Sunday, March 3, 2013

Retro Redo: TV Dinner Remade!


Remember those old Swanson TV dinners that had a meat and two starches that you had to put in the oven (before microwaves) and cook forever?  I do.  I thought those were amazingly awesome when I was a kid.  When my mom would come home from the store, I would scan through the grocery bags looking for these coveted items.  It was a very disappointing day when there wasn't a TV dinner in the bags.

I, oddly enough, was a really picky eater when I was a kid. My mom, who taught me a great deal about cooking, would come home from a long day at work and cook dinner.  She used to have at least 20 shoeboxes full of recipes that she had clipped from various sources.  She took great pride in trying to create a from-scratch dinner that she was proud of. But, alas, I didn't like it.  The onions were crunchy.  The meat was too chewy. I always had something to complain about. Looking back, I'm sure they were amazing meals.  I know she cooks amazing food now.  (You're welcome, Mom.  Sorry I was a picky little eater.)  But I really looked forward to those TV dinners.

Today, however, I never buy them.  I cook everything from scratch.  My kids have eaten very few TV dinners in their lives.  A few Kid's Cuisines is about all the frozen food they've ever eaten.  Maybe a pot pie or two. And I'm sure there are probably some pretty good ones out there now.  I have eaten some Smart Ones TV dinners that were pretty good.  I just don't eat or cook that way anymore.  If you're a TV dinner fan, please don't hate.  I just love to be in the kitchen creating new things.

Thinking back about those TV dinners, one of the ones I liked was the Salisbury Steak.  It usually had corn and mashed potatoes with it.  So I decided to do a homemade version of this recipe, except I served it over creamy polenta and with herb-roasted fingerling potatoes.  (I had to do the double starch, you know.)   I hope you enjoy this!

I love you, Mom!

SALISBURY STEAKS WITH CREAMY POLENTA & HERB-ROASTED FINGERLING POTATOES
FOR THE STEAKS:
2 lbs ground beef
2 packet of Lipton's Onion Soup Mix
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1/2 C ketchup

FOR THE MUSHROOM GRAVY:
1/2 stick butter
1/4 C chopped onion
One 8-ounce package of mushrooms, sliced
2-3 C beef stock
1/4 C flour
Olive oil
1/2 C red wine
Salt & pepper
2 T chopped Italian parsley

FOR THE POLENTA:
1/4 C butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 C yellow cornmeal
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 C chicken stock

FOR THE POTATOES:
2 lbs fingerling potatoes
Olive oil
Garlic powder (1-3 T as desired)
Onion powder (1-3 T as desired)
Dried parsley (1-3 T as desired)
1 teaspoon marjoram
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the potatoes out on a sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle all the herbs over the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Mix the potatoes around with your hands to coat all surfaces of the potatoes.  Cook about 25-30 minutes or until fork tender.

For the salisbury steaks, mix the ground beef, onion soup mix, ketchup, eggs, and garlic together and lightly season with salt and pepper (the soup mix has a lot of salt) and form into 6 oval-shaped patties.  Bake the patties for 35-40 minutes or until they are browned and done in the center.

Meanwhile, to start the polenta, melt the butter in a pot over medium heat.  Cook the onions in the butter until tender and translucent.  Add in the cornmeal, garlic and half of the chicken stock.  Continue cooking and stirring over medium heat, adding in stock as you need it.  When it thickens, you may need to add in a little water to get it to your desired consistency.  Remove from heat.

Add the butter to the skillet.  Cook the onions and mushrooms in the skillet. Season them with salt and pepper after you brown them.  This ensures that you get browned mushrooms and not gray ones.  Add in the garlic and red wine and deglaze the pan, cooking about 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir.  Pour in 2 C of the beef stock and whisk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Add in the additional stock if desired for a thinner gravy.  Taste the gravy for salt and pepper and adjust if needed.  Whisk in the parsley.

Serve the steaks and gravy over the polenta and with the potatoes.

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