Food You Can Eat: Million Dollar Spaghetti

This might just over-promise and under-deliver, just a tad

This is what they serve at Davos conferences

As we saw on New Year’s Day, Hugh Grant and Cara Delevigne like to chase away a hangover by slurping down a big helping of spaghetti bolognese, or “spag bol.” If you happen to have a lingering hangover from ringing in 2023, first of all, see a doctor, but also this might cure what ails you.

This is an old, old recipe, I think it must date back to the 1950s, if not before. I could be wrong, it could be a relic of the Reagan 80s, the “greed is good decade,” but it has a very Eisenhower feel to it to me, if not something that might have been made as a special treat during the Depression. I’ve made it and served it back when I was feeling like a million bucks but alas nowadays I sometimes feel like an off-brand item you might pass over in a dollar store.

So here’s how you make your own Million Dollar Spaghetti. Out of sheer laziness I copied and pasted this from allrecipes.com, because “my” recipe is handwritten, not that you really need a recipe after you’ve made this once, as you’ll see. It’s actually more like a lasagna or a pasta bake. When I make this I use a ricotta or a béchamel layer but this is what you’re really supposed to do.

Classic Million Dollar Spaghetti

1 (8 ounce) package spaghetti

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (16 ounce) jar [marinara] spaghetti sauce [if you’re not making your own get a garlicky/spicy one]

½ cup butter, sliced – divided [slice up one stick of butter]

1 (8 ounce) container cottage cheese

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

¼ cup sour cream

1 (8 ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese [or shred your own when the time comes] [or you could use a lot of mozzarella, I do, but Cheddar is truer to the all-American spirit of the dish]

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in boiling water until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain. Put the spaghetti in a bowl somewhere.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes; drain and discard grease. Transfer to a bowl and mix in spaghetti sauce.

Place 1/2 of the butter slices into the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish. [Distribute them around; they won’t cover the entire bottom, no matter how thinly you slice them. And try to slice them kind of thinly for maximum coverage.] Spread 1/2 of the spaghetti into the dish. [Go to your bowl of spaghetti and by hand make an even layer of half the spaghetti.]

Mix cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream together in a bowl; spread mixture over spaghetti. Cover with remaining spaghetti [again, by hand, so you get a nice even layer] and top with remaining slices of butter.

Pour ground beef mixture over spaghetti and spread in an even layer.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Spread Cheddar cheese on top [get out the grater and shred the Cheddar (or mozzarella) cheese over the top] and continue baking until cheese has melted and is lightly browned, about 15 minutes more.

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9 Comments

  1. Looks like comfort food to me! It is so damp here; even though it will be 65 degrees today, I just cannot get warm. I bet this dish would warm me up.

    • It’s a really good thing to make in volume. And it is “cost effective.” I sometimes make it when I have my oldest friends over and the point is not only the food, that’s kind of an afterthought, but the togetherness. This really isn’t bad; I’m not punishing them.

    • We are in agreement there; that’s the other area where I deviate from the “classic” and use mozzarella. That’s why I think this is a postwar all-American recipe: the use of cottage cheese instead of ricotta and cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella.

      • Yeah, agreed. Also even growing up in the 80s here, every grocery store had cottage cheese but a lot of them didn’t carry ricotta. And I live in a city with a major Little Italy!

        Now the big grocery stores all do, but wasn’t that easily available 30 years ago.

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