July 02, 2009

Marvelous Meat Sauce

This Irish chick looooooves her Italian food. I wanted to make an awesome meat sauce today, so I first hit up the Interwebs. Food Network had a good 7,000 recipes. Um, no. Too much. I googled here and there, hit up allrecipes.com, and eventually just decided to wing it. How hard can it be? Answer: even easier than you think. (Vegetarian friends, please avert your eyes)

I had a pound of ground sirloin that I planned to use to make burgers, but that's a plan that never gets accomplished. There are a few foods I would rather have someone else make for me, and burgers are right at the top of the list (along with paella, steak, and lobster). I don't know why--just a thing. If I go to a restaurant, I'll order something I'm not likely to make at home. Otherwise, what's the point?

First I sautéed about half a yellow onion (all I had on hand), and a HEAAAAPING tablespoon of minced garlic (the kind that comes in a jar, awash in oil). I was out of fresh garlic, or I would have pressed it fresh. I let those simmer in a combo of about 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter. After a minute or two (I always stop before the garlic browns--I hate that flavor) I added the meat and broke it up. I could tell it was a delicious, soft bunch o' meat, and knew it would do nicely, but you can always do just regular ground chuck. Again, recession recipes are about using what's on hand! (I'd bought this a while back on FreshDirect, froze it, and thawed it out last night.) I added half a tablespoon of salt (I always prefer to use too little and let people add more if they'd like) and a few cranks of cracked black pepper, then cooked the meat until it looked nearly done. Next, I added a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes. Use diced if you like smaller pieces, but I like the big, chunky bits of tomato in my sauce. Makes it feel 'real.' I added probably a Tbsp of dried oregano and basil and let it simmer for a good long while. Most people recommend an hour or so of simmering, but I have neither the time nor the patience for that. I took it off the heat, had one (or maybe 5) tastings, and declared it was yea, verily, quite good. I let it cool off a bit before putting it in the fridge. Then Kelli came up and joined me for a simple dinner of whole wheat spaghetti with the delicious sauce and a side of homemade garlic bread (the loaf cost 1.75 at the bakery next door!) I whipped up some softened salted butter and some minced garlic, spread it on the loaf, and watched it bubble up under the broiler. We were so hungry we didn't even stop to a) sprinkle fresh parsley on the bread or b) take a photo of the finished pasta dish. Next time!

Never be afraid to experiment...even in these tough economic times!

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