Everyone has one.
The recipe that stalks you like a serial killer.
It’s the one you just can’t recreate no matter how much you try…
It was already dark when my friends and I arrived at the campground in Pennsylvania. Spring had barely taken hold and the six of us started a fire to stay warm and to make dinner.
I had known it was going to be a little late when we showed up so I had brought a couple large pans, an economy size box of spaghetti and a big jar of Ragu pasta sauce. I chopped up some onion and mushrooms and let it simmer away as we set up our tents.
I was putting up my pup tent when someone asked, “Hey, we got a couple more people. Can we feed them?”
“Sure.” After all, it was a big jar of Ragu.
15 minutes later.
“Hey, can we feed a couple more?”
Back to setting up my tent when…
“Hey, Mike, we have four more. Can we feed them too?”
Well, it was very thick sauce so…
“Okay, but hand me some water.” I added about a cup of water and set it to simmering on the fire.
Again and again for the next hour as dark closed in.
“Hey, Mike. Can we feed four more?”
“Give me some more water?”
And another car pulled in.
“Mike? Can we -”
“Just give me some water.”
And so it went until I was feeding twenty people from this one pot of sauce.
Finally, someone leaned over my shoulder and said, “Hey, Mike, the Prince just showed up and he’s starved. Can you feed them too?”
Stirring the pot of “sauce”, I hesitated. What had started out as a thick meat sauce was now a pot of red water with an occasional mushroom floating in it. How was I supposed to feed 25 people from this?
“Come on, Mike. We can’t tell the Prince to go to McDonald’s! And, even if we did, it’s twenty miles.”
“Okay, but I need to see what is in everyone’s coolers – right now! I can’t serve this slop to the king.”
“Whatever…just get me everything out of those coolers.”
That is how the weirdest collection of ingredients I have ever put into a pot of spaghetti sauce got added. Asparagus? Check. Ripe Olives? Check. Rice-a-roni. Check. Capers? Sure, why not?
I even added a pint of French Onion Potato Chip Dip.
It started to thicken nicely but there was something missing. Meat. I had added a pound of ground beef to start but the amount was practically miniscule compared to the number of people I was feeding.
“Does anyone have any more meat?” I asked.
“Well…” said Joe.
“I didn’t know if we could use them but I have some moose steaks.”
“Moose? Like Bullwinkle?” I asked.
“Yes, my Dad gave them to me.”
“Screw it. Give them to me.”
They were beautiful, all right. Lean and well marbled. I had to make the meat stretch so I sliced them into strips and sauteed them in some butter before adding them to the sauce.
Despite all, it was the best damn spaghetti sauce I have ever made in my life…
I have never been able to duplicate it again exactly no matter how many times I tried. I don’t know if it was the wood smoke or the “just past it’s best by date” French Onion dip that was the secret ingredient but I have never been able to get just that flavor again.
BUT I have come close.
NOW LET’S DO IT RIGHT!
Moose filet, 3 lbs.
Roma tomatoes, 8
Tomato paste, 8 oz.
Mushrooms, 1 lb.
Capers, 2 tbsp.
Tomato sauce, 1 quart
Sour cream, 1 pint
Asparagus, 1 small bunch
Onions, red, 4
First, cut the moose meat into strips and allow it to marinade in the red wine and juniper berries overnight to remove the “wild” flavor.
Then, add the tomato sauce and paste together in a large pan.
Next, crush the roma tomatoes and add them to the mixture. Place on a low flame.
Next slice the mushrooms and add them. Using a variety of mushrooms will add a nice extra touch to this recipe.
Chop the onion and asparagus and put them in the pot as well. Be careful as the asparagus can overpower if you use too much.
Add the capers and spices to your palate.
Also, add the sour cream but be careful not to scorch the sauce.
Finally, drain the moose meat and braise it in butter. I always add a little balsamic vinegar for a little extra flavor. Pour the entire contents of the frying pan into the sauce including the butter.
Allow to thicken and then serve. I love this dish.
COPYRIGHT 2016 Micheal J. Hobbs