Friday, October 23, 2015

Sunday Spaghetti on a Thursday

With just a few days at home I had some real kitchen business to get to right away. I put up a few jars of tomatoes and apples, stocked the shelves and freezer for James to eat while I am gone and took advantage of my day at home with some super slow family style cooking.
One of my favorite hang around the house recipes is an old fashion Neapolitan style ragú -- the kind of Sunday gravy Tony Soprano might favor.
First I use a combination of meats -- something flavorful with bones -- like short ribs (4), shanks (2) or meaty pork ribs (a half rack of baby backs cut horizontally into shorter pieces) combined with stewing veal (not today) or Italian sausage (2 links).
I sear the well seasoned meat (except for the sausage -- that goes in later) along with 1 chopped onion in hot olive oil until it's nice and brown. Then I toss in a couple cloves of chopped garlic and a pinch of dried chili flakes. Traditionally sauce in Naples is either onions or garlic, not both. But I can't resist a little garlic flavor, so that tradition goes out the window in favor of Italian American flavor. Next I pour in about a third of a bottle of red wine and cook everything down until the liquid is just about evaporated.
In goes two large 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes, the sausage, and today since I've got a big pot going a large can of tomato purée or passata and bring everything up to a simmer. That's it. That's the hardest part. Then it's all over but the waiting. For the next 2-3 hours I stir about every 15 minutes, sometimes skimming a little of the fat off the top if it seems excessive.
The sauce cooks down to a rich meaty red. I toss some with butter, spaghetti, parmesan, and parsley for dinner and offer James the cooked meats as a "secondo." There is always meat left over which I pop in the freezer to grind for ravioli filling, meat pies or Northern Italian style meatballs made with cooked meat, mortadella, and plenty of flavorful breadcrumbs.
A dinner I can feel good about over and over again.

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