Friday, March 2, 2012

Winter Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

I've posted a summery version of spaghetti with meat sauce here before.

But despite the ridiculous weather we've been having (it hit eighty yesterday. On the first day of March), we're still stuck with winter produce. So though last night's spaghetti was the same concept as the summer version, the ingredients, and thus the meal, differed.

Summer meat sauce is a hearty dish that still explodes with summer taste and uses up a variety of your garden's bounty.

Winter meat sauce is just meaty and warm and cheap.

Either way, it just can't be beat for a simple, fast, cheap, DDH-pleasing dinner.

It's a dish you don't really need a recipe for. But here's what I did:

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Cook spaghetti according to pasta directions. Drain and set aside. I used about a half package of spaghetti for about one pound of beef, which equates to two big dinner portions and two smaller lunch portions, since the DDH likes really saucy pasta. Feel free to stretch as needed or desired.
Leaning plastic bags against pots on gas burners
is not an action I recommend.
Brown 1-ish pounds ground beef in a large skillet or dutch oven (ground sausage also works really well). This takes about five minutes.

Ground beast.
Add 1 medium onion, chopped and saute for about five minutes or until onion is soft.

Add several cloves garlic and stir for thirty seconds.

Five seemed a good number.
Toss in any wintry vegetables you have around: carrot would be good. I happened to have celery.

Add 1 can diced tomatoes
 and 1 can tomato sauce.

You could do both of either, but I like a mixture.

Add approximately 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1/8 tsp. sugar.

Add herbs and spices to taste. Some suggestions:

Basil, oregano, savory, thyme, fennel, marjoram, parsley.
I did actually use about a teaspoon of all of these (more for oregano and basil, a little less for most of the others). You sort of reach a point of diminishing returns on the different herbs, so feel free to stick with two or three favorites. My absolute "necessity" herbs for tomato sauce are oregano, basil, and fennel.

Stir well and allow to cook, uncovered on low heat, for ten to fifteen minutes. Cover and cook a little longer. It sort of depends on how much time you have and how the taste and texture seems to be developing. Leaving it uncovered too long will cook a lot of the liquid out and leave you with a pasty, meaty sauce, while covering it the whole time will leave it more liquid. The flavors meld better the longer you leave it cooking up to about a half hour, I think.

Stir in the spaghetti and serve.

It was a real shame we had no delicious crusty bread to sop up the sauce with.

So I just licked the plate instead.

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