Saturday, May 11, 2013

Simple and Comforting Ghoulash

I haven't done a post like this in a while and it's partly because there are so many people out there doing posts such as these and they put a lot more time into it and produce a much better product. But it's just fun... and today as I was cooking I thought to myself, "Why not?!" So anyways... I hope you enjoy!!

It's not very fancy or frilly, but I love ground beef. (Good quality beef I should add... have you seen how some of that stuff is produced?! Watch "Food INC" on Netflix!)  It's so economically friendly and let's face it... it can make a pretty cozy meal. A lot of times 1 pound of ground beef doesn't go very far. Let me re-phrase that. If you like to have a good portion of meat, it seems that 1 pound of ground beef doesn't go very far. Somehow this dish defies all odds and it magically turns into the massive meal that is so incredibly meaty. I don't get it. All I know... is that when we are a few days away from the next pay check and I'm trying to stick to the budget, this is what I turn to. American Ghoulash. 

Here are the basics: 1 lb good quality ground beef, half pound of elbow noodles, onion, garlic, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, parmesan, and red chili flakes (optional)

First get a large pot of boiling water. Add the salt and noodles. Cook al dente because nobody likes soggy noodles! It should only take about 5 minutes. (Be sure to salt the water, because this is how this dish gets it's flavor!) 

Meanwhile, chop up your onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Try not to cry. 

Oh, look! The pasta is cooked! Drain and reserve some of the pasta water. (About one third cup.)

Brown the meat and onion in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. I add salt and pepper to the meat, but that's optional. Sometimes I'm lazy and I don't.  It's important to wait until the pan is hot before adding the meat, other wise the meat doesn't brown good and it'll be gray. You can also brush some olive oil on the bottom of the pan to add some flavor and help it brown well.

Now... don't go waisting a colander. Angle the pan so all the juice runs to one side and dab it up with a couple of paper towels. So much easier that way. 
You could just leave it in there too... that never hurt anyone. 

Add the garlic and tomato paste. It's important when using tomato paste to add it before your liquids. When you stir it around in the hot pan, you release the flavors a lot better. So mix it all up and wait for it to be really fragrant. 

In come the diced tomatoes. 

 And some red chili flakes. I add just shy of a tablespoon because we really like the heat. But you certainly don't have to put it in there if you don't like spice. Or you could put less. Or more if you really want to clear your sinuses. If the onion didn't do it earlier. 

I really LOVE Bragg Organic Sprinkle 24 Herbs and Spices Seasoning. I like to put some of this in when I've got it. Or sometimes I add rosemary. The beauty of this recipe is that you really don't need any of it. But if you want to... go for it... it'll be good! 

At this point it's almost done. I usually just let it simmer as I fix whatever sides we are having. But sometimes we don't have sides. And then I just move on. 

OK. Sides are done. Add the noodles and reserved pasta water. Stir it around. Be amazed at how much food it is for one pound of meat. 

Add some parmesan. Shredded or grated it doesn't matter. Stir it all in. 

Heaven is what this is. 


Serve it up with something green and some bread. 

There is just two of us so we never ever finish a loaf of sandwich bread. I usually brush olive oil on leftover sandwich bread and sprinkle it with seasonings and parm cheese and toast it at 400 degrees for 10- 15 min. 

One of our favorite ways to eat this is as leftovers. We put it in a big bowl... top with cheddar cheese.... on the couch... with a good movie. We seriously get like 4 huge meals out of this. This is what we had leftover... it filled a 2.5 qt corning ware dish. 
(And I should add that we were starving because we didn't have lunch today.)

It's so delicious. So easy. So affordable. I always keep the ingredients on hand for a quick solution to being at the end of the grocery budget or being short on time. I've made this in 15 minutes many times.  And it's one of Blake's favorite meals, so that's a huge comfort to know I can make something so simple and please him. 

Make it sometime. I think you're gonna love it. 


Half pound of elbow noodles
Drizzle of Olive Oil (optional) 
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB tomato paste
1, 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tsp red chili flakes (I use a tablespoon)
3 TB Parmesan Cheese

1. Cook pasta according to directions, reserving about 1/3 cup of the pasta water. 

2. Heat a large pot or dutch oven and add oil if using. Brown beef and onion together. (Add Salt and Pepper to taste.) Dab fat out with paper towels if desired. 

3. Add tomato paste and garlic. Stir around until well mixed and fragrant. 

4. Add chili flakes and any other spices you wish. 

5. Add noodles and cheese and mix well. 

Serve with something green and crusty bread or toast. Or serve as a one dish meal in a big bowl and hearty appetite. 

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