Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hamburger Helper Can Kiss My Ass, or Swedish Hamburger Stroganoff?

When we were first married and lived so far from town, we relied on deer meat, antelope, and the beef provided as part of our wages as our protien sources.  When our portion of beef was delivered, I tried to use the best of what we had first, and then the lesser cuts of meat.  This is an old practice so that you are always serving the best of what you have, but also very smart, as the best, highest cost cuts were used before they could get freezer burnt.  The nice steaks, and big roasts were used up, then the brisket, the stew meat, and finally the ground meat. 
The same was true of the wild game we had.  At the end of the meat, while we waited for the next butchering, or for hunting season, we were stuck eating a lot of beans, macaroni and ground meat.
It was tempting to buy prepackaged mixes like Hamburger Helper to use up the ground meat.  You can only eat so much meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, and hamburgers before you tire of them.  With little ones, it was nice to have one dish meals that included some kind of pasta and vegetables, and was easy to eat for kids just starting to eat "real" food, instead of baby food. 
I quickly learned that so called convenience food isn't all it's cracked up to be.  It NEVER looks the same as the picture on the package.  It's always over salty, and often the pasta is broken and old.  You can't get whole wheat pasta either, and dehydrated vegetables are just for show, not for nutrition.  With my well stocked pantry, freezer and fridge, I can prepare a much superior fresh product in the same amount of time, and for pennies to the dollar for what prepackaged foods cost.
We had this one dish hamburger stroganoff for supper tonight, and it is very tasty and filling.  after feeding the three of us, we have two quarts of it left over:  one for lunches for Don and the babies, and one to stick in the freezer for nights when I don't want to cook.  Other than the pound of hamburger, I had all the other ingredients either in the fridge or the pantry.  
(I bought the hamburger because it was on sale for $1.99, but I could have used ground turkey, or ground lamb that I have in the freezer.)
This is a method of cooking, you can use this method to make all sorts of ground meat meals.  For instance, I have made it with rigatoni, mixed with a bechamel sauce (milk gravy) and topped with a bolognese sauce (I call it Lasagna Casserole), or you could use taco seasoning, and a sour cream, enchilada sauce type gravy.  It also works with stir fry vegetables and soba noodles.

I can't decide what to name it.  What do you think? 

Hamburger Helper Can Kiss My Ass, or Swedish Hamburger Stroganoff

1 package cooked and drained whole wheat egg noodles
1 pound ground beef
1 onion diced
3 celery stalks diced
4 carrots peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp minced rosemary
salt and pepper
While you make the meat mixture, boil and drain the pasta, and reserve it for later.  In a large dutch oven or skillet, saute the celery, carrots and onions until the onions are translucent.  Add the ground beef, garlic and seasonings.  When the meat is all browned, remove to a bowl and in the empty pot, make a rue.  Add:
2 T butter
2 T flour
Cook flour and butter with a whisk until butter is melted and flour is slightly golden and smells nutty.
1 1/2 C beef stock
Add the stock a little at a time, whisking to stir out the lumps, and adding more stock as it comes together and tightens up. 
2 C buttermilk (or regular milk is fine)
1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Add the milk slowly also.  Cook stirring constantly over high heat until it comes to a boil and thickens to a heavy gravy consistency.  Turn off the heat, and add the meat and vegetable mixture, and add:
1 C light sour cream
1 T worchestershire
3 T chopped fresh dill
Combine with the cooked pasta. 

I hope you'll try it, it's delicious!  It tastes a lot like my mother's Swedish Meatballs.

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