Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My mom's Mushroom Steak- a 70s classic

It's the stuff 1970s era casseroles were made of. Good old cream of something soup. 

Maybe your mom or grandmother made tuna and noodles back in the day. In the upper Midwest our mothers often made something called "hotdish" and every mom had a different recipe. Some moms made tator tot casserole. Whatever she made with it, most of the time these familiar dishes started with the same basic food- canned cream of something soup. Whoever invented this stuff surely didn't intend that people actually eat them as is. Yuck. Cream of celery soup in a big bowl? No thanks. But add some cheese, chopped veggies, some noodles and a can of tuna and we're in business!

Cream of chicken and some rice made a great base for some pork chops or chicken pieces- baked until the edges of the rice were crispy and browned. Cream of celery and tuna and those crunchy chow mein noodles made a great quick dinner that I used to love. Cream of mushroom went with everything- meatballs, chunks of stew meat, chicken, pork, and of course.....tator tot casserole.

My mom was the Queen of Round Steak. Oh how she loved the stuff. She made everything beef with round steak. Pepper steak. Stroganoff. My favorite- smothered steak. She would cut up some round steak (back then it was common to find big round steak cuts as big as serving trays with the bone in the middle), pound it with her meat mallet, dredge in some flour and sear, and pour over a couple cans of cream of whatever- usually mushroom or celery- pop it in the oven for a couple hours, and that cheapo cut of meat would be as delicious and tender as any good roast. She often added a can of mushrooms (she was a steadfast supporter of the Richelieu Stems and Pieces in a can) and an onion sliced into rings spread out on the bottom of the pan and a little sprinkle of parsley on top. 

My tastes have changed significantly over the years and I rarely buy food items like canned soup these days, preferring to make my own from homemade. But every once in a while I just get a craving for some of those wonderful food memories and I grab some cream of something soup.

Erika's Mushroom Steak, Lakehouse Style

minute/cubed steaks- enough for 4 portions
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef stock
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
flour, salt and pepper
cooking oil

In a Dutch oven, heat a couple tablespoons of oil.  Season the steak pieces with salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Brown in the hot oil until nicely browned on both sides. Remove from pan. If needed, add another tablespoon or so of oil. Add the onions, garlic and dried seasonings, stir well.

Deglaze the pot with the beef stock. Whisk in the cream of mushroom soup. Return the steaks to the sauce and cover. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Gravy will be nicely thickened and steak will be tender and delicious.

**Note- You can slice up half a package of mushrooms, saute them, and add to the sauce with the steak before popping in the oven, if you like. I didn't have any or I would have.

This dinner is nothing even remotely gourmet. It's not something a talented chef would create. It's not something you would order in a restaurant. What it is, is a memory on a plate for me, like a visit my mom again. Laughing over her hilarious stories and funny broken English. Teasing her about the rolls she burned in the oven. Remembering a time in my life when Mom was just a phone call away. Those were the best times.

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