February 10, 2007

Cheap Homemadish Spaghetti Sauce

There's nothing romantic about poverty, despite what you saw in all those art films. But we loved each other, and, while you can't live on love, we got by and we were happy. We learned to appreciate some of the simple, and thus cheaper, things in life Now it is romantic to look back on those days and remember only the best of it.

One thing we had going for us was that we cooked for each other. Whatever your budget, you can eat fancier if you aren't paying others to make it for you. Guys, there's no better way to impress a girl than to make a nice meal for her. If the only way to impress her is to take her someplace you can't afford, she isn't the girl for you. This is one of the dishes I used to make back then (in the day, if you will) that went over well. It is easy to make, and has a unique ability to provide more meals later.

1 jar cheap basic spaghetti sauce
1/2 lb. basic ground beef
1 unprecooked Italian sausage
3 medium onions
no garlic
about a heaping teaspoonful of Italian seasoning herb blend
a couple splashes of oil - olive is nice, but whatever you have that isn't rancid works
spaghetti noodles
a frying pan, a sauce pan, a pot to cook the spaghetti in and some way to drain it afterwords

First of all, note that slicing onions is much more pleasant if you put them in the fridge the day before and use a really sharp, unserrated knife. Cut the top and bottom off the onions, slice them in half thru the top to bottom axis, and then peel them, taking the outermost, tough white layer along with the peel. If there is any brown left at the top or any root left at the bottom, trim that off. Slice each onion half several times top to bottom, and then several times crosswise.

Heat up a splash of oil in the frying pan over a flame which just touches the bottom of it (I have no idea how anyone cooks on an electric stove, but I reckon this would be just past medium). The oil is ready when one piece of onion tossed into it sizzles. Toss the onions in, and give them a stir and a flip (I mean stir up from the bottom, not getting them airborne) until they start turning translucent. When they do, it is time to turn off the stove, scoop them into the sauce pot, leaving some liquid behind.

Slice the sausage open, and scrape the filling out. Discreetly dispose of the casing. Heat the frying pan back up, and dump the meat back in. Stir pretty constantly, breaking up the lumps, especially of sausage meat, with the edge of the spoon. The meat is there to give flavor to the sauce, and at this stage of the game big hunks of meat aren't romantic. As soon as they do, it is time to again scoop the contents into the sauce pan, leaving the liquid behind. Dump the liquid into the middle of the toilet and flush immediately.

Now pour the spaghetti sauce intoo the sauce pan. I used to use the white label generic, but just about any basic meatless sauce will do. Even if your relationship has reached the point that garlic is not inappropriate, do not use the stuff from the 99 cent store with the artificial garlic flavoring. Run an ounce or so of water into the jar, cap it, shake it, and pour the water into the pot. Stir well, turn the stove to medium, and as soon as you see some heat-induced activity, stir down to the bottom and turn the flame down real low. Now wash your hands, and shake some Italian seasoning into the palm of one hand. Give it a crush with the first two fingers of your other hand, and brush it into the sauce. Stir again.

Now it is time to make the spaghetti. Don't make a whole lot, especially if you aren't using thin spaghetti. Feeling stuffed isn't romantic. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. A splash of oil helps keep the spaghetti noodles from clumping, and a couple shakes of salt will bring out the sweetness of the wheat. Don't bother with lots of salt. Once the water is boiling, push the column of spaghetti into it. It will will bend enough that with a little help with you can get it in without breaking it. This lets you twirl it on the fork like they do in those foreign art films, and have the fun of eating messily. As soon as the water resumes boiling, turn down the heat so the water remains active but doesn't bubble. Boiled spaghetti is mushy (and not in the teddy bears and flowers sense) and you want the kitchen smelling of sauce, not starch. Give the spaghetti pot a stir now and then, and stir the sauce at the same time. About when the box said the spaghetti should be done, check it. Pull one strand out and bite it. You want to catch it right when there is no crunch left in the middle but it still has character. Pour out the hot water, run cold water in its place (unless someone taught you this is reprehensible) and drain.

Now you turn off the light under the sauce, rinse the sauce jar again with hot water, and spoon enough sauce in to almost fill it. It won't actually can properly, but it will seal well enough to keep in the fridge for at least a week. You will have enough sauce left to make a delightful dinner for two.

Posted by triticale at February 10, 2007 10:38 AM | TrackBack

Surprised you didn't know of another trick for onions. Hold a kitchen match in your teeth. The sulpher in the match absorbs the fumes from the onion and keeps your eyes from tearing up.

Posted by: The Asian Badger at February 14, 2007 11:31 AM
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