Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Junque Food - Spaghetti

From time to time I get asked about my spaghetti sauce recipe. I don't really have one. My family didn't really rely on recipes when I was growing up, unless they were trying something new and fancy. Spaghetti was the dish I usually asked for as my birthday dish as I was growing up. And since, as I kid, I had no interest in cooking, it wasw one of those meals that miraculously appeared on the table. Well, not really. But you get my drift.

My family, as I said, didn't really use a lot of recipes. The women in my family that have awesome trait of being able to dissemble a meal in their brains and say, "Ahh...so that's how it works." And that's how they would cook. It's not an exact science, and we've all had some experiments that didn't quite work out, but for the most part, it worked for our family. My talent for eating something and figuring out the spices and cooking method didn't evolve until my early 30's, but I am glad it did. It makes cooking more fu.n. And it drive DaMan and my mother in law crazy. If they don't work off a recipe, they don't cook. Hubster has mellowed on this somewhat. If he's cooking, it's something he knows how to do, or he asks me for a breakdown. He doesn't get nearly as frustrated as he used to when I tell him, "a little bit of this, and a pinch of that..."

Anyway, here's my process for cooking spaghetti. Yours, if you have one, will certainly vary. I am always of the mind that knowledge is power, so share your variations with me in the comment section below!

Ingredients I use most often:

Italian Sausage (mild or hot)
large cans of diced and crushed tomatoes (home canned when I have them)
diced green peppers
diced onions
lots of garlic (powdered when I don't have fresh chopped)
spices of your choice. I learn towards basil more and more and less towards oregano than I used to)
about a teaspoon of sugar (just to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, NOT to sweeten the sauce)
olive or any other light cooking oil

Take the saugage out of it's casings and fry up in a heavy bottomed fry pan, chopping it up as fine as you can while it cooks. Remove from heat, and drain it on a paper towel like you would bacon.

In a heavy bottomed stock pot, heat up a tablespoon or so of oil, and toss in the onion, green pepper, and garlic. Sautee the veggies, stirring frequently until the onions are translucent. Stirring often will keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot and browning. When the onions are no longer white, add the sausage and the cans of tomatoes, sugar, and your dried spices of choice. Put a lid on, and let it come up to a boil, then take the lid off, and lower the temp to simmer.  I let mine simmer all afternoon, stirring often.

That's it! I usually make it a day ahead of time to let the flavors meld together. I taste it often and adjust spices as I need to.

The only note that I would add is that if you choose to use fresh spices instead of dried, add them at the end of cooking, and not during the cooking process.  Fresh basil tends to turn black and look unappetizing, and fresh oregano tends to turn bitter. I like a blend of dried and fresh. I use dried during the cooking time, and then chop fresh and sprinkle it on the top of the finished meal before serving. It's very pretty that way too!

So, what do you different? Tell me!

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