Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spaghetti and meat sauce

This first recipe is a no-brainer for me as far as cooking in the boonies goes. Most of the ingredients are things you probably keep in your cupboards anyway, and you can make several substitutions based on what you have on hand.

This recipe is heavily adapted from the recipe in the Four Roses Cookbook (1960's version). It's been a family staple since I was little. The base of this recipe includes ground meat, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and spices. You can use almost anything for the meat - beef, pork, turkey, or even moose or venison if that is what you have. Canned tomatoes can be diced or whole - I prefer to add my own spices, so I always just buy plain, unspiced tomatoes and sauce. This year, I'd like to get a greenhouse going so I can grow and can my own tomatoes.

The additions to this recipe include almost any vegetable that is in your fridge. This is a great recipe for getting rid of "almost-gone" veggies. You know - the ones that are kind of brown, wrinkled or wilty? In a sauce, you never notice that they're not perfect.

To start with, mince up a generous amount of garlic (I use 3 or 4 cloves) and chop up an onion. Chop up any other veggies that you plan to include (mushrooms, celery, carrots, bell peppers, etc..). You probably want 1-2 cups of veggies in addition to the onion. If you don't have anything fresh, you can use a drained can of mushrooms, or some frozen zucchini, or nothing at all (if you want a plain sauce).

Brown the meat until there's no more pink showing, then drain any excess fat. Add the onion, garlic and veggies and stir fry until everything begins to soften (it doesn't have to be totally brown - things will continue to cook in the sauce). Now add a large can of tomatoes, a small can of tomato sauce, and a small can of tomato paste and stir. You can also add about 1/2 c. red wine, water, or broth if it seems too thick.

Add the spices to taste and allow the whole thing to simmer while you boil a pot of spaghetti. A large pot of this sauce will make at least 6 servings, probably more.

See below for detailed recipe and instructions.

500 g (1 pound) ground meat, thawed. (Beef, pork, moose, turkey, or ??)
1 large onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups of chopped fresh, canned or frozen veggies (mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, etc.)
1 28 oz. can of tomatoes, whole or diced.
1 small can of plain tomato sauce
1 small can of plain tomato paste
1/2 cup of red wine, beef broth, or water
1 tbsp. dry or 1/4 c. fresh basil
2 tbsp. dry or 1/3 c. fresh oregano
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
salt and pepper to taste.

Brown meat and drain off excess fat.

Add garlic, onions and veggies and cook until veggies begin to soften and onions are translucent.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and liquid and stir until combined.

Add spices, tasting as you go. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Allow to simmer while you bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.

Serve with parmesan cheese. If you have picky kids who don't like veggies, use a blender to liquify the sauce so the kids can't see the veggies. They'll never know ;)

1/52 post-workout dinner

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