Friday, June 4, 2010

BBQ Buffalo Pasta

About a year ago, I heard about combining spaghetti and bbq’d meat. My initial reaction was, well, picture me wrinkling my nose and shrugging one shoulder as if to say "eh". Even so, I’ve never stopped thinking about it. Yesterday, as I stood at my kitchen counter praying for divine menu guidance as to what to do with the ground buffalo before me, the thought of making a quick bbq came to mind. The only problem was that a) I didn’t have any buns, and b) I only had a mere 1.25 lbs of meat. That’s when I thought of at long last giving the bbq pasta plan a green light.
Oh, why did I wait so long? This was ridiculously easy to prepare, was on the table in just over 30 minutes, and was really very good. Even my picky eaters ate it, including my son who won’t eat sauce on his pasta ... ever. I served mine over gluten free rotini (spiral) pasta, but use whatever floats your boat. This meaty, thick, smokey sauce will hold it’s own quite nicely with a hearty pasta like rigatoni as well as a delicate one like angel hair. (Mmm ... angel hair!)

I used ground buffalo, but use whatever ground meat you’ve got (preferably grass fed). There is minimal shrinkage with buffalo (and I mean zip, zilcho shrinkage), so plan accordingly if you use ground beef. This fed five people.

1.25 lbs ground buffalo
Salt, Pepper, Seasoned salt
1 teaspoon dried minced onion (can substitute fresh minced onions)
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Scant ¼ cup smoked paprika (the smokey flavor is essential here)
Generous ½ cup ketchup
Heaping tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
3 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce (homemade if you’ve got it)
1 lb spiral pasta (I used gluten free. Use whatever you like best!)
Shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, season the ground buffalo with salt, pepper, seasoned salt, and dried onion. Brown in a nonstick dutch oven, breaking it up into small bits with a spoon as it cooks. There was no fat in the bottom to drain at all. If you use beef, drain the meat after browning and return to the pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and stir around to start carmelizing the meat, maybe 1-2 minutes at the most. Stir in the ketchup, mustard, and worchestershire sauce. Stir in the smoked paprika. Now add the spaghetti sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer until it thickens up a bit ... about 10 minutes. Note that this is a really thick sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Add the drained pasta to the meat mixture and stir to combine. Serve. Garnish each serving with a small handful of shredded cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

This was really very, very good. Quick and easy, too. The balance of meat to pasta was pleasing, and the smokey tanginess of the sauce held it’s own over the pasta without being overpowering. The cheese added a creamy component that I enjoyed. Ya know, this is a case where simple is best. While I wouldn’t balk at adding, let’s say, green pepper, it’s really not missed. You could, however, ramp up the spicy heat index according to your own tastes.

I imagine this would be incredible, too, if made with grilled BBQ pork that simmered all day. So ... do you think you’d give bbq pasta a try? You’ll be glad you did.