If you’ve been around a while (and I thank you), then you know ours is an Old School Catholic household. That is to say in many ways we practice the faith of our childhood, before the changes of Vatican II.
Hubby and I grew up in a time when eating meat on Fridays just wasn’t done. That meant a lot of tuna sandwiches, egg salads and fish sticks. Yeah, not very appealing. I suppose one could argue that the whole point of meatless Fridays was to do penance, and frozen fish sticks sure were a form of suffering. It’s interesting to note that the Church has never said eat Fish on Fridays. The consumption of fish and seafood was a loophole in Canon Law. The Law simply says to abstain from meat. Meat is considered the flesh of warm-blooded animals – cows, pigs and poultry. Fish are cold-blooded. Therefore, the people concluded, eating a lobster on Friday was in keeping with penance. Yeah, a bit of a stretch. The church thought people would eat from their gardens on Fridays and left it at that.
Why meat? Because meat was considered a luxury. The poor didn’t eat meat on Fridays or most other days. Maybe a chicken here and there, but not steaks. So the poor, by their economic status, were exempt from the rule. The poor were considered to be closer to Christ because life was a hardship.
It was the well-to-do that were in need of saving through sacrifice. Their penance was to give up a luxury of wealth – meat. What changed with Vatican II wasn’t to do away with some from of Penance on Fridays in remembrance of Christ on the Cross, that still exists. The Church now allows people to either abstain from meat or chose another form of penance, such as an extra Rosary, attending Mass on Friday mornings or doing charitable works. The point of abstinence isn’t so much penance and sacrifice but rather to turn attention away from worldly trappings and focus on God. It’s sad that most Catholics have forgotten. Friday is just another day. I like observing Meatless Fridays. And in all honesty, it’s easier to get my guys to give up a burger than it would be to say an extra Rosary at the end of the day.
Mushroom Bolognese Spaghetti
8 oz Portobello Mushrooms
2 oz Shiitake Mushrooms
1/4 White Onion
1/2 cup Baby Carrot
1 Celery Rib
2 tablespoons Butter, divided
1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Beef Stock
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
Italian Seasoning to taste
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
8 oz Spaghetti Pasta
Parmesan Cheese as desired
Clean and slice mushrooms, set aside. Mince onion, carrots and celery, set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the mushrooms, onion, carrot, and celery until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the white wine into the skillet and bring to a sizzle, dissolving any browned flavor bits from the bottom of the skillet. Allow the wine to cook for about a minute. Stir the beef stock and tomato paste into the mixture, bring to a low boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until the beef stock has reduced and everything is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Add remaining tablespoon of butter and the heavy cream, and allow to heat through (do not boil). Season to taste.
While the Bolognese Sauce simmers, cook spaghetti noodles. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta, add to the skillet with the Bolognaise. Pull pasta through sauce to coat. If needed, add a little of the pasta water to create more sauce. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Perfect with warm garlic bread and a simple salad for a light yet satisfying supper.