Someone asked me recently if I had any old family recipes to share but try as I might, I couldn’t come up with any. it seems like everyone has a Nonna with an authentic sauce from the old country or a Bubbe with a children soup recipe that cures everything from colds to hiccups. The only recipe I remember is my Grandma Rose’s spaghetti with ketchup. Which by the way, I am sure my kids would LOVE!
Growing up my mother cooked almost every night. Her specialty was chicken. She cooked it every which way she could – our childhood dinners included chicken fricassee, chicken livers, chicken cutlets and fried chicken. My mother definitely had a way with chicken.
On the nights she didn’t feel like cooking my sister and I were allowed the rare treat of a TV dinner or a trip to the hole-in-the-wall local Chinese restaurant. We weren’t too adventurous back then, we ordered exactly the same dishes every time; spareribs, egg rolls, and shrimp w/lobster sauce.
My mother recently shared a recipe with me for my In A Pinch Series: Recipes for Busy Weeknights. It is called Girl Scout Stew. Funny, neither my sister nor I had any recollection of it (sorry mom!) but she said it was her standby when dinner needed to be on the table in less than fifteen minutes. I think with a little updating it will make a wonderful recipe to hand down to the boys. But first we will have to rename it of course.
Boy Scout Stew w/Breadsticks
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 lb. stew beef, cut into large chunks
1 onion, diced
1 cup carrot, diced (about 3 large)
1 cup celery, diced (about 4 stalks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1-cup beef broth
1-cup red wine or water
4-5 slices of bread from a large round loaf, cut into 1” strips, we used Italian
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
For the stew:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add beef to hot oil and brown on all sides. Remove the beef from the pot and add in the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook vegetables for about five minutes until onions are translucent.
Add tomato paste and cook an additional minute. Add the meat and its’ juices back into the pot with the vegetables. Add the beef broth and wine. The liquid should come 2/3 of the way up and should not completely submerge the beef.
Bring to a boil, then cover and put in the oven. Braise the stew for about 2 hours until the meat is tender.
For the breadsticks:
Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees when the stew is done. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Lay the breadsticks out on a large baking sheet and brush both sides lightly with the olive oil mixture.
Bake in oven for about 12-15 minutes, turning once halfway, until crispy.
Serve stew in bowls with bread for dipping.
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “mmmmm, I like this I think”
Liam (age 4): “Is it okay if I just eat the chicken in here?”
Dylan (age 4): “I only heard of the Girl Scouts…”
A tradition is born.
Original recipe from my mom (aka Grandma Reba):
1 lb. ground round
1 can Campbells chunky vegetable soup
1-cup minute rice
In medium size saucepan, sauté chopped meat until browned. Skim off any excess fat. Add soup/water & heat. As soon as this starts to boil, add the rice, cover tightly and remove from heat. In 4-5 minutes, “DINNER IS SERVED”
All photography is author’s own.