Worse than Hot Tunny Casserole, and Better

Worse than Hot Tunny Casserole, and Better
6 October 2011
Tomorrow is Friday, aka dreaded Hot Tunny Casserole day in my family. But there was a far worse choice, straight out of the I Hate to Cook Book. Fish Sticks. I found the old recipe. Perhaps if Mom had  included both the right and left columns of ingredients it would have been . . . edible. But she went simple and stuck with layering frozen fish sticks in a baking pan and covering them with cream of -whatever-did-not-escape-the-pantry soup. Then sticking it in the oven until mushy and warm. 
Now here’s my Better recipe, not for fish night. And there is not a speck of cream of anything soup in it. Mom called it Sauerbraten, but it isn’t. 
Cookie Stew:
So here are the ingredients: 
1)1 lb. of lean chuck roast cut into bite-sized chunks 
2)salt and pepper to taste (you’re just going to sprinkle on the meat while it browns) 
3)2-3 medium russet potatoes cut into bite size chunks (clean for sure, but peel if you wish.) 
4)carrots- baby or bite sized chunks of regular carrots.(yeah yeah, clean and peel the regular carrots and cut. For baby carrots, open the bag and dump.)  A couple handfuls depending on how much you like carrots. 
5)beef bullion cubes-2
6)bay leaf
7) Nabisco Ginger Snaps- have a full box on hand. You’ll decide how much as you go.
8)Not all that Optional:White wine- whatever you opened and decided not to drink. Well, a half cup into the stew is more than enough. Waste not want not. Then again tasting the wine first, and throughout the cooking time is part of good cooking. TV chefs always taste what they cook. Just refine that down to tasting this ingredient. 
9) 2 medium onions peeled and cut in half
10)Bisquick-  1 cup
So brown the chuck roast chunks in a hot fry pan that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Diet, huh? Salt and pepper as the chunks brown up. 
(Taste the wine.) 
When the meat is browned on all sides, transfer to a dutch oven, slow cooker, or big old pot, with whatever juices are in the pan. (Taste the Wine,) Add the potatoes, carrots, bullion cubes, bay leaf, and wine. (not the wine in your glass, the wine in the measuring cup. Which by this time may still be a half cup, or not.) 
Add enough water to cover the meat and veggies. 
(Taste the wine) 
Now the good part. Crush up ginger snaps. Actually, if you’ve had enough wine regard crushing as optional. They’ll cook down. You can start small with maybe ten. Aim them at the top of the stew, and put the top on the pot. They are the thickening agent.
Turn the heat to low under the pot, dutch oven, or slow cooker and cook for at least three hours. 
Stab the potatoes after about two hours to see if they’re still rock hard. Rock hard is Not done. If you’ve kept up your part of the wine sampling, at this point you may need to appoint a random family member to do the stabbing. 
As you cook, eyeball the thickness of the stew liquid. We like ours very thick, so I chuck in about a half a box of Ginger Snaps altogether.
(Taste the Wine) 
About a half hour out from done, maybe 2.5 hours of cooking (or two glasses of wine) if you still care, add the onion halves. 
Now mix a cup of Bisquick with enough water to make a gloppy paste. This is my version of dumplings. By spoonfuls drop the dumpling goop into the top of the bubbling stew. Oh, yeah turn the heat up a bit, not real hot but hot enough to get some action in there. Put a top on the pot.
After about ten minutes remove the top and let the dumplings finish cooking for ten to twenty minutes. Poke them for doneness. If they sink and float back up, and your finger didn’t come up gummy, they’re done.
(Finish off your wine and wash the glass.)  
Gather the troops, as Dad would say. Dip up doling out the dumplings, meat, and veggies. 
Open a new bottle of wine. 
Trust me. With or without wine, this is a winner. 
Kath, whose family actually requests Cookie Stew. And who has to make a run to the wine store before she can make another liter, I mean pot-full. 


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