Stinky November pasta

November is a rough month in the northern hemisphere. Here in the US we’re on the wrong end of daylight savings time (one of the only things Arizona does right), and caught between the end of summer and the beginning of winter. This weekend was good, with high water allowing for a float of McDonald Creek all the way from Mineral to Avalanche, and the rain held off for a solid bike ride this afternoon. But I forgot my camera two days in a row, so some favorite winter food will have to do.

This is a hearty hybrid between arrabbiata and puttanesca I improvised for a trip last winter.  It lends itself to endless variation and cold, dreary days.  The foundation is lean ground beef sauteed low and long with onions and garlic, and a tomato product of your choice.  Canned, diced or crushed ‘matos are easy and effective.  To that base, add copious amounts of ingredients in the two categories of spicy and salty, stewing and adjusting for balance.  Above I have cubed artichoke hearts, green olives, peppercinis, lots of black pepper, tarragon, and thyme.  Sauteed spinach is a good last minute addition, as are various sorts of cheese.  Capers, red pepper flakes, hot cherry peppers, even a bit of chipotle are all solid additions.  Anchovies are perfect for the truly bold.  Cut up spicy sausage makes it outright luxurious.  This is best the day after cooking, and for those luxury winter trips, great frozen in dual ziplocks and reheated.  I think it goes best with fettucinni, but angelhair is good too and uses less fuel in the backcountry.

Dig in, the snowpack will start building soon.

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