As I mentioned last week, most of the serious recipes left (as opposed to the salads, for example, that are often no more than two ingredients) require at least 4 or 5 hours’ cooking time, which means there are going to have to be more Gwyneth Paltrow Sundays in my future. In that spirit, I knocked another one out this past Sunday, making Turkey Bolognese from 2 PM until nearly 8:00.
I wasn’t actually in the kitchen for six hours — in fact, it wasn’t even close to that amount of time — but it’s not like this is a covered roast or something you can pop in the oven and forget about for half a day. This was something I was told to frequently check on, to ensure the sauce wasn’t going dry, and as a result, I spent the afternoon running, going to the gym, and doing assorted chores while constantly coming back to the kitchen like a paranoid schizophrenic. It’s probably one of the easiest main courses in Gwyneth’s book, but by the end of the ordeal, I felt extremely harried and frazzled. Is this what life is like at the Paltrow/Martin mansion? It sounds exhausting.
The recipe gets off to a bad start, because Gwyneth chooses to introduce her turkey bolognese to you by telling you about some other, better turkey bolognese she once had. I will quote the introduction in its entirety for you, so you get an idea of a typical recipe introduction from Gwyneth, filled with stories of old Hollywood connections and meals that were so much tastier than anything you’re about to make for yourself:
Two of my parents’ closest friends are a couple named Robert and Susan DeLaurentis, who lived down the street from us in Santa Monica. Robert and my dad made a film together in the ’80s and became lifelong pals, and our families quickly melded together, following suit. Susan is an incredible home cook and makes one of my favorite dishes in life: her pasta with turkey sausage and meatballs. She learned the recipe (originally made with veal, pork, and the like) from Robert’s Italian nonna, and it is a closely guarded family secret. Susan showed me how to make it, and although I could never expose her recipe, this one has similar flavors and is made with ground turkey instead of meatballs. It’s a real family crowd pleaser. Maybe one day I’ll get her to give up the secret!
First of all, let’s all give Gwyneth Paltrow the applause and commendation she’s so desperately seeking for so bravely protecting her dear friend’s Spaghetti Secret. Bravo! What a paragon of virtue she is!
But seriously, what the fuck is going on here?! What is the point of this story? Why do I care how good Susan DeLaurentis’s meatballs are? I care how good your meatballs are, Gwyneth! (Actually, no I don’t, but considering I’m about to try to make them, I’m at least slightly interested.) Is this the worst introduction to any recipe in any cookbook ever? What kind of lunatic writes a recipe and prefaces it by basically saying, “Sorry, this recipe sucks, and I don’t even make it at home because I know a better, secret recipe!” Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.
So, great. Now that I’m filled with contempt and loathing for my instructor, let’s make some spaghetti!
I heated olive oil in a pot, and cooked up some Italian turkey sausage. Gwyneth instructed me to cut the sausages into 4-inch-long links, but doesn’t that seem, like, absurdly long lengths for sausages you’re putting in pasta? I threw caution to the winds and sliced my sausages into 2-inch-long links at most. Total badass over here.
Once the sausage was cooked through, I moved it to a plate and added a pound of ground turkey to the same pot, cooking that until it was nicely browned. I then added that to a second plate, and by this point I had two dogs salivating under my kitchen counter, anxious to get a hold of the massive piles of cooked meat accumulating above. I added a little more olive oil to the pot and cooked two diced yellow onions and a few minced cloves of garlic, until they were soft and smelling really fucking fantastic.
Meat party on the counter!
Finally, I added to the onion mix two large cans of whole, peeled tomatoes with their juices, as well as the previously cooked sausages and ground turkey. And that, no joke, is all the ingredients used. I was then instructed to put a cover “mostly” over the pot, allowing a little bit of steam to escape out the side, and to simmer on low for 5 hours, checking frequently and adding water if the sauce appeared to be boiling down too much.
So I did, and I went to the gym, and I did my laundry, and I cleaned my room a bit, and took Bark Antony for a walk, and did all sorts of things in five hours, making sure to frequently check on the sauce like an overbearing mother. After four hours, I realized that not only was the sauce in absolutely no danger of needing water added, but it actually needed water removed. So I once again overthrew Gwyneth’s rules and removed the top from the pot for the final hour of cooking, hoping we wouldn’t be eating watery spaghetti.
The finished product: spaghetti soup!
But, alas, we did have watery spaghetti. Not even a can of tomato paste could save it. I don’t know what Gwyneth was thinking making me cover the pot almost completely for the entire five hours. I don’t see how that wouldn’t always create a watery sauce. Of course, I’m forgetting one key fact: Gwyneth already told me she never even makes this recipe. So, you know, fuck the rest of us.
Getting VERY artsy with my photography. (Half the box of pasta fell on the ground during this shot.)
Overall, it tasted fine. I mean, this goes back to my main complaint with the wood-fired pizzas: This is about as basic a recipe as you can get. If I knew absolutely nothing about cooking, but someone told me to give them a recipe for turkey spaghetti, I would tell them to mix turkey, pasta, tomatoes, and garlic. How is this even original in the slightest? So, yes, it tasted fine, because those are classic ingredients together. And I’m sure it all would have tasted a hell of a lot better had I found the fanciest butcher in Portland and purchased the most expensive, freshest turkey and ground it up myself, or whatever. Food this basic is always going to taste good if you spend an entire paycheck on the ingredients, which I, unfortunately, didn’t do. This shouldn’t even count as a recipe at all. In retrospect, it just seems like an excuse to brag about how delicious Susan DeLaurentis’s turkey bolognese is, which none of us will ever, ever get to taste because we’re not good enough for it. I guess now we all at least have something to aspire toward.