Friday, April 27, 2012

Cooking Challenge Week 17 - Childhood - Round Steak Special

My parents do know how to cook, but they don't do it much.  My dad has worked retail my entire life, and his hours have always been unusual and long, meaning he wasn't home for dinner often.  When I was old enough, my mom went back to work too, and often worked nights.  We were not a family that sat down to a lovingly home-cooked meal every weeknight--once or twice a week, if we were lucky.

So there aren't a lot of meals that mean childhood, or home, or even family to me.  Of the few there are, this is the best.

All through college, I missed this, and jumped at every chance I had to make it--mostly when I was visiting a friend's family on vacation and offered to take a turn in the kitchen.  It was always well-received.  Two different mothers told me I should bottle this sauce and make a fortune selling it.  (I don't think they realized how easy it is to make!)

The original 70's-era Campbell's recipe this is based on is lost to the mists of time.  I vaguely remember seeing a battered page torn from a magazine when I was very small, but I think it got lost one of the times we moved.  By then, my mother had decided how she liked it, what to leave out and what to add--she told me the original had kidney beans, which, even though I like beans, I simply cannot grasp!  I bet it would be good with cannellini beans instead of the beef, though...maybe I'll try that sometime when I can't find a good price on the beef.

So this is our family's version.  Whatever it was once called, it is now known only as Round Steak Special.

Round Steak Special
(makes 4 servings)
  • 8 oz. wide egg noodles
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large white (or sweet) onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. bottom round steak
  • 1 15-oz. can stewed tomatoes, undrained, cut up (I open the can and use kitchen shears to cut them without having to drain first--no mess!)
  • 1 can condensed Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup
Set water on to boil for the noodles, and cook the noodles according to the package directions.

Slice the round steak as thin as possible across the grain.  (Freezing the meat for 30 minutes before slicing can help.)  Cut the slices into 1 1/2 to 2-inch strips.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and cook the onion until soft and translucent.  Add the steak strips and cook until just browned.  Add the canned tomatoes and undiluted soup, and stir well to combine.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook gently for 10-12 minutes, until the beef is fully cooked.  (I usually cook until the noodles are done, then drain them and check the beef--almost always done at the same time!)

Check for seasoning at the end--because both the tomatoes and soup are relatively high in sodium, I usually don't feel the need to add any extra salt.

Ladle the meat and sauce over the noodles, and go to town!

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