Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Grimm Feast: Trubel's Scarf-It-Down Spaghetti (S3E20)

Have we mentioned how much we love Trubel?  ‘Cause we love her.  We love Her Badassiness so very much—the dark, wandering loner who doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder so much as the whole bag of Doritos.  It would be so easy to slide into cliché territory with this role, but Jacqueline Toboni and the writers have done SO WELL with her at every turn that right from the start, she has felt completely honest and real.  Right down to how she eats.

It is extremely common for runaways, foster kids, and the like to eat the way Trubel does—inhaling as much food as possible, as fast as possible before it goes away.  When you don’t know what or when your next meal will be, you do what you have to do.  Even if these kids eventually end up in a safe home with plenty of food, they often continue eating this way for awhile out of habit.  That’s why it wasn’t surprising that when Trubel joined the rest of the Scooby Gang for a delicious spaghetti dinner, she went to town on that bowl of pasta like Shaggy on a pot-brownie buffet.

Of course, we’d also like to think that Juliette’s spaghetti is just THAT GOOD.  Or more accurately, her spaghetti sauce.

As it so happens, Anna already has one of the best spaghetti sauce recipes I’ve ever tasted.  But!  It’s a meat sauce, and we wanted this sauce to be Monroe-friendly.  So we had to try something else.  Normally, we would’ve opened a can or two of something tomato-based and flung some dried herbs at it.  However, the making of this recipe fortuitously coincided with family tomato-picking day at our CSA farm.  (CSA = Community Supported Agriculture.)  So we decided to have some fun and make our sauce completely from scratch, using ingredients we picked at the farm that morning.  We’re planning on freezing most of this for later, so the quantity of ingredients you’re seeing here may be a bit, um…excessive for a single meal.  Unless you’ve got an appetite like Trubel’s, of course.  Don’t worry too much about getting the quantities exactly right.  It’s all according to personal taste.

In case you were wondering—yes, you want roma tomatoes.  Those are the “paste” tomatoes.  They’re meatier than other kinds and they have a thicker texture when you cook ‘em down.  Other varieties are nice for other things, but they’ll give you a more watery sauce.

~14 lbs of roma tomatoes
~3/4 lb of fresh garlic (ended up using ~9 tbsp minced)
2 medium yellow onions
~3/4 cup fresh basil
~1 tbsp salt
~1 medium handful of spaghetti

Step 1: Go out to your friendly community farm.  Resist the urge to pick every glorious tomato they have there.  (Holy shit, these are some of the biggest, heaviest roma tomatoes I’ve ever seen.)  Be sure to cut some fresh basil and scoop up some fresh garlic too.

Elle: “How much garlic do we need?”
Anna: “Yes.”

More garlic.

Step 2: Do not go insane as you drive home with the car smelling of basil.

Step 3: Wash the tomatoes.

Step 4: Take off your shoes and socks.  No, trust me.  You’re gonna skin the tomatoes now and this gets messy.  Bare feet are easier to wash than wet, stained socks.

Step 5: Fill a large stock pot with water and let it get to almost-boiling.  While that’s going, fill a second pot with cold water and set it next to the hot-water pot.  Dunk four or five tomatoes at a time into the hot water for just a minute or so, and then take them out and put them in the cold water bath immediately.  This makes the skin go “Holy shit, that’s cold!” and come off nice and easily.

Step 6: Er…almost nice and easily.

Elle: “What are we doing differently?  The last time I did this, we just squeezed ‘em and they shot right out of their skins.”

Boil the tomatoes a little bit longer.  Until the skins juuuuust barely start to look wrinkly and shriveled.  THEN dunk them in the cold water bath.

Anna: “Whoo, that’s much better!”

Step 7: Quarter the naked tomatoes.  Careful, they’re slippery buggers.  Cut the green stem bits off and put the quartered tomatoes into another stock pot.

Pro tip!  Put your cutting board on a baking sheet with shallow sides.  That way when the tomato juices run over the edges of the board—and they WILL—you’ll keep them contained.

‘Nother pro tip!  The more your tomatoes are boiled before you cut them, the more they’re gonna ooze juicy pulpy bits.  Every three tomatoes or so, scrape your knife over the board to collect some of it and shake it off into the pot with the tomato quarters.

Step 8: Uh…shoot, this stock pot isn’t big enough.  Grab another pot!

Anna: “We don’t have any more pots.”

Um.  Container shuffle!  That bowl over there just became the new cold water bath, and this pot of cold water is getting dumped out so it can become the new tomato pot.  Yay!

Step 9: Don’t forget to keep replacing your cold water from time to time as the hot tomatoes cycle through it.  You don’t wanna burn your fingers.

Step 10: Set the pots of naked tomato quarters on the stove to start cooking down.  Get comfy.  You’re gonna be here awhile.

Step 11: While that’s going on, peel ze garlic!  Holy shit, that’s a lot of garlic.  (Special thanks to our garlic peelers, S & H!)  If your garlic has some dirt on it like ours did, just peel the papery bits off and then toss the naked cloves into a bowl of cold water.

Elle: “Do you have a garlic press?”
Anna: “Yeah, it’s in that drawer over there.”
Elle: (*Rummages*) “…I don’t think you have a garlic press.”
Anna: “Huh.  Maybe I got rid of it.”

Food processor to the rescue!  Toss the garlic cloves into a food processor and process ‘em into little garlicky bits of OMIGOD THAT SMELLS SO GOOD.  (*Inhales deeply*)  I think this apartment has just been vampire-proofed for the next 50 years.

This looks like about a cup and a half of minced garlic.  In case you were wondering.

Step 12: Throw about three total tablespoons of minced garlic into the two pots of simmering tomato.  Stir it in.  Sniff.  Nope.  Double the dosage of garlic.  Stir it in and sniff again.

Does that need more?  I can’t tell.  My entire olfactory cavity is coated in garlic.  Get someone else to come smell it for you and decide whether it needs more.  Seal up whatever you don’t use and put it away for something else.

Step 13: Chop the onions that you got from yesterday’s CSA delivery.  Holy jeebus, these things are potent.  Gah.  Cannot see knife.  Cannot see fingers.  Bad.

Step 14: Let eyes tear up and flush out until you’re able to see again and continue chopping.  Toss the chopped onion into the pots.  Try to keep the concentration of ingredients more-or-less equal between the two, even though one pot is bigger than the other.  (We put about 1/2 an onion in the smaller pot and the rest in the bigger one.)

Step 15: Consider adding wine to the sauce.  Discard this notion upon the realization that the only wine you have is crap, and you don’t want to wreck all the other nice ingredients.

Step 16: Sit and wait for the tomatoes to continue cooking down into a sauce.  Like I said, you’re gonna be here for awhile.  I’m talking hours.  Hey, this might be a good time to clean up the catastrophe you just made in the kitchen.  Especially since you’re gonna need another pot later.

Step 17: Rinse off the fresh basil.  Using a pair of kitchen shears, snip it into little strips.  Um…about a loose quarter of a cup for the small pot and a loose half cup for the big pot, maybe?  Depending on how strong your basil is and how much you like it.  When the sauce is just about done, (almost whatever thickness you’d like,) toss the basil into the pot and stir it in gently.  Marvel at its beauty.  Unless you’re red-green colorblind.

Note: the smaller pot will cook down faster than the big pot, so be prepared to do this step at different times.

Step 18: Let the sauce cook down a little bit more to thicken up and allow the delicious basiliness to infuse.  Give it a taste.  Add a bit of salt or more garlic if you like.  (Hint: “more garlic” is always the answer.)

Step 19: While that’s going on, get one of those pots that you totally washed earlier and fill it with water.  Set it on the stove to boil.

Step 20: Add the spaghetti and let it boil while people argue over what “al dente” means.  When it’s as done as you want it, strain the pasta.

Step 21: Serve pasta into individual bowls and top with your sauce of amazingness.  Whatever sauce you can’t use, you can.  Er.  I mean, you can what you don’t.  Use, that is.  ‘Cause you could use it all, but you shouldn’t.  So whatever you don’t, you can.  Not…not “can” like that can, but can.  CAN.


Step 22: I usually use fairly cheap shake-on parmesan at this point but dammit, if you do not come up with some good proper grated parmesan after everything else that we just went through to make this dish, then…you fail the test.  Yeah.  That secret test that we were secretly running this whole time to determine your worthiness to…um, something.  That test.

Now eat.

Result: Ooooooooh…I’m not sure if it’s the exhaustion talking or what, but num num num num num!  It’s a nice light, fresh flavor.  Kind of on the fence between savory and fruity.  Lots of times, pasta ends up being just a vehicle for the sauce, but this sauce seems to compliment the spaghetti more than compete with it.  Very nice.  Will definitely make again.

Well…that’s it.  That’s all we’ve got in the lineup for now, folks.  We’ll see if anything new presents itself when season four comes out.  (Or if, for some reason, I decide to start making recipes for other shows.  Either way, the guest posts will probably be a lot more sporadic from here on out.)  Leave a comment if there’s anything special you’d like to see me attempt, or if you’ve attempted any of these recipes yourself.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this summer’s banquet.  I certainly have.  Cheers, murderlings!

~14 lbs of roma tomatoes
~3 heads fresh garlic (~9 tbsp minced)
2 medium yellow onions
~3/4 cup fresh basil
~1 tbsp salt
~1 medium handful of dry spaghetti

Fill a pot with water and put on stove to heat while washing tomatoes.  Set up a pot or bowl with a cold water bath next to it.  When water is almost but not quite boiling, add tomatoes in groups of four or five at a time and cook until skin is just slightly wrinkly.  Remove quickly from hot water and dunk in cold water bath.  Tomatoes can easily be peeled at this point, and skins discarded.

Quarter the peeled tomatoes and remove green stem bits.  Place tomato quarters in two large stock pots.

Put pots on stove over medium heat and allow tomatoes to cook, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

After an hour, peel the garlic and mince in a food processor.  Peel and chop the onions, then add both garlic and onions to the pots.  Allow tomatoes to continue cooking for another hour or two, (stirring occasionally,) until the tomatoes have released all their liquid and turned to mush.  Continue cooking down until the sauce is almost at your desired thickness.

Shred fresh basil leaves using a knife or kitchen shears.  Add to the sauce and stir in gently.  Add salt to taste and adjust ingredients as necessary.

While the basil infuses and the sauce thickens a little bit more, fill another pot with water and put on the stove over high heat to boil.  When boiling, add the spaghetti.  Cook to desired doneness and strain pasta.

Serve spaghetti with sauce and grated parmesan, if desired.

No comments:

Post a Comment