Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Feast, Without Having To Fast

Good evening everyone! One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to prepare the "grand meal" a roast with all the sides, french onion soup, slow roasted chicken - I love the dishes that take time and attention because they're the dishes that feel the most satisfying for me. It's been awhile since I've tackled a "grand meal" on the blog - for two main reasons. I switched work locations about two years ago, and that schedule greatly reduced the number of free days I had during the week to cook up an ambitious dish. The biggest reason, however, was that we really committed ourselves to healthy cooking. It's hard to eat healthy when you're making up roasts and side dishes to feed a crowd (and there's only two people to eat it all).

Tonight, I've got the best of both worlds. I have dinner guests who will help us eat and I have a grand meal that only totals to 410 calories. A feast that doesn't attack your waistline? Sounds great!

The Recipes:

Hamburger Steak With Onion Gravy
Original Recipe Found In: Cooking Light Magazine, April 2013 Issue

Smoky Haricots Verts and Mushrooms
Original Recipe Found In: Cooking Light Magazine, April 2013 Issue

Chive Mashed Potatoes
Recipe Inspired by, but heavily adapted from: Cooking Light Magazine, April 2013 Issue

What You'll Need
(Serves 4)

For The Hamburger Steak:

1 Pound Ground Sirloin (Or high quality ground beef)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt, 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper (Divided)
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil (Divided)
1 1/2 Cups Yellow Onion (Sliced vertically, into long strands)
2 Teaspoons All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Unsalted Beef Stock

For The Haricots Verts:

1-2 Slices Applewood Smoked Bacon
12 Ounces Trimmed Haricots Verts (French green beans)
2 Teaspoons Canola Oil
4 Ounces White or Bella Mushrooms
2 Tablespoons Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
1 Garlic Clove (Minced)
Salt & Pepper

For The Chive Mashed Potatoes:

1.5 - 2 Pounds Russet Potatoes (Peeled & diced)
1 Tablespoon Butter
Low Fat Milk (Quantity will vary)
Non Fat Sour Cream (Quantity will vary)
Chives (Quantity will vary)

If you're looking to save time, you can prepare the mashed potatoes the night before and simply warm them in the oven 30 to 40 minutes prior to serving them. To prepare the potatoes, simply boil and mash the potatoes with a stand mixer until all the lumps have been worked out. Next, add in splashes of the low fat milk, the tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of the sour cream. Allow the mixer to blend everything and give the potatoes a taste. If they still taste a little dry and bland, add another splash of milk, and another tablespoon of sour cream. Repeat this process until the potatoes have a creamy taste and smooth texture. Finally, add the chives in small portions, tasting the result until you find the desired blend of flavor. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside until you're ready to serve.

To prepare the hamburger steak:

Divide your beef into four equal balls and then work them into patties, each about 1/2 inch thick. Season each side of the patties with a pinch of salt and pepper. Next, add 2 teaspoons of canola oil to a large, non stick skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the patties and cook until they've browned, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove the patties from the pan and add the remaining teaspoon of canola oil. Bring the oil to a shimmer once again and then add the onions. Allow the onions to cook until they become lightly golden brown and soft, this takes about 3 to 5 minutes. Once golden, add the flour, a pinch of salt and pepper and allow the mixture to simmer for about a minute. Next, add the beef broth and bring the mixture to a light boil.

Once boiling, return the beef patties to the skillet and cover, leaving the lid slightly askew. Allow the patties to cook in the sauce for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until they're cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Serve the patties with the sauce drizzled on top.

To Prepare the haricots verts:

First and foremost, realize that haricots verts are simply a fancy way to say green beans. A good grocery store will have fresh haricots verts right next to their fresh green beans. If you cannot find haricots verts, substituting them for green beans is perfectly acceptable, just realize that the thicker bean will require a little longer cooking time.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. While the oven is heating up, place a roasting pan in the oven.

While you're waiting for your oven to come to temperature  cook up your bacon slices in a small skillet. Reserve the bacon grease in a small dish. Crumble the cooked bacon and set aside.

Once the oven is up to temperature, remove the roasting pan and add the reserved bacon grease along with the canola oil to the pan. Add the mushrooms to the roasting pan, stirring to evenly distribute them in the pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven for 8 minutes to begin cooking the mushrooms. After 8 minutes, add the haricots verts to the pan, stirring to evenly incorporate them amongst the mushrooms. Return the pan to the oven for an additional 8 minutes, or until the beans are lightly browned and crisp. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, and add the crumbled bacon pieces just before serving.

The Results:

The hamburger steak was rich and savory thanks to the simple yet delectable sauce. The quality of your beef is very important for this dish. With so little in the way of outside help, the beef has to stand on its own. Spring for the ground sirloin or the premium beef, look for anything with good marbling - the natural fat adds a great deal of flavor to the final dish.

The haricots verts were a delightful surprise. Roasting green beans is a great way to bring out their naturally sweet flavor, but roasting them in bacon grease and serving them with crumbled bacon bits takes that flavor to an entirely new planet. The mushrooms add a nice bit of texture and soak up quite a bit of bacon flavor as well, helping to create a fresh and flavorful side dish that might just be my new favorite way to eat green beans.

Finally, the chive mashed potatoes, as you might expect, tasted a lot like a baked potato (that's easy to accomplish with sour cream and chives as part of the ingredients). I prepared my potatoes the night before, which meant I had to pop them in the oven prior to serving. This created a 'twice baked' potato flavor that actually enhanced the overall quality of the dish. If you've got the extra time, I'd recommend preparing the potatoes the night before and then heating them in a 300 degree oven prior to serving. It really makes the flavor "pop".

Individually, all of these dishes were quite tasty - combined, they created a savory and delicious meal that reminds me why I love putting time and effort into cooking. The best part is, the cumulative calorie total for this feast is only 410. Light, healthy and full of flavor - my friends, it doesn't get any better than that!

That's all we have for you this evening, join us tomorrow night as Maggie takes a traditionally simple dish and flips it into something new and creative. Until then,


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