(Chicago) – When I was still living in Manila, I can’t recall a single birthday celebration, Christmas, baptisms, housewarming or any party  that did not have spaghetti on the table. Like in most Filipino households, spaghetti is always a part every family event. It is even instittutionalized by widely popular fast food chains like Jollibee and McDonalds. It is also a favorite menu item among pervasive “turo-turo”, street vendors or carinderias.    Spaghetti is omnipresent. But of course, it is whipped up the Filipino-way—it is savory and sweet commingled.

Here’s my version of spaghetti as I remember it from my childhood with the addition of my favorite ingredients in a pasta dish. It could be simplified by trimming down some ingredients but I always like my pasta drenched in sweet creamy sauce with chunky bits.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs linguine or spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef
  • 12 oz banana ketchup (Jufran)
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup chopped parsley + ¼ cup
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 green bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cube beef bouillon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lb hotdog, sliced diagonally
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 oz grated cheddar
  • Parmessan, g

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Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium high. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and bell pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until slightly brown. Add ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, bay leaves, ½ cup parsley, basil, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon, water, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Then, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to package direction. If you plan to cook the pasta with the sauce later, undercook the pasta by 2-3 minutes. Otherwise, cook pasta al dente and mix with the sauce at the end.

Back to the sauce, add cream cheese and simmer for 10 minutes until cheese melts and sauce thickens. Then, put hotdog and cook for 5 minutes. Fish out the bay leaves and discard. Sauce is ready.

Cooking pasta with the sauce – If your pan is not big enough, scoop out half of the sauce, set aside and then put half of the undercooked pasta to the pan. Mix thoroughly and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then transfer to a pyrex or baking dish. Repeat with the other half of sauce and pasta.

Garnish with parsley and ready to serve.

Alternatively, top the spaghetti with grated cheddar cheese and then broil on high heat for 3 minutes, just to melt the cheese.

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