Recipe Monday: Quick n Easy Meat Sauce from Scratch
March 24, 2009 § 1 Comment
I don’t have a picture of this, but I wanted to throw it out there because for some reason my “completely free of Italian background” sauce is popular with whomever eats it. I’ve never followed a recipe for it because I just use whatever is in the cupboard in an effort to make a quick dinner after I’ve gotten home from work. Ideally, I’d make this in like double the recipe size in a big giant pot and simmer it for HOURS before packaging more than half of it up for a second and third meal. And I love freezing meals because it makes me feel like Ma Ingalls. Oh heck, you know what, since we don’t have a picture of the spaghetti sauce, how about a picture of Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls: Greatest Mom in the History of American Television:
Didn’t you just swoon when they showed her getting ready for bed and her hair was down in one thick braid, hanging over her shoulder “OH CHARLES”.
Anyway, as with all my recipes that aren’t ‘baking’ recipes, feel free to add more, less, additional in terms of veggies and spices and meat and the like. If I’m making a single batch (which is enough for a family of four with leftovers) I can have dinner ready in forty minutes.
Heat up the pot over medium high heat for a minute or two before throwing in the meat and browning it. Here’s the key to this step, don’t keep pushing it around. Let it brown by staying in one place for a minute or two, THEN pushing it around with tongs or your BIG SPOON. I also salt and pepper the meat at this point.
Once it’s browned, take it out and put it on the plate to wait a second. Drain off the majority of the fat, leaving about a tablespoon and any bits of meat. Add the additional olive oil. HELPFUL TIP FOR NOT BURNING GARLIC: Chopped garlic burns like nobody’s business. But if you hold your pan up at an angle, so the oil all pools on one side and drop your garlic into this little pool, letting it sizzle for about thirty seconds before dropping the pan back down to the heat, you should be good. Drop your onions, pepper and carrot immediately upon returning the pot to the heat and this will also protect the garlic, but allow it to release its glory. Saute this little gathering until soft.
Once the veggies are soft, turn the heat down to “Low almost medium” (Ed note: I always thought that when magazines had this in there it actually meant a guy named Ed. But if you’re going to let this do a longer simmer, turn it to low low). Add a small palmful of oregano, basil and a pinch or more of crushed red pepper*. Add the meat, the two sauces and the broth, and let that sucker simmer.
If you’re making dinner, this is the point at which you should put your pot of water on to boil. Don’t watch the pot, because this hinders boiling. Go put on your ‘after work’ clothes, get a Diet Coke and watch the Simpsons, relax before dinner time.
TIPS AND TRICKS: If the sauce starts spitting all over tarnation, turn the heat down a touch, give it a stir and swear once or twice. But I must tell you, making sauce means making a mess. No two ways about it. You can do the “half lid” thing where you tilt the lid on the pot at an angle, but you’re not going to get a good reduction that way, and it’ll take longer and not be as nicely blended. Taste it a couple times to see if you’ve got the right flavor going. I usually have to add more salt and more oregano. Your call. Why carrots? Why not? It’s another vegetable, gives a little richness to the color, depth to the flavor and texture to the sauce.
*If you have a bottle of red wine open, feel free to throw about half a cup or so in the pot, especially if you’re letting this sucker simmer for a long time. The less time you have, the more “fresh wine taste” you’ll get.