Saturday, November 13, 2010

One Skillet Meals: Country vs. Classic

After a hard day at work, you want to prepare a good dinner that doesn't make a mess of the kitchen, take long to prepare, and forever to clean up.  To that end, I have a series of winter/fall dinners that I call 'one skillet meals'.  So I thought I would share with you my two favorites.

Country Skillet
This dish is simple to make, and even easier if you've set aside some potatoes from a recent meal.  If I'm making mashed or boiled potatoes for a Sunday dinner, I scoop out enough for another meal just before they are done cooking.  A quick dunk in cold water stops the cooking and they can then be set aside in the refrigerator to speed up preparation of a weeknight dinner.

As you can see in the photos here, it is just a few steps until a good dinner is on the table.  I prefer to use Polska kieĊ‚basa (polish sausage) for this dish, as it has sufficient fat and good flavor, but any favorite meat will work.  I  just brown the sausage, remove it and cook the onions and green beans in the drippings.  Remove those and brown your pre-boiled potatoes, then add all back to the skillet for a few minutes and you are ready to serve.  I typically use up left over items such as peppers, garlic, mushrooms or other items that I think will go nice with the dish.  It's actually one of our favorite weekday dinners and so easy to prepare if you just do a little advance planning.  No recipe is really necessary and you should freely experiment with combinations.  It works well with a couple nice thick pork chops, which I prepare just as noted here, except finish in a 400F oven for about 10 minutes.  This of course means you need to cook the vegetables less during the sautee phase as they will be going into a hot oven so the pork chop can cook through.

click to enlarge

Beef Stroganoff
This dish, while a bit more complex, is really good.  Many people have trouble getting a good beef stroganoff prepared in the traditional way.  I say 'why bother' when this one comes out perfect every time. The noodles cook in the sauce, which gives you a one-skillet meal.  If you've not done it, give it a try.  I've provided the recipe below, because you do have to follow it more precisely. 

Take a beef sirloin tip roast and pound it into flat half inch or thinner pieces. Cut the beef into strips following the grain and removing any fat. Cross cut the pieces in small cubes not larger than the size of the noodles.  Sautee the onion in the olive oil in a large moderately-hot skillet.

Add the beef, half at a time, to the hot skillet to brown each piece turning as necessary. Salt and pepper the meat. Meat should be well browned and cooked through.  Add Kitchen Bouquet and stir to darken the mixture.  Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the brandy and scrape the brown bits from the pan into the broth.

Add half of the beef and half of the chicken broth to the meat mixture. Add the mushrooms; stir and cover. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes until the meet is very tender.

Add the remaining half of the beef and chicken broths, and heat to a light boil. Add the egg noodles and cover, stirring occassionally while cooking for 20 minutes until the noodles are tender.  Correct seasoning.  Remove from heat and add the sour cream, and turn in until well blended.  Serve sprinkled with choppsed cilantro or parsley.

1 medium onion -- chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sirloin tip roast, trimmed
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup brandy
2 cups beef broth
2 cups chicken
2 cups mushrooms -- sliced
12 ounces egg noodles -- curly
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper -- to taste

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