Monday, May 22, 2006

Retro-Fabulous Hamburger Noodle Bake

This recipe dates back to at least November of 1979 because a friend of my parents from their church made it for my Dad and older brother to eat while my Mom was in the hospital delivering me. Now you all know just how old I am!

The recipe is attributed to Cathy Sartin and Vicki Barnes - I don't know who you are, but your recipe from a church cookbook is still in circulation and you should be proud.

I recently made this recipe for some dear friends Tabitha & Luke when they brought home their first baby Mason. I never thought I had the Southern hospitality gene, but I guess I was born in Texas, it is bound to come creeping out at some point, and I can say nothing except how good it feels to help other people and in a food-centered way, show love for new life and people we love.

The recipe is simple, homey and arguably dated, but by using fresh ingredients, toning down the fat content in the ground beef and cheeses and adding a few of my own twists, I think the recipe can certainly withstand the test of time.

Serve with a green salad or roasted vegetables and a light-bodied red wine like a Pinot Noir.

Hamburger Noodle Bake:
(serves 6)
1 lb. ground beef (use 96/4 or 97/3 for a leaner beef, or use ground turkey or chicken)
1 tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced finely
Sea salt or kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
16 oz tomato sauce or crushed canned whole Roma tomatoes
Pinch sugar
Fresh basil and parsley, chopped, 1 tbs of each reserved to mix into cheese mixture)
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Dried oregano, crushed

6 oz (half bag) egg noodles, boiled to al dente in salted water, drained

1 cup light sour cream
8 oz (1 package) light cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 green onions, chopped, and/or handful of fresh chives, chopped
Reserved fresh chopped herbs

Fresh grated cheese of your choice (about 1/2 to 1 cup)

Brown hamburger in olive oil, add garlic, spices, sugar, fresh herbs and tomato sauce, simmer until cooked through and seasoned to your preference.

Meanwhile, boil salted water and cook egg noodles. Drain, rinse noodles in cold water to stop the cooking and keep some liquid in the pan to prevent sticking.

Mix together sour cream, cream cheese, green onions/chives, fresh herbs and salt & pepper to taste.

Pour a thin layer of meat sauce into baking dish; add layer of egg noodles, then a layer of the cheese mixture. Repeat. Top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until bubbling and cheese is browned. Let stand for 10 minutes, serve.

Some recipe update suggestions:
  • Get creative with the meat by using a mixture of ground beef, veal, pork, chicken, etc.
  • Create and serve in individual ramekins to enhance presentation
  • Use a mixture of more exotic cheeses including parmesan, pecorino romano, manchego, etc.
  • Add fresh, chopped mushrooms to the meat sauce or other vegetables like peppers, celery, carrots, etc.
  • Add thawed, drained frozen chopped spinach to the cheese mixture

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