Sunday, September 07, 2008

Spaghetti Sauce Try Outs

For those of you who don't keep up with Kristie's blog, the Spiteful Chef:

I have agreed to make her Spaghetti Sauce and let her know how it turns out. So, here is my tale of attempting to make the sauce.

I agreed to this adventure on the evening of September 2. I had to wait until this weekend because it takes 3 hours of simmering. 3 HOURS! That doesn't even include the prepping. Just the SIMMERING!

Time restraint aside (hell, the Borscht I made in the spring took 4 hours, so this shouldn't be much worse), I looked at the recipe and thought it sounded good. And, as my dear husband is a picky eater (and yet he claims I'm the picky one), I had to let him read the recipe before we went shopping for all the ingredients. Immediately "1/2 Bell Pepper" was taken off the list. Some such nonsense of "intolerance and/or allergy". Though I will say that I will take this allergy to bell pepper over the allergy to basil and/or oregano that the rest of his family suffers from.

Anyhow, I write down the ingredients and it's off to the store. I went to the wine aisle to get some red wine (I got the Gabbiano Chianti Classico for like $11.50), and sent him to get the required meat. He comes back to tell me that they don't have hot Italian sausage so he grabbed some Jalapeno Sausage instead. Note who started deviating from the given recipe.

We get to the fresh vegetable section and then the hunt is on for mushrooms. I say 'hunt' because I have never, ever, not once bought mushrooms so I have no idea where they are even located. Because I am lazy, I got the pre-sliced Bellas.

I measure the butter (I used the non-salted variety) and oil and put them in our large stock pot (this is the ONLY time I have EVER measured olive oil). I then get out the garlic press and press the hell out of the garlic (which took me 20 minutes to peel by the way). It is at this point that Shawn starts telling me I'm deviating from the recipe. Yes, because I was the first one to deviate from the given directions. Anyhow, the garlic was pressed instead of minced because, as mentioned above, I am lazy.

I grab the onion next (one of the Farm to Work ones, incidentally) and I get out my Ulu knife and board. I start dicing the onion and my eyes start watering. I get half way through when I realize that my nose is running and my eyes are watering so much I can barely see. Shawn, who is washing dishes, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE KITCHEN mentions that his eyes are watering because of the onions. That is some strong onion. I finally get it diced to my liking and dump it in the stock pot with the oil, butter and garlic. Then I run to the bathroom to blow my nose and dab at my eyes like I'm some sort of southern damsel in distress.

Now comes the meat cooking. I put the hamburger in our Calphalon One Everyday Pan, and pull out the meat cutting board to start de-casing the sausage. I'm halfway through my 2nd one when Shawn asks "What are you doing?" "I'm de-casing" "Why are you doing that? It's not in the directions." "Yes it is, at the top" "Oh, would you look at that? Well, you should just cut them into rounds. Too much work to de-case them all." But I will have you know that I continued to de-case the suckers and then I cut them into rounds, and those rounds into 4ths. It just took me until my last sausage until I realized I was making it much tougher on myself becase I was using a crappy steak knife instead of one of my nice knives. sigh.

The meat is in the pan, it's cooking away and I go to pull out the grease jar. If you think you want to switch from using hamburger to ground turkey; don't. The smell of the old grease is enough to make me throw up in my mouth a little. I mean hamburger grease smells bad, but turkey grease is about 10 times worse. disgusting. The meat is drained of its grease and then added to the cooking onion and garlic medley.

Other ingredients are added (petite diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, bay leaves). And then I go and try to open the wine bottle. I cannot open wine bottles. I am a failure at this seemingly simple task. Shawn, the one in this little family of two who does not drink, is the wine bottle opener. Odd, that. He approximates "a third" and that gets added to the sauce mix.

I added a half teaspoon of celery seed (we didn't have celery salt, and I wasn't about to buy a spice that I would never use), and then a teaspoon and a half of kosher salt. I figured "2 dashes = one splash" and that's how much worchestershire sauce was added. I added a heaping teaspoon of dried oregano (from the garden, it's also been in the cupboard for a while, so I figured it probably needed a little more). And I added a teaspoon of the "Red hot chili powder" I don't know what it is, it's something that Shawn's mom gave us a while ago--she had bought some chili powder of some sort in bulk, and that's what she wrote on the baggy. Though we did debate on if we should add Ancho Chili, Chipotle Chili, or regular chili powder. We used the aforementioned "red hot" because it smelled the least smokey.

Then we come to the 1T dried basil. Well, this is a problem. Because we don't have DRIED basil. We have fresh basil. The interwebs says to add 3x as much if you're using fresh. And so I approximate this to be "9 large leaves or 2 sprigs" and so that amount is picked, washed and added to the mix.

We go to set the timer on the microwave only to find out that the microwave timer maxes out at 99:99, so we moved onto the oven timer. Set it for 2 hours (so we can check the consistency) and that's what I'm waiting for right now.

In the meantime, laundry is getting done, and bathrooms are being cleaned. It's like I'm all being domestic and crap.

Stay tuned for the "eating" part.

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