As some of you know, I have had surgery of late and have been a bit quiet in my writing. BUT never let it be said that my adventures in bad food are completed!
As a matter of fact, it has even given me material for yet another bad food adventure.
So, there I was laid up in the hospital bed unable to bend my left knee due to the surgery and flying higher than a kite on oxycontin. Pretty colors and butterflies were constantly just at the edge of my vision when the orderly appeared.
“Hungry, yet?” he asked.
Hmmm. Actually, I was but having experienced hospital food before I knew better than to expect edible.
My stomach gurgled so I knew I had to eat something but —
But I was a prisoner.
What was I going to get?
Ten day old jello with the flavor of Janitor In a Drum?
Chicken with a certain piquant hint of Alka Selzer?
Imagine my surprise when I was presented with what looked like a full menu from Olive Garden.
“We have been working on our menu.” said the orderly.
One of the last things I had expected when I entered Community East was a menu listing complete with salads and appetizers. Aioli and pate and boeuf bourgignon. They even offered lobster bisque.
I decided to order the spaghetti with meat sauce and the asiago-artichoke bread.
My order arrived almost immediately and it looked and smelled amazing. That is when I learned one of the side effects of some painkillers.
Skipping the appetizer, I swirled up an enormous forkful of spaghetti and shoved it in my mouth. And, instantly regretted it.
Opiates have this funny tendency to change the flavor of food. Some flavors are intensified. Other are reduced. Still others change completely into something you would not expect.
The pasta sauce was quite intense. The tomato reduced its potency so that they tasted like weak tomato soup.
The garlic and rosemary intensified and changed so that I was now eating sauce that had been flavored with windshield washer fluid. Add to that the onion and green pepper tasting like cough drops and I was regretting my order.
But the true topper for this medicinal banquet was the pasta itself.
For some reason, the flavor of the noodles had shifted and become quite intense. Instead of the usual background flavor that served as a floor for the real taste, the flour itself became the dominant tone.
In other words, I had just shoved a giant helping of tomato and windshield wiper flavored wallpaper paste into my mouth.
The orderly looked at my face and said “That happens a lot.”
Is it any wonder that the first thing that I did when I got home is hobble to the kitchen and make a huge pot of pasta sauce?
NOW LET’S DO IT RIGHT!
Mike’s Special Spaghetti Sauce (with secret ingredient and secret technique)
Tomato juice – 2 gallons
Roma tomatoes – 5 lbs.
Garlic – whole clove
Red Onion – one large
Peppers, yellow, red and green – one each
Mushrooms – 2 lbs.
Ground Beef – 2 lbs.
Ground sausage – 1 lb.
Butter – 2 sticks
Parmesan Cheese – 1/2 cup
AND THE SECRET INGREDIENT IS:
Balsamic Vinegar di Modena – 2 cups.
In a large sauce pan, add the tomato juice. Dice the tomatoes and add as well. Cook under a low flame for two hours.
Add 1 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and stir in. Add more or less as you wish to give flavor.
Dice garlic and add 1/2 sticks butter in a small frying pan. Brown garlic in butter and add to sauce.
Slice mushrooms and place in a larger pan with the rest of the butter. Brown the mushrooms and add to the sauce.
Add the other spices to your taste as well.
In a separate pan, add the ground beef, sausage and Parmesan cheese. Add 1/2 cup of the balsamic vinegar. Brown thoroughly and add to sauce.
This is important – spaghetti sauce always tastes better the second day after the spices have seethed so remove the sauce from the fire and allow to cool.
Dice the onions and the peppers and add to the cooled sauce. Place the sauce in the refrigerator.
About two hours before you wish to eat, remove the sauce from the refrigerator and heat over a low fire.
Serve over your favorite pasta. Enjoy!
Copyright Micheal J. Hobbs 2016