Monday, January 23, 2012

Chuckwagon Stew - A Quick & Versatile One-pot Dish

I can't believe I haven't yet posted this recipe.  It is one of my daughter's favorites, and one I have been making for over 40 years. Not a dish that would fall in the 'gourmet' category, but one that lends itself to infinite variations and is super quick to make.

As a college student majoring in Home Economics, I was required to take a demonstration class where I had to prepare and deliver a series of demonstrations ranging from 1 minute to 1 hour. As part of the course, our class attended a demonstration where this recipe was prepared. All of the students were given a copy of the recipe, that I have been making ever since.

It's essentially a ground beef-based, one pot dish, that cooks up in less than 30 minutes, and utilizes ingredients one usually has on hand. The basic ingredients include ground meat, canned tomatoes, noodles, cheese, sliced black olives and some simple veggies, layered in a particular order and cooked stove-top. It can be made into a gazillion variations to accommodate whatever ingredients you have on hand, or modified to reflect any flavor or ethnic preference you may have. The recipe is written and prepared in its original format, however, I very rarely use ground beef anymore, replacing it with ground turkey instead. I also don't use the stewed tomatoes, though it is quite tasty with them, using regular canned tomatoes and a greater variety of veggies instead.  The celery and black olives play important roles in this dish, giving it an unexpected amount of flavor, so don't eliminate them. 

My favorite variation is to make it Mexican-style. For this, I add some black beans and/or frozen corn, chili powder and cumin, chopped jalapeno peppers (canned or fresh), and a Mexican blend of cheeses. I top the finished dish with some sour cream, chopped green onions and cilantro, and dinner is done.  

As I said, not terribly gourmet, but quite hearty and satisfying. Served with a simple tossed salad it's a great dish for those busy weeknights when you're too tired to 'really' cook and time is short.  I Aced that demonstration course, by the way.

Chuckwagon Stew
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion chopped
2 cups uncooked medium noodles
8 oz. American Cheese slices
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 c. sliced ripe black olives
14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. salt

In a skillet, brown the beef and saute the onions. Drain any excess grease from pan.  Season the meat mixture with a pinch of the salt. Add the noodles, then arrange the cheese slices to cover the entire surface of the noodles & meat mixture. Now layer on the celery, then olives, the tomatoes, and water. Season with remaining salt. Cover the pan and simmer until the noodles are tender, about 25-30 minutes.  

For better presentation (optional) sprinkle with chopped celery leaves and more olive slices.

1 comment:

  1. This dish looks great! I would love it if you linked up this recipe to my comfort foods blog hop for a chance to win a Wilton donut pan: