Filipino-Style Sweet Spaghetti With Hotdogs

Ever since I reconnected with my classmates from Elementary and High School, memories of about everything imaginable that we went through together started coming out again. Fond memories of so many years of staying together every single day from morning until late in the afternoon took all of us to a different kind of closeness bonded with companionship that grew into beautiful friendships. 

Twenty five years of separation after that day when we all marched with our togas to face the real world of different universities didn't change anything. Until now, we still see each other in Facebook, with our own kids and spouses. And when time permits, we even get to spend time with each other, catching up on stories about each other and still carrying on with our old jokes from two decades past. Facebook breathed new life to our halted friendships that stood still the past 25 years. The ice has melted, so we commenced again, much better even for we have more substance to speak about. We have careers, children, travels, hobbies and lives. With a collection of pilots, jewelry-makers, doctors, friars, preachers, chefs, teachers, dentists, photographers, musicians, restaurateurs, mural artists, lawyers, politicians and among other paths we chose, how interesting can it get when we all get-together and speak about our lives?

Our school memories evolved around the cafeteria, eating... well what else, cafeteria food. The menu didn't change so much throughout our time there. I can still remember most of the dishes and perhaps even how they tasted like. Snack breaks meant noodles, banana cue (caramelized bananas in sticks), chips, ice cream or spaghetti. Sweet spaghetti with ketchup, ground meat and hotdogs. That's how I remember it. It's not really my choice of pasta but it did hold fond memories and for the life in me, I started to miss it just a few weeks ago. I don't know why, but I seriously did.

Filipino-style spaghetti sauce is normally slightly sweet, because it's like how everyone prefers it. Recipes in every home vary like my Mom's spaghetti would always have finely chopped bell peppers and ground beef (but no hotdogs). There are some who put hotdogs and ketchup and kids love them! The only ingredient that never changed and will never change either, is the kind of pasta used. It will always be spaghetti. And for that every Filipino would simply call it spaghetti and this is the exact dish that they mean.

I'm guessing that this sudden craving sprouted from the sudden number of recipes I recently created with hotdogs. I did propose it to my kids more than once but they looked at me like I sprouted antlers. No way Mom, that doesn't sound good! And I didn't even tell them that it actually uses banana ketchup. I took a bottle home once and they pushed the bottle back to me. I took it as a NO. The sorry little bottle just expired in the cupboard and ended up in the bin. In spite of my kids' refusal to have spaghetti with hotdogs, I went with my plan anyway because I had all the ingredients last weekend. I had an open pack of hotdogs that had to be cooked. As for the ketchup, I used what we have, the regular one made with tomatoes.

I didn't Google any recipe. I just put together the ingredients like how I remember the spaghetti in the Philippines. Adding smoked pancetta (or bacon outside Italy) gave it a nice smoky flavor which I will never take away. I loved it! When I served it for lunch, I was waiting for the usual complaints from my kids but after a few minutes of silence, reluctant requests for hotdogs came out (they were against hotdogs in the first place). My son had 3 heaping servings and my daughter finished her pasta without giving problems. And the verdict? My son declared that it's the best food he has ever had, EVER.  

I didn't mean to blog about it but since I don't want to forget the recipe and my son loved it to high heavens, I retraced what I did last weekend and did another batch of Filipino-Style Spaghetti With Hotdogs. For the second time this week, we had my school spaghetti again.

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Filipino-Style Sweet Spaghetti With Hotdogs

Serves 4
  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 150 grams bacon, diced
  • 300 grams ground beef
  • 250 grams hotdogs, sliced
  • 2 cans (425 grams each) canned tomatoes (Tomato purèe and diced tomatoes are also good. Choose a good variety of tomatoes like San Marzano, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato ketchup (banana ketchup would come out sweeter)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper 
  • 400 grams spaghetti
  • Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan, grated 
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm up the extra virgin olive oil. 
  2. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Toss for 1 minute then add the bacon. Cook until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the ground meat and the hotdogs then cook until the color of the beef completely changes, about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the canned tomatoes, water, ketchup and sugar. Let it boil then partially cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, while waiting for the sauce to cook, cook the spaghetti. In a tall saucepan, over high heat, boil some water. When the water boils, add some salt then the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti according to the number of minutes suggested in the package.
  6. Season the sauce with salt and pepper then cook for another 15 minutes. If the sauce is drying up, add some hot water from the water you are boiling for the spaghetti.
  7. When the spaghetti is cooked, combine it with the sauce in the saucepan and mix well. 
  8. You can already add the Parmesan while the spaghetti is still in the saucepan or just add it in the individual bowls. 
  9. Serve while hot.