Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Posted by on Jan 26, 2012 in Dinner, Food Journal

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce- Anytime someone makes spaghetti, the whole neighborhood knows. That’s one of my favorite things about spaghetti, how it fills the whole house (and neighborhood) with it’s delicious scent! It seems like every time I make spaghetti, the whole family is constantly in and out of the kitchen wanting to smell the sauce and to sneak a taste. Maybe that’s why spaghetti always tastes like it has so much love in it – because it feels loved as it is cooked :D! Whenever I cook it, I have this wonderful vision in my head. It’s of a very old and beautiful Italian Grandmother. She’s in the kitchen making her sauce. She never stops to measure, her hands know the recipe by heart. She is like watching a dance as she cooks! So, now it’s time for all of us to channel our inner Italian Grandma, and make some spaghetti! Don’t forget to add the love because, food cooked with love always tastes better :D! Happy Cooking!

Minced Garlic

Minced Garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small (I usually use a brown onion, sometimes, I use 1/2 a red onion and 1/2 a brown onion-read step 17 for my onion notes)
12 cloves of garlic, minced (you can adjust this to your taste, I love garlic though) (see video on “how to quickly peel and mince garlic)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (you can use a different salt, but please check out my “Table Salt” article under culinary 101)
1 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds ground beef (I use 93/7 – the 93 represents the amount of meat, the 7 represents the amount of fat, check your label)
1 teaspoon Rosemary (dried) or 1 Tbsp (fresh), chopped lightly *see note on chopping herbs
2 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes or 3 fresh, peeled (I try to use organic plum tomatoes when using canned and Heirloom when using fresh *see note on tomatoes)

Oregano (left) and Rosemary (right)

14 ounces beef stock (homemade or canned – use water if you don’t have any)
2 Tabspoons oregano (dried) or 6 Tbsp (fresh), chopped lightly
1 teaspoon thyme (dried) or 1 Tbsp (fresh), chopped lightly
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning (if you happen to have any)
3 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1-2 teaspoons sugar
2 packages of whole wheat spaghetti noodles (if you want to make homemade, go for it ;D)
Parmesan cheese for garnish
fresh basil for garnish (cut chiffonade – that means into little ribbons!)

1. Place a large pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil, the onions, garlic, add 1/2 the Kosher salt and pepper.
2. Stir to coat them in the oil.

Ground Beef Browned

3. Add the ground beef and the other 1/2 of the Kosher salt and pepper, and mix until well combined.
4. Add the rosemary.
5. Saute until your meat is browned.
6. Add in your diced tomatoes.
7. Add in your beef stock, turn the heat to medium low. Stir every five or so minutes. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan when you stir, tomatoes like to stick to the bottom (I use a high heat rubber spatula).
8. Fill a large pot with very salty water (I use an eight quart pot with almost 1/4 cup of iodized salt)*see salt article.
9. Cover the pot with a lid and bring water to a boil.
10. When your water gets to a “rolling boil” add the noodles.
11. Reduce your heat to medium and stir the noodles for about 30 seconds.

Beef After the Tomatoes are Added

This helps them not stick together. You want to keep the water at a boil, but I had you reduce the heat so that it is not splashing out of the pan, you can raise your heat back up to medium high, just adjust it if it needs it.
12. Check the time, your noodles should boil for 8 minutes for regular dried spaghetti or cook according to package directions, if you’re using fresh, they will take from five to seven minutes.
13. Add your remaining herbs to your tomato sauce and the tomato paste, stir to combine.
14. Set up your sink to drain your noodles (they’ll be done soon), clean the sink if necessary and place your colander in there.
15. Check the time, your noodles are probably done.
16. Drain the noodles, add a little olive oil on top once they’re drained (like a Tablespoon). Stir them up and return them to the pot you cooked them in – DO NOT put them back on the heat, but DO cover them with the lid to stay hot.

Tomato Sauce After the Tomato Paste is Added

17. Taste your sauce, add one of the teaspoons of sugar and stir it, can you taste the difference? Now decide if you want the other spoon in there. The amount of sugar needed for the recipe is going to depend on a few things, mainly the tomatoes you used-how acidic they are and how ripe they were at the time they were canned. That’s why I want you to taste it before and after you add the sugar-so that you can learn to tell if it’s needed on your own. The type of onion you use makes a difference too. Yellow onions will add a sweetness and may make the sugar unnecessary all together, white onions are more alkaline producing (on the PH scale) and may make the sugar more necessary – yay :D isn’t food chemistry fun! Also, brown onions (which I love and use all the time) can give some people heartburn – if this is a problem for you, you may want to use a sweet onion (like a Vidalia (super sweet) or a yellow (mildly sweet) and omit the sugar all together – sorry if I made anyone’s head swim!
18. You’re all done :D YAY! Garnish as you’d like and eat your delicious homemade spaghetti! OK, one more tip, I can’t resist. When you put your noodles on the plate, it looks prettier if you first take a big pinch (a portion) of noodles out of your pot with some tongs and then kind of twist them into a tall pile on a separate plate, then put them on the serving plate. This gives your presentation more height and keeps your noodles from being all spread out and sloppy :)!

Spaghetti Wound Up Tight with Tongs

* A note on chopping herbs - Remove any thick stems, bunch the leaves into a little pile and gently pinch them, go over them with a sharp knife once, maybe twice if needed. DO NOT chop your pour little herbs to death. If you are seeing their oil on your cutting board (there will be a mysterious green color on your board) you’ve over chopped them. The oil you want in your spaghetti sauce is now stuck in the crevices of your board and gone forever :( – A little green on the board is to be expected. When you think of herbs, think of tiny layers of bubbles being  in their leaves filled with oil, the more you run your knife over the leaves, the more bubbles you pop and the more oil that leaks out.

Spaghetti Plated - YUMMY!

*A note on canned tomatoes – Fresh is better, but  - canned tomatoes are fine. It is true that some fruits and veggies are disgusting when canned, that is because of the different chemicals that they contain. For example, green veggies contain chlorophyll, chlorophyll does not do well  when cooked for long periods of time especially when covered.  Tomatoes, however, do not contain chlorophyll, they contain anthocyanins, anthocyanins are not effected by long cooking times the same as chlorophyll (though there is some loss of vitimins, that’s going to happen anyway, your’re cooking the sauce). Chlorophyll containing fruits and veggies overcook easily, their taste is greatly affected,  that’s why it’s better to saute your spinach. When green veggies are overcooked they get that olive green kind of dark color, when they are cooked correctly , they are bright green.  You can’t really overcook a tomato (when following a normal recipe – I’m not talking about the silly “well what ifs”).  Canned tomatoes are a close second to the fresh. Use the fresh in the summertime, not the winter (at least that’s my general rule).  Also, very often, the canned are better then the fresh, again, unless it is summer. That’s because they are generally canned at the peak of their season. Tomatoes are best when they are in season, like anything. The thing with tomatoes is that they don’t travel well. This is because they don’t like to be refrigerated. The ones that we get from far away are usually pricey and travel under refrigeration. I’d like to note that most of the tomatoes that do travel well and can be refrigerated have been genetically altered to do so. Google it (tomatoes crossed with fish- YUCK :P!) Yes, I know, there are varieties that are OK in the winter. Use them if you want. I am weary of the fish thing and don’t have a list of farms or companies that I bring to the store as you never know what farm/company the store bought from that day anyway!  I use canned in the winter and I don’t generally make spaghetti in the summer, it’s too hot, I live in AZ. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I grow my own Heirloom in the summer.

Please enjoy this video on “how-to quickly peel and mince garlic”!

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