While I was stranded at my friend's apartment due to icy roads, icy traffic, and shady administration who decided to cancel classes for the following day only for those who had some before 9:00 AM (lucky for those few), I made pasta. It was the perfect thing to chow down on, during that apocalyptic ice storm, where the South Oval was turned into a makeshift ice rink and traffic slowed down to an extreme. So why do I care so much about this recipe? Well, the cost of buying the main ingredients at a local Walmart totaled of around $10, it tastes better than a simple tomato sauce in a jar, and it's a simple recipe that college students can enjoy (perhaps expand upon as well). So, let's get started, shall we?
-8 ounces of ground beef and/or sausage (depending on your preferences)
-1 tablespoon of butter (double this if you double the amount of meat in the recipe)
-1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (if you do not have access or want to use to butter)
-2-4 pounds (or 1-2 large cartons) of chicken stock
-1 box of pasta (preferably bite-sized noodles, such as penne, macaroni, etc.)
-1 tube of tomato paste
-1-2 cups of water
-Chopped basil leaves
-1 can of crushed tomatoes (as a substitute for the chicken stock, for a healthier choice; if so, prepare it the same way as the stock)
1A. In a large pot, melt butter on high heat. Afterward, you may add garlic and/or basil for additional flavor. After the butter has fully melted, immediately add your ground meat within the pot, and cook until light brown. Add a small pinch of salt, and a generous helping of pepper as well. When the meat is medium-rare, add the tomato paste to the pot and distribute it thoroughly.
1B. At this point, you can decide which type of pasta dish you would like to have. If you desire a soup, double the amount of stock and water to the pot; by only adding 1 cup of water and 1 carton of stock, the liquid will eventually be reduced due to evaporation and absorption by the pasta, creating a generic spaghetti sauce. I personally use crushed tomatoes to make a sauce for the pasta, and to increase the amount of tomato content into the dish, though I usually half it with stock for fun.
2. After mixing the meat well, add the chicken stock (or crushed tomatoes) and the water into the pot, and turn the heat down to medium-high. Let the mixture simmer while stirring the pot occasionally for 10 minutes. At this point, you can taste the mixture and determine whether to add additional salt and/or pepper.
3. After 10 minutes have passed, add your dry pasta directly into the pot and distribute it throughout the mixture. Place a lid on top of the pot as well. From that point on, keep stirring the pot on medium to high heat, making sure that the pasta is being cooked thoroughly. This may take 15-20 minutes. You can keep track on how the pasta is cooking by taking a spoon and lightly squishing it against the edge of the pot; if it's easily cut by the edge of the spoon, it's finished.
4. When finished, remove the pot from the heat, and serve immediately. Garnish with mozzarella cheese, pepper, or basil if you would like. And remember not to burn your tongue when you take a taste. Trust me, you're gonna want to savor this.
This pasta dish goes well with many things, such as toasted bread, salad, or even mashed potatoes. One thing that I wanted to include but deemed difficult for this recipe would be to shred an entire carrot, zucchini, squash, or potato into the pasta by a lemon zester. It's a tedious process, but it's well worth the effort. Hopefully, this works out for you and warms you up on a frigid day. Good luck!