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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Slow cooking...

When I was a child, many Australian households would have a roast dinner for Sunday lunch. But not at my place...we would have spaghetti and my mother would simmer the sauce for hours on the stove top. The smell would drive me mad...I would pester my mother constantly, wanting to know if it was nearly   Mum used to put an asbetos mat over the gas flame which would allow a very low temperature. The resultant sauce was delicious.
By the time I was married and cooking, these mats were no longer sold due to the asbestos in them and I always found it hard to simmer the sauce for the number of hours that my mother did...3-4 hours without it sticking or worse...burning. When I moved in to this home it has electric hotplates but I still found it hard to get a very low simmer. But then I bought my slow cooker...and voila! I have been able to make pasta sauce that tastes just like that which mum (or dad occasionally) made. I don't have to worry about it burning or sticking and can go on with other things. Because I bought the large capacity slow cooker, I make a double batch which gives us 3-4 meals for the 2 of us.

My younger daughter works for a major bank and each year the staff raise money for a chosen charity. Last year they compiled a recipe book from favourite staff recipes and sold them to raise funds. DD2 put in my pasta sauce recipe.

Pasta sauce; Maria-style
810 tin chopped tomatoes (mum used fresh tomatoes, plunged in boiling water, then cold and then peeled)
425 can of tomato puree (tomato paste can be used but only about 4 tabs)
400-500 g, good quality beef mince
pinch of salt
4 cloves fresh garlic crushed or 2 teaspoons crushed bottled garlic
1/2 teas dried oregano
1 teas dried basil (or 2 tabs chopped fresh basil added at end of cooking)
1 teas sugar
1 tabs oil, preferably olive oil
  • brown mince in oil. Use a frypan for this; drain off any fat.
  • Stir in garlic, herbs and salt
  • Add tomatoes and puree; stir in the sugar. Bring mixture to the boil and ten turn down to a simmer
  • Simmer the sauce uncovered for at least an hour. Continue to stir at intervals to avoid sticking or burning.
  • Serve sauce with cooked pasta, use in lasagne, cannelloni and even pinwheels made with puff pastry or bread dough.

Now to adapt this to the slow cooker, I double all the ingredients except for the meat which I just increase to 650-700 grams. I brown the meat before I put it in the slow cooker. I set the cooker to high for 3 hours and then to low for another 1.5-2 hours.
When I cooked this the other night I used my latest 'toy' which I bought at the recent tupperware party. It's a little pull-cord chopper...and I think I love it!!! I chopped up the fresh basil leaves in it!

A few pulls of the cord and chopped basil!

1 comment:

Claud said...

Yumm! I am not a big fan of pastas in general, but I can't wait to give yours a try.