Whether you call it goulash, American Chop Suey or just hamburger hotdish, it all has one aim: comfort food. Here in the castle I raised my kids on the mixture of various types of pasta, ground beef and tomatoes of some kind. I might add a sprinkle of garlic powder and salt and pepper but I didn’t use any other seasonings. The kids devoured it with a side of green beans or corn. Life was simple.
My grandkids won’t eat it. They don’t eat hotdish with tomatoes in it besides lasagna. They prefer plain spaghetti noodles with butter and Parmesan. I don’t get how they will eat what we called “stinky cheese” as kids, but won’t eat a simple hamburger hotdish. Parmesan smells like someone lost their lunch! I just shake my head.
What does this have to do with my post today for rice goulash? I was looking to make a simple hotdish for dinner one night when I was dining alone. My P.S. was out fishing and would be home late. I wanted something easy to make, sort of comforting, and could be reheated later if my P.S. came home hungry. Goulash would have been my choice but I didn’t have any pasta beyond lasagna and spaghetti noodles. I turned to rice. I still had a lot of that darn medium grain sticky rice to use up.
I set a saucepan to cooking 2 cups of dried rice in salted water and set the timer. I used a large nonstick skillet to brown the package of ground beef I’d thawed. I let the beef cook without touching it for 4 minutes on medium high to brown it well. Then I broke it up into pieces and fried it through. Gotta have that brown for flavor!
Still waiting for my rice to finish cooking, I added a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes to the ground beef along with 2 tablespoons of tomato paste for an extra burst of tomato flavor. I added 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic and stirred well. I let it bubble away at medium heat for about 10 minutes.
I taste tested for seasoning and added a little salt and a good shake of black pepper. While I was returning the jar of minced garlic to the fridge I eyed our mason jar of bacon grease. We save the grease for various cooking uses and I thought a little taste of bacon would be good in my rice goulash.
I spooned about a tablespoon of bacon grease into my sauce and stirred until it was melted. Mmm, it smelled great now! Think that was evil? Leave it out. Your choice!
My rice was done and I added it to the skillet of meat sauce. I stirred until it was well-integrated into the sauce then taste tested my goulash one more time. I was very pleased with my flavors. Dinner was ready.
I actually did eat it out of a bowl, garnished with a sprinkling of green onions. Curled up on the couch watching TV, it was a delicious way to dine alone. I loved the little bit of bacon flavor in what was a simple tomato and beef hotdish. Later my P.S. heated it up for his breakfast. He said I should make it more often, he really liked it.
Odd how simple, traditional foods can be so satisfying. Is it only us baby boomers who look forward to these fairly inexpensive foods? I’d like the grandkids to learn to like them as well some day.
2 cups dry rice; cooked according to package directions (long grain is probably best; my medium grain was sticky)
2 lbs ground beef
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a large nonstick skillet brown ground beef and break up into pieces.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, salt and pepper. Add bacon grease and stir well. Cook over medium heat until rice is done.
Add rice and stir well. Cook for several minute until bubbling hot. Taste test for seasoning and serve hot.