Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Cooking with Blobby

Another NYT recipe that has popped up often, though it might be because my friend Jon was talking about it, entered the fray of our kitchen. 

Homemade Hamburger Helper.

This already posed a problem for me. I've never had Hamburger Helper. My mother never really made stuff from a box, even as assistance. So technically, I don't know what it tastes like, so I have no true comparison. But as I read through the ingredients nothing looks bad or off-putting. It seems Johnny Marzetti-ish, no? 

And Jon raved about bought the bacon and beef. Everything else was on hand. Oh, except the bay leaf. I got that too. 

Let's get to it. 


Yield: 4 servings (lies! again, it makes 6 servings, or.....or.....I don't know what a serving size is supposed to be)

¼ cup neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable 
1 large yellow onion, diced into ½-inch pieces (ooops, diced them finer than they called for)
Salt and black pepper 
3 garlic cloves, minced 
5 strips uncooked smoked bacon, finely chopped 
1 pound ground beef 
1 cup dry white wine 
3 cups chicken stock or water 
¾ cup heavy cream 
¼ to ⅓ cup hot sauce 
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika 
1 bay leaf 
8 ounces elbow pasta 
5 slices American cheese, ripped into small pieces 
1½ cups grated Cheddar 
½ cup finely chopped chives 


Step 1 Heat a large (12-inch) sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-low, and add oil and onion; season lightly with salt and pepper. (The hot sauce added in Step 6 will add a lot of flavor, so be careful not to overseason here.) Let cook until the onions turn light beige in color and begin to caramelize, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Step 2 Add garlic and cook until fragrant and starting to brown ever so slightly, about 2 minutes. 

Step 3 Increase heat to medium-high and add bacon and ground beef, using the back of a large spoon to break up the meat into smaller pieces. Continue to cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the meat starts to sear and develop a crust on the bottom of the pan, 12 to 15 minutes. 

Step 4 Remove pan from the heat and carefully drain off most of the fat, leaving a little in the pan to keep the meat moist. 

Step 5 Return pan to medium-high heat and add white wine, allowing it to reduce until the mixture is almost dry, about 10 minutes. 

Step 6 Add the chicken stock, heavy cream, hot sauce, paprika and bay leaf to the pan. Mix until combined and bring to a boil. 

Step 7 Once the mixture is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring often, about 9 minutes. 

Step 8 Reduce the heat to low and stir in both types of cheese, stirring until completely melted and sauce is thickened. 

Step 9 Remove the pan from heat, stir in chives and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Honestly, at first I liked it. Not loved. 710 talked about the layered flavours, and there are. But as I went on, it just wasn't doing it for me. With leftovers, I honestly ate half of a lunch portion and stopped eating. 

There is an immediate aftertaste that I could not place that didn't settle with me. The only thing new I had never tried was a bay leaf, and while I fished it out, I don't know exactly what one brings to the table. Honestly, I think it was the hot sauce that I was tasting. And I love hot sauce, but maybe not in this mix? 

It's filling. It's flavourful. It's not going back on the menu. 

I get I'm a more finicky eater than most, so I wouldn't let my bias sway you. It just wasn't my cup of tea....or macaroni, as the case may be. 


Jonny said...

A tip if anyone is going to make this: go to the deli counter and get the American cheese. Don't use the slices in plastic. Deli American cheese has a richer ( maybe less oily?) flavour.

Travel said...

It seems like a lot of hot sauce.