One of my favorite comfort food recipes that I learned from Mom was a very simple dish that our family used to call “Mom’s Good Stuff.”
We decided to name the recipe “Mom’s Good Stuff” because the first time she served it to us I can remember telling her much I loved it and asked her what it was called. She just smiled, shrugged and said that she had no idea what it was called, that it was just something that she had thrown together.
The first thing Mom would do is make mashed potatoes. She used instant potatoes, but I prefer using fresh “new potatoes.” You know, the red potatoes that have very thin skins. I’ll wash them well and cut them into small bite sized pieces. Then I cover them with water and boil them until they are soft, drain them and put a bit of butter on them. I don’t usually bother to mash them because I’m lazy, but they taste great anyway.
(Alternately I’ll use those great pre-cooked and mashed potatoes by Bob Evans that are sold in the refrigerated section of the local grocery stores. Those mashed potatoes are delicious!)
While the potatoes are cooking I’ll peel and slice a sweet onion. (Hint – freeze the onion for ten minutes first to reduce the eye irritation.) Melt a pat of butter in a frying pan and then add the onions, cook them until they are caramelized.
(If I’m feeling really lazy I will skip the frying the onions. Instead I’ll slice the onion, put it in a covered microwave save bowl, add a splash of water, cover it, and microwave it for a few minutes until the onions are very soft.)
When the onions are fully cooked, add a crumbled up pound of super-duper extra lean ground beef – the kind that is so lean that you do not have any fat to drain off when it is cooked! Then brown the ground beef. If the pan gets too dry, add a splash of water to prevent burning the beef or the onions.
(Since my hubby refuses to eat onions, instead of adding the cooked onions to the ground beef, I’ll serve them “on the side” so they can be added to the individual plate if desired.)
You really do want to have some “liquid” in the pan, so you might need to add some water, liquid bouillon or some beef broth to the ground beef if it gets really dry while you are cooking it.
Once the beef is browned, sometimes I’ll add some super-sweet corn niblets or some mushrooms. If I’m going to use canned vegetables like that I’ll use the liquid from those cans instead of adding water, bouillon or broth to the beef while it is browning.
I like to put a mound of the mashed potatoes on my plate, the cover the potatoes with the ground beef mixture. As a kid I liked to make it look like an erupting volcano. Come to think of it, I still do!
It is a fantastic base dish. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Maybe I’ll make that for dinner tonight!