Spag Bol Redux

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I have so many fun and exciting things to show you guys in the near future, but I thought I’d do a little bit of a retrospective today. My very first entry on this here blog, five-plus years and 900-odd posts ago, was a recipe for spaghetti bolognese. I make this spaghetti sauce all the freaking time, so I thought I’d do another post just to show you how things have changed over the years, but they still remain in essence the same. For one, the Pie and I went vegetarian for a month when I made that post so there’s no meat in that sauce. For another, I was way lazier when it came to chopping things up, so my sauces were much chunkier. I like them a bit more uniform these days.

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Some things stay the same, though: I always load it down with diced onions to start. I made a crapton (a metric measurement of course) of this so that I could freeze it so I can’t give you exact measurements. Just lots.

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I always add diced red pepper (I’m allergic to green) and diced mushrooms. You can add whatever you wish, though. Sometimes I chuck in whatever’s in my fridge that needs to be used: avocadoes (they add a nice thickness the sauce), tomatoes, sometimes even carrots.

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And then of course a variety of tomato-based canned items. I used to use jarred spaghetti sauce as my base but I found they were sneaking green peppers into the mix and it wasn’t doing my digestive system any good so I switched to canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and canned diced tomatoes.

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First I start by sautéeing up the onions with olive oil and a little butter. I let them go until they’re smelly and soft. Then I pull apart a large hunk of lean or extra lean ground beef. I like to break it up with my fingers to ensure that there are no big chunks in the pot. You can also use ground turkey or pork or whatever works for you. If you’re going the veggie route and using TVP, add that last.

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After the meat is browned to my satisfaction I tip in my vegetables, as well as some minced garlic, salt, pepper, and various spices.

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I like a mix of italian spice plus extra basil.

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I add in all my tomato things as well and give that a grand old stirring.

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Let that simmer for at least half an hour so the flavours can mingle, and feel free to adjust the spices as you see fit. I like to let it simmer as long as I can, but it’s good either way.

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Cool and freeze or serve hot on top of your favourite fresh pasta, baked into a pasta casserole, or glopped on top of bread as a sloppy joe!

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One Dish Chicken, Tomatoes, and Rice

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I’m trying to eat more rice these days, and it’s been easy so far with delicious and simple dishes like this one. I then froze a chunk of this and it was oh-so-good, even leftover!

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I had picked up some pre-seasoned chicken thighs from Farm Boy a while back and that was my base of things to go with. You can use unseasoned skinless chicken thighs, if you want: this is just what I had. I also had a litre of chicken broth, a 14oz can diced tomatoes, a 244g package of wild rice, a large sweet onion, and some pearl barley.

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Photography tip: never photograph food in the full harsh light of the afternoon sun.

 

I also grabbed a healthy handful of pre-mixed Italian seasoning. While I was grabbing these things I preheated my oven to 350°F.

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Clearly I am not very good at photography.

 

So I cut the onion in half and because it was so huge I only diced up half of it.

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Or in following my own instructions.

 

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More’s the pity.

 

On to my grains.

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I wanted about two cups of the grains so that I could use all 4 cups of my chicken broth.

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There was some math that needed to be done – I only hoped the juice from the tomatoes didn’t make things mushy.

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So first I softened the onions in my big skillet with some butter and olive oil.

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Then I tipped in the tomatoes and the broth.

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Then the uncooked grains.

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I added a tablespoon or two of the Italian seasoning. Then I gave it a good stir.

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Then I slid in the chicken thighs so they were as on the top as possible. I could definitely have doubled the amount of chicken I used, considering how much leftover rice I had.

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Then I hucked the whole thing in the oven for about an hour. You don’t even need to stir it.

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And then this gorgeousness was born. Holy moly is it good!

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