After weeks of wondering and trying to decide what to marinate or rub with this or that to toss on the barbecue next, I was thrown into a genuine quandary.
I woke up early, early, early to a miracle of a morning. It was cool, misty, breezy and sometimes, even downright showery. The kind of weather that really rattled the old memory box of terrific (for a change) stovetop or oven dinner possibilities. Yippee, skippy, cool enough at last to actually cook!
Should tonight be, then, an onion-smothered pot roast with potatoes, carrots and plenty of good brown gravy? Maybe stuffed, breaded pork chops, scalloped potatoes and steamed fresh spinach.
Or how about that old-fashioned skillet fried-chicken thing. The one with the new potatoes and peas, seasoned with fresh herbs. Yes, just the ticket, I thought.
A quick mental inventory told me I had all of the necessary ingredients right on hand, and I was all set to start hauling them out of freezer, pantry and storage room.
When, ugh, I remembered a little something a person who lives at my house said just the other day. If you can imagine, in cold blood and right to my face, he actually asked, “How are we having our chicken fixed tonight?”
Well, it’s certainly true that the barbecue has seen a constant round of beef, chicken, pork and fish lately. Constant. Over and over and over again. Never mind that it was fixed differently, flavored differently, and in different shapes and forms.
I suppose, however, if a person were totally insensitive and unfeeling and somehow imagined that there had been an overload of chicken on the table, he might say something like that.
At any rate, I instantly backed off on that particular chicken proposition and, in fact, decided to let chicken anything fly right out of my mind, at least temporarily. Mulling over other options, and rerunning an ingredient inventory in my mind again, I stumbled across the perfect answer, in more ways than one.
Spaghetti. While it simmers along, making the whole house smell like an expensive Italian eatery, you’ll have plenty of time to whip up some garlic butter to slather on slabs of good crusty bread and then zip on out to the garden for salad fixings.
In case you’re wondering, this makes enough to serve four good eaters, more if you’re dealing with smaller appetites. And the leftover sauce, if there is any, freezes well, too.
1pound lean ground beef
1pound bulk hot Italian sausage
3large cloves garlic, pressed
2cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
2cans (103/4 ounces each) tomato puree
1/2-1cup beef broth or water
3tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1teaspoon (more or less to taste) salt
1/4Generous teaspoon pepper
1Big pinch dried hot red pepper flakes
1Generous tablespoon dried oregano, crushed
2Generous teaspoons Italian herb seasoning, crushed
1Generous teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1Generous teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
Hot cooked spaghetti, linguine or other favorite pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese
In large, heavy Dutch oven, kettle or saucepan, brown ground beef and sausage, breaking into small pieces. When browned well, drain off excess fat (if any) and stir in the garlic, tomato sauce, tomato puree, beef broth or water, parsley, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, oregano, Italian herb seasoning, basil and marjoram. Mix ingredients together thoroughly and bring to boil.
Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook about an hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sauce from sticking to bottom of pan and burning, particularly toward end of cooking period. Serve over hot cooked spaghetti, linguine or other favorite pasta, and let fellow eaters sprinkle their individual servings with Parmesan cheese.
Makes four to six servings.
Leftover sauce freezes well.
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