Thursday, January 1, 2015



(Note: this needs lots of updating, I have a whole new technique these days. Next time I make this I'll take new photos and everything.)

This would be called "spaghetti with meat sauce" if I didn't love to make it with short pasta.  I've made it with rotini, medium shells, farfalle, capanelli, and occasionally spaghetti, and I like it better with short pasta. It's an absolute staple in my family, I make it at least once a week. It takes 45 minutes give or take.

Here's what you need:

Three 15oz cans of tomato sauce
Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Salt and Pepper
Minced garlic
Half a medium onion
6-8 medium white or brown mushrooms
1 lb pasta, your choice
1-1.5 lbs ground beef.  I use 80% lean because it's cheaper, but go as lean as you want.  We'll be draining it later.

Put the water on to boil right at the beginning.
Brown the ground beef in a saucepan big enough for everything.  Mine's a 3qt, that's about perfect, but you could go bigger.
I inherited this cute little food processor which I use A LOT.  It makes things easy.  I chop my mushrooms and onion up in it while the beef is browning, but if you have to do it by hand, it's a good idea to cut them up before you start.  Whatever size you like is fine.  I grind them up superfine, because I  have kids that will pick out onions if they're too big.  By which I mean visible.

Drain the ground beef once it's brown and put it aside.

Except for just a little bit, a tablespoon or so, of the beef grease.

Add however much garlic you like.  I like to use a couple of tablespoons worth, about this much:

Saute that for a few seconds, then get the onions in there.

Cook those up for a while, 4-5 minutes, until they start kinda sticking to the stirrer.  You don't have to stir it the whole time, but don't forget about it, either.  This is important; if you don't want your sauce to taste just like raw onions, make sure you cook them well.  A little browned is okay, but not necessary.

If you're about as fast as I am, your noodle water is boiling about now.  Don't add your noodles just yet.

Good!  Now it's time to add your tomato sauce.  Get it all in there, use a spatula to scrape out the cans.  Now, if I had a crop of fresh tomatoes for cheap, I would try making sauce from them, but until then, cans.

Now for the herbs.  I measure them with my hand, so it's hard to say exactly how much I use.

Looks like maybe 2 tbsp of basil.  I love Basil.  I think I would marry Basil if I wasn't already married to Ollin.

Maybe 1 tbsp of Oregano.
About 1 tsp of thyme.  If you use the leaves like me, really grind it up with your fingers before you put it in.  Thyme is like a bunch of little sticks, and the smaller you get it the less likely you'll end up with one stabbing you in the gums while you eat.

I throw some pepper in there, too.  Just a little.  Because I use canned sauce I don't add any salt to it when it's cooking; I figure there's plenty already and people can always add it later.
These are the spices I like to use.  The Trader Joe's ones are high quality and inexpensive.  Safeway basil and oregano is gross.  I love the rainbow peppercorns that come in their own grinder.

So, stir all that in there, and now it's time to put in your noodles, wait for them to reboil, and set your timer.  My rotini go for 7 minutes.  It's a good idea to taste them to make sure they're to your liking before you remove them from the stove, but I never do that anymore.  For Barilla at least, I trust the package.  An unfamiliar brand I would probably taste.

Here's a bit of a tangent while we wait for those noodles.  I tend to run my dishwasher before I go to bed and empty it first thing in the morning.  This morning I put it off because I was feeling blargh and had like 3 cups of tea just to get Simone to the bus stop.  I did it later on, but it threw off dishwashing for the whole day, and so now I've got this to deal with:

Yes, that is the greasy chicken pan from last night, how kind of you to notice.

But I managed to deal with it while the noodles cooked.  I never rinse my noodles, BTW.

So all that's left to do is dump these back into the pot, put the meat and sauce in there too and mix it all up.

 The only reason I don't cook the meat and the sauce together is that it makes the sauce so thick I feel I don't get a good simmer.

And there you have it. Beefaroni.  I like to serve this with a salad and maybe some garlic bread, but today it was just the beefaroni because of that blargh feeling I mentioned earlier.


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