Thursday, November 19, 2009

Courting Spaghetti

Back when God was a child and I was dating my first husband, I offered to make dinner for him - his choice of menu. He chose spaghetti and I assented readily. I had never actually made spaghetti (or much of anything else, for that matter), you understand, but I wanted to impress him so I called my pal Meredith, who made the best spaghetti on earth, and asked her for the recipe. He was duly impressed; I'm not sure I ever confessed to my treachery in 25 years of marriage.

I have continued to make the same spaghetti recipe all my life. When I feel a hankering for it coming on, I don't even have to go to my recipe box any longer - I know it more or less by heart. This time, however, I did think I'd change it up a little, so I used half mild Italian sausage instead of all ground beef (I'll use spicy next time - you couldn't really taste the sausage) and I didn't have any ripe olives in the house, so I left them out.

The rest of the recipe is so simple that it's not really even a recipe. You just brown the meat crumbles thoroughly in olive oil in a deep pot, then remove them to a plate and soften garlic mince (you decide how much - I used about a tablespoon or two) and a chopped large onion in the rendered fat from the meat (You can pour off some if you have too much fat or add some olive oil if your meat was very lean). I set the aromatics aside afterward, too, while I brown about six large mushrooms, sliced, in the same pot. The idea is that each ingredient adds it's caramelized flavor to the pot but you don't crowd the components so they brown nicely.

Once all are browned, pile them back into the pot, add a big can of chopped tomatoes, a small (14oz) can of tomato sauce, a big glug of red wine (I used merlot since I had an open bottle in the fridge - about a cup and a half or two cups), a healthy pinch each of thyme and basil, and a big handful of chopped fresh parsley. You can also add a bay leaf or two, if you are so inclined. Now comes the "secret" ingredient - cinnamon. Meredith has always added cinnamon to her sauce; this time, I subbed in about two heaping teaspoons of ground allspice instead.

All this bubbles along on the lowest stove setting for a couple of hours with the lid on. If it gets too thick, add some more wine. The resulting sauce is rich and dark with lots of flavor layers, not like the bright red stuff that comes in a jar. It covers the pasta like a lover and the grated ParmReg puts on the finishing touch. Served in a pasta bowl with garlic toasts, it's as seductive a meal as you could ask for.

If you are courting, or just courting favor, try serving her/him a nice bowl of this spaghetti. It gets 'em where they live.



Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

mmmm, that's a winter spaghetti. I too courted with spaghetti, it involved lemons, cream & white wine I recall, sexiest spaghetti ever.

Friday, November 20, 2009  
Blogger Greg said...

That sounds like the recipe from The Godfather.You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday.

Friday, November 20, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Morgan, ooh, I like the sound of your sauce... care to share?

Greg, ha! A pot of this will feed nearly 20 guys. I may think of this ever after as my Godfather Spaghetti!

Friday, November 20, 2009  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie, have you ever tasted Cincinnati chili? It's doctored with cinnamon. And usually served over spaghetti!
If it isn't too obvious in the spaghetti sauce, I bet it's divine.

(I wanna hear Morgan's recipe!!)

Friday, November 20, 2009  
Blogger namastenancy said...

Now, you've gone and done it - spilled the sekret ingredient that SOME of us have jealously guarded for generations. Generations, I tell you. I add cinnamon in my stews as well. I make a mean Flemish Beef stew and cinnamon has been my secret until now! I add it to chili and I see that Cookie has spilled that secret as well. I am just going to have to get the cooking ninjas after you two.

Friday, November 20, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, no, I have to admit I've never tried that particular specialty - I was in Cincinnati once (by the way, a marvelous town) but no one offered me any chili.

Nancy, oops! Gomen nasai.

Saturday, November 21, 2009  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

I'll try to remember at the weekend, it's heart attack territory though!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Morgan, heart attack or not, it sounds wunderbar!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home