Monthly Archives: September 2023

Sauce recipes for spaghetti: The meats

I know spaghetti sauce is primarily made from tomatoes, but when I look at sauce recipes for spaghetti, I sometimes start to think about meat.  Sure, if you go looking for sauce recipes for spaghetti and find a good recipe for Sunday gravy, you’ll see that sauce has meat, but it also has a multi-hour cook time and may included ingredients like a whole braciole.

I love braciole, but that doesn’t mean I want to make one on a Tuesday night for dinner.  Still, in the realm of sauce recipes for spaghetti, I bet we can find something that is still pretty quick and still incorporates centuries of Italian meat production.  In the end, we’ll have one of those sauce recipes for spaghetti you keep going back to over and over again.

You will need:

  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 pound Prosciutto, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pound pancetta, diced
  • 1 pound ground hamburger
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 28 ounces crushed San Marzano tomato
  • 8 leaves basil, sliced thin
  1. In a skillet, brown the sausage over medium-high heat.  If the Italian sausage is in a casing, remove the casing before browning.
  2. Drain the sausage fat and set the sausage aside.  If you keep the sausage fat in your skillet, the dish will just taste like sausage.
  3. Add the olive oil and let it get hot.  Then cook the onions, garlic, and a healthy pinch of both salt and pepper for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the Prosciutto and pancetta.  Cook for 4 minutes so that it releases its fat.
  5. Add the ground hamburger, oregano and another healthy pinch of black pepper.  Cook until all pink is gone from the hamburger.
  6. Pour in the San Marzano tomato and bring to a boil.  Let the sauce bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Test for salt and adjust.
  8. Add the basil and cook another minute.
  9. Serve over pasta.


Image by Abdulmajeed Hassan from Pixabay

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Los Tules

I’ve driven by Los Tules at 1656 Broadway in Kansas City, MO. I’ve seen it when I go to Kauffman Center. I’ve often wondered if it was any good, but for some reason I’ve never gone. While you probably know Kansas City for it’s BBQ, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great Mexican (and Tex-Mex) all across the city.
And let me say that I’m embarrassed that I didn’t try Los Tules sooner.
A friend took me there last week saying that a friend had challenged him to go and it was now in his top Mexican restaurants in KC. I don’t know if it’s in my top three yet, but I can tell you there’s not a day that’s gone by where I haven’t wanted to go back and dive into birria, camarones a la diabla or just a pile of chips and salsa.
When you go to Los Tules, don’t let the outside or the inside fool you. You’re not going to Los Tules because it’s super pretty or decked in out in the culture of its cuisine. It’s kind of plain, but it’s also comfortable. There’s no need for pretense or image, there’s just very nice wait staff who show you to your table and start stuffing you full of delicious Mexican cuisine.
We started with the obligatory chips and salsa. They had both mild and spicy salsa, the latter of which I augmented with some hot sauce. We then ordered paired Mexican tacos for an appetizer: one quesabirra and the other asada. Both were amazing. The asada was cooked perfectly, well spiced, and everything you want from asada. Unfortunately, it’s star was completely eclipsed by the quesabirra which was served with the obligatory consome. The quesabirria was rich, early, and had that little hint of cinnamon that you get with the finest birria. I devoured my taco and then dipped anything I could find into the left over broth. I give the birria a twenty on a scale of one to five!
For our entrees, I got camarones a la diabla (pictured above) which was shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce. I am a huge fan of camarones a la diabla and Los Tules actually has my second favorite version of the dish. The shrimp was plump and juicy, the tomato sauce well-seasoned and filled with the garlic and pepper flavor I have come to love. My only complaint was, like the hot sauce, I wanted more heat. Fortunately, I could add a little Cholula (and some of that consome broth) and I was loving life.
My buddy got shrimp fajitas. When the skillet came out, it was overflowing with onions, peppers and shrimp the size of my fist. Even better, the fajitas smelled like the good fajitas do: that blend of sizzling onions, spices, and a hint of shrimp. It was enough to almost make me regret ordering the camarones a la diabla. Almost, but not quite!
Overall, everything we ate was full of flavor, perfectly spiced and just really pleasant to eat. There was literally no weakness in anything we ordered and the birria and camarones were both fantastic. I’m definitely heading back soon. In the meantime, I hope you get a chance to go. Try the birria and the chips and salsa then order anything else. I am sure you will enjoy!

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Sugarfire Smokehouse

As a proud Kansas Citian, it almost pains me to review a BBQ St. Louis restaurant, but I must give credit where credit is due. Sugarfire Smokehouse, with multiple locations throughout the St. Louis metro area, is doing ‘cue right.

The family’s first time visiting a Sugarfire was last year. Hungry for food before driving the last four hours to home, we took my sister-in-law’s recommendation and stopped at what I thought was just a single location BBQ joint and was immediately impressed. The selection of meats (including brisket, turkey, chicken, sausage, ribs, and pulled pork) was as large as I would expect to find in a Kansas City place, it smelled like smoky meat, etc., but what really excited me boiled down to two things.

First, they have Ski soda on the fountain. I love Ski soda. But really, that was just the icing on the cake.
What sold me were the sauces. I’ve often said that the meat in BBQ is just a way to get sauce into my mouth and at Sugarfire, they offer seven different sauces. And I tried them all. From the delightful sting in the Texas Hot to the tangy vinegar flavor of Carolina Mustard, there was not a bad choice in the house. Even better, I could mix them all together and make a sweet-heat-mustard-honey badger (yes, the have a sauce called Honey Badger) mix that everything else got dunked into.

Still, that was over a year ago and I don’t make it to St. Louis that much. Until a few weeks ago. On the way to Indianapolis (where we ate at St. Elmo’s Steakhouse), we got hungry. Part of me wanted to just drive through somewhere and keep driving, but then I remembered the seven sauces. And the Ski in the fountain…

As a side note: I don’t know what it is, but in the last month or so I have developed an unhealthy fascination with French fries dipped in BBQ sauces (note the plural on that, more in a minute.) It started when we went to Meat Mitch at the new Kansas City International airport, only got worse when we actually went to Meat Mitch, and got a surprise boost when we stopped at Sugarfire.

If I could, I would have just ordered fries so I could dip them, but I figured as an adult I should order real food, too. I got a really nice chef’s salad and some of the best freaking collard greens I’ve ever had. (Yes, I realize collard greens don’t really fit the theme, but I like collards and fell in love with theirs.) A lot of greens are just bacon delivery methods, but the collards at Sugarfire have a very nice onion flavor and seem to incorporate a little of their Sugarfire 57 sauce to give them a sweetness I found very refreshing.

Anyway, I digress. The salad was amazing, but the fries were where it was at. I mixed the sauces into my favorite sweet-heat-vinegar combo. It was just the perfect blend of spice, brown sugar, black pepper, onion, garlic, and all the flavors that make BBQ sauce worth tasting and I used it for everything. Need sauce for a fry? I used that blend. Lettuce needed a little pick me up? BBQ sauce! Brisket on the salad? Dunk it in sauce mix. You get the picture.

Anyway, it was pretty tremendous and as I type this post, I realize that my chance to go back to Sugarfire may not come again soon. But one thing I know: St. Louis isn’t that far away and someday soon, I will enjoy its delicious BBQ sauce…er restaurant again.

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