Spaghetti Honduras (1949, Oregon, adapted)

Spaghetti Honduras is a spaghetti dish with warm, fragrant tomato sauce.   There doesn’t seem to be anything Honduran about it.    This recipe is more like Mediterranean food than anything you’d find in central America.   The recipe comes to me by way of a 1949 community cookbook from the Eugene (Oregon) Welfare League.  In my older cookbooks it’s common to find out-of-the-ordinary recipes named after far flung countries.   The recipes may or may not have anything to do with the country they’re named after.  Honduras may as well have been Tripoli or Zanzibar.

This “foreign” spaghetti trades a traditional Italian-style sauce for something more like a stew or tagine.  The sauce uses simmered chuck roast, instead of ground beef or sausage.  There’s still a tomato base, but the sauce is seasoned with cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves.  My kitchen smelled amazing for several days afterwards.   cooked until thick and then ladled over spaghetti noodles.  With a little bit of beef broth and potatoes it would make an amazing stew on its own.

It turns out there is a traditional Honduran Spaghetti, which is completely different from Spaghetti Honduras.  Honduran spaghetti sauce is a blend of tomatoes, sour cream, and Coca-Cola.  I swear I’m not making this up.    Add some chopped up hot dogs, and pour over spaghetti and rice.  One can apparently find similar spaghetti recipes throughout the Caribbean, but I’ve never seen anything like it.   It’s not exactly on my short list, but I’ll report back if I ever try it out.

I’ve made some modest adaptations to the original recipe, primarily by adapting it for the Instant Pot.  The Instant Pot wasn’t around in 1949, but fits perfectly with this recipe.  The pressure cook function cuts the recipe time down from 3 hours to around 45 minutes.  Which means I can make Spaghetti Honduras on a weeknight.  The only change I had to make for the Instant Pot was to rebalance the water content.  Nothing else changes.  The sauce was near perfect to begin with and doesn’t need any additional help.

Spaghetti Honduras was a big hit with the family.  The sauce is rich and smells like heaven, and the meal is warm and satisfying.  My daughter wondered why we were serving this over spaghetti instead of rice.  It’s something I’ll certainly consider for the future.  Pair with a Caesar salad or simply steamed green vegetables.   Enjoy!

Spaghetti Honduras

Spaghetti Honduras (1949, Oregon, adapted)

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 1 h
  • Ready in: 1 h 15 min
  • For: 6 servings
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  1. Trim round steak and cut into one inch cubes. Peel onions and slice thin.

Instant Pot directions

  1. Set Instant Pot to Saute mode. When pot is hot, add animal fat. Then add onions all at once. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions start to brown and have released their liquid. Add more fat as needed during the cook.
  2. Scoot onions to the side of the pot. Add cubed steak in batches, browning on all sides until all steak is well browned. Stir in garlic and saute for another minute.
  3. Cancel the Saute program. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine well.
  4. Cover and set Instant Pot to cook 20 minutes at low pressure. Allow pressure to release naturally.
  5. Remove bay leaves. Stir to break up meat. Serve over spaghetti noodles.

Conventional Directions

  1. In a large enameled Dutch oven, fry onions in fat for 10-15 minutes until onions start to brown and have released most of their liquid. Push onions to the side and brown beef in batches until cubes are well browned on all sides. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (except tomato paste). Bring mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours until beef is tender.
  3. Remove bay leaves. Stir to break up meat. Serve over spaghetti noodles.

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