It an American icon, the McDonald’s Big Mac. It has captivated imaginations, suspended our taste buds, and assured us of the American Dream. I love a good Big Mac. For me, it is all in the not-so-secret secret sauce, diced onions, cheap melted cheese and shredded lettuce. The burger is an after thought to the melody of flavors and textures layered within three squishy bread vessels. So why not take my favorite elements of the Big Mac, and convert it into a pasta dish? I’ve been asking myself that for too long, and finally brought it home to reality-land for the Superbowl. As if it is worth mentioning, the Big Mac spaghetti was a hit and everyone was in full carbo-loaded, food coma bliss. The keys to this creation is a super-beefy bolognese with caramelized/charred ground beef and topping the spaghetti with the Big Mac helpings such as homemade secret sauce, shredded lettuce, diced pickles, and diced onions. Sounds weird, lettuce on pasta? Yes, but also intoxicatingly & creamy dreamy delicious!
Ingredients (serves 10)
“Big Mac” meat sauce:
- 3 lbs ground beef (preferably of higher fat content)
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 3 celery sticks, dice
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4-6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 12-ounce cans of San Marzano whole-peeled canned tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 lbs spaghetti
- 1 cup mayo
- 3-4 tablespoons sweet relish
- 3-4 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
“Big Mac” toppings for spaghetti:
- Shredded lettuce
- Chopped pickles
- Diced red onion
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Secret sauce
To start, cook the vegetables and meat in two separate cooking vessels, at the same time.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm up the olive oil and butter. Add the diced red onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Caramelize the vegetables for 15 minutes until creamy and delicate. Pour in half of the red wine to deglaze the pan and cook for another 5-10 minutes to burn off some of the alcoholic bite. Reserve the cooked vegetables.
Concurrently, in a large pot over medium-high heat (to start), place the ground beef and add salt. Do not add any oil or butter to the pot. Cook the meat for 20 minutes and try not to play with it too much. After, crank up the heat to as high as possible. The goal is to deeply caramelize the meat and convert the exuded beef fat/oil into vapor. Blast the ground beef for another 10 minutes over super high heat. Incorporate the tomato paste and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Add the reserved cooked vegetables and turn the heat down to medium. Pour in another 1/2 cup of red wine and permit the alcohol to cook out for 5 minutes. Afterward, pour in the chicken stock, canned tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf. With your hands, gently crush the whole peeled tomatoes in the sauce. Bring the Big Mac meat sauce up to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover it with a lid and cook for another 2.5 hours. Give it a stir every 10 minutes or so. After it simmers for 2.5 hours, add the heavy cream and re-season with plenty of salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the “Big Mac” toppings, including the Secret Sauce (a homemade thousand island dressing). In a large mixing bowl, add all the secret sauce ingredients and stir vigorously. Season it with salt and pepper. Give it a proper taste test and adjust to your liking. If it requires more relish, add it, or if it needs more ketchup, give it a go.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Toss in plenty of salt once it reaches a rolling boil. I suggest not cooking all 3 lbs of spaghetti at the same time. Cook the spaghetti in 2 or 3 batches until al-dente, approximately 8-10 minutes. Submerge and incorporate the spaghetti into the rich, meaty sauce.
To serve, take a satisfying heap of meat covered spaghetti and top it with shredded lettuce, chopped pickles, diced red onions, shredded cheese, toasted sesame seeds, and secret sauce. Close your eyes and enjoy your Big Mac!