After taking a break to focus on Flops! this summer, I’m back in Lunch Bunch. A handful of folks at work take turns making lunch for the rest of the group every Wednesday. My turn to cook is in a couple weeks, and I’m on pins and needles.
When I cook for other people, I tend to get totally unhinged about everything being perfect, and Lunch Bunch provides two sizeable obstacles to serving a perfect meal: no oven and no stove. Also, the food needs to be prepared mostly at home, and then transported to work, to be served magically fresh and at the perfect temperature. If only I were a caterer with schmancy caterer tools – I’d be the Goddess of Lunch Bunch.
Sans schmancy tools and keeping in mind the kitchen constraints, I chose spaghetti in meat sauce for my triumphant return to Lunch Bunch, and guinea pigged Mom and Greg on Saturday night, with a special guest appearance by my big brother, Kevin.
[Kevin and his family live in Seattle where he works as a tattoo artist. He flew in for the weekend to do tattoos on some of his old Minnesota friends, and he was able to get away for a break on Saturday night to join us for dinner. Yay!]
The sauce was ridiculously easy to put together – just brown the beef with onions and garlic, stir in the rest of the ingredients, and simmer. It was tasty pretty much right away, but I let it simmer for about six hours, stirring every once in awhile, and it just got richer and yummier.
It was pretty thick by dinner time, so before I drained the pasta, I ladled out some of the starchy cooking water and stirred it into the sauce. When I make it for Lunch Bunch, I’ll prepare the sauce the night before, warm it in the crock pot in the morning, and then stir in the cooked spaghetti before I leave.
Recipe after the fold
Spaghetti in Meat Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup red wine
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant beef bouillon
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ cup grape jelly (add 1 tbsp at a time and check taste)
1 pound pasta
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Saute beef, onions, and garlic. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 3-6 hours. Cook pasta per package instructions. Toss with sauce.