These days it seems hard to separate truth from fiction, reality from illusion. In the social media world we live in where filters can make our faces look younger and our sunsets to seem otherworldly even I can get caught up in wanting things to seem better than they are sometimes. I want to share the best recipes and kitchen experiences, not the less than ideal ones. While it might seem like it is all sunshine and roses in my kitchen I can assure you it is not. In fact, yesterday’s dinner of Italian Meat and Potatoes in a good example.
I came across this recipe for Slow Cooker Italian Meat and Potatoes in a collection of recipes my father had published for an organization he was connected to in 1991. It is one of those collaboration cookbooks where people submit their favorite recipes to go into a cookbook to support their organization.
While there were some aspects of the recipe that I knew I would change, it seemed like an overall good fit for the members of my family who eat red meat. Also, it would lend itself nicely to the freezer to slow cooker meal prep I like. The original recipe in the book called for the use of canned pizza sauce and a box of au gratin potatoes. Because I do not use those types of processed foods I would make my version with real potatoes and tomato sauce, increasing the amounts of dried herbs. I also cut the cheese (LOL) by half and only used 1 cup instead of two.
The Italian Meat and Potatoes cooking in the slow cooker all day made my house smell amazing. The Hubs was excited to try it and almost could not wait until dinner time. He did wait, and was far less impressed with the meal than we thought he would be. It was under seasoned and quite greasy. Grease literally ran from the dish as he lifted a forkful up to his mouth.
After dinner I spent some time discussing the dish with him to see what, if anything might be done to make it into something that he would eat again. While his thought was that I must not have drained the ground beef enough before putting the cooked meat into the slow cooker I assured him that was not the case.
Even though I do not eat ground beef I am still very particular about draining the grease from the cooked meat. I believe it was the cheddar cheese that I used in the dish, separating. I had noticed in something else I had cooked with the same block of cheese that it was not very good quality cheddar. It seemed oily and highly processed, and I feel I got duped. Lesson learned.
The other suggestion he made was to season it more. He would not be opposed to trying it with the boxed au gratin potatoes. I agree that some flavor might have been lost in my substitution of real potatoes. For people who are not opposed to using processed foods such as boxed au gratin potatoes that would be a good idea. They would also work well in the freezer to slow cooker method.
If I do make this again I will be sure to give an update. I am posting the original recipe as published in Boardinghouse Reach.
Italian Meat and Potatoes (Slow Cooker)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 10 ¾ ounce can pizza sauce
- 1 14 ounce can tomatoes
- 1 box au gratin potatoes
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon basil
- 2 cups grated cheese
Brown ground beef and drain. Cook onion until soft.
Put all ingredients except cheese into slow cooker and cook on low 4- hours.
Sprinkle 2 cups grated cheese over top and continue cooking for another 2 hours.