Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Childhood in a bowl...

This is the most inaccurately named dish I can remember eating as a child, but it is a childhood comfort food that I and my siblings all love to this day. My friends, I give you, Mock Chow Mein.
Now, about the only resemblence this dish has to chow mein on any level at all is the rice. But, that's okay with me, I don't care what you call it as long as it's made right!
Mock Chow Mein is a Minnesota hotdish, brought to many a church supper, get-together, pot luck and winterfest. It is classic in it's ingredients: ground beef, canned soups, and of course, rice.
To start with you need bell peppers. Since I am not a fan (and that is putting it *very* mildly) of green bell peppers, I choose to use red & yellow...and sometimes orange. These brighter colors look splendid in the dish, and don't have the tendency, as green bells do, to overpower every other flavor in the pot. Dice up the peppers. 2 will do. Dice up an onion, and a bunch of celery too.
Brown up your ground beef, a couple pounds should be enough. Add the veggies, and saute until they're tender. Now you have a choice. You can either move this to an electric roaster or a roasting pan. If using a roasting pan, you'll be using your oven. Either way you'll want it to be 350*f. Combine the beef & veggies with a couple cups of rice, and the following canned soups: 2 cans cream of mushroom, 2 cans chicken gumbo and 1 can cream of celery. Of course, if you're not feeding half of the Midwest states, you'll probably want to cut all of my measurements by half. Add about 3/4 can water for each can of soup, and stir. Cover and let it do it's thing for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. Don't over-cook, or it will be nothing but mush, so start checking the rice at about 1 hour. There you have it. All the comforts of childhood, cheap and easy and tasty to boot!

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