How to Cook Supper on a Tuesday Night (Hamburger steaks & gravy)

My mama worked a nine-to-five clerical job pretty much my whole life. So I learned from her at an early age how to get to the grocery store, get home, and get supper on the table fast before collapsing from exhaustion in front of the TV set. This was one of my father’s favorite dinners, so we had it all the time. Whenever I think about cooking supper, this is still the first thing that springs to mind–the smell of it cooking takes me straight back to 1982. It feels like a real meal, but it’s cheap and fast and by this point, I could make it in my sleep. And bless him, my hubs loves it, too.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of hamburger

2 small white onions or one really big one

2 green bell peppers

2 tablespoons of butter

¼ cup of flour

2 cans of beef consommé

1-2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1 ½ cups of uncooked white rice

1 can of peas

How to Make It: 

Put 3 cups of water on to boil, liberally salted, with a lid. At some point while you’re doing the next few steps, the water will start to boil. When it does, add the rice, stir, bring back to a boil then reduce heat to low so the water just simmers. Leave it to simmer, covered and untouched, while you cook everything else.

Pat the hamburger into 6-8 patties, depending on how many people are eating. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear on both sides in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, about a minute and a half per side. You’ll probably have to do them in batches; I do mine as I make them out and remove the seared ones to a plate. You aren’t trying to cook them through at this point, just browning the outside.

While your patties are cooking, peel the onions and slice them in half lengthwise, then slice in half-rings, then seed and slice the bell peppers lengthwise. (Cut them big this way so the non-veggie-eaters can pick’em out without whining.) Once the patties are done and out of the pan, add the butter to the pan drippings and let it melt, then add the onions and peppers and sauté them until they’re soft. Add the flour, stirring constantly, and cook for about a minute so the flour doesn’t taste raw. Then add the consommé and stir to make a gravy. Add the Worcestershire sauce. Taste the gravy and adjust with more Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper as needed. Add the patties back into the gravy, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and your rice and peas are done.

Open the can of peas, pour it in a pot over medium heat, heat through.

Serve the gravy over the rice and beef patties with peas on the side.

Serves 6-8

 

 

Something easy to cook for dinner this week – Mama’s Chili

In my continuing effort to prove that I love to eat about as much as I love to write, here’s my family recipe for chili.  I won’t ever be entering this in any Texas cook-offs; I’m sure “authentic” chili cooks will read it and faint with horror.  But it’s hot; it tastes good; it’s filling; and it’s damned easy to make, particularly on cold December nights when you’ve got way too much else to do.  You can put this together, walk away, wrap presents, have a bowl when you’re ready and leave the rest simmering for the rest of the household to grab whenever they show up.  One batch will feed at least six people.  It also keeps very well in the refrigerator and makes a great lunch the next day.

My version is adapted from my mom’s version which she adapted from her dad’s version.  (His was legendary and involved little cut-up hot dogs – we’re not talking haute cuisine here.)  My sister, Sarah, and her husband, Derek, have refined their own version that is much more sophisticated; if they invite you over to eat, by all means, go.  Just don’t look for any beans.

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons dried minced onion

3 cans light red kidney beans, neither drained nor rinsed (12 ounces, maybe? the ‘normal’ sized cans, not the great big ones)

4 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces, I think – the small cans)

4 tomato sauce cans water

1 generous teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin (if you have it – don’t buy it special for this; it tastes fine without it)

1 tablespoon mustard (like you’d put on a hot dog, not dried)

3 drops Texas Pete hot sauce (do buy this special – other hot sauce might work; I just don’t know how to measure it)

Sour cream, saltine crackers, pepper jack or sharp chedder cheese, all optional condiments

Start at least an hour before you plan to eat.  Brown the ground beef with the minced onion in a large, heavy pot, drain the fat, return to pot.  Add beans, tomato sauce, water, chili powder, cumin, mustard, and Texas Pete, stir until well combined.  Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

My favorite way to eat this is to cut pepper jack cheese in 1/2 inch cubes, put a handful in the bottom of a deep bowl, cover with chili, garnish with a dollop of sour cream.  Some of my family just add crushed saltine crackers.  My husband, who had never had chili before he married me, likes both cheese and crackers.