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Friday Recipe – Simple Spaghetti Made Simple

April 22nd, 2011 - 8:56 am

I do this one every other Thursday — and would do it more often if Melissa would let me.

You’ll need:

1/3 cup light olive oil.
1 medium white onion, diced.
1 clove garlic, minced.
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes.
1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes.
1 handful basil leaves, torn to about the same size as the onion.
1 tbsp Chianti.
1 tsp tomato paste.
1/2 pound lean ground beef.
1/2 pound ground sweet italian sausage.
1 pound quality spaghetti noodles. We like De Cecco.

Put your pasta water on to boil in a very large pot.

Bring the olive oil, in a saucepan big enough for everything, up to medium heat. Dice the onion. Toss in the oil and let simmer for eight minutes. While simmering, mince the garlic and toss in with the onions. Crack some pepper in there. Open your two cans of tomatoes and have at the ready. At the eight minute mark, pour in the tomatoes and add the tomato paste, too.

If the onions aren’t yet semi-translucent, give them another minute or maybe two before adding the tomatoes.

ASIDE: Most people use a single 28-oz can of tomato sauce, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But — diced tomatoes add some extra texture and a nice sweetness when you bite into them. By themselves, however, the sauce is too dry. So I go 50/50 between those and the crushed tomatoes. Why crushed? Less sodium than canned sauce, and I’m on a low-sodium diet. Stupid middle age.

Tear the basil and add it, too, then the wine. Let simmer uncovered for ten minutes. You’ll probably need to turn the heat down to Low, especially if you live at high elevation.

That Chianti you opened for the sauce? Now it’s for the chef.

Brown your meat in a medium-high frying pan, strain off excess grease, add to sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too acidic, add the wee tiniest pinch of sugar. A quarter teaspoon is too much.

Add a half tablespoon of kosher salt to your pasta water and put the spaghetti in. Boil for 9-10 minutes. Or for 11 minutes, if you’re at 7,500 feet. Cooking’s just a little bit different up here.

It ain’t pretty, but it’s pretty darn good.

Just before the pasta is done, take a ladle full of pasta water and add it to the sauce.

Strain pasta and allow to rest for 60 seconds, then mix into the sauce.

Total simmering time for the sauce shouldn’t be too much longer than 20 minutes — if you like your onion to still have some firmness. Other folks like to simmer it an hour or all day, until the onion is unrecognizable, but I think that’s a real shame.

Pour the whole mess into a large bowl and set on the table to serve family style. Have some Parm and pepper handy, too.

ALSO: If you missed last week’s triumphant return of the Friday Recipe, it’s the All-American Steak & Salad. Anybody can bake a potato, but a perfect Caesar is art.

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