We all love spaghetti and the rich red sauce: Mom’s, Dad’s, Grandma’s, your secret recipe. The meal is common and loved, but we guard our renderings as closely as family secrets.
This morning I felt homebound. As the rain poured down, I thought of an alternative to this beloved meal – something new and unexpected, but in the traditional. I’ve already shared my mom’s recipe, so I bought a nice fresh and spicy sausage and a perfect eggplant from Astoria Co+op and pushed myself forward with something a little different.
I raided the garden for garlic, onions and a fat carrot. And reached into our ridiculously jammed (mostly condiments) fridge for most of the rest. It gave a sigh of relief – another fine meal to save a wet and windy day and a little more space in the icebox.
I’m not sure what to call this concoction, all I know is that it tasted wonderful. I chose polenta over spaghetti as a base and opened a bottle of Spanish Rioja wine. My wife, Laurie, tossed a salad. Asparagus highlighted the page.
Spicy pork and mushroom sauce over polenta
• 1 pound seasoned ground pork
• 1 tablespoon each of butter and virgin
• Three cloves of diced garlic
• One large onion, 1/4-inch diced
• Two stalks celery, 1/4-inch diced
• One large carrot, grated
• One large yellow pepper, 1/4-inch
• One medium eggplant, 1/4-inch diced
• 2 cups sliced mushrooms
• 1/2 cup red wine
• 1 cup homemade beef broth
• A 16-ounce can of diced tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
• 1 tablespoon of mushroom powder
• 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
• 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
• 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
• 2 cups polenta or spaghetti pasta
• Parmesan cheese (can never get
• Salt to taste
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan. Dice onion, garlic and celery and fry until translucent. Crumble the pork in and brown for about 5 minutes.
Add diced celery, aubergine and grated carrot. Add and sauté the mushrooms for a few minutes then pour in the red wine. Reduce the liquid for a few more minutes then add the stock, tomatoes and chilli flakes.
Sprinkle in a little of the mushroom dust, add the olives and let it simmer for an hour on a low heat. If you choose, a splash of cream enhances the flavor. If necessary, smooth with tomato paste.
Serve over a bed of warm polenta with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. I like to slow cook the polenta in chicken stock and add parmesan at the last minute. Salt to taste. Add a splash of cream to soften the polenta.