Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Look out Campbells

The ubiquitous can of Cream of Mushroom Soup. A staple of many casseroles and quick dinners of my childhood. There was the Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Chicken, Cream of Onion, Cream of Celery. They were virtually interchangeable when presented in a recipe.

Favorite childhood dishes we find ourselves making today include the always popular Tater Tot Casserole. There's the Pork Chops in a Paprika Cream Sauce (I don't know if the dish has a formal name) and Beef Stroganoff. To say nothing of the Green Bean Casserole (which I'm a heathen and don't like.)

All of these recipes are pretty simple. Cook some meat or veg, dump the Cream of ____ Soup in the pan/pot, stir. Maybe you'll add some cheese or something else. Maybe not. Then you'll either simmer or bake for a while. Done.

Last night we decided to use some ground beef to make the Beef Stroganoff. The recipe from the 70's/80's that we use goes something like this: Brown the beef. Add some garlic powder and granulated onion. Stir in a little bit of flour and add a can of "cream of" soup, plus 1/4 cup of milk. Simmer. Stir in sour cream and serve over egg noodles. Easy.

We didn't have a can of "Cream of" soup. But that didn't stop us from playing around.

Here's our new version of the recipe:

*Brown the beef and 1/2 a chopped onion. Season with salt/pepper and some garlic powder if you like.

*When the beef is cooked and the onion is soft, drain the excess beef fat from the pan, add 2 TB of butter. When melted, stir in 2 TB of flour. Cook for one minute.

*Add 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of water or chicken/veggie broth. Stir and bring to a simmer.

*A minute before you are ready to serve, stir in 1/2 cup of sour cream. Taste and adjust seasoning. Warm through and serve over egg noodles.

Done. That is substituting a roux for a can of "cream of" soup. We could barely tell the difference! I really look forward to trying this with tater tot casserole in the future. If you want Cream of Mushroom soup, add some chopped mushrooms to the pan instead of onions. Celery...ditto!

Super easy and we didn't need a can of "Cream of" soup. I didn't happen to have milk either, but I did have dried milk. You could use heavy cream and add a little extra water or you could use Half & Half. The point is, this is a cream sauce, so you want some dairy in there. If you want, you can skip the milk and just use broth for a lighter version and maybe just enrich the sauce with a swirl of cream if you like. You can also use no-fat/low-fat sour cream.


DancerInDC said...

No offense to Campbell's, but I really did like doing this, as it was just as easy as opening a can. Seriously.

As we continue trying to move our cooking away from prepared products, this is another welcome change.

Not that the beef stroganoff was healthy, but you could certainly adapt it with some low-fat, fat-free options!

joyous said...

Now I really want Beef Stroganoff.

DancerInDC said...

So I would like to point out that last night I made a sauce using a roux all by myself!

OK, not quite by myself, I had to ask Scott a dozen questions as I went along. But he didn't touch it, just let me do it.

It turned out great - rich, full of savory flavor and just thick enough to act like a gravy.

Next time I think I could actually do it totally solo. It's really easier than you'd think.