As I mentioned yesterday, we really don’t do a ton of cooking in the winter. I think part of it has to do with the lack of fresh ingredients – there’s only so much squash and citrus you can eat before it gets old. And since a lot of the cooking responsibility falls on Paul in winter, his main criteria for meals are that they are quick and simple.
He blogged last week about a childhood favorite of his called Big Burger, and while I liked the filling well enough, I thought the crust was a little overwhelming. So I mentioned that it probably would be great on pasta, and sure enough, it was.
It kind of reminds me of Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni, but without all the additives, preservatives, and excess sodium. And it took hardly any time at all to prepare. If you want to make it a bit healthier, use extra lean ground beef or ground turkey, 2% dairy, about half as much butter, and whole wheat pasta. Best of all, it’s extremely economical – getting all the items on sale, it cost all of about $5
8 oz. elbow noodles
1 lb. ground beef
1 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. prepared mustard
¼ c. chopped onion
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1 c. grated cheddar
Set water for pasta on the stove to boil. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the flour and form a thick paste (roux). Allow to cook for a couple of minutes to lightly brown. Add the milk a little at a time, whisking to thin out. When the milk is incoporated but not especially thick, start adding cheese a little at a time and whisk through until melted. When cheese is completely incorporated, set aside.
Bring the pasta to a boil while you are making the meat. Cook to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.
Brown the beef and onion in a skillet, and then drain. Add the mustard, ketchup, salt, pepper and cheese sauce. Thin out slightly with the pasta water if necessary. Add the pasta, adjust seasoning, and serve.