You may have noticed from my handful of posted home meals that I am not a recipe cook. Cookbooks I like. I look through them for inspiration, but when I am in the kitchen, I can't be bothered with words. I just go.
Ground chuck was on sale at Whole Foods, which was perfect for something saucy to chase away the chill brought in by the recent drizzly weather. I like to brown my ground meat by first salting a dry hot pan. This way I get a very nice salty crust on the meat without any additional oil. Breaking the ground into bits also encourages browning and prevents steaming in meat juice, which is yucky. To cook for two, I use only half lb of ground and the bits fit perfectly in the medium sized pan. But if you use more, you may need a bigger pan or do in batches.
When the meat bits are well browned, I remove them and use the rendered fat for browning half of a large onion and two cloves of garlics. If some bits of meat refuse to get out of the pan, I just leave them and not worry about it. :)
After some good caramelizing of the onion, I put in a spoonful of Italian seasoning to toast and then pour in a can of tomato chucks along with two to three leaves of chopped basil. I am always sipping wine while cooking, so in also goes a quarter of glass of what I happen to be drinking. This time a rioja. Salted and peppered to my liking, I let the mix come to a boil and then leave it on simmer for an hour or so.
This is a great thing to do when I have some work to do in the mean time. There is a certain warm happiness that builds in the house as the smell of meat sauce fill the rooms.
Twenty minutes before eating, I put on a pot of water and salt it aggressively. In goes some dried pasta. I like the hefty and chewy kind with a shape that holds on to some sauce. Just before perfectly al dente, I dump the pasta into the hot sauce (adjusted again for salt and pepper first) and finish the cooking in the sauce pot.
With some roasted asparagus, this makes a very comforting cool night dinner.