Thursday, July 11, 2013

The great spaghetti sauce explosion and other culinary disasters

Why no, my dinner didn't
look anything like this.
The other day I found myself with some "freeze or cook immediately" Italian sausages. To freeze, wrap them individually in plastic wrap, then foil - the best way to avoid freezer burn and have single-serve options available. To cook, throw them in a pan to brown a bit, then add a bit of water, put on the lid and go read a book for fifteen minutes.

No brainer there.

Unless you've grilled them and have fresh rolls and hot peppers available, you cannot eat Italian sausage without sauce. Ideally, after browning the sausage you put them in a pot of home made sauce to simmer for a few hours, but in today's easy-care world, it's more than acceptable to heat up some jarred sauce to pour over the meat.

Just before the sausage finished cooking, I dumped some Barilla marinara in a dish, covered it with waxed paper and popped it in the microwave. Three minutes later, the timer dinged.

I opened the door on a scene of carnage worthy of the best slice-and-dice horror film.

It seems square waxed paper + round dish + turntable microwave = disaster. The waxed paper refused to turn with the dish, leaving the sauce uncovered. A cooking time just that much too long meant the sauce popped a bit. Well, more than a bit.

As it happens, cleaning up the microwave helped to pass the time waiting on the pasta that was to accompany the sausage and sauce. My two readers may recall that when moving into the condo, one of the biggest adjustments I had to make was learning to cook with an electric rather than gas range. After a year and a half, it is second nature to move a pan off the burner as well as turn the burner off when a dish is done, to avoid turning dinner into ashes.

I have not, however, become accustomed to waiting twelve minutes (yes, I timed it) for a reasonable amount of water to boil for pasta. The wait is especially interminable when you make angel hair pasta, which has an average cooking time of five minutes - less than half the time it takes to boil the water.

Obviously, I cannot be trusted to make the pasta in the microwave.

A simple dinner of Italian sausage with sauce and pasta should not be this difficult. I feel that I need to spend part of this next weekend whipping up home made sauce, doing a lasagna from scratch and baking biscotti in order to reestablish my Italian cooking credibility.

I'd better put the water on to boil today....


melissa said...

Your 'two readers' comment made me laugh out loud. :) Now about that angel hair. Like eating it, but making enough for this crowd is a headache. Even with lots of salt in the boiling water, I get some sticky clumps.

Thanks for entertaining me....real photos of your kitchen would be a nice added touch! Like there's time for photo tweaking, eh,?

Diane said...

LOL - real photos of the still-not-completely-clean microwave interior? I never did post pics of the kitchen, did I? I'm trying to get pillows done and stuff on the walls to do a real "after" of the living room, after the painting.

You can try putting a little bit of cooking oil in the boiling water, and stirring the pasta often. But the oil sometimes makes it harder for the sauce to stick.