|Beefaroni: A new take on a childhood classic|
Somewhere along the way, I grew up and had children of my own. One afternoon I wanted to recreate for them one of the meals I loved as a child. So, I bought a can of this magic stuff and warmed it slowly in a sauce pan while toasting some bread. I set the table and sat down with my kids to share in this meal from my childhood...and wondered what the hell happened. This was not delicious. In fact, this stuff was awful! And Orange! The noodles had a weird fake texture...and the meat? Just what kind of meat was that, anyway? It didn't taste like beef at all! Needless to say, that was the end of that.
But what if it didn't have to be, I wondered to myself. So I set out to recreate the taste I remembered, even if it wasn't what Chef Boyardee really tasted like. In my mind, the sauce was a little sweet, and cheesy too. It had beef in it, but it was seasoned really lightly - not too much oregano or garlic either. Beyond that, I wanted it to be smooth - except for the chunks of beef. To achieve that, I minced the onions finely so when they cooked, they would only provide flavor not texture to the sauce.
The result was a prefect recreation of all the best things I remembered. My version was quickly approved by all four of my hungry kids. To be honest, they would laugh me right out the door if I came home with cans of plastic tasting canned pasta now. When I say "Beefaroni," this dish will be the memory of their childhoods.
Best of all, it's a quick dish that can easily be prepared on a a busy weeknight. I want to point out that this is *almost* a one-pot meal. I actually used two stock pots to whip this up, but it is still a really fast and easy cleanup.
I'm finding more and more things that I used to eat as a child or young adult, to be completely disgusting now that I have a different perspective on cooking and taste. This continues to surprise me, because I used to really enjoy eating some of these things! If you have food you used to enjoy that you can no longer tolerate, please share it with me in the comments. Two that come to mind for me are Stove Top Stuffing and Jenny-O frozen turkey in the square aluminum box. When I was a young adult, this was a meal I would cook frequently. It was fast and easy, and I thought it tasted good too. Not great, but certainly good enough for a weeknight. I made this same meal about two years ago and couldn't even bring myself to take more than one bite! It's now laughingly referred to as the Great Jenny-O debacle of 2013.
2 lbs ground sirloin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
2 cans tomato sauce, 28 oz. each
1 can tomato paste, 6 oz.
1 1/2 cups of water or tomato juice
1 cup Locatelli Cheese
1 medium onion very finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tablespoons sugar
2 pounds of cooked pasta - I used Barilla Ziti because it's the closest thing to the Beefaroni I remember as a child
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
* Fresh basil and Locatelli Cheese to garnish
DirectionsIn Pot # 1
1. Add Olive Oil to a large stock pot and allow it to heat over medium high heat. Add onions and cook them until they begin to sweat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
2. Add tomato paste to the pot stirring frequently, Allow it to cook it with the onions and garlic until it begins to soften and everything is well combined.
3. Add water (or tomato juice), tomato sauce, Locatelli Cheese, salt, sugar, oregano, and Italian seasoning. Allow the sauce to cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes, but my preference is around an hour. Taste the sauce and adjust spices to suit your palette.
In Pot # 2
1. Spray bottom of large stock pot with cooking spray. Add ground sirloin, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, and begin to brown the meat. Brown it until bits just start to stick to the bottom and you can see it is beginning to get a little crust.
2. Add browned meat to the sauce pot.
3. Wash the pot, then fill with water, olive oil, and salt. Bring to a boil and add noodles, cooking until they are slightly past al dente. Before draining, remove a large mug of the starchy cooking water and set aside. Drain noodles into a colander.
Assembling the dish
1. Add noodles back into the pot they cooked in.
2. Pour in about half of your reserved starchy cooking water and stir gently. You should have enough water that the noodles can move freely, but not be too watery.
3. Add sauce to the noodles in 2 cup increments until the noodles are coated to your preference. I used about 5 cups to two pounds of pasta in the photo above. Stir gently to combine. Add more starchy cooking water if necessary to loosen it all up.
4. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with more Locatelli Cheese and some fresh sprigs of basil.
Tip: Put the extra sauce on the table for anyone who wants their portion to be saucier.