Stewie project: lasagna, roast beef with mushroom gravy

On to the two Stewie Project dishes we’ve cooked up since last weekend’s first fillet.

First, lasagna. Which was really, really good. Just not very photogenic, because I couldn’t be bothered to wait till next morning for natural light to stage it.

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This was possibly the best lasagna I’ve ever had. I used this recipe, but with two full jars of sauce and two pounds of ground beef just to make the measuring simpler… also all mozzarella instead of a mixture of mozzarella and provolone. Because we’re all about the simple here.

Why was this lasagna so good? I don’t quite know. Three possibilities:

1. A very high ratio of melting mozzarella to crumbly ricotta in the cheese mixture, which made eating this almost like eating a good piece of gooey pizza

2. IGA brand shredded mozzarella and lasagna noodles. Sparks has always praised IGA mozzarella as the best melting cheese on the planet. The noodles, too, had a special velvety texture. I soaked them in hot water before baking them in the casserole, if that makes any difference.

3. The ground Stewie that went into the meat sauce. A co-worker had told Shparks that the hamburger from our steer “wouldn’t be like regular hamburger”, and we were pleased to discover she was right. First, it was a plummy purple color instead of bright pinkish-red. I assume that this is the color of properly hung and promptly frozen beef, rather than vac-packed, nitrogen-treated grocery store meat. Second, it actually smelled and tasted beefy as it cooked, which was a revelation.

Roast Stewie

The second dish, which I sadly don’t have a picture of, was rump roast of Stewie a la Jane. Jane is my mother-in-law and a formidable force in the kitchen, having taken a degree in home economics and with decades of church-function-cooking and family-holiday-cooking experience under her belt. Sparks specifically requested that I get her recipe for roast beef with mushroom gravy (and that I make mashed potatoes to go with it… reader, that was the first time I’ve EVER made mashed potatoes).

The jist of the recipe is that you roast the beef slowly at 250F, for ten hours, with a lot of garlic salt and a half a cup of water, in a container with its lid well-sealed with aluminum foil so the moisture doesn’t get out. You let it get cold before slicing, because by this point the meat is so tender that you can eat it with a spoon, and you certainly couldn’t slice it while hot. Then you make gravy with the pan juices, extra water and beef bouillon cubes, a can of sliced mushrooms, and as much water/cornstarch slurry as it takes. You reheat the meat in the gravy, and serve over mashed potatoes.

The method was certainly a revelation to me… roast beef doesn’t have to be dry and stringy! It can be moist and tender! And oh, oh, the beef and noodles it made later on. PERFECT. Try it!

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2 thoughts on “Stewie project: lasagna, roast beef with mushroom gravy

  1. Dude – Mashed potatoes are my FAVORITE. I like waxy reds with the skin on smashed with garlic and a little cream cheese and lots of salt. *nom*

    My aunt also makes an amazing potato dish every year for holidays – it’s basically twice baked potatoes, but in a casserole dish. She boils potatoes, mashes them smooth, mixes them with cream cheese/sour cream, salt, onion powder, and butter, then bakes them again until the top is browned and they are hot all the way through. SO GOOD. My little sister survives for days off of the leftovers…

    I can’t talk, though – I’ve never made lasagna from scratch. 🙂

  2. I’ve cooked them and smashed them with garlic before, but this was the first time I’d done the whole peel-boil-steam-mash-add butter and milk routine. I just wasn’t raised eating mashed potatoes. Mostly my mother either baked them or sliced them thin for German fries. Sparks says I did good, though.

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