Last Saturday when I was helping my son pack to move to a new apartment we as always talked about food. One thing we chatted about was his maternal grandfather’spaghetti recipe. I wrote about it in “Notes To My Kids”. And here is my tweaked version of the recipe too if you like to cook.
2 1.5 pound packs of ground turkey
One box of fat free beef broth
One large can of tomato paste – 20+ ounces *
2 packs of McCormock Italian-mushroom spaghetti seasoning *
Garlic – chopped, two tablespoons
Oregano – one tablespoon
Basil – one tablespoon
Sage – one teaspoon
Red chile flakes, to taste
Salt to taste *
Two bay leaves
One cup of DRY red wine
One half white onion, chopped
One half stick of butter *
Brown turkey & onions in olive oil.
Add ALL seasonings and stir.
Add tomato paste.
Add one can of beef broth.
Add red wine.
Stir, bring to boil.
Reduce to simmer.
Simmer for one hour.
Check salt level, modify if needed.
Add butter and stir until combined.
* = original recipe ingredient, which used hamburger meat not turkey
Your MeeMaw and Granddad Tom cooked a lot, and Grandmama cooked some too; but your Granddad Harry cooked one thing alone— spaghetti, just that and nothing more. While that was his sole culinary feat, it was something to behold.
It was a special dish. Not for having a huge set of exotic ingredients, but simply because he loved it so, and it was simple to make. It was his favorite meal. He liked it more than his old US Army favorite, the much and wrongly maligned “shit on a shingle.” It was his love of that meal that made it good.
Most Saturday nights he cooked it. We would go to your grandparents for dinner and see him by the stove stirring away. He first browned the meat, adding some spices. Nothing fancy mind you—just some salt, pepper, garlic, or maybe some Lowry’s, but that was all.
After that, onions would go into the mix, and then the canned tomatoes. Nothing more would go into the pot, it just simmered away. That was it, simple as simple could be—a meat sauce with maybe six or seven ingredients.
But it was more than just those few things in the pot. It blended into something much, much more. Those few things turned into something that was simple in construction but complex in result: A tasty and filling unity of victuals in our bowls.
In the bowl it went over the noodles. A slice of French bread was by its side. We would sit down together and scoop it up and be filled up quite well.
There was desert, too. What I remember more than ice cream or cake was your granddad having a smoke in his chair with the TV on after a meal. His belly was full of the sauce he made and he was content as could be, as he pulled a drag on his cig with his dark framed glasses on. With a cold Miller Light on hand, he sat content on his throne, and seemed well with the world for a time.
They say simple things are best in life. That is true. A simple bowl of spaghetti cooked by someone that loved you embodies this important truth. Such things are remembered better than an expensive gift like a ring sometimes. Now that sauce lives on in the same way–a small, yet simple thing, that lives large with me still. So when you make spaghetti one day hence, remember Granddad Harry well. I think he would approve.