This is a dish my sister Joan used to make. She’s no longer with us, but her memory lives on with me in so many ways. This dish is one of the things she made for her large family and her busy life. It was fast, tasty and economical. What more could you ask for? Cooking was not her forte. She tried, but she just didn’t have the “cooking gene”. I think she just simply wasn’t that interested in it. She was what my mother called, “an outdoor girl”…my sisters and I were all referred to as “the Girls”, by the way. Even long after we no longer were. I refer to our sons as “the Boys”, so perhaps it’s a parent thing. Do any of you do that, too?
If I recall, Joan found this recipe in the local paper and I think she made this at least once a week. It was perfect for her family, as you could alter the amounts easily and after a while, I think even she was able to not follow the recipe anymore and just “wing it”. I remembered watching her make this, but when you’re young, you don’t always pay as much attention as you should, so I only had the memory. Not the recipe. Then, I ran across a recipe for Amish Beef Casserole. The Amish have a deserved reputation for being good, simple cooks, using what they have at hand, so I took a look. And, voilà! I think this must be it, or at least pretty close to it, but with The Goddess’s “touch”.
This is a skillet dinner. You’re going to cook this start-to-finish on top of the stove, which is perfect for a busy night. The ingredients are simple: ground beef, potatoes, onions, carrots (if you want), green beans and a can of mushroom soup. Yeah, that’s right, mushroom soup. I thought about making a béchamel sauce, but you know what? There’s no need to be a snob about it. How many of us grew up eating green bean casserole with a can of soup? And, that’s what Joan used, so if it’s a problem for you, make a béchamel…knock yourself out, but I was recreating a memory here and that memory involved a can of mushroom soup!!
So let’s get to it…first you’re going to brown the ground beef. Turn the heat up and let the meat get a little crispy and nice and brown. Drain off the fat, or at least most of it. I drizzled on some Worcestershire sauce, salt and some garlic granules. I also tossed in some mushrooms, I had in the fridge, but I will always add sliced mushrooms in the future. Joan didn’t use and of these, but I thought they would be a nice addition, so I’ll be keeping them in the recipe.
Now, you simply layer. So, you have the browned ground beef in your skillet. Now, layer on the sliced potatoes. I used Yukon Golds and sliced them just shy of 1/4-inch thick. Put those on top of the beef (sprinkle with a good dusting of salt), then a sliced carrot (next time I will use two and I made that adjustment in the recipe below), then the onion (or thinly sliced leeks). I used quite a bit of onion, as well…it’s onion, and The Goddess loves her onion (and garlic!). Then I poured a little white wine around the edge, popped the lid on, lowered the heat and simmered, very gently, for 15 minutes.
At the end of the 15 minutes, remove the lid, distribute the green beans evenly over the mixture and simply “frost” the top with the condensed mushroom soup. We’re talking straight out of the can here. Don’t dilute it. Pop the lid back on, for another 15-20 minutes or until the soup sort of melts into the mixture and the beans are just tender. Remove the lid, and serve. Admittedly, I slid it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to color it up a bit. But, you can simply serve it up immediately. Just make certain you go all the way to the bottom of the skillet so that each serving has some of everything!
The Spicy Honey really liked this. I wish I had remembered to make this when “the Boys” were young and all at home. They would have loved this. Anyway, I digress….
Beef, Potato and Green Bean Skillet Dinner
- 1 pound ground chuck (I use 85/15—that fat has flavor!)
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
- Kosher salt
- 4 smallish Yukon Gold potatoes, skins on, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 carrots, sliced (I don’t bother to peel them, but you can)
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced or diced
- 2 tablespoons white wine, beer, broth or water
- 2-3 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 can condensed mushroom soup
Heat a about a 10-inch in diameter skillet, with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. When the pan is hot, drop the ground beef in, crumbling it up. Leave it for a couple of minutes, as you want the meat to brown and get a bit crispy. Lower the heat, and continue to cook it until the meat is about 2/3 cooked. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the meat is browned and mushrooms are limp. Drain off the fat, if you wish. Remove the skillet from the heat source; drizzle the Worcestershire sauce, garlic granules and kosher salt over the meat mixture. I don’t bother to stir it. Now, layer on the potatoes, overlapping them slightly; sprinkle with salt. Toss the carrot slices on in an even layer and then, the onions. Drizzle the white wine around the edge. Pop the lid on the skillet, return to the heat source and cook over very low heat. You want this to just simmer gently. Cook for 12-15 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat source; add the green beans in an even layer. Smear the soup (right out of the can—don’t dilute it!) evenly over the green beans. Place the lid on and return to the heat source. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the beans are cooked as you like them.
NOTE: You could add crumbled bacon or corn to this, if you wish. Also, steamed, chopped spinach (squeezed dry) would be nice, too. And a layer of cheese under the green beans could add a delicious dimension…make it your own
Beef, Potato and Green Bean Skillet Dinner Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2017. All rights reserved.
See how simple that is? You could add bacon or any number of herbs to this, but there’s something sort of wonderful about the purity of the individual flavors that come through. Also, I removed the lid and slid the pan under the broiler for a few minutes, just to brown up the top, but that isn’t necessary and I don’t think it added too much flavor.
I don’t know if there is gluten-free mushroom soup available. If not, you can make this gluten-free by making your own béchamel sauce. It should work just fine, but you’ll want to make a thick sauce. I would sauté diced mushrooms with some shallots and fold those into the sauce. Then, I would use just as the recipe directs for the canned soup.
This is comfort food. This warms your soul…bring on the snow!