Sunday, April 22, 2012

Steve's Homemade Pasta Meat Sauce

1 and 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
2 stalks celery finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how well you like garlic) finely chopped
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning (McCormick's Just A Pinch is what I use)
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 28 ounce can whole peeled plum tomatoes (a bit more expensive, but better flavor from San Marzano peeled tomatoes)
1 15 ounce can regular tomato Sauce
1/2 cup DRY red wine (Burgundy, Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
Shredded Parmesan Cheese

1. Heat a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, adding 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is hot, add ground beef and brown in batches. This is the first key. Browning in batches ensures the beef will brown, and not steam. Drain ground beef and set aside.

2. In same pan or dutch oven, over medium heat, add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery. Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes. Now add chopped garlic,  and 2 tablespoons (you can use more if you like) Italian seasoning. Cook and stir for another 2-3 minutes.

3. Add  tomato paste, and stir to combine with the vegetables. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Return browned ground beef to pan, and stir to combine.

4.Now add can of whole peeled tomatoes. Using an old fashioned potato masher (you could use a spoon, but a potato masher prevents the tomatoes from becoming projectiles) crush the tomatoes in the pan. Do not be gentle. This is the second key. Crushing tomatoes in the pan means you will get all that good juice they contain, and the taste is much better than using canned crushed tomatoes. Stir well to combine.

5. Add the 15 ounce can of tomato sauce, and the 1/2 cup of dry red wine (don't go cheap here, use a good wine you would actually drink). Stir to combine.

6. Add the crushed red pepper flakes (if using), and then raise heat to medium high. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then cover the pan or dutch oven, and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours, stirring occasionally, from the bottom of the pan so nothing scorches.

7. Remove the cover during the last 20 - 30 minutes of simmering, until the sauce reaches a nice thick consistency that you like.

8. Serve over your favorite pasta, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Steve's Chili With Beans

2 tablespoons cooking oil (olive oil or canola), divided
1- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (chuck or round)
1 large onion, finely chopped (I prefer yellow or red)
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder (according to taste)
2 cans (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (26.5 ounces) beans (black or red kidney), undrained
Tabasco Sauce (optional), to taste (I use at least 1 tablespoon)
Shredded cheddar or jack cheese (if desired)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and brown for 6-7 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and crumbles. Remove beef from dutch oven and drain.

2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to dutch oven. Add chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery. Add 1/4 teaspoon each, ground black pepper and salt. Add chili powder to vegetables. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.

3. Return ground beef to dutch oven, stir to combine with vegetable mixture. Add the 2 cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, and stir well to combine. (If mixture doesn't seem to have enough moisture, add 1/2 - 3/4 cup warm water).

4. Bring contents of dutch oven to a boil, and then cover and reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for an hour and 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

5. Remove lid from dutch oven and add the beans. Add Tabasco sauce (if using), and stir all ingredients to combine. Allow to simmer uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, or until beans are heated through.

6. Serve in bowls and garnish with shredded cheese if desired.

Friday, March 25, 2011

No Fry Chicken Parmesan

I cooked this no fry chicken parmesan, and it is so good, you won't have any leftovers for Fido!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves (about 1 pound)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 jar traditional style pasta sauce (26 ounces)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Dip chicken in egg, then coat well with bread crumbs.
3. In 13x9 baking dish arrange chicken and bake for 20 minutes.
4. Pour pasta sauce over chicken; top with cheese, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

This can be served with hot cooked pasta or served as a sandwich on 4 long Italian or hoagie rolls halved lengthwise.