Thursday, January 28, 2010

You say goulash, I say Beef-A-Roni!

One of my mother's favorite meals to prepare was a goulash-like concoction that we called Beef-A-Roni, named for the commercial Chef-Boy-Ardee version that inspired her home-made recipe.  My mother used Muller's elbow macaroni, Ragu traditonal spaghetti sauce, ground beef, and a couple of bay leaves.  She browned the ground beef in a large skillet and broke it up finely with a wooden spoon.  Excess fat was drained off.  Spaghetti sauce and bay leaves were stirred in and allowed to simmer for a while, maybe twenty minutes, during which time the elbow macaroni was cooking.  I remember adding the  macaroni to the beef mixture.  I'd take my mother's slotted spoon and scoop out the macaroni, one spoonful at a time, letting it drain over the pot.  I'd artfully arrange the spoonfuls of macaroni in a pattern over the beef and sauce, and then carefully turn over the sauce with the macaroni until it was all incorporated.  That all  hung out over low heat for about another ten or fifteen minutes, and there we were:  dinner for nine from one large skillet!  With Italian bread and butter, and a salad of iceberg lettuce and Good Seasons Italian Dressing, it was a perfect meal!

If I were to make it today, I wouldn't change much.  I'd use a different sauce, maybe Bertoli, and add mushrooms, but I wouldn't want to make it too different.  There's something sacred about replicating Mom's recipes, especially when she didn't have many!  Change it up too much, and you have something entirely different.  I wouldn't want to do that!

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