Like a true Italian mama (yup, both sets of my Grandparents were from the Old Country…I’m 100% Italiano!) I make my own spaghetti sauce from scratch. I use my mom’s recipe which she got from her mom, my cute Sicilian Grandma Cannizzaro. I start in the morning and let it simmer all day in my Nesco Roaster, drawing rich flavors from the roasted meatballs, sausage and short ribs. But sometimes, when I’m in the mood for my kind of comfort food and I don’t have time for the all day process, I prepare an easy and yummy pasta dish, I call Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie, using my favorite cooking pan…my cast iron skillet. I actually started using this kind of pan a couple of years ago when I moved to the Ozarks. Up until then, I only used the non-stick kind. But after watching several episodes of Cooking With (the ever adorable) Paula Deen, and hearing her rave about the glories of cooking with cast iron, I decided to give it a try.
So I headed on down to Bass Pro and brought one home. It was already seasoned, so I got busy cookin’ up all kinds of “vittles” (that’s what Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies called food y’all…she also loved her black fryin’ pan! ). By the way, the truck that the Clampetts drove in the Beverly Hillbillies show is on display right here in my town, at The College Of The Ozarks! The Clampetts were from these here parts.
Getting back to my skillet story… once I started cooking up tacos, grilled sandwiches, grilled garlic zucchini, corn bread, Italian-Breaded chicken breasts and searing roasts until they were crusty brown and ready for the oven to roast…. let me tell you I was sold! Everything tasted so much better! I went out and got another one. Now both of them sit on my stove top permanently, ready to get cookin’ at a moments notice.
I feel so farm-girl-ish when I’m cooking with my country skillets! If you want to give cast iron cooking a try, keep in mind, it’s not a pan that can go in the dishwasher. This kind of skillet has been around since the 1700′s, and so you need to care of it the Old Fashioned, down-on-the-farm way! Here are a couple of tips for taking care of your iron pans:
- Get a pan that has already been seasoned (baked with oil on it). Also, the one I use is made by Lodge and has two handles-one short and one long- so it’s easier to carry, since it is so heavy. I own the 13 1/4 ” and the 12″. I found the one-size- fits-all lid at The Kitchen Store.
- When you have finished cooking just wipe the skillet out with paper towels. Never put it in a sink full of water.
- Once you wipe it clean, spray or drizzle oil and rub it in. Now you’re good to go again!
- If food has stuck to the bottom, pour 1 cup of water in the pan and put the heat on low, once it starts to simmer, take a coated spatula and scrape the bottom until all the bits are loosened. Turn off the heat, let it cool a bit, then pour out the water and wipe out any food residue with paper towels. Dry completely. Rub oil in.
- Resist the urge to scrub it clean with lots of soap and water! I know it’s hard, but the oils need to be protected for the pan to do it’s job!
- Careful the handle will get hot!
My Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie has all of the flavor of a rich Italian dish, mainly because it is prepared with fresh ingredients, but it’s made in half the time. My pan size is 13 1/4 inches in diameter.
It’s the kind of hot meal that warms the tummy on a cold winter’s day. So come on inside my kitchen and I’ll show you how I make it…..
Start with a clean kitchen.Tie your cute apron on and fill the sink with hot soapy water. This is so you can clean as you go, so you don’t end up with a kitchen that looks like an earthquake hit it….I speak from experience! When you are done with something, rinse it, then drop it in the suds. Get your emptied trash can ready, so your throw-away stuff is not laying all over the counter taking up space and becoming a distraction. Gather all of your ingredients and have them chopped, measured and ready to go before you begin. It is so much more enjoyable when everything is pre-measured and ready to dump in the pan like they do on all the cooking shows!
Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
1/2 pound Italian sausage, 4 links (sweet or hot) casings removed
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I add two more pinches to give it a kick!)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 cups water
8 ounces spaghetti, broken into 3 inch pieces (I used half of a 16 ounce package–Thin spaghetti–not Angel Hair– but you can use regular )
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- Saute green onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil, on medium heat 5 minutes.
- Add beef and sausage, brown over medium-hi heat.
- While almost brown, add garlic, pepper flakes, oregano, and parsley.
- Once browned, stir in crushed tomatoes, water and salt.
- Add broken spaghetti. Push spaghetti into liquid, and cover for 8 minutes.
- After 8 minutes, stir pasta so the noodles won’t stick together. Reduce heat to medium low simmer for 6 more minutes until pasta is al dente (almost cooked but still a little firm).
- Add basil, Parmesan cheese, and cream, stir well.
- Sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese, put in oven to broil until spotty brown. (stand there and keep watch or set a timer for 3 minutes at a time until it’s ready, or else you may end up with Blackened Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie!)
I love fresh grated Parmesan cheese, it’s so easy to do with a Microplane grater, found at most kitchen stores. You can use grated cheese from the market if you want. But, the fresh grated cheese has more flavor.
Get everything ready!
Add tomatoes, salt and spices…
Add broken spaghetti…
Push pasta under the liquid….Cover and cook….Stir pasta to keep it from sticking together….Add Parmesan cheese, basil, and cream…. Stir it in….
Top with Mozzarella cheese, broil in oven a few minutes…keep an eye on it so it won’t turn into Blackened Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie! Set your timer a few minutes at a time. Keep checking!
When it is spotty brown (looks like the top of a pizza) it is ready to serve right away.
Makes the best leftovers!!!
For the garlic bread, I just mix melted butter and grated Parmesean cheese with a pinch or two of garlic salt and spread it on the sliced french bread with a spoon, then broil the top until golden.
Mangia! Mangia! That’s EAT! EAT! in Italian!
Create the kind of home atmosphere
that you would like
if you were a kid again!
“When our kids excelled at school, won a cross-country race, or got first chair in the band, we made fools of ourselves making a big deal of it. We’d pull out the chairs at dinnertime and stand on them and shout! We’d cheer like schoolkids and make toasts with glasses of milk held high.”
~ William L. Coleman
Thanks for stoppin by for some
Hillbilly Spaghetti Pie!!
Hugs to all y’all!