The recipe, in case you haven't guessed by now, is a home made version of the Hamburger Helper classic: Potatoes Stroganoff. A quick Google just now left me with the notion that this box dinner may no longer be available in stores and, yes, there is some weeping and wailing out there about the loss! Thus, this post may be more helpful to some out there than I first realized. You can thank me later.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly proud to announce that I fed my growing son Hamburger Helper on a regular basis. Let's just say I wasn't the more evolved cook then that I am today. In fact, I was SO bad that my cherished son grew up with the notion that Sloppy Joe sandwiches are Food of the Gods. And at age 26, he still holds this opinion. Yes, yes, leave your indictments in the comments. In my defense (if in fact there is one) I was a) Young b) Poor c) Extremely taken up with the Drama of Being in My Twenties. And people, if you either don't recall or have not yet reached your twenties, let me assure you: there is no more dramatic condition in this life than being in one's twenties. The HORROR! The INDIGNITY! The DRAMATIC SITUATIONS that no one else on earth can POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND!
I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
Anyway, to make a (largely unnecessary) back story even (unnecessarily) longer, for the record, I didn't start out as a Sloppy Joe Hamburger Helper kinda mom. Much like Nathan, Junior, the pages of "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care" was the dog-eared bible of Chase's first year. Dr. Spock's suggested schedules and baby menus served as the skeleton that his baby diet was constructed around. I read baby food jars with the critically suspicious eye of a nutritionist. Sugar?! No, thank you! Farina, Cream of Wheat! These were the whole grain, hearty cereals that served as the foundation of a baby diet calculated to promote healthy growth and development. Oh, those halcyon days when I could control everything!
Throw in four more years, a full time job (mine), a burgeoning tee-ball career (his) and the aforementioned Drama and let's just call it a recipe for Hamburger Helper, shall we? In any case, this is a more delicious version of the original that, for the most part, consists of whole ingredients. I cooked it the first time a few weeks ago once it hit me that the whole thing was based on ranch flavoring. And, yes, I could construct the ranch flavor from my existing spice cabinet and do away wtih the the dip ingredient. But for now, baby steps.
Most importantly, there is something about this comfort food that's hard to beat this time of year. I've probably cooked it three times in the last month. As a bonus, it's one of those dishes that's as, if not more, delicious reheated. I'm not seeing a recipe like mine anywhere else on the internet--the ones I have seen call for noodles (??) and some for cream of mushroom soup (NO!). I assure you, noodles were not part of the original stroganoff package and cream of mushroom soup would be an abomination in this dish.
Without further adieu:
Potato Stroganoff (serves 4)
1 lb ground chuck
4oz can mushrooms drained or--better-- half cup fresh sliced baby portobellos (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 14-oz can beef broth
1 envelope ranch dip mix
4 small or 2-3 larger (more if you prefer) washed unpeeled red potatoes halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half moons
couple of tablespoons of minced fresh parsley (preferably from your yard)
half cup sour cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste.
Begin by mostly covering the bottom of a deep skillet with olive oil. Heat oil over medium heat until hot; add garlic, onions, ground chuck and mushrooms, season (but be stingy with the salt, the broth tends to be too salty, I try to by reducted sodium for this reason). Brown ingredients stirring occasionally over med to med-low heat until nearly all liquid has evaporated (15+ minutes). De glaze with the beef broth. Bring mixture to boil, add potatoes, dip mix, half the parsley. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are done, stirring occasionally, 15- 20 minutes. Whisk in cornstarch and simmer a few more minutes to thicken. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream and remaining parsley--do not boil. Return to heat if necessary to heat through (but don't boil!). Serve topped with a little Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, if you like.
[I am committed to seeing that, at least at my house, this will be the only version of "Hamburger Helper" that my granddaughter ever know. Also, I'll try and update this post with a photo of the dish if I ever get around to it. But, be warned, the stuff's not pretty. Just comforting and yummy.]