After working years in the food and beverage industry, one thing that I have always thought was shocking was the fact that so many chefs don’t actually cook for their families. I mean, I guess I get it. First the hours that most chefs work are prime time dinner hours, so obviously they would be at work most days during dinner time. But when asked, most chefs say that since they are in a kitchen all day, that when they are home, that is the last place they want to be.
I mean, let’s be realistic. Most people dread the 5 o’clock dinner hour, especially after a long day at work. So wanting a break, from what you do all.day.long to earn a living, is understandable. But unless you have worked in the industry or are the immediate family of someone who does, people kind of just expect that since you are a chef, recipe developer, food blogger, etc., that you don’t mind hosting the big holiday celebrations and always have dinner on the table. No matter what.
And while I admit, that sometimes I feel the same way, for the most part I love being the holiday (or just because) party host and enjoy making dinner almost every night! Even though I do like having nights off, from all the planning, and grocery shopping, and cooking, and cleaning, for me there isn’t another place I’d rather be than in the kitchen!
And….. with all that said (here is where I am being totally and completely honest…. I haven’t cooked for us at all this week…), on those nights when eating out is not in the budget, and dinner has to be made and I am not particularly in the mood, I fall back on dinners like this.
This Cowboy Spaghetti is a great recipe to liven up that routine (read: boring) spaghetti night! There is a tad bit more work involved than just browning some beef and adding a jar of store bought pasta sauce, but really this spaghetti dinner is super easy to throw together and is one of our absolute favorites! It is hearty and robust and packed with things like bacon and mushrooms. Mushroom haters, don’t be afraid! They are finely chopped and just help add to the heartiness of this dish! And what makes this pasta dish even better, it is humble enough for a quick weeknight dinner, or dressy enough to entertain family for Sunday supper!
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Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 25-30 minutes Serves 6-8
1 pound dry spaghetti
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ pound bacon, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8-ounce) package mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
½ cup beef broth
1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (28-ounce) can diced or crushed fire roasted tomatoes
½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 green onions, diced
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Once cooked to al dente, drain pasta and toss with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer crispy bacon to a paper towel lined plate, and set aside. Drain off the excess grease, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the ground beef and steak seasonings. Cook beef for 5-6 minutes or until browned, using a spatula or wooden spoon to break meat apart as it cooks.
Add in the diced onions and cook until they are softened, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in minced garlic and diced mushrooms and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stirring constantly, stir in hot sauce, Worcestershire, liquid smoke, and beef stock. Cook for 3-4 minutes, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Stir in Italian seasoning, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in half of the cooked bacon. Taste sauce and season, as needed, with salt and black pepper.
Toss cooked spaghetti with prepared sauce. Serve pasta topped with shredded cheddar cheese, diced green onions and remaining cooked bacon.
Serving Suggestion: Keep things simple with basic garden or Caesar salad and garlic bread!
Other recipes you might enjoy:
White Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese with Crispy Pepperoni Topping
Summer Squash Ribbon Pasta Salad with Sweet Corn and Avocado
Butternut Squash Skillet Lasagna
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
Cajun Chicken Pasta