Sunday, November 25, 2012

An Easy to Make Comfort Meal

I have been making this dish since long ago, when as a busy mom working 2 jobs, I needed something that gave me time to get ready for my second job, yet provide my children with a nourishing meal.  This came about as a fluke, throwing things together in a large skillet, and hasn't really changed since then. I always grow as many herbs as my yards would afford space, so I usually have thyme, basil, rosemary, sometimes parsley and sage. If I have more space, I really go to town with whatever herbs I can find. Since thyme is always in my garden, no matter where I have lived, that is always a part of this dish. It is now an integral flavor.  Since most groceries these days carry thyme fresh, I can make this meal even in winter.

All ingredients (except peas)
in the pan and set to cook
I have had to think of what to make on the fly, and do not always have a meat thawed out. Hamburger at least, can be fry/cooked from frozen in just a few minutes. Place the frozen block into the skilet with some oil, and allow the bottom to brown, flip it over and scrape off the browned part, let it continue to brown on that opposite side and flip it over and scrape off the browned parts. And so on, until the meat is cooked, making sure to break it up as it is scraped off the frozen block.  If you are lucky enough to have planned ahead and have the hamburger meat thawed already - well, you're one step ahead of the game. I have been making this dish since the 1980s, and never took a photo of it.  Today I made this meal again, and this time I did get photos.  Above left is a photo of the large skillet with all the ingredients, minus the peas, ready to cook.  The peas go in for the last few minutes to heat through.  Here is the recipe:

One Skillet Hamburger Meal

One Skillet Hamburger Meal

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 pound lean hamburger meat

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, thick grated
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 cup green beans, cut across into 1/4 inch pieces, optional
1 can corn, drained (I use the cans with 50% less sodium)
1 cup rice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 3/4 cup ketchup
1 to 2 bay leaves
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (depending on the can of corn)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 or 2 large sprigs thyme, left whole
1 cup frozen peas

Brown the hamburger in a very large skillet. As it nears being completely browned, add in the onion and toss well; allow to cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes more. Add in the garlic, carrot, celery, green pepper, green beans and corn; toss well. Add in the rice and the Worcestershire, ketchup, bay leaves, salt and pepper and mix until all is combined. Nestle the thyme sprigs into the mixture and add 2 cups water (to almost cover). Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover, maintaining a simmer for about 45 minutes. Add in the frozen peas just as the rice is tender and cover for about 5 minutes until the peas are warmed through. Remove thyme and bay leaves and discard.

Naturally Gluten Free, Too

Since becoming aware of the perils of gluten for so many people, I am also happy to report that this dish, made with fresh vegetables, meat and rice, a can or corn, frozen peas.  The only sticklers were looking at the ketchup and Worcestershire bottles. Lea and Perrins Worcestershire has no gluten in its ingredients, and Hunts Ketchup is now made gluten free, also: see  

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.