My sister recently passed away, a loss like no other. It will take a lot more than a casserole to comfort me, but I craved something easy that could be easily refrigerated and reheated. Hamburger Skillet Stew from the palm-sized, spiral bound Casseroles (G&R Publishing, 1993) seemed promising. No matter that the book’s subtitle, The Salvation of Working Wives (and casseroles in general) seemed stuck in the Hamburger Helper era. I’m not up to a culinary challenge right now.
I picked up the ingredients in one quick trip to the neighborhood supermarket, pulled out a skillet, and went to work. Alas, the meatballs fell apart as the casserole cooked but the rest of the dish came together easily. Next time, I’d cut the onion and potatoes into smaller wedges so they could be better incorporated into the sauce. But a ladleful of this stew on top of pasta did offer a one-dish dinner that comforted me. Right now, I couldn’t ask for much more than that.
Hamburger Skillet Stew (1993)
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs [I used crushed crackers]
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil [I used canola]
For the stew:
1 large onion, quartered [I suggest cutting into eight wedges]
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 small potatoes, quartered [I suggest cutting into eight wedges]
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
8 ounces frozen green beans
1 tablespoon flour
To make the meatballs: In a bowl, combine the beef, bread crumbs, onion, egg, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato sauce. Shape into 16 balls [these will be quite small – about the size of a walnut]. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides.
To make the stew: Add the onion, carrots, potatoes, water and salt to the skillet. Pour in the tomato sauce. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat one hour, stirring occasionally. Add the beans in the last 30 minutes of cooking time. Remove 1/2 cup of the sauce; blend in the flour. Gradually pour the sauce back into the stew, stirring over low heat until it thickens.