Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce - aka "Meat's Ball"

I know, I know.  Why bother when its so easy to crack open a jar of Ragu?  I'll tell you why.  Because its TOTALLY worth it and its a super-cinch!

But before we begin, I must apologize here.  I didn't take any pictures to accompany this recipe.  Partly because I was in a hurry to throw it together since I literally ran through the door to the stove after a grueling gymnastics session (in which I was not a participant, obviously, but my youngest and I watch my oldest through the glass and then she proceeds to imitate her sister's moves in my lap), and partly because I initially had no intention of posting the recipe here.  But I've since changed my mind because of the sheer wonderfulness, awesomenessdeliciousness MAGNIFICANCE of what came to be in that skillet!  And the best part is, it was fast and made from stuff I always have around.    

So, as a friendly guesture to you all for having botched the picture recipe, I've chosen to substitute pictures with a lively story.  I hope you'll indulge me. 
I've entitled this recipe "Meat's Ball"
Let us begin. 

     So Meat was all like, "Dude, this place suuuucks.  I gotta get outta here, man.  I need some serious vacay from this bunk crisper."
     Just then, Spatula pulls up.  Meat goes, "Hey Man, where you headed?"
     And Spatula was all, "I heard there was this savory shindig happenin in the valley.  Some place called Skillet.  Wanna come?"
     "You know it, Man!  This place is whack!  There's nothin but a bunch of lame do-gooders around here.  They're always like, 'Hey Meat, why don't you come to Las Vegan with us?' "
     "Vegan?!?  Dude!  Why would you turn down a trip to Vegan?!?"
     "You don't know these guys, Man.  They're not, like, 'Hey,- let's-all-go-to-Vegan-and-get-fried!'    They're more like, 'Hey,-let's-go-to-Vegan-and-grill-some-otherwise-tastey-morsel-because-she's-too-saturated.' and whatever.  Going to Vegan with them would be a wasted trip.  I need to get outta here, though, bro."
     So Spatula was all, "Let's do it then, bro.  Let's go check out this Skillet party."

Brown your Meat (he he, 1 lb ground beef) and season with salt and pepper.  Make it all nice and crumbly-like.  Remove from heat and drain it.  Return to low heat. 

Spatula and Meat pull into Skillet and the party was HOT!!!  They could literally see the vapors rising up off the surface of the dance floor!  Spatula, being the less outgoing of the two, nudges Meat onto the floor while he goes to get some "refreshments."  He comes back with two.  A shot of Vodka and a Dr. Pepper.  He holds them out towards Meat as if to say, "Which one?" and Meat shoots him a disbelieving smirk and yells back, "Man, give me those."  He takes the shot, chugs the Dr. Pepper and goes, "You gotta mix that stuff, bro.  For the balance."  Meat is a seasoned professional.  He knows which combos work and which don't.  Meat continues to dance, gettin loose, while Spatula jumps in once in a while to check on him.  He hangs out on the sidelines, mostly.  He just wants to make sure that Meat doesn't get too hot in there.  Its crowded, you see.  And Spatula worries.  He's always thought of Meat as a younger brother who needs guidance. 

Soon the dance floor is completely saturated with sweat and stickiness from all the dancing.  Its gross.  Spatula goes in and pulls Meat aside.  "Bro, you gotta chill for a bit.  You're gonna lose it out there."  Just then, someone trips over the speaker wire the plug gets disconnected.  The music stops.  Meat just rolls with it and takes a minute to catch his breath while Spatula kicks away some of the nastiness from the dancefloor. 
Next you need to add some onion and garlic.  I used yellow onions cause that's what I had.  I took about a quarter of one onion, diced it up kinda chunky and threw them in the skillet with the meat.  Stir it up a bit and then chop or press about 2 cloves of garlic and throw it in.  Mix, mix, mix until you can smell it getting all lovely.

Someone finds the plug and the heat is back on!  Without a thought, Meat jumps right back in and starts dancing.  From the corner of his eye he sees two righteous hotties headed to the floor.  These chicks are spicy.  They squeeze right next to Meat and start dancing.  They're doing all kinds of crazy acrobatic stuff, twisting all around him and swirling all over the floor.  Meat likes this.  Meat wants to get to know these girls better.  He snuggles up next to one of them and says, "Hey, you're pretty hot.  What's your name?"
She gets right in his face and breathes her name to him, "Gaaarlick."
Whoa!!  Bad breath.
The other chick comes spinning toward him and introduces herself, "I'm Onion."
Meat likes this one.  She's a little on the chunky side, but Meat likes the full-bodied type.  It seems these two ladies are pretty tight, they spend a lot of time complimenting each other.  Spatula notices this and thinks to himself, "That's nice.  They seem like nice girls."  Spatula is kind of a wallflower.  He talks big but when it comes right down to it, he doesn't get too involved in the party.

When the garlic and onions are nice and fragrant (about a minute of cooking) add some canned tomatoes and the juice.  (I used two pint jars that I had canned this summer.  I guess its about equivalent to a 28 ounce can or 2 14.5 ounce cans).  Add about a tablespoon of sugar and stir it in.  Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer.

Spatula is a nice guy though so he signals to the bartender and says, "Yo, can I get a few drinks for my buddy and his new friends out there?"
The bartender looks out at the dancing threesome and goes, "Ya, I've seen this before.  I know exactly what they need." 
He disappears for a minute and comes back with a bucket full of something chunky.  Spatula looks at him, curiously, but doesn't say anything.  In his head he's thinking, 'What is this fool doin' with a bucket?'  But he waits.  Says nothing.  The bartender goes around the bar to the turntable, bucket in hand, and starts messin with the volume.  He turns it up.  Way up!  And then, outta nowhere this crazy bartender chucks a bucket of fruit cocktail at the dancers!  Spatula's jaw drops.  He's speechless.  But he was quickminded enough to pull out his cell and catch that on video.  "This mess is going on YouTube TONITE!!" 
As expected, everyone on the dancefloor seizes up for a half-second while they try to figure out what the F just happened here.  Then they get all fired up and start poppin and sputtering out obscenities at the bartender!  They're ragin'!  Bartender gets a little nervous, but he knows how to calm this bunch down.  He's got lots of experience in crowd control.  He turns the volume down and quickly starts pulling out free drink coupons and makes it rain on the crowd.  Someone shouts, "Sweet!"  The crowd collects thier coupons and mellows out.   Spatula goes outside to get his head around what just happened in there and to try to find a signal.  He has got to get this video up now!  Tommy Tong is gonna trip out when he sees this!

Slice some brown button mushrooms.  About half a pint (10 or 12 mushrooms).  Add those to the skillet as well as a tablespoon each of dried oregano and dried basil. 

Meanwhile, Meat and his two lady friends wander away from the heat of the dance floor and decide to chill for awhile at the bar.  They're soaked.  Dripping in fruit juice.  Funny thing is, though, they don't seem to mind.  In fact, they kinda like it.  It cooled them off, but now they realize how hungry they are from all that dancing.  They were workin pretty hard.  So Meat looks around for some appetizers or something to get his gnosh on.  He comes back with some spongy looking, flavorless chip kinda things.  The girls are like, "No thanks," at first, but then Meat reaches around behind the bar and finds the garnish tray.  He sprinkles some flaky junk on it and dips it in the fruit cocktail bucket that the bartender left laying around (lazy sucker), and offers it up to his girls.  They politely try a taste.  Turns out, that stuff isn't too bad.  And besides, they're starving, so they eat it.

Stir in about 1/2 cup of red wine.  Let simmer for about 15 minutes.  I used a cabernet, but I'm pretty sure that anything red and alcoholic will do.  Serve over your pasta of choice.

Meat, (crafty fellow that he is) offers to treat his new friends to a drink.  He really wants to impress these chicks so he asks the bartender for something "classy."  The bartender counters with a bottle of cheap cab. Meat takes a look at the label, then at the bartender, and makes his 'seriuosly?' face, but the girls aren't paying attention and Meat is low on funds so he signals for a couple of glasses and  hands them off to the ladies before they get a peak.  Meat can see the bartender sneaking a few swigs for himself as he stumbles off in the other direction.  He gives a little chuckle and thinks to himself, 'This fool,' and shakes his head.
 For the next 15 minutes or so, the party is pretty mellow.  Meat and his ladies are sippin their grapejuice. The music is chill.  They get a chance to get to know each other.
Suddenly, Spatula comes back into the party and Meat goes, "Dude, where you been?  I thought you ditched me for some juicy peice?"
Spatula goes, "Naw, Man.  I was chasin' a signal outside.  I had to put you on blast, Yo! That mess was crazy funny!"
Meat throws a nod in the direction of his lady friends (who, by now, are very tipsy, and are really starting to sink down in their seats).  Spatula, always the responsible gentleman, says, "I think we otta get your friends home, Bro."  Meat shoots him a look.  Spatula knows this look.  He sobers his voice and looks Meat in the eye and says, "I think we can put these lovely ladies up at a nice place on the west side for the night."  He lowers his voice and leans in closer, "Be cool, Bro.  Be cool."
So everyone hops in Spatula's ride and they head over to this cushy new hotel called Semolina Plaza.  By the time they check in, everyone is feeling pretty sauced, so they just sorta lay down wherever they can find a spot and doze off. 

Garnish with some grated parmesean or peccorino cheese.

Meat opens his eyes for a quick second and takes a peek outside of the hotel.  He murmurs to himself, 'Dude.  Is it snowing?'

The End.

1 lb ground beef
1/4 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
28 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
10-12 mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 c red wine
salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat, season with salt and pepper.  Drain.  Add garlic and onions and continue to cook over med-low heat until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and stir in sugar.  Bring to a boil and add mushrooms.  Lower heat to simmer, add oregano, basil and red wine. Stir to incorporate.  Adjust seasoning, if needed.  Let simmer for 15 minutes over low heat.  Serve over pasta and garnish with freshly grated cheese.

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