Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Favorite Comfort Food

I don't care what anyone says, I'm a fan of the starches. And the carbs. I never stood a chance between the Spam & fried potatoes and the tuna casserole of my youth.

For the 18 years that  I haven't lived at home, I"ve requested beef and noodles or chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes almost every time I go home. It's my go-to comfort food. Give me egg noodles or give me eternal discomfort! Something like that. You get my point.

Just like the yeasts, the bobbins, the gravies and the whole poultries, I somehow placed this meal into a category of fear and trembling. It seemed to me like something only my mom could pull off. So I never tried.

Granted, I've still never lived to stuff a cavity, but I'm starting to realize that the conspiracies of the elder generations run deep. Turns out, it's easier to make beef and noodles than Tuna Helper, and I would know.

To make matters more glorious, my friend Alison made BBQ Green Beans for me last year and my world was changed forever.

So what you'll find below is the perfect Sunday Dinner. Or Thursday With Friday Left-Overs, as the case may be.

As the wise Cookie Monster might warn, this is a sometimes meal, not an all-the-time meal. But it's a crowd-pleaser. And I will personally attest to the fact that you will not need a late-night snack later on. (That almost never happens.)

Cook 3 strips of bacon with 1/2 cup chopped onion. Or, do like I do and buy a box of pre-cooked bacon, chop it, and cook it up with the onion.

Add 1 quart of beans (I also added a pint)...

 Then add 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup ketchup, and 1/8 cup vinegar. Stir.

 Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour. (I kept the burner as low and it would go.)

While your beans are slow-cooking, bring 6-8 cups of beef broth to a boil. Add 1 lb of thick-cut egg noodles, bring to a boil, then simmer until you reach desired tenderness.

(I used these noodles.)

Then? The meat. I used a home-canned pint of beef - a gift from my Mama.
(Looks grody, right? Well, it ain't.)

Use the back of the spoon to break up the meat, continue to simmer.

At this point, you want some extra broth with the noodles, but not too much. I drained a bit of mine off. 

I personally like my noodles to have a thicker, creamier texture. So...

In a separate dish, mix 1/4 cup of flour with a cup or so of milk. (I eyeballed both.) Stir well, then stir mixture into noodles.

Continue to cook on low and the broth will take on a creamy, thicker level of magnificence. At this point, I add some parsley flakes (fancy!) and salt a pepper to taste.

Booyah. You're done.

Your beans should be barbecuey and delicious and read to eat. 

But don't forget to take the mashed potatoes out of the oven (225 degrees) where they have been staying warm and divine while you did your other cooking mostly because you only have one big pan, so you had to do the potatoes first, then wash it out and do the noodles!

I've had trouble mastering homemade mashed potatoes in the past, but they are one of my love languages, so I've stubbornly refused to give up. I'll never understand why it took me so long, but I finally found the best technique and I love it. 

My secret? Sour cream. And maybe a smidgen of heavy cream if I have some lying around, because we all need more calcium. 

She's not the most colorful meal, but she sure is the homiest.

What's your go-to comfort food? What's the meal that takes you back to your roots?
I've got all night here, people. And I love almost nothing more than talking food.