I’ve enjoyed Brad’s work for some time now, before I’d read his fiction. His puckish sense of humor and reasoned approach to the world, I discovered, hold true in his fictional works as well as his blog. I highly recommend The Chaplain’s War for science fiction with that rare element, faith. But the book you really ought to pick up and read with this meal is Racers of the Night, a collection of his short stories. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s the one Brad asked me to feature. Secondly, this is the rare recipe for beef stew that doesn’t take all day to create, you can have this one on the table in less than an hour.
Beef stew is a staple at our house, during the cold months, and even sometimes on a rainy day in summer. For us, as I am sure for you, it’s constantly changing. I don’t go and shop for special ingredients: I use what I have on hand. If that means the veg changes from pot to pot, then it just keeps the meal interesting. I tackled this pot of stew with that in mind, and made a few changes. I’ve been asking my author acquaintances and friends simply for the name of a dish, and most generously take the time to give me a recipe, Brad was no exception. He started out by telling me this is an old family recipe…
Torgersens’ Poor Boy Beef Soup
- Beef stew starter packet (1 for small batch, 2 for large)
- Lean ground beef (1.5 lbs for small batch, 3 lbs for large)
- Frozen mixed veggies (small bag, or large bag)
- Onion (yellow or white, small or large)
- Beef bullion cube (1 or 2)
- Potatoes (3 to 5 small, or 2 to 3 large russet)
- Ordinary table salt and table pepper
Extras if you feel like it:
- Red, yellow, or green bell peppers
- Whole carrots
1 – Dice or julienne onion into a bowl.
2 – Wash potatoes, dice; with skins left on.
3 – Dice or slice extras into bowls.
4 – Brown & turn he ground beef; rinse off fat in hot water.
5 – Throw browned ground beef into large cook pot.
6 – Throw diced potatoes on top of the beef.
7 – Throw frozen mixed veggies on top of potatoes.
8 – Throw on onions and extras.
9 – Pour in tap water until contents adequately submerged.
10 – Slowly stir in beef stew packet(s).
11 – Ensure contents are well-mixed and homogeneous.
12 – Bring soup to a boil on stove top.
13 – Set simmering for 30 minutes.
14 – Salt and pepper to taste; add bullion if you want.
15 – Simmer for additional 30 minutes.
16 – Turn off burner; let cool for 20 minutes.
17 – SERVE! Ideally suited to a side of french bread, sliced, with butter. Multi-grain also works well.
Cedar’s Notes: I realized about the time I started cooking that I hadn’t picked up potatoes (we don’t eat them often) but I did have a nice large parsnip, so I did a straight substitution. I also used up some ground beef, rather than stew beef. I had to ask my First Reader what a beef stew packet was, I’d never heard of it. Seems they are a handy way to thicken the stew, the main ingredient on the packet I got was cornstarch, followed by brown sugar.
I prepared this on the stovetop, my slowcooker hasn’t got a ‘high’ setting. I did sauté the onions and add some garlic to the recipe, as we’re fond of it.
I do think that the French Bread would be a nice accompaniment for this meal, but I started too late in the day for proper rising and baking. So I had this recipe I wanted to try, and it seemed to be a good pairing for this meal. The First Reader took one look at what I’d made and informed me I’d re-invented cheese biscuits. In cooking, as in fiction, there are no original ideas, only new twists on old plots.
- 4 oz shredded or powdered Parmesan Cheese
- 4 oz finely shredded cheddar
- 1 c flour
- 1 egg
- 1 c milk
- 1/2 c oil
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400degF. Whisk together the wet ingredients, then fold in the cheese. Slowly whisk in the flour. Spoon into mini muffin tin, makes about 24. Bake for about 10 min, until tops bounce back when pressed. They are very rich and dense.