Sunday, April 1, 2012

Attack of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Mmmmmm, tasty spaghetti monster. Spaghetti, or more particularly, spaghetti sauce is a long standing favorite in my family.  Believe it or not, there was a time when I refused to eat it (thankfully I grew out of picky eating and here I am today).  My mother makes some of the tastiest sauce you can find, and naturally she taught me. The real trick to great spaghetti sauce is getting your balance of herbs right; something Mom is really good at, having worked in the nursery (that's plants obviously, cause you can't cook small children) business ever since I can remember. Don't have great herb-sense? Don't worry I kindly reduced my usual haphazard slinging of stuff into the pot into measured amounts below (you're welcome *smiles sweetly*).

What You'll Need
Cutting board                                                                   Large stock pot
Knife for chopping                                                            Long-handled mixing spoon
Small knife or kitchen scissors                                        Can opener
1 large white onion                                                           Marjoram 
1 lb lean hamburger meat                                                Oregano
1 pkg hot italian sausage                                                 Rosemary
3 large (29 oz) cans tomato sauce                                       Thyme
2 large (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes                                     Basil
1 (12 oz) can tomato paste                                                   Bay leaves
Olive oil or butter                                                               Salt and pepper

Now Let's Make Spaghetti Sauce!
To begin, you need to peel and dice your onion. Cut the non-root end off your onion. Peel back the outer layers of skin and discard. Moving around the onion, slice through the onion in straight, evenly spaced lines, stopping just short of the root. (Incidentally, I'm pretty sure this is how Bloomin' Onions are born).  Now, with the end that you cut off facing your knife, begin chopping your way through the onion, moving towards the root. And, voila! Diced onion.

Fun fact: I cry so hard when I cut
onions that I'm a danger to myself
and others.
In your large stock pot, add a small amount of olive oil or butter. Turn the stove eye to medium heat, and warm the oil. Once the oil has warmed (not sizzling, you don't want to burn it), add the diced onions. Saute the onions over medium heat, using the long-handled spoon to move them about occasionally.  Be careful not to let the onions burn; if they start browning in spots, you're not moving them around enough. Saute until the onions are translucent and tender.

Now it's time to add the meats. This is when I find it's easier to press a kitchen assistant into service, since they can stir the cooking hamburger meat while you deal with the sausage. However, if you do not have an assistant handy, simply remove the pot from the stove eye for this part. Open your hamburger meat and add it to the stock pot, using your spoon to break it up a bit. Use the leanest ground beef you can find (ground turkey works, too, if you swing that way), since excess grease will affect the consistency of your sauce.  Next, remove the casing from your hot italian sausage. Using your hands, break of smallish pieces from the sausage and add them to the pot. Continue until all the sausage is used. (Can't find hot italian sausage? Add 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes to compensate). Saute until the meat is no longer pink, stirring as needed.

I could live off tomato products.
Once your meat is ready, you can begin adding the tomato products (flex your wrists; this is a lot of can-opening). Open all your cans. Add all three cans of tomato sauce to the stock pot.  Drain the juice from your diced tomatoes, then add both cans to the stock pot. Lastly, add your entire can of tomato paste, scraping the sides of the can to access all the gooey, tomatoey deliciousness (Also, try not to burn tonight's dinner while editing your blog post!).  Stir the tomato products into the meat and onions well, making sure to get a fairly even mix.  Turn the heat up to just under high (about 8 or 9).  You want to bring the sauce to a light boil before moving on to the next step.  Stir regularly, making sure to lift sauce up from the bottom to avoid scorching.  Once the sauce has started to bubble plenty, reduce the heat to a medium-low setting (about 3). This should be enough to maintain a slow simmer.

Not pictured: bay leaves.
Cause I'm lame
Now it's time to add the herbs!  So, remember when I said I'd give you measure amounts? What I meant to say was somewhat measured amounts (yes, yes, I'm mean).  Turn your hand palm face up and cup it. This is now your measuring utensil! To give you a little perspective before we do this, the spoon handle in the picture is about 1" wide (click to enlarge!). To the stock pot, add one handful Marjoram and one handful Oregano.  Add half a handful of Rosemary and half a handful of Basil.  Add about half as much Thyme as you did Rosemary. Toss in two or three bay leaves. Deep breath, you're done. (Please note that these amounts pertain to dried herbs. If you're using fresh, you'll need a whole lot more.  Drying herbs increases their potency).

Nom vigorously! Napkins advised.
Stir the herbs into the sauce, making sure to mix them in thoroughly.  Allow the sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the noodles. Check the box of noodles for the proper water to noodle ratio. Bring the water to boil. Add noodles. Cook until tender. Drain immediately. Serve covered in Spaghetti Sauce and preferably topped with parmesan cheese. Spaghetti sauce keeps for about 2-3 months in the freezer before taste is effected.

Also, super big thanks to all my readers. My views doubled in the month of March compared to February. *Happy dance*



  1. Great job on your 'handful' measurements, Haley! Some people prefer more Marjoram and less Oregano. Rosemary and Marjoram are ESSENTIAL in my view. Need more Garlic!!! (but that is a personal issue, too). Rule of thumb on the fresh v.s. dried herbs is 3 times as much fresh to dried. YES...its is will be a big mounding plateful of fresh herbs, but that is right! Just be sure not to boil them...just simmer, to avoid bitterness.

    1. Oh yeah. Garlic! I knew I forgot something. Thanks Mom. I normally add garlic, but I like tomatoes so darn much, I don't usually notice if I forget. Thanks for the amounts on fresh vs. dried. Without it sitting in front of me I wasn't sure how much it would be. And that's, ladies and gentlemen, is why the herbs are added after we've reduced the heat on the stove.

      Okay, so instructions on how to post under your name: Below the comment box where it says reply as. Set the drop down menu to Name/Url and type in your name. You don't have to fill out the info completely, just a name will do. Hope that helps!


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