Here’s how to make this spaghetti from Hulu’s ‘The Bear’

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Here's how to make this spaghetti from Hulu's 'The Bear'

OK, yes, it’s cooked by an “award-winning chef” on the show — but it couldn’t be easier to prepare in real life.

If like me you binged recently The bear on Hulu so damn fast your head’s still spinning, I’m willing to bet you’re one of three things: exhausted (episode 7, am I right?!), fulfilled as hell, or hungry. For me, it’s definitely the last – or, to be honest, a little bit of all three – and I can’t imagine myself being alone.

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For those who haven’t seen it yet: I can keep this 100% spoiler free while still teasing all the incredibly delicious food featured on the show, so don’t worry. I won’t spoil it for you. (But seriously, check it out.)

Over the course of eight fast-paced episodes, Chef Carmy (played by shameless‘s Jeremy Allen White) and his kitchen team conjure up food that I would easily place in the “would die to eat” category. Of course, there are the plentiful Italian beef sandwiches, dripping with savory just, and then there’s Sydney’s Coke Braised Short Ribs, which literally live rent-free in my brain. Heck, I’d even devour a plate of these herb-infused mashed potatoes from Tina!

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The chefs from The Original Beef of Chicagoland know how to splurge in the kitchen… but there’s one dish that’s been on my mind since the final moments of Episode 8: the spaghetti.

Some context is needed here, but again, no real spoilers. Let’s just say the dish itself becomes one of the main plot points of the season. (If you know, you know.) When Carmy starts running his late brother’s restaurant, he flatly refuses to serve his “underseasoned, over-sauced mess” of a spaghetti dish — even though it was apparently a hit.

Eight episodes later, Carmy “stumbles” over his brother’s written recipe the spaghetti and decides to cook and serve it for his employees’ family dinner – albeit with some liberties. (To be clear, when I say “recipe,” I basically just mean a three-ingredient list.)

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Unsurprisingly, it’s a hit among members of the kitchen. In fact, it’s so good that it even gives Carmy a vision of his dead brother! The power of food folks!

I figured, If this pasta is tasty enough to make someone see dead people, it has to be next level. So, yeah, I decided to recreate it at home… and I’m very, very I’m glad I did. Now that I’ve tried it, I can say with confidence that it’s my new marinara sauce.

To develop a recipe that consisted of more than just three ingredients [lovingly] Scribbled on an index card, I basically watched the scene where he does it a dozen and five times. While some elements are filmed, most of the spaghetti preparation actually happens off-camera – so I donned my recipe developer hat to fill in the many, many blanks.

Ross Yoder

Now I have a vague theory: As a result of two of the techniques used in Carmy’s preparation (soaking the basil in olive oil and simmering the sauce with a halved tomato), it feels like this recipe is inspired by two rather iconic tomato sauces – Scarpetta spaghetti with tomato and basiland Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with onions and butter, respectively. I might be wrong! But the inspiration here feels… very intentional. 🤷

Here’s what I came up with. First the ingredients.

Ross Yoder

In addition to the above ingredients, you’ll also need a few pantry staples: 1 pound spaghetti (Naturally), Salt, neutral oil (like rapeseed) and some parmesan cheese for garnish if necessary

The canned San Marzano tomatoes themselves are pretty darn ~key~ to that, too The bear‘s plot – IYKYK again – but if you can’t find them or don’t want to splurge on the imported stuff, use whatever canned tomatoes you can find. The results will be just as delicious.

STEP #1: Make your basil and garlic infused oil.

Ross Yoder

Combine the 1/2 cup olive oil5 smashed and peeled Garlic cloves1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakesand your handful fresh basil (stems and all!) in a small saucepan.

Turn the heat down to medium-low. Once the mixture is boiling, let it simmer for 1-2 minutes or until the basil is wilted. Remove from the heat and let the mixture infuse while you start the sauce.

You want your basil and garlic oil to look like this before you remove it from the heat.

STEP #2: Brown your butter and sauté the onion.

Ross Yoder / Hulu

Cut yours Onion cut in half through the root and peel off the papery skins. Leave the halved roots intact, as you’ll fish the onion halves out of the sauce later. (This is a classic and much-loved technique of Marcella Hazan — using a halved onion allows her to gently disperse its flavors throughout the sauce, so the tomatoes still shine as ingredient #1.)

Add half a stick unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon neutral oil to a large pot. A dutch oven is preferable here, but any pot with a heavy bottom (that can hold a big ole can of tomatoes) will work just fine. Place over medium heat.

Once the butter has melted and is just beginning to brown, set the onion halves Place cut-side down in pot. Carmy doesn’t seem to brown his butter, but I think it adds a special touch to the dish…so, sorry, Carm! Sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes or until the cut surfaces begin to turn golden brown.

(How golden brown? This golden brown.)

STEP #3: Start your tomato sauce.

Ross Yoder / Hulu

Carefully add your Canned tomatoes to butter and oil. Trust me, you don’t want a shirt full of tomato sauce when the ingredients start splattering, so step back!

Use a wooden spoon (or even a potato masher) to mash the tomatoes into smaller pieces. If you are using already chopped tomatoes, skip this step.

Once the tomato sauce is boiling, turn the heat down to low. Season with to taste Saltcover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

STEP #4: Puree the basil oil.

Ross Yoder

I’ll admit that this is the biggest liberty I’ve taken with this recipe, but I think it’s an important one. Scarpetta’s tomato sauce recipe also uses this basil-garlic oil, but the flavors only soak into the oil briefly before being strained out. For maximum flavor (and minimal food waste) I choose to keep the flavorings inand I think it makes a big difference in the end result.

Once the oil blend When cool – warm is fine, just make sure it’s not boiling hot – pour into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 20-30 seconds or until the basil and garlic are chopped into small pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, you can hand chop the basil and garlic, then return to the oil.

In terms of texture, you want the mix to look something like this after processing.

Ross Yoder

The ingredients don’t have to be as small and homogeneous as you would normally use for a basil pesto, but make sure they’re chopped finely enough to combine well with the tomato sauce.

STEP #5: Final step, everyone! Combine the basil oil mixture with the sauce for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Ross Yoder

Add the processed ones basil oil add to the simmering tomato sauce and stir until well combined. Now is a great time to taste and add extra flavor Salt, as needed. Not all canned tomatoes taste the same, so if your sauce tastes a little to sour, you can add a 1/2 teaspoon baking powder to raise the pH a bit and reduce some of that bite.

Let the sauce simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes. Once thickened to your liking, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

To serve, add 1 pound of al dente spaghetti to the pot and coat thoroughly with the sauce. As with most pasta dishes I would maximum recommend saving 1/2 cup of pasta water for the sauce — it helps distribute the sauce more evenly, and the starch ultimately makes the sauce thicker.

A generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a few spare basil leaves really kicks things up a notch, IMO, but don’t stress out if you don’t have them.

It’s good. REALLY, really good. Like “new favorite pasta” well. I now understand the big smiles from everyone in Carmy’s kitchen as they devoured this dish…because that was very me when I took my first bite.

Ross Yoder / Hulu

The star of the show is definitely basil, in both forms. The finely chopped basil and garlic practically melt into the sauce for some serious freshness, and the basil-like goodness dipped in the oil gives each bite the perfect amount of velvety richness.

And don’t sleep on that browned butter either. It’s a small step, sure, but taking the butter only a shade darker than you would normally add a nice nuttiness to the dish. With a pasta sauce as bold and acidic as a tomato-based one, that extra dash of fat helps balance it all out… so its importance really can’t be overstated.

If you get a chance to try this recipe for yourself, let me know what you think in the comments below! ⬇️

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