When my brothers and I were in high school we were that house, the one that had a revolving door. Neighbors, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, our house was constantly full of people that didn’t live there.
Looking back, I realize how huge a pain in the ass this was for my parents. My mother worked nights and my dad’s work schedule was non-standard and they must have just wanted their evenings to themselves, to be quiet and relax. After a few years of working, a couple of rounds of houseguests, and a more grown up life, I understand how incredibly precious quiet time can be. My poor parents never got any.
Instead, the driveway was full of other people’s cars, the house was full of teenagers, and there was no quiet to be found ANYWHERE. There was never any Coke in the fridge, the toilet paper was always gone, and somebody was always squabbling with someone else. Our six-person dinner table nearly always had a couple of folding chairs or barstools snuggled between the normal chairs to make room for visitors.
I am grateful that we were that house, that my parents were so welcoming when they didn’t need to be, that my mom treated all my friends like her own children, nagging and laughing, and my dad cracked jokes and talked cars and told boys to get their damned hair cut already.
Dinner time must have been an adventure for my mom. She never knew how many people would be showing up at the table. It could be 3 out of our family of 5, it could be 12. Who knew? I did a lot of quick-fast running to the grocery store to get a salad or some more vegetables so she could extend whatever dinner offering she had, but she got really good at cooking meals that made for great leftovers if we had fewer than 12 people eating.
One of them was mostaccioli. I’ve taken the recipe and adapted it a bit, making the red sauce from scratch rather than use Ragu, but it’s still pretty much hers.
Mama Buster’s 10 Pound Mostaccioli
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
2 lbs. mostaccioli noodles (2 boxes)
1 lb. shredded mozzarella
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, diced
5-10 leaves basil, chopped
1 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper
Brown Italian sausage and ground beef, drain and set aside.
While meats are browning, pour 2 tbsp. olive oil into a large pan (HUGE pan). Sauté garlic and onion until onions are clear. Pour in crushed and diced tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste, adding sugar to cut acid in sauce.
Allow sauce to simmer while you heat up pasta water and cook pasta according to package directions.
When noodles are nearly done, add meat and basil to sauce and heat through.
Drain and rinse noodles.
Toss noodles, meaty-sauce, and cheese together until it’s a gooey mess.
Serve with garlic bread and salad. And extra vegetables if more people show up than you were planning on.