In 1941, before the United States officially joined the Allied war effort, the Lend-Lease Act passed by Congress offered assistance to any nation fighting aggression (which effectively meant any nation but Germany and Japan) and pushed for the rapid expansion of meat production. The government called on the nation’s meatpackers to provide 4 million, then 8 million, then 15 million cans of tinned meat weekly for shipment abroad. The John Morrell and Company plant in Sioux Falls—drawing much of its meat supply from southwestern Minnesota farms—specialized in tushonka, or canned pork with onions and spices [sic], for the Russians.
—Annette Atkins, Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2007), pp. 193–194
Navy-Style Pasta with Tushonka
Pasta – 250-500 g
Tushonka – 1 can (500 g)
Onion – 1
Vegetable oil – 2-3 tbsp
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Sugar – 1 tsp
Red wine vinegar – 1 tbsp
Garlic – 2 cloves
Tomato paste – 2 tbsp
Spices to taste
Water (from cooking pasta) – 100-300 ml
Fresh herbs – 4-5 sprigs (optional)
Prepare the ingredients.
Bring the water to a boil, season generously with salt and add the pasta.
Mix thoroughly and cook until tender, following the instructions on the package. During the cooking process, periodically try the pasta to prevent it from overcooking.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over high heat in a frying pan. Add the chopped onion, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir-fry the onion for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, mash the tushonka until it is almost a homogeneous mush.
Peel and chop 1-2 cloves of garlic. Add the garlic to the sauteed onion, stir and fry for another 1-2 minutes.
Pour in 1 tbsp red wine vinegar. In the hot pan, the vinegar will immediately evaporate, but the fried vegetables will have a pleasant sweet and sour taste.
Add the tomato paste to the fried garlic and onion. Stir-fry the tomato paste for about 1-2 minutes.
Then add the tushonka, stir and bring to a boil over low heat.
When the pasta is ready, do not rush to drain all the water. Pour off about 1 cup of water and save it for making a sauce.
Drain the remaining water. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (to prevent the pasta from sticking together) and mix thoroughly.
Add spices to the boiling sauce. I add some Mediterranean herbs, paprika, ground coriander and also salt and ground black pepper.
Gradually pour in the water left over from cooking the pasta until the sauce is the desired thickness. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for another 3-4 minutes.
Add the pasta and mix thoroughly. Turn off the heat, add some herbs, cover the pan with a lid and let the dish stand for a few minutes.
Sprinkle a portion of navy-style pasta with a pinch of fresh herbs and serve.
Translated by the Russian Reader