Monday, July 1, 2013

Iris' Famous Spaghetti

I have friends and family whose main memory of me is my spaghetti. You'd think this would be annoying, but I actually find it amusing. I've been many things in my life, but bad cook was a very short period of my life, and it usually turns out to be a pretty good judge of people if they like or don't like my food.

The major trick to my spaghetti is really simple: more basil, less oregano.
Most people think of Oregano as " the spaghetti spice," but what many people don't realize is the oils in oregano are heat sensitive. Basil on the other hand handles heat much better, and ads a much better flavor, in my opinion.

I also tend to make extra sauce, for a couple of reasons. One, I grew up learning how to cook for the horde of Genghis Khan (not really, but close enough,) and two because I like the sauce leftover on other stuff. Unfortunately, I rarely get the second point.

I usually start with meat "mash" which you can learn to make here. This breaks the meat down into smaller pieces, and makes the sauce more "meaty" without breaking your budget or clogging your colon. It also means you can mix some regular hamburger and some Italian sausage together and the whole thing gets a uniform flavor that's wonderful - just remember to strip or squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings before you mix it with the hamburger. Do this while the skillet is still cold and the water is hot.

Once the meat is starting to cook, I add some garlic, onion, a *tiny* bit of salt, pepper, and a bit of basil. Don't add your regular Italian seasonings at this point - they're usually loaded with oregano and will make the sauce bitter flavored. You *should* however add your TVP now if you're using it to stretch the meat, so the flavor and fats from the meats will soak into the TVP and make it more flavorful and the texture less fake. Just remember... always have more real meat than TVP - blow that proportion and it'll be obvious. Never more than a 3/2 proportion of real to TVP. Mix the TVP in as soon as the water is hot and starts to bubble with the meat in it.

As soon as your meat mash is cooked and all the water is gone, but before it starts to "fry" (you want the meat still moist) turn the burner down and add in tomato sauce. You can add in diced tomatoes too, but it'll make the sauce thinner unless you cook the liquid out, so save that for a night where you can put it all in a crock pot and simmer all day - this version is the quick dinner version. If it's too thin you can add a SMALL can of tomato paste.

Word of caution here: Thick tomato sauce bubbles and will fly quite a distance, and STICKS and BURNS if it hits skin. Before you can turn on the water and rinse it off, you will have a blister. Use long handled wooden spoons or cooking utensils, keep the burner on med-law at this point, and use lids or screens. Here is where you add in more onions (cooked or raw,) bell peppers (I don't like, but lots of people do,) more garlic (lots,) more basil and your Italian seasonings. I just buy the cheap dollar store type for $.75 a bottle, and I use about 11/4 to 1/3 of the bottle for a big pot of sauce. You can adjust this based on how fresh the herbs are (fresher = stronger, older = blander.) Add in a little white wine if you like that. You can also add it to the meat when it's cooking, but watch out for a pan flash fire. Safer to do it here, it'll still cook the alcohol out but flavor the sauce.

Let this simmer with the lid on while you cook your noodles. I add a small squirt of lemon or lime juice to the boiling noodles to break up the starch to keep it from boiling over as bad and cook quicker. You can't taste it when you drain them. AFTER you drain the water off the cooked noodles, toss with just a *little* bit of oil, and set out any bread or Parmesan cheese you have.

There you have it. If I think of it, I'll try and get exact measurements next time I make spaghetti and edit the post to put them in. The experienced cooks among you will know how to make this though.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I think we need to have a sauce cooking contest! Haha! This looks great...and easy!


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