"I think that if all kids aspire to reach a point where they could feed themselves and a few of their friends, this would be good for the world surely." -Anthony Bourdain
Cooking is an activity that I have come to enjoy in the last few years. I am not a world renowned cook like Chef Bourdain, but we have a few things in common. We both find catharsis in writing and cooking a great meal for others to enjoy. When the mood strikes, nothing is more therapeutic than having a glass of wine, chopping the bajeezus out of an onion, and consulting Spirit about how many cloves of garlic are needed.
My favorite recipe is my meat sauce or Sunday Sauce, as some Italians I know call it. Each batch has its own unique character. It has to be built carefully, layer by layer, much like crafting savory imagery in your writing. Committing to quality ingredients is imperative. Additionally, you will need time. A good sauce is not something you can whip up in 30 minutes or less. Pick a day that you have a few hours to devote to your craft so that you can really become acquainted with this new character you've created! Above all, keep in mind that the day your recipe becomes rote, you've lost the point.
The coolest thing about meat sauce is you can make a huge batch, serve your family that night, then freeze the rest for another day! Don't put the sauce in the fridge until it has cooled to room temperature. Otherwise, it develops a weird sour taste that poo-poos on all of your hard work. Once my sauce has cooled, I pack portions in gallon-sized freezer bags and flatten them out before freezing. This makes storage a little easier as well as thawing later. I also recommend using organic tomato products. In my experience, the organic tomato products are less acidic. Additionally, I suggest cooking your onions down on a lower heat until they are translucent and floppy. You want the flavor...not the indigestion!
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1-12 oz can of tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 medium vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
3 to 6 cloves minced garlic (remember: consult Spirit)
3 tbsp Italian seasoning
one-half to 1 lb ground beef
8 oz fresh sliced mushrooms (or more, depending on how you feel about fungi)
1 to 3 tbsp white sugar (Start with one and TASTE before adding more!)
1 half cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Pour about 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil into a large pot. You want to choose one that has a good amount of surface area so that the sauce doesn't get too heavy on the bottom and burn. I recommend a 10.5 qt stock pot OR a 12 in sautee pan that has a good amount of depth to it.
2. Add your chopped onion. Let the onions sautee for about 5 minutes by themselves.
3. Add ground beef. Don't let it cook too long...remember, it will be boiling with your sauce soon, so if you see a little pink, its a-okay.
4. When your onions are good and floppy, add the Italian seasoning and incorporate it well.
5. Add minced garlic and mushrooms. Don't let these sautee for too long, either. You REALLY don't want either of these to burn!
6. Slowly pour the canned tomato products into your pot/pan. Stir well.
7. Turn the burner down to low and cover. Watch the sauce to be sure it develops small, simmering bubbles.
8. Stir every 10-15 minutes for at least one hour.
9. Adding white sugar helps to cut the acidity of the sauce. Start by adding 1 tbsp, give it a taste and see what you think before adding more.
10. Add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir well. Freshly grated is better, of course.
11. Watch your family make this face as they enjoy your creation: