ina Garten is no stranger to using quality ingredients to elevate her meals, and her Company Pot Roast recipe, which she shared with Food Network, is no exception. To help thicken her pot roast, she chooses to use canned whole plum tomatoes in tomato puree. These tomatoes come peeled and with the core removed so you can add them to your dish right away. For best flavor results, look for a can that contains at least 50% tomato flesh. Garten's canned tomatoes of choice are San Marzanos, which hail from San Marzano sul Sarno in Italy. These tomatoes have a lower water content, which makes them ideal for adding to sauces and stews.

The benefit of using canned tomatoes is they preserve the form and flavor of the tomatoes by keeping them intact and in their own juices — and that you have access to in-season tomato flavors year-round. As a healthy bonus, canned tomatoes are shown to have higher amounts of carotenoid pigment lycopene. This natural micronutrient has been shown to prevent certain cancers, per The Guardian.

Why canned tomatoes work as a thickening agent

When you cook tomatoes down, excess liquid evaporates over time, naturally thickening the sauce, and eliminating acidic and bitter flavors that can occur in canned tomatoes. The final result is a delicious, lightly sweet tomato flavor perfect for a pot roast.

Since a pot roast has to cook down for a longer amount of time (Garten cooks her's for two and a half hours), you have plenty of time for your tomatoes to cook to the consistency you need. While Garten elects to leave the tomatoes whole while her roast cooks, you can opt to hand-crush the tomatoes before cooking. This helps the tomatoes release more of their natural sweetness. Garten also purees half of the sauce and vegetables after cooking. She then simmers this blend on low heat and adds flour and butter to create the gravy element of the roast to accompany the meat and veggies.