The home of Sweaty Spice, the 'other' Spice Girl

With my subscription to the New York Times, I get access to their “Cooking” app and collection of recipes. I have tried more than a few, and I have some notes…

First, most of the recipes are written to be something that the busy homemaker (man or woman) can cook in an hour to 90 minutes, thus being a reasonable investment of time to get a meal on the table.

And that is my main quibble. One that I made last weekend is the “Ricotta Polpette in Tomato Sauce”. A novel meatless dish that uses store bought Ricotta cheese to make rather tasty “meat” balls, that aren’t really meat. It claims that this is a 1 hour recipe.

The first part of the recipe is to make the sauce, and you do a nice infusion of EVOO with fresh herbs, garlic, and (optionally) crushed chili peppers — naturally, I used them — that you add to a dutch oven with two 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes. All good so far.

But, then it goes south, as they recommend that you bring it to a near boil, then lower it to a simmer partially covered, while you make the polpettes.

The issue is that a sauce that simmers for an hour is very immature, and basically uncooked, at least to any Italian Nona.

But, I wanted to have the recipe as they recommended, and thus followed their instructions to a T.

Unlike many of the commenters on the recipe, the polpettes do hang together as long as you shimmy the sauce, and don’t stir (the ricotta cheese/egg/breadcrumb mixture needs to set at temperature.)

But the sauce was a disappointment. Alas, the second day, it was much better.

The second time I made this, I cooked the sauce for 6 hours, and it was MUCH better.

The Chicken Puttanesca Recipe

The week before, I made the recipe of “Chicken Puttanesca”. Again, this one claimed that it cooked in 40 minutes, and while I followed the recipe to a T (omitting the olives, as my wife won’t eat them) alas, using my instant read thermometer to check the thighs, after an hour, the chicken read hot enough to be done, but alas, they were gelatinous inside.

I ended up cooking them for another 40 minutes, and even then the sauce was just meh (I served it over rice).

Again, I think the recipes weren’t properly tested, or they adjusted them to be weeknight friendly dishes, but they are disappointing.

Slow-Cooker Sunday Sauce

One that I did make that turned out well was the “Slow-Cooker Sunday Sauce”. This is a meaty dish that you toss in a crock pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. You start by browning chunks of Pork Shoulder, and Italian Sausages, while dumping ingredients into the crop pot. You also make the “Pork and Ricotta Meatballs” that you insert into the cooker uncooked (they cook in the sauce, yummy).

At the end, you toss it with al dente Rigatoni, and serve with a crusty bread.

The only problem I experienced with this was that it made WAY too much food. It easily could have served 10 people as the main entree, for my wife and I, it was just overkill.

Summary

The recipes are OK, but the problem is that they shortcut the time to prep and properly cook. Unless you have the experience to know to adjust the time of cooking, you will likely be disappointed.

This rushing the process is detrimental to the flavor, and in the case where chicken is involved, potentially a source for food poisoning. No bueno


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