Do you ever find yourself standing in front of an open fridge door at 2 in the morning blankly staring at what’s inside hoping to find inspiration? I do it a lot, and it’s not because I have insomnia. Mike and I both work from home so we tend to keep late hours and have offbeat eating habits. It’s hard finding things to eat in our humble city after 12am. With no 24 hour grocery stores, we tend to make do with what’s in the fridge.
Last week, after watching 6 episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, we were both feeling a little peckish and for once there weren’t any leftovers in the fridge. What we did have was ground meat, so we decided to make a pasta sauce…together. First of all, you should know that I’m not very good at sharing the kitchen. I’m neurotic and I take up a lot of space for a five foot tall person. Mike and I don’t cook together very often (read: never) just because I tend to be very meticulous (ok, anal).
I started by meticulously cutting up some vegetables while Mike looked for inspiration in our various cookbooks. We wanted to start with a classic soffritto, but we didn’t have any celery so we went with carrots, onions and garlic. Mike took the chopped vegetables and tossed them into a small pot filled with about half an inch of olive oil.
This is when we started butting heads a little bit.
Me: Why are the vegetables drowning in oil?
Mike: They’re not drowning. I’m going to add some more. They should be gently simmering in the oil.
Me: What? Are we eating all that oil? Don’t you think that’s a little excessive?
Mike: It’s not excessive! The ancient Greeks drank olive oil by the bottle.
Me: Yeah, but we’re not ancient!
I decided to leave the vegetables and focus on the meat, which was a mix of ground pork and beef. I pan-fried the meat until it was cooked and crumbly. Mike wanted to add a touch of soy sauce, which is how he used to cook his pasta sauce before I took over the kitchen. We also added a bit of cream, double-concentrated tomato paste and beef stock and then let the whole thing cook down until it was reduced to a thick ragu-like mixture. By then the soffritto had been gently cooking and was super aromatic. We mixed the two together, seasoned with a generous amount of crushed red pepper flakes and were ready to eat.
It was a good exercise in sharing the kitchen and we came up with a fabulous, simple, very Mike and Steph dish. In fact, it was so good we made it again after that first time so I could blog about it.
Pasta with Spicy Meat Sauce Recipe
1/4 pound ground beef
1/4 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon mushroom soy sauce
2 tablespoons cream
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup double concentrated tomato paste or 1/2 cup tomato paste
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
olive oil, enough to cover the vegetables
Heat the olive oil in a small pot over medium heat and add the carrots, onions and garlic. Stir and cook the mixture over medium to medium low heat. You don’t want the vegetables to brown.
In a skillet, brown the meat in a bit of olive oil over medium high until it is cooked. Stir in the soy sauce, let brown and then add the cream, beef stock and tomato paste. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium or medium low so the liquid will reduce. When the liquid is about 80 percent gone, add the vegetables and mix well. Taste and season accordingly. Add in pepper flakes and keep the sauce warm while you cook your pasta. Toss with hot pasta and enjoy!