Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

December 2, 2013

Reflections on Hearty Meals in Winter


Mineral Wells Index

— With the cold weather upon us,and because we have so little of it here in Texas, I have been experimenting with flavors for hearty meals – stick to your ribs kind of fare – that are easy to make, and, in many cases, can be reheated for a second meal the next day. We have to enjoy the cold weather while we can!

I have found a wonderful base for any beef soup. The broth is fairly easy to make and is just plain yummy!

Add in 3 tablespoons of good olive oil, brown 2 pounds of whatever meat you want to use (ground or cubed) in a Dutch oven. Don't brown it all at once or you will steam it instead. When it is all browned, remove it and add a chopped onion, 2 cloves of garlic (I used the frozen and it works very well) and cook until soft. To that I add a 12-ounce bottle of beer, 3 1/2 cups beef bullion, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika.

When this is going well, add your meat and whatever veggies you choose to use. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook slowly for about two hours or more.  

Another really good, hearty soup is Taco Soup:

2 pounds ground chuck

1 medium onion, chopped

2 15-ounce cans stewed tomatoes (I use petite diced.)

1 10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes (I use mild because Raf doesn't like hot.)

1 14-ounce can pinto beans

1 14-ounce can ranch style beans

1 14-ounce can corn (NOT creamed)

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup water (if needed)

Brown chuck in Dutch oven with salt, pepper, onion and a cube of frozen garlic. Add all the other ingredients and cook for at least an hour or two.  Add water if you want it thinner.  Serve topped with grated cheese and crumbled tortilla chips.

Alton Brown on the Food Channel claims his macaroni and cheese is the best, but I like my recipe.

Here it is:

1 cup macaroni

1 cup grated cheese

2 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Cayenne to taste

Dry Bread Crumbs

Butter

Additional Cheese

Parboil macaroni in salted water.  Drain and in a buttered casserole layer macaroni with one cup cheese - should be about three layers of each. Beat eggs, milk, and seasonings well and pour over the macaroni and cheese.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs (I use Panko or Italian), dot with butter, and top with additional cheese. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until the custard is set. Insert a knife in the middle, and it will come out clean.

Finally, my in-laws, Ralph and Margaret Seibert, perfected this dish that they called Tenderloin Noodle Casserole.

Cook 1 3/4 cups noodles, rinse and drain. Slowly brown 1 1/2 pound pork chops in hot fat. Season with salt and pepper. Combine noodles and the cheese sauce below, plus 3 tablespoons of chopped bell pepper and 3 tablespoons of chopped pimento. Turn into casserole and top with pork chops. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

Cheese Sauce: Melt 3 tablespoons butter and blend with 2 tablespoons flour, plus salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 cup milk. Cook until thick and bubbly.  Remove from heat and add 1/3 cup cheese.  

Hope you enjoy some of these meals. We surely do.

Keep warm!