Author Katie Workman writes:
Very possibly the least sophisticated recipe in the book, this may be the one dish that my husband in particular eats as though he will be fasting for the following week. The kids love it, but Gary’s eyes get kind of teary whenever I make it. He’ll show up for dinner early. It’s nothing new under the sun, but once you try it, you will understand the deepest meaning of the word crowd-pleaser. And, it all cooks in one skillet. Even the pasta, which cooks right in the sauce! I know, I know! It’s the little things.
Get a huge pan, a twelve or thirteen incher (best pan in the world if you cook for a group regularly), make a vat of this, and keep it in the fridge. If you don’t have a huge honking pan, cut the recipe in half. If you have bigger kids who are constantly running in and out of the house with their friends, all of them starving and in need of fuel before or after soccer practice, then you, my friend, may never again be without a pot of this awaiting reheating and inhalation. My sister-in-law Lisa, with her three large boys and revolving cast of visiting teenagers, swears by it. It is reminiscent of something that rhymes with Flamberger Felper, but it’s better and it’s yours.
Cooks&Books&Recipes Editors’ Notes:
Like Katie’s husband, I seriously chow down on this dish. I’m not sure why, exactly. Especially since I grew up on Hamburger Helper and have done my best to avoid cooking or eating anything that resembled HH ever again. (Not to denigrate HH — I simply had much too much of it for several years there.) For whatever reason, this unsophisticated mix of meat and vegetables (yes, you’ll sneak veggies into a meal your kids will eat!) and gooey cheese goodness simply hits the mark.
Another reason I like this recipe is that it is an ideal example of the subtitle to the cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket. As I mentioned here, we ALL need “back pocket” recipes — the kind of recipe that after making it a couple of times, you may not even have to use the cookbook. You’ll be able to throw together a meal as if you know exactly what you’re doing, all on your own. Happiness in the kitchen indeed.
One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni
Featured Recipe From: The Mom 100 Cookbook
Yield: Serves 8 with a lot of leftovers, which you will be grateful for (so I guess it really serves 10 to 12)
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped red, yellow, orange, or green bell pepper (about 1⁄4-inch pieces)
- 1 cup peeled chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes in juice (see You Say Tomato..., page 155)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder (optional but recommended)
- Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3⁄4 pound dried elbow macaroni
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
1. Heat a very large skillet over medium-high heat (for this full recipe, it should be a deep 12-inch skillet). Add the beef and cook it until browned, stirring until no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Place the browned beef in a strainer and let the fat drain off, then set the beef aside.
2. Wipe out the skillet, add the oil, and heat it over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, carrots, onion, and garlic and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Return the beef to the skillet and add the basil, oregano, tomatoes with their juice, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, if using, and 2 cups of water. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Increase the heat to high and let come to a simmer. Add the elbow macaroni, stir, and cover the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or black pepper as necessary.
4. Sprinkle the cheddar on top, then cover the skillet and cook until the cheese is melty, about 1 minute. Serve this right out of the skillet.
© 2012 Workman Publishing
Reprinted with permission from The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket, by Katie Workman (Workman Publishing)