Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Poor Man's Steak & Gravy

Poor Man’s Steak & Gravy
Dorcas Annette Walker

In the month of June we honor our fathers. So this month I am giving recipes that are filling and some of my husband’s favorites. Unlike most brides I didn’t get to meet my in-law’s until after our June wedding. A couple of week’s later part of the Walker clan arrived and spent most of the summer with us. Thankfully, although I was only eighteen years old, I had grown up cooking and enjoyed spending time in the kitchen. Even so I wasn’t prepared for the enormous Walker appetites. I’ll never forget the first meal. Wanting to make a good impression I counted all the heads, got out my largest cooking pots, and went to work. I carefully set the table with my best dishes- using up the entire set of eight. With the meal prepared and dessert finished I summoned the Walker clan to the table. My confident smile disappeared when the food barely made it around the table once. Everyone ate with hearty gusto. I felt guilty that I couldn’t offer seconds, but breathed a sigh of relief that I had made a cake for dessert as a backup. To my amazement the entire cake (which in our family lasted for a week) disappeared just as fast. The couple pieces left from the initial round were fought over and eaten. With loud praises for my cooking ringing in my ears, I sat in stunned silence at the deserted table staring at the empty plates. Doubling my recipes was useless against the Walker clan’s huge appetites. I mentally tried to figure whether to triple or quad-triple them. Needless to say I spent my summer days in the kitchen turning out huge amounts of food only relaxing when the meal was over and everyone left the table satisfied. My parents came to the rescue bringing boxes of food to help replenish my pantry.

Years later my mother was the one who first gave me the recipe for Poor Man’s Steak & Gravy. Although she seldom had company she was a wonderful ally in looking out for recipes that I could use in the parsonage. I made Poor Man’s Steak & Gravy for years with great results. The only problem was that sometimes in my tight schedule of traveling with my husband and getting company soon after arriving back home I would plan to make Poor Man’s Steak & Gravy only to forget to prepare it the night before. In the recipe my mother gave me you took one pound of hamburger, mixed it with a cup of smashed crackers, and one-half cup of water chilling the meat overnight and cutting it into squares. One day I was racking my brains for something else to fix as I browsed through my freezer when I spotted a box of frozen hamburgers that I always keep handy. Presto! A light bulb went off in my head. Why couldn’t I use frozen hamburgers instead? To my surprise no one seemed to notice the difference. It was a quick and easy version of the original Poor Man’s Steak & Gravy recipe and became a favorite that I used all the time. I also found out that frozen hamburgers stay together better than the original version when cooked. Poor Man’s Steak & Gravy always brings a smile to my fellow’s faces even though I’ve served it endless times. Preparation time for the Poor Man’s Steak & Gravy takes around an hour and serves four. You can also fix this recipe in a crock pot. Just brown the hamburgers first and pour the liquid ingredients over the meat.

Poor Man’s Steak & Gravy

4 frozen hamburgers
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
1 can milk

Melt three tablespoons of shortening in a large iron skillet. Roll frozen hamburgers in flour and brown shaking on salt and pepper. Mix together soup, water, and milk. Pour over browned meat and simmer for thirty minutes. This is a filling meal when served with mashed potatoes, stove-top dressing, and a vegetable!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a freelance writer, author, columnist, and photographer from Jamestown, TN. If you have any cooking tips or favorite recipes you are welcome to contact me by mail at: Dorcas Walker, 929 Wildwood Lane, Jamestown, TN 38556 or email me at: dorcaswalker@yahoo.com. For more information about the Walker family and Dorcas’ books check out her website at: www.dorcasannettewalker.com or htpp://dorcasannettewalker.blogspot.com for other Creative Mountain Cookin recipes.

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