Monday, June 27, 2011

A Spaghetti First

So, this may seem hard to believe, but tonight I made spaghetti sauce from scratch for the first time. Now that I've done it—and it was so yummy—I don't know why I didn't do it sooner! I'm in the 3rd phase of a diet (in which I've lost 15.5 pounds in 26 days, yay me!) where I am avoiding all starches and sugars. Most readily-available jarred spaghetti sauces have added sugar so I decided to have a go at making it from scratch. I referenced two recipes—one from the June 2011 Bon Appetit and another I watched on an old episode of Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals—but I really kind of made it up as I went along. Since I can't eat pasta yet, I ate mine over roasted spaghetti squash. My whole family loved it, so I think I'll likely be making my own sauce for spaghetti night around here from now on!

Simple Scratch Spaghetti Sauce

2 Tbsp fat—I used 1 Tbsp rendered bacon fat and 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound sweet Italian sausage (I used Johnsonville all natural)
dash hot pepper flakes, ground fine (optional)
½ cup good quality red wine
1 – 28oz can crushed Italian style tomatoes, preferably organic
1 – 14.5oz can diced or petite cut tomatoes, preferably organic (I used S&W with sweet onions and roasted garlic—not organic, but yummy)
½ - 1 tsp kosher salt
1/3 c beef stock (I used homemade that I had frozen into ice cubes)
8 drops alcohol-free stevia extract (you could use 1 tsp of sugar or honey or natural sweetener of your choice, or omit altogether)
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp minced fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)

Heat fat in a heavy, deep pan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add onions and cook until soft and starting to caramelize, about 12-15 minutes. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and Italian sausage, breaking up sausage into small pieces with a spoon. Cook, stirring frequently, until sausage is thoroughly browned. Drain off most of the fat by scraping the sausage and onion to one side of the pan and using a spoon or paper towel to remove the bulk of the fat. Add wine and let cook until mostly evaporated, about 3-5 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, beef stock, stevia, and herbs and simmer for 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Adjust salt and seasonings as desired. Serve over al dente pasta or spaghetti squash seasoned with salt and pepper, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired, and enjoy!