Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spaghetti with All Day Sauce that I made in 2 Hours

This is a recipe I actually made a couple of months ago, but never wrote about. It was one of my cooking weekends where I made several dishes and photographed them. This one just kept getting passed over probably because it came about because I messes up the directions so bad by the time it was cooked it didn't resemble the original. The original was a recipe that used 1/2 pound beef, 1/2 pork and 1/2 pound veal cooked in a tomato sauce for several hours. They also made meatballs but they were very tiny. To make the meatballs you used 1/2 pound ground beef, 1/2 pound ground pork and 1/2 pound ground veal. Can you see what my first mistake was? I got a mixture of ground beef, pork and veal from the store but none for the sauce. My second mistake was I was making this for a friend from Thailand, Hi Steve, and didn't allow enough time for the sauce to cook for several hours.

The first lesson you should learn when cooking is read the recipe all the way through. The second thing it make sure you read it as written not how you want it to be.

At this point I had to put on my thinking cap and channel my inner Alton Brown and see if I could fake my way through this. They cooked the meat in the sauce for hours to give it flavor. I needed a way to add meat flavor to my sauce but in a short amount of time. I decided to make the meatballs and brown them in the pan I was going to make the sauce in. After I removed the meatballs I deglazed the pan with 1 cup of beef broth and then reduced the broth to 1/2 giving me a strong beef flavor. Next I added the tomato paste and cooked that for a couple of minutes then I added the can of crushed tomatoes. This way I got the beef flavor into the sauce. I let the sauce reduce until it was very rich and thick intensifying the flavors. I also added the meatballs back to the sauce when I added the crushed tomatoes, letting the meatballs flavor the sauce. It turned out very good and I did not end up throwing out the 1 and 1/2 pounds of meat that was used in the original recipe to flavor the sauce. The original says to remove it and never says to use it for anything else and since they made the meatballs before they removed the meat from the sauce they didn't grind it and use it for meatballs.

As a side note I used bucatini not spaghetti for the pasta. Bucatini is like spaghetti but it is thicker and has a hole in the center like a straw.  Target carries bucatini in the Giada DeLaurentiis line of food if  you want to try it otherwise it might be hard to find. Spaghetti is just as good I just wanted to try bucatini.

You can use my traditional meatball recipe, but increase the ground beef to 3/4 pound and add an additional sausage or if you you can get a ground beef, ground pork and ground veal mixture from your butcher/grocery store use 1 1/2 pounds of that instead of the ground beef and Italian sausage in my recipe. Also you will want to make tiny meatballs, I made 86 from my 1 1/2 pounds of meat. I used a 1 tsp measuring spoon to scoop the beef and then rolled it in my hand.

All Day Tomato Sauce in 2 Hours
1 recipe of My basic Tomato Sauce
2 cups of beef broth
1 tbs tomato paste

Make the meatballs and brown them in a dutch oven. Remove the meatballs and set aside. Add the beef broth to the pan and stir to release the brown bits from the meatballs from the pan. Cook until the broth has reduced by 1/2. This will take 10 minutes or so. Then add the tomato paste and stir it into the broth. let it cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Then add the tomato sauce. Stir the sauce until the broth has been incorporated into the broth. Add the meatballs and let them simmer for an hour. Serve over your favorite spaghetti or bucatini. Garnish with shaved parmesan and or basil leaves.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lobster Boil

This is one of my favorite meals. For the last few years this has been my Father's Day meal. You can add additional things like sausage or shellfish if you like. Happy Father's Day to my fellow fathers.

Lobster Boil
4 lobster tails, I used 4 oz tails for this
24 shrimp
4 ears corn on the cob
4 potatoes or 8 small red ones
1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning

Fill a large stock pot with water, turned to high so water will boil. Add the red potatoes or if using larger potatoes cut them into smaller pieces and add them. Let them boil 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes start to get soft. Add the Old Bay and the lobsters. After 5 minutes add corn and shrimp and let boil 3 or 4 minutes longer until shrimp are cooked. Drain off water and put the food in a big bowl. Enjoy and put out lots of napkins. You may want to put out butter, salt, pepper for corn and potatoes, cocktail sauce for shrimp and melted butter for lobster. Oh yea, don't forget an ice cold beer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Polenta with Mushroom & Sausage Sauce

Polenta, grits, mush, gruel or porridge is all pretty much the same thing, boiled cornmeal. The big difference comes from the type of corn used and whether it is ground coarsely or fine or anywhere in between. Anyway you look at it polenta is good and found through out the world in one form or another. The dish itself is rather bland until you add something to it, such as cheese or put something on it like a sauce. Today I topped it with a sauce.

Polenta with Mushroom & Sausage Sauce
Polenta, Grits or cornmeal
1 tbs Olive Oil
2 Hot Italian Sausages, casing removed, cut into 1/2 moons
4 oz Mushrooms, cut into large pieces
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbs Tomato Paste
1 24 oz can Crushed Tomatoes

For the Polenta:
Since I don't know whether you are cooking grits, polenta or cornmeal and how coarsely it is ground I am going to go out on a limb here and tell you to follow the directions on the package. You can add cheese, butter or any other flavoring that you desire.

For the Sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering add the sausage and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the garlic and let it cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomato paste. Let the tomato paste cook for a minute or so and then add the tomatoes. When the sauce starts to bubble, turn the sauce to low and let it cook until you are ready to eat. The longer you let it cook the thicker it will become.  Don't let it become to thick and dried out, but if you do add a little water or wine to loosen it back up and cook until it reaches your desired consistency.

Polenta is traditionally served family style on a wooden board. I shaved a little parmesan cheese and sprinkled some basil ribbons over the top. The basil was more to give the photo some color than anything else. I highly recommend a glass of red wine to go with this.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tilapia Packets

This is an easy and fast dish that can be served during the week. Best of all it's healthy.

Tilapia Packets
2 tilapia fillets
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
10-15 Kalamata olives, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs onion, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to medium high heat.
Create a packet out of foil. I have told you how to do this before, but if you have a short memory like me. Take a 4 foot long piece of aluminum foil. Fold it in half, so you now have a 2 foot ling piece. Fold the sides over 1 inch. Fold the sides a second time 1 inch. Fold the bottom up 1 inch. The top will be open the sides will now be sealed as they have been folded over once and the bottom is folded up 1 inch for strength. Put all of the ingredients in the foil. Fold the top over 1 inch, do this 3 times. Place the pouch on a tray or cutting board to transport to grill. Place packet on grill. Cook for 5 minutes and flip the packet over. The packet will inflate like a balloon while it is cooking. Be careful when you remove from grill as this is when the seems will break if they are going to break. Remove the contents, except the liquids, and put on a plate. I usually serve this on a bed of brown rice. You can garnish with parsely or basil.