24 February 2014

Eats: stroganoff wonderpot

There was a time, back when I was in college, that “cooking” meant “making hamburger helper”. It was honestly the most complicated thing I could cook, as I had to use the stove (not just the microwave), and it required more than just butter and milk (as was the case for blue box mac & cheese). If you’re at that point in your life, I want to assure you that you can totally teach yourself how to actually cook! I did, after all! But don’t feel bad if you enjoy hamburger helper. If it wasn’t so dang unhealthy, I’d totally still eat hamburger helper. Truth.

Yes, I think hamburger helper can be delicious, particularly the cheesy hamburger kind (similar to this taco pasta) and the stroganoff kind (which I semi-replicate with this stroganoff meatballs recipe). Of course, all the preservatives and sodium and mysterious chemicals means it might be better to avoid hamburger helper and make those dishes with fresh ingredients. But when I do try to knock off their stroganoff meatballs, I always end up using every pot in my kitchen (AND the microwave to heat the meatballs, natch).

So when I saw Beth’s hambuger-helper-esque one-pot beef and mushroom stroganoff, I knew I must try it. All the simplicity and taste of hamburger helper, but with fresh ingredients! And to continue the “wonderpot” moniker for these one-pot meals, I thought I’d call this a Stroganoff Wonderpot. Here goes!

We start with a pound of ground chuck, some minced garlic, some dried onion. I did not measure. I never measure. I’d guess it’s about a tablespoon of each.

I browned the beef in the same pot that I cooked the whole dish in, not a separate skillet. I also didn’t add any extra butter; I just let the garlic and butter cook in the grease rendered from the beef. Oh, and speaking of that, I never drained the fat from the beef, but if you use a fattier ground beef, you might need to do that.

Next I added some pre-sliced mushrooms. Beth points out that the pre-sliced mushrooms are often quite thick, so she prefers to cut up her own. I, on the other hand, hate mushrooms (it’s a texture thing) so I’d rather leave them huge and totally obvious so I can pick them out of my noodles.

Please note too that I was totally taking these photos after dark, because it’s wintertime and we don’t eat dinner at 4PM (say, have you ever noticed I feature way more dinner recipes in the summertime than winter?). I figured a pot of brown noodles won’t be that much more photogenic in bright daylight anyway, so oh well. This is comfort food, who care about white balancing!

Once the beef and mushrooms were cooked through, I added four cups of beef broth, 1.5 cups of water, and a pound of egg noodles.

That’s more liquid than the original source (which I’m doubling) because quite literally half the noodles weren’t submerged in liquid. To make up for the extra liquid, I left the lid off to let some of the water escape, so it all evened out in the end.

As I brought the noodles back to a boil, I seasoned it with salt, pepper, parsley, and a shake or two of worcestershire sauce:

I kept it on medium heat until all the liquid was absorbed, which took about fifteen minutes. Then I added the sour cream (I totally just eyeballed two-thirds of a cup):

And stirred it all together! That’s it!

It looks so remarkably like the stroganoff hamburger helper... except, you know, for the fresh mushrooms, cream, and lack of any mysterious powders. And it tastes just as delicious, but better!

I picked out all the mushrooms from mine to give to Mr. P, of course. And check out that roasted broccoli on the side! Way more nutritious than the hamburger helper college days of yore.

As Beth mentioned at the source recipe, this is totally adaptable for you vegetarian readers, provided you like mushrooms – just sub in veggie broth for the beef broth. And if you don’t like mushrooms, you can skip them completely (though I do think they impart a bit of flavor, so leave them if someone’s willing to eat them).

If you’re stuck in another round cold weather like we are here, hopefully this can keep you warm – and perhaps make you nostalgic for those days when “cooking” meant opening a flavor packet. Enjoy!

Finally, this week’s meal plan:

Sunday: that stroganoff wonderpot with roasted broccoli, right there! I’m actually posting a recipe right after making it for once!

Monday: chicken with wine sauce, wild rice, and green beans

Tuesday: chicken tacos with chips & salsa

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: alfredo pasta with chicken, mushrooms, and peas

Friday: pork with peanut sauce, rice, and veggies

Saturday: leftovers

Have a great week, dear readers!