This falls under the 'home cooking' category, but I've never created one so I'll just write...
A month ago when I found myself at home everyday, it was difficult not to revert back to comfort flavors and textures. Besides, my mom was here and she has tunnel-vision taste buds. Making what we call a 'cajun' spaghetti, I started to really reflect on slow cooked pasta. At the time, it was just a bouncing thought not meant to be posted until Harold McGee posted about his pasta quandry. Actually, I thought about it again 5 years ago when one of our cooks in New Orleans, the lovely Ms. Deborah Abdin, cooked her spaghetti in limited water with the steam kettle turned on it's lowest setting. Hmmm, another buried thought germinating.
This is how it goes... you have vivid memories of your grandma cooking broken sticks of spaghetti in just enough water to cover them. A little salt and a low flame, and the pasta grows fat, soft, and full of flavor, the water getting cloudy and wafting up with that memory-triggering aroma. Years later, after culinary school and a stretch of restaurant work plus continuous reading on the subject of food, you seek to rebuke your grandma's method. You tell her it's not the right way. You file it away with all of the other 'bad' culinary practices she employs (not bad as in bad-tasting, but just plain breakin' the rules... come on, Grandma). You're not at a secure enough level in your culinary journey to fully understand and appreciate the art of her craft... but then one day, you reach that point.
So, here it is. Slow cooked spaghetti is freakin' awesome. I've begun to adopt it as my main cooking method of pasta at home. Also, if you think that's good then try slow cooked elbow macaroni tossed in just a little whole butter. The spaghetti became the base to hold my cajun spaghetti sauce. So, just what in the hell is cajun spaghetti sauce (another great memory). It's the way my grandma used to make it, and it has been passed down to my aunt (for some reason, my mom can't make it), and now it's in my hands. Basically, it's ground beef, sausage, and chicken wings cooked down in a roux-thickened red sauce... that's right, red sauce is what we call it... or more specifically, red gravy (this is technically not a misnomer since it does in fact gain it's nice viscosity from a roux). I guess in even more basic terms, cajun spaghetti sauce is a gumbo with tomato added.
All three meats are somewhat cooked ahead of time before being added to the sauce. The pot starts like a gumbo... brown some roux, add your trinity veg plus garlic, tomato sauce, add all your meats, adjust the salt and seasoning, add parsley and/or green onion. That's it basically.
As I was internally battling whether or not this was post-worthy, I figured what the hell. Although my last name may sound vaguely Italian (pronounce it Aye-talian), my family is pure bayou cajun from Lafourche parish (and I found out just a few years ago that the name is Spanish, go figure), and this was as much a part of our diet as any other indigenous food. Besides, it's got 3 kinds of meat! The whole idea of reflecting on home-cooking technique with a fresh look has got me thinking about other things from way back when. I mean, if Harold McGee thinks it's worth thinking about, then it's got to be.