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 in real life, it couldn’t be easier to make.

If you, like me, have recently binged the bear on Hulu so fast your head is still spinning, I’m willing to bet you’re one of three things: exhausted (episode 7, am I right?!), overjoyed, or hungry. For me, it’s definitely the latter – or honestly, a bit of all three – and I can’t imagine I’m alone.

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For those who haven’t had a chance to watch yet: I can keep this 100% spoiler free while teasing all of the insanely delicious dishes featured on the show, so fret not. I’m not going to ruin everything for you. (But seriously, go watch it.)

Over the course of eight quick episodes, Chef Carmy (played by Shameless(Jeremy Allen White) and his kitchen team whip up dishes that I would easily place in the “I’m dying to eat” category. Of course, there are the many Italian beef sandwiches dripping with savory Juice, and then there are the Sydney Coke Braised Ribs that literally live rent-free in my brain. Heck, I’d even devour a plate of this herb-infused Tina’s Mashed Potatoes!

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The chefs of The Original Beef of Chicagoland know how to throw in the kitchen…but there’s one dish I’ve been thinking about since the final moments of Episode 8: the spaghetti.

A bit of context is needed here, but again, no real spoilers. Let’s just say that the dish itself ends up becoming one of the most important plot points of the season. (If you know this, you know this.) When Carmy begins running his late brother’s restaurant, he adamantly refuses to serve his “under-seasoned, over-sausage mess” of a plate of spaghetti — even though he’s was apparently a bestseller.

Eight episodes later, Carmy, well, “stumbles upon” her brother’s written recipe for the spaghetti and decides to cook and serve it for his staff’s family meal, but with a few liberties taken. (To be clear: when I say “recipe,” I simply mean a list of three ingredients.)

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Unsurprisingly, it’s a hit among kitchen members. It’s so good, in fact, that even gives Carmy a vision of her dead brother! The power of food, friends!

I said to myself, If this pasta is delicious enough for someone to see dead, it must be next level. So, yes, I decided to recreate it at home… and I’m very, very glad I did. Now that I’ve tried it, I can confidently say it’s my new favorite marinara sauce.

Design a recipe with more than three ingredients [lovingly] scribbled on an index card, I basically watched the scene in which he does it a million and five times. Although a few elements are filmed, most of the spaghetti-making takes place off-camera – so I put on my recipe developer hat to fill in the many blanks.

Ross Yoder

Now I have a vague theory: Following two of the techniques used in the preparation of Carmy (soaking the basil in olive oil and simmering the sauce with a halved tomato), it looks like this recipe is inspired by two fairly iconic tomato sauces – Scarpetta spaghetti with tomato and basiland Tomato sauce with onion and butter from Marcella Hazan, respectively. I could be wrong! But the inspiration here seems… very intentional. 🤷

Here is what I found. First, the ingredients.

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In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll also need a few pantry staples: 1 pound of spaghetti (sure), salt, neutral oil (such as canola), and some Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired.

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

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

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Mix the 1/2 cup of olive oil5 crushed and peeled cloves of garlic1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakesand your handful of fees basil (stems and all!) in a small saucepan.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Once the mixture comes to a boil, simmer for 1-2 minutes or until the basil is wilted. Remove from the heat and let the mixture steep while you start the sauce.

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

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

Ross Yoder / Hulu

Slice your onion in half through the root and peel off the papery skins. Leave the halved roots intact, since you’ll fish the onion halves out of the sauce later. (This is a classic and much-loved Marcella Hazan technique – using a halved onion allows her to gently diffuse its flavors into the sauce, so the tomatoes always shine as the #1 ingredient .)

Add half a stick of Butter without salt and 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in a large pot. A Dutch oven is best here, but any pot with a thick bottom (which can hold a big can of tomatoes) will work just fine. Place over medium-high heat.

Once the butter is melted and beginning to brown, place the onion halves in pan, cut side down. Carmy doesn’t seem to be browning her butter, but I think it adds something special to the dish… so sorry, Carm! Let the onions sear for 2-3 minutes or until the cut sides start to brown.

(How golden brown? This golden brown.)

STEP #3: Start your tomato sauce.

Ross Yoder / Hulu

Carefully Add your canned tomatoes in butter and oil. Trust me, you don’t want a shirt full of tomato sauce if the ingredients start splattering, so back off!

Use a wooden spoon (or even a potato masher) to break the tomatoes into small pieces. If you are using pre-crushed tomatoes, skip this step.

Once the tomato sauce boils, lower the heat. Season to taste with saltcover with an airtight lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

STEP #4: Purée the basil oil.

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I’ll admit that’s the biggest freedom I take with this recipe, but I think it’s an important freedom. Scarpetta’s tomato sauce recipe also implements this basil and garlic oil, but the aromatics only soak briefly in the oil before straining. For maximum flavor (and minimum food waste), I choose to keep the aromatics inand I think that makes a big difference in the end result.

Once the oil mix cooled – hot is OK, just make sure it’s not very hot – pour it into the bowl of a food processor. Blend for 20-30 seconds or until basil and garlic are chopped into small pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mince the basil and garlic by hand, then put back in the oil.

In terms of texture, you’ll want the mixture to look like this once it’s processed.

Ross Yoder

It’s not necessary to get the ingredients as small and homogeneous as you normally would for, say, a basil pesto, but make sure they are chopped finely enough to combine well with the tomato sauce.

STEP #5: Last step, y’all! Mix the basil oil mixture with the sauce for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Ross Yoder

Add Treaty basil oil to the simmering tomato sauce and stir until well blended. This is the perfect time to taste and season with salt, as required. Not all canned tomatoes taste the same, so if your sauce has a bit of a taste too acid, you can add a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to raise the pH a bit and cut some of that bite out.

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

To serve, toss 1 pound al dente spaghetti into the pan and coat well with the sauce. As with most pasta dishes, I like very recommend reserving 1/2 cup pasta water for the sauce – this helps distribute the sauce more evenly and the starch ultimately makes the sauce thicker.

A generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a few spare basil leaves really kick things up a notch IMO, but don’t stress if you don’t have any.

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

Ross Yoder / Hulu

The star of the show is definitely basil in both of its forms. The finely chopped basil and garlic practically melt into the sauce and provide serious freshness, and the goodness of basil that’s soaked in oil adds the perfect amount of velvety richness to every bite.

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

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

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