Classic Dishes...

From the kitchen...

A sampling of culinary delights from the Chez Fred kitchens…

Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies, and I’m always looking for new dishes to try. Here’s a collection of some of my favorites!

Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Tuna & Noodle Casserole
Crock Pot Chili
English Toffee
Creamy Fudge
The Chewy
Chili Mac a la Fredbowski
One-Dish Baked Ziti
Jambalaya Soup
Easy Chicken Curry
Mom’s Lasagna
Not-So-Secret Stadium Sauce

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Classic comfort food. This one comes from my friend Kay, who got it from her mother.

2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp. margarine or butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. Elbow Macaroni (I’ve found the sauce stretches nicely for a full 12 oz package, and allows for leftovers! If you’re measuring from a larger package, 4 oz. of dry macaroni = 1 cup, so 8 oz. is 2 cups.)
1 small can french-fried onions (Optional, for garnish)

On the stove, combine dry ingredients. Add milk and butter, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow to boil for 1 minute, remove from heat. Fold in 1 3/4 cups of cheese until melted evenly throughout. (If you are using the french-fried onions, use all 2 cups.)

While the sauce is cooking, boil macaroni for 5 minutes, drain. (Chez Fred Tip: How much macaroni to cook depends on you. The original recipe calls for 8 oz., but the smallest package of macaroni I can find at the store is 12. There’s enough sauce for 12, and I like mine somewhat dry, so I just boil up the whole bag. If you like a creamier final product, make two-thirds of the bag and save the rest for another time.)

Combine sauce and macaroni, and transfer to greased casserole. Sprinkle with remaining cheese (if you have it).

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. If topping with the onions, take it out with 5 minutes left, spread the onions over the top, and return to the oven for the remainder.

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Tuna & Noodle Casserole

I grew up on this one. Mine’s almost as good as Mom’s…

12 oz. bag of wide egg noodles
2 10 3/4 oz. cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can milk (Obviously, we’re talking about the cans above.)
3 6 oz. cans tuna, drained (That’s a standard can. We’ve all seen a can of tuna, right?)
2 1/2 tbsp. minced onion, reconstituted and drained
Pepper to taste

Prepare the noodles according to package directions, drain, and transfer to mixing bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix to combine, taking care not to be so vigorous as to break up the noodles. Transfer to greased baking dish.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. (Chez Fred Tip: Obviously, you can top this with the standard casserole topping options: cheese, french-fried onions, crushed up potato chips, you get the idea. If you do, do so with about 5 minutes left to go in cooking.)

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Crock Pot Chili

I aspire to make a truly great pot of chili. This probably won’t win any chili cook-offs, but it’s pretty damn good. More importantly, it’s easy, and it’s nice to come home after work with a nice hot loaf of French bread in hand and dinner happily bubbling away on the counter!

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground beef
1 16 oz can red kidney beans, undrained

1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp. oil
1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes, undrained
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, crushed, or equivalent
3 tbsp. chili powder, more to taste
2 tbsp. ground cumin, more to taste
1 tsp. black pepper
Cayenne pepper, Da Bomb, or other hot additive to taste (I like Chipotle Tabasco)

Sauté the onion in the oil until clear. Add the meat, brown the meat and onion together, and drain off the fat.

Add to Crock Pot with all other ingredients, save for the kidney beans (if using them).

Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours, correcting the seasoning as necessary. If using beans, about 30 minutes prior to serving, add to the pot, and heat through.

Serve with crackers, shredded cheese, and/or sour cream. Makes 5 cups.

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English Toffee

A family tradition. Mom’s been making this at Christmastime for as long as I can remember, and now that I live on my own I make it myself. It’s not difficult (as candy goes), but it ALWAYS gets raves.

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) chocolate chips (A regular bag of chocolate chips is between 11 and 12 ounces depending on brand, and is close to if not 2 cups. Nobody will die if you decide to use the whole thing.)
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (Mom uses walnuts. I’ve used walnuts, pecans, and almonds. If they weren’t so expensive I’d try macadamias or hazelnuts. I wouldn’t use peanuts, though.)

Grease a cookie sheet. (Chez Fred Tip: Mine are a tiny bit smaller than 11″ x 16″. Obviously, the larger the surface area, the thinner the resulting toffee. I recommend those foil disposable ones, and if you use those you can probably skip this step because there’s so damn much butter in this the pan just peels off. :))

Put butter, sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy pan. Cook on medium to 300 degrees (the high end of what they call “soft crack;” I set my candy thermometer to alert me at 270 and then watch it) or until mixture is caramel colored and starts to seize. (Tip: This probably happens closer to 310-315. You may underdo the first batch, but it will still produce completely edible toffee. Once you get it right, you’ll know what you’re looking for, and you’ll never miss it again.)

Pour hot toffee into prepared pan (Tip: If you are new to candymaking, BE CAREFUL WITH THIS. I cannot stress this enough. This stuff is hot enough to take the skin right off of your body. Keep the small kids away.) Sprinkle with chocolate chips (Tip: Do this quickly, you want the chocolate to adhere to the toffee while it’s still hot!), and return to 400 degree oven for 30-45 seconds to soften the chips. (One More Tip: Be careful here; if you do it for too long the chocolate seizes and it becomes hard to spread. Err on the short side and give it a few more seconds if you need to.) Remove, spread chips to coat toffee. Sprinkle with nuts, pressing lightly to adhere to chocolate. Cool in refrigerator or freezer, then break into pieces.

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Creamy Fudge

I am fascinated by the number of different ways there are to make basic chocolate fudge. There are even a few demented souls out there that think it’s a good idea to use Velveeta as a primary ingredient. This one is cheerfully stolen straight from the jar of marshmallow crème. (At least, it was there once. They appear to be going with a different recipe now.)

1 can evaporated milk (5 ounces)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 jars marshmallow crème (7 ounces each. The original recipe called for a single jar, but Mom suggests using two, and as Moms usually are, she’s right, the result is much better.)
3 cups chocolate chips (A regular 11-12 ounce bag is 2 cups, so this is a bag and a half.)
2 cups coarsely chopped nuts (Walnuts are the norm, but I’ve used pecans with great success. You want a fairly soft nutmeat; hazelnuts and almonds wouldn’t work, I don’t think.)

Combine first four ingredients in pan over medium heat, constantly stirring, until mixture is boiling. Keep at a light boil, still stirring, for 5 minutes. (Chez Fred Tip: As with the toffee above, we’re dealing with boiling melted sugar here, which is culinary Napalm. This is NOT a good candidate for Naked Cooking Night, and keep the young’uns at bay.)

Add the marshmallow crème, quickly stirring until incorporated into mixture, then the chocolate chips, doing the same. Remove from heat, stir in walnuts, and transfer immediately to greased 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan or equivalent. (Tip: Get the chips and nuts incorporated as quickly as you can, because the chocolate will seize if it’s on the heat too long, and you want to make sure the nuts are thoroughly mixed in before the mixture can cool too much!)

Cool overnight, and cut into pieces. Makes 3 pounds of fudge.

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This one comes from my friend Wendy. Now, usually I’m a chocolate chip man when it comes to cookies. But man, these rule, they’re easy, and you almost ALWAYS have the ingredients in the house to make them.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a small bowl combine the 1 tablespoon of sugar with the cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars with an electric mixer on high speed. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees while you let the dough rest for 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator.

Take about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the dough (Chez Fred Tip: It just so happens this is the exact capacity of a #20 food disher, which you should rush right out to your local restaurant supply store and buy because it is the perfect size for pretty much all cookies. I use mine for meatballs, too, actually, but I round it off for those.) and roll it into a ball. Roll this dough in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and press it onto an ungreased cookie sheet. (Tip: Two words, my friends: parchment paper! The bottoms of cookies come out better and you don’t have to clean the cookie sheets when you’re done! Pick some up while you’re out buying the disher!) Repeat for the remaining cookies.

Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes and no more. The cookies may seem undercooked, but will continue to develop after they are removed from the oven. When the cookies have cooled they should be soft and chewy in the middle. Makes 16-18 cookies.

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The Chewy

This one is probably gonna get me in trouble, but what the hell.

Many of you know of my complete and utter idolization of Good Eats creator and host Alton Brown. Well, one day, they did an episode about chocolate chip cookies. On this episode, they made three different types: The Thin, The Puffy, and this one.

For the longest time I have been lax to post this here for a couple reasons: one, I have a self-imposed rule against posting recipes that have been published elsewhere; I felt kinda funny stealing a recipe from Food Network‘s website. (I suppose I blew that one out of the water when I posted the fudge recipe; nonetheless, I’m atoning for my guilt with the two links above.) Two, this is far and away my best recipe. I mean, bar none. This is so good that my friends who also make this might be pissed at me for tipping you off to it. A plate of these could potentially solve all of the problems in the Middle East. They’re THAT good.

My change of heart came recently when I realized that in Alton’s baking cookbook, “I’m Just Here For More Food”, he includes a chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it ISN’T THIS ONE. That truly flabbergasts me. When you try this one, it will flabbergast you too. I figure Alton had his chance to make a buck off of this, and turned it down. So the floodgates are open.

Information wants to be free. This is the Undisputed Champion of Chocolate Chip Cookies, and you need to know how to make it, merely to keep inferior cookies off of the planet. Grab it while you can…who knows when I’m gonna get the C&D from Food Network.

2 sticks unsalted butter (Salted is fine if it’s more convenient for you. See below.)
2 1/4 cups (300 grams) bread flour (All-purpose is fine if that’s what you have. If you can weigh the flour, do it, since the weight of a measured cup of flour can vary. Sadly, the weight of flour seems to be somewhat of a religious war, with numbers varying between 110 and 140 grams to the cup. The USDA says 125. The Gold Medal people say 130. Alton’s numbers in More Food hover around 135. I’m splitting the difference, erring between Gold Medal and Alton, and 300 is a nice round number. I’m gonna guess nobody will die if you’re within a couple grams either way.)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I’ve been known to skip this if I’m using salted butter. Lately I’ve been leaving it in, though, because I think I like the extra flavor, salt being a flavor enhancer and all. If you want to skip it because of the salt in the butter, go ahead. Of course, if you’re worried about that sort of thing, what are you doing making chocolate chip cookies in the first place?)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (Don’t dirty the 1/2 teaspoon. Eyeball it or just use 2.)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in your work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet.

(Chez Fred Tip: An hour in the fridge is fine, two is better. Chilling the dough helps the cookies keep some shape when you bake them. As for the scooping, this is another fine use for a #20 food disher; in fact, this is the reason I own mine. If you don’t have one, as mentioned in the Snickerdoodles recipe above, that’s 2 1/2 tablespoons. Oh, and let me sing the praises of those silicone baking mats. (SilPats are the best known, though way too expensive; there are other brands that do exactly the same job for much less money…mine are Matfer Exopats, courtesy of They’re just as good as cooking parchment as far as the bottoms coming out, and you don’t have to lay down new paper between batches, you just scoop and go.)

Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning.

(Tip: Your oven may vary, as may your cookie preference. I like my cookies somewhat underdone, so in my oven, I do ’em like this, starting with a FULLY preheated oven: six minutes, then I rotate the pan 180 degrees, then six more. If I’m doing two pans at once, I also swap the top and bottom pans when I do the turn to minimize the effect of any oven hotspots.)

Cool completely (they will finish cooking while they cool) and store in an airtight container. Makes 18 cookies, sometimes a couple more, depending on how generous you are with the scoop.

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Chili Mac a la Fredbowski

Okay, I admit it: I’m a bachelor, I don’t cook gourmet food EVERY night, and dammit, I like Hamburger Helper. But I can’t get the Chili Macaroni Hamburger Helper in my local stores anymore, so I looked at a bunch of chili mac recipes online, and developed my own. I wish I’d done it sooner…this COMPLETELY 0wnz over anything Betty Crocker makes.

2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained (Wanna get the Mexican-spiced ones? Knock yerself out.)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
3 cups water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until clear. Add the meat, brown all three together, and drain off the fat.

Add tomatoes, sauce, water, and seasonings, and bring to a boil.

Add macaroni, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until macaroni is cooked to taste. (Chez Fred Tip: This recipe originally called for 2 cups of water, and I commented here that maybe it needed some extra, ‘cuz it came out a little drier than I wanted. I used an extra cup this time, and it turned out much better, so it officially calls for 3 cups now. But feel free to tune it to your liking.) Correct the seasoning, and serve in bowls with shredded cheese and a nice loaf of sourdough French bread. Serves 4 to 6.

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One-Dish Baked Ziti

The folks at Prego used to (well, apparently still do, but I can’t find it in my stores anymore) make this stuff called “Pasta Bake” sauce. This wondrous invention, when combined in a baking dish with a pound of pasta, some water, and a package of shredded cheese, allowed even the piss-poorest cooks to provide their family a nourishing meal, with a minimum of cleanup.

Once the stuff disappeared from my local retailer’s shelves, I always wondered if a similar recipe could be devised using plain-ol’ spaghetti sauce instead of the “special” Pasta Bake. Well, surfing about, I was delighted to find that the gang at Consumer Reports wondered this as well, tried it, and it worked like a champ with the exact same directions. Pasta Bake was nothing more than thick spaghetti sauce.

By the way, a normal jar of sauce runs, what, about $1.99. The Hunt’s stuff in the can I usually use for spaghetti is a buck and a quarter, 99 cents on sale. Pasta Bake, unless on special, was well over $3.50. Shame on you, Prego.

1 jar plain-ol’ spaghetti sauce. (Both the jar of Ragu Robusto and the can of Hunt’s Four Cheese in my cabinet are 26 oz. Get something in that ballpark and you’ll be golden.)
16 oz. dried pasta (Ziti, mostacolli, penne, fusilli, bow-ties, whatever.)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Water (enough to fill the vessel the sauce came in)
Optional: 1 pound lean ground beef or Italian sausage (Depending on how saucy you like your final product and the depth of your casserole dish, you may consider using only 12 oz. of pasta if you do this.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

If you’re using meat, brown it, drain it, and set aside. If using sausage in links, cut into bite-sized pieces. (Or don’t. See if I care.)

In a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (Chez Fred Tip: Probably wouldn’t hurt to give the dish a shot of Pam first), mix up the meat, sauce, one jar or can (again, whatever the sauce came in) of water, and the pasta.

Cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, uncover, stir, top with the shredded cheese, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the cheese is melted and browned to your liking. Serve with a nice salad, French bread (garlic bread if you like!), and fresh Parmesan for topping. Serves 4 to 6.

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Jambalaya Soup

The inspiration for this one came to me one morning on the way to work. I had made and reduced my own homemade chicken stock a few weeks before, and wanted to do something with it. Add some leftover rice and a piece of rope sausage, and this good hearty soup was the result. Note that since I was mostly just throwing crap into the pot, these measurements are estimations at best, but you’ll get the idea.

3/4 cup diced onions (That’s probably 1 medium onion.)
3/4 cup diced green pepper (Call that one pepper. Again, we’re ballparking here.)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb polska kielbasa or other smoked sausage, sliced (Hillshire Farms comes in 14 oz. pieces when you get the beef sausage. Close enough.)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes in juice, undrained
6 cups no-salt-added chicken stock, or equivalent (Here’s where my homemade stock came in. I would think you could use the stuff from the store just fine, but I would really try to get as sodium-free a product as you can, since you’re gonna be adding Creole seasoning to it, and that stuff is sodium-laden.)
3 cups cooked rice
Creole seasoning, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Sauté the vegetables and oil until they are translucent. Add the sausage, and cook all three together over high heat until everything is nicely browned. Turn the heat down to medium, and scatter the flour over the top, mixing well so the flour is well-incorporated into the oil. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add the can of tomatoes, chicken stock, and rice. Season with Creole seasoning and cayenne pepper to taste. (Chez Fred Tip: The water is gonna get soaked up, and the seasonings will intensify as the soup simmers. So don’t spice it up overmuch, or the final product will be too strong. Remember, you can always add more, but it’s harder to take it out.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and keep at a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring and adding water if you feel it’s necessary, as the rice, even cooked, will soak up a lot of liquid.

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Easy Chicken Curry

For a short while in 2000 I was working downtown, and right across the street from the building I was working in was a fast-food-type Thai place that dished up phad thai, red curry, and green curry. And I fell in LOVE with the red and green curries. It was simple: chicken, bamboo shoots, and basil chiffonade in a coconut curry sauce, over rice. I’d looked at recipes online to get an idea of what to do, and the other night I just decided to wing it. And it came out PERFECT. So, if you like the curry like I like the curry, even if you can’t cook, you can damn well make this.

1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
2 tablespoons curry paste, or to taste (I used red. I’m guessing you can use green. This had a kick, too, so if you don’t like hot things, cut back, or use the green.)
1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1″ chunks (I had 2 large ones, ended up being about 1 1/3 pounds. If you wanna slice ’em, slice ’em. I don’t care.)
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
1 8 oz. can bamboo shoots
1 4 oz. can sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup basil leaves, chiffonaded (That’s a fancy cooking term meaning “sliced into thin strips”.)

Spoon off the top few tablespoons of the coconut milk into your pan. Add the curry paste, and cook over medium heat until the two are incorporated and the oil is separating a little. Add the chicken, stirring to coat, then add the rest of the coconut milk and chicken broth. Bring to a low boil over medium heat for about ten minutes. Drop to a simmer, and add the bamboo shoots and mushrooms, simmering another 20 minutes. Add the basil, and simmer 10 more minutes. Serve over rice.

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Mom’s Lasagna

Lasagna is one of my very favorite Italian dishes, and yet up until recently I’ve never made one myself; it was always easier to get one of those frozen ones at the grocery store or Costco and pop it into the oven. My Mom’s, of course, is the best, and I had an idea of how she put it together, but I wasn’t sure of the exact proportions of ingredients, so I got her to give ’em up. And my GOD is it easy.

I was torn as to whether the proper spelling was “lasagne” or “lasagna”. I have since learned that “lasagna” is the singular form, and “lasagne” is the plural. We’re only making one here, so there you go. Besides, “lasagna” seems to be the more Americanized form, and I figure the inclusion of cottage cheese over ricotta, the exclusion of béchamel sauce, and the use of dry uncooked pasta would offend anyone from the Old Country.

Their loss. I grew up on this. It’s the best. Thanks, Mom.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 26 oz. jar (or thereabouts. The big one.) spaghetti sauce
1 box regular lasagna noodles (Do NOT get the no-boil ones. You’ll have some left over. Make something else with them. Google “lasagna rollups” or something.)
1 16 oz. tub small-curd cottage cheese (If this really bugs you, you could probably use ricotta if you like. This is easier to work with, and a little wetter. You’ll see why Wet Is Good shortly, and you won’t notice the different in taste, I promise.)
4 cups (I think it comes out to 1 pound by weight) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup water (This will vary. Keep reading.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the ground beef in your favorite spaghetti sauce-making pot, then drain it. Add the spaghetti sauce. (You’ll want this a little thinned out, so use a cup of water or so to rinse the rest of the sauce out of whatever vessel the sauce came in.) Mix well.

In a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (Chez Fred Tip: As above, doesn’t hurt to Pam it), spoon a small amount of the sauce (just enough to get the bottom of the pan wet, don’t go nuts here) into the bottom, and spread it out. Then, take four lasagna noodles (note we didn’t cook them!), place three of them longways in the pan, and you will find that with a little amputation you’ll have room to place the fourth in the empty space the short way. (Tip: Maybe your lasagna noodles are a different size than mine were, although it’s my experience that they’re all pretty standard. The point is, we want to make a layer of pasta with a bit of space in between.) Top this with a layer of the meat sauce, half of the cottage cheese, and a cup of the mozzarella cheese. Then repeat: noodles, sauce, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese. One more layer of noodles, then on top of this cover with whatever sauce you have left, and the last two cups of mozzarella cheese.

Now: We want this to be pretty wet, because the noodles are going to cook directly in the casserole and soak up the moisture. So, pour the 1/2 cup of water around the sides of the dish, shaking the dish a little to work out any air bubbles, until the level of the liquid is a teeny bit below the top layer of pasta. Just eyeball it, it may take a little more, or a little less. If you get a little too much in there, no biggie, we can cook it away.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and cut several slits into the foil to allow moisture to escape. Place this covered dish on a baking sheet, and bake for one hour. Remove the foil (don’t be scared; it will still look wet) and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. At this point, if it still looks too wet, you can recover with slit foil (we don’t want that awesome topping to burn!) and give it another 10 or 15 minutes, but it should be done. Let rest for five or ten minutes (Tip: Use this time to make some garlic bread or a nice salad!) and serve.

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Not-So-Secret Stadium Sauce

If you follow baseball, and particularly ballpark food, you might know that the bratwurst in Milwaukee are the stuff of legends. If you so order (and if you don’t so order, you’ll very likely be pegged as an out-of-towner), they dip your sausage in a sweet tomato-based sauce that perfectly complements the subtle spice of the bratwurst. The condiment is known only as Secret Stadium Sauce, and is so popular that it’s bottled and sold in area grocery stores, which, never having been to Milwaukee, is how I came into contact with it. Unfortunately, this was many years ago, and living in the Pacific Northwest as I do, local Wisconsin products are a little hard to come by.

So, today, faced with some defrosted bratwurst, I Googled for some more interesting prep methods than the one I usually use, which is to brown ’em in a pan, pour in a can of beer (and, not being a drinker, I don’t usually care WHAT beer, so I usually just get a single can of something simple like Bud) and let that reduce down until the beer burns off and creates a kind of thick syrup that coats the bratwurst. Stick in a bun, coat with brown mustard, good to go.

Anyhow, I found this. And then I started springboarding…

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced (I didn’t use all of it, closer to 3/4, but mine was also more of a medium.)
1 14.5 oz. can regular stewed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 can beer (I’d stick with a plain’ ol lager, but if you want to try something darker, by all means do so and tell me how it worked out. And I don’t think it really matters if it’s 12 oz. or 16.)
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the chopped pepper and onion, and sauté until clear. While you are doing this, give the stewed tomatoes some pulses in a food processor to chop them up.

When the vegetables are clear, stir in the (now chopped) tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer, and brown sugar, and correct the seasoning with the salt. Bring to a boil, drop the heat to medium, and let it cook down until it thickens to a thin gravy, about 45 minutes or so.

Prepare your bratwurst using your favorite method, and hold in the sauce until they are ready to eat. (I’d say it makes enough to cover 8 brats easily.)

Serve on a bun and dress with some of the sauce, along with your favorite condiments.

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