Sunday, November 02, 2008

my family's spaghetti casserole

some of the earliest food-related memories that i have involve a hearty spaghetti casserole that is a staple at family events from poker parties to graduations and baptisms to funerals.  cooks in my family can make it by feel, adapting it easily to feed groups of 6 or 36.  purists prepare the casserole over several days - first cooking the sauce and then giving it a day or two to become even more flavorful while resting in the fridge.  

i decided to take my first ever stab at the family casserole today while sitting in church and trying to distract myself from sad thoughts.  catholics celebrate all souls day on nov. 2 each year, and for me the loss of my grandpa this summer has been weighing heavily on my heart today.  i am definitely in need of some major comfort food, and preparing this casserole that my family ate after his funeral has been therapeutic for me.  the sauce is resting in the fridge right now, but i'm looking forward to enjoying it later this evening with a green salad and some crusty garlic bread.  yum!!

my family's spaghetti casserole

1 medium diced onion and 
1 lb ground beef (we use ground turkey)

when brown, drain fat and transfer to a large stock pot.  add:
1 tablespoon sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
24 oz. canned tomato sauce (I used two 15 oz cans and one can of drained diced tomatoes)
3/4 c. burgundy (I used beaujolais bc that's what I had)
1/4 t. oregano
1/4 t. rosemary
1/4 t. marjoram
1/4 t. basil
1/4 t. salt

simmer sauce for 1 hr to 1 hr 15 min.  add 1/2 lb. cooked spaghetti cut in 2" lengths (i used a pound bc i had added extra tomatoes) and 3/4 c. mild grated cheddar cheese (i used half a brick of sharp cheddar).  refrigerate for several hours.

heat oven to 325.  transfer pasta to casserole dish and sprinkle top with 3/4 c grated cheddar (i used the other half of the sharp cheddar brick).  bake covered for 45 minutes.  uncover and bake 30 min longer until cheese is brown and bubbly.  serves 8.

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