Mushy Joes

Early last Fall, I finally gave in to one of the America’s Test Kitchen promotional emails and ordered a free trial copy of Cook’s Country magazine. We didn’t end up subscribing to it because we chose to go with the slightly less country-sounding Cook’s Illustrated.

There is one recipe in particular in this particular copy of Cook’s Country (October/November, 2009) that has become a Kitchen Post favorite. It is especially a Mrs Kitchen Post favorite.

Reduced-Fat Sloppy Joes

Or, as I like to call them Mushy Joes

The good people at America’s Test Kitchen were able to reduce the calorie count of a traditional sloppy joe (570 calories) all the way down to 300 calories per Joe. How? Largely by replacing some of the meat with… wait for it… mushrooms!

First off, saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes in a little bit of vegetable oil.

Then, dump them into your food processor.

Pulse them until they appear crumbled.

Mix the mushroom crumble with some onions and a sauce mixture and simmer.

Finally, add the beef.

And continue cooking until the beef is brown.

Mushy Joe!

Reduced-Fat Sloppy Joes (adapted from Cook’s Country)
serves 4 to 5

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
8-oz pkg of sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cider vinegar
12 oz lean ground beef
Salt & Pepper
hamburger buns

Steps:

  • Heat 1 tsp oil over med high heat in large nonstick skillet
  • Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5 min
  • Transfer to food processor and pulse until mushrooms are crumbled
  • Heat remaining oil in an empty skillet (one with a cover available)
  • Cook onion and crumbled mushrooms, covered, stirring occasionally, about 8-12 minutes
  • Stir in chili powder and cook for another 30 seconds
  • Add tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, sugar, water and vinegar
  • Simmer over med low heat until vegetables are completely tender and sauce is somewhat thick. 10-15 minutes
  • Add the beef and simmer until the beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Divide among buns and serve!

Creamy Mushroom Soup

A while back Paul signed up for a sample issue of Cook’s Country magazine, published by Christopher Kimball, the creator of America’s Test Kitchen programming (and king of the bowtie/suspenders look). Since receiving this issue, it has made its way from coffee table to kitchen counter to dining room table several times. Paul diligently made the White Chicken Chili and the mushroom sloppy joes (both receiving rave reviews) before the holidays, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I flipped through and had a hankering for their mushroom soup. After a weekend of birthday celebrations in Green Bay, tonight’s dinner was hearty and welcoming, prepping us for the long week ahead.

As the recipe states, they were looking for a hearty and velvety soup – bearing no resemblance to mushroom soup in a can. After several test runs, their final recipe called for three pounds of mushrooms – THREE POUNDS! That’s enough to get stares from the produce manager at Pic ‘N Save. And at $3.29 a pound, that’s enough to make me question the quantity so this better be worth it. Fortunately, this recipe didn’t have a ton of ingredients that my sweet stock boy didn’t already have on hand at home. So, mushrooms, leeks and half & half were all that I needed on a grocery run. Three pounds…

The first step was cleaning the leeks – a lengthy process due to the sand and dirt that collects between each layer. However a tip provided in the recipe suggested using the salad spinner to soak, drain, and spin. Worked nicely – and I didn’t have to scrub my sink down at the end. I used my trusted Le Creuset dutch oven to cook the butter, mushrooms and leeks together, and then added the next 4 ingredients. To finish the soup, the recipe steps included pureeing. Silly me thought using the food processor would provide a satisfactory puree. Silly me, indeed. The soup was a grainy oatmealy consistency – rather disgusting to look at to be honest. I’m going to eat that? Mushroom soup is already fairly drab. So, after it was all back in the pot I took out my trusted immersion blender (to the rescue!) and was very happy with the outcome. Don’t you agree? The last photo shows the smooth buttery finish.

And… finally, to top off the soup was a tasty homemade piece of sourdough bread. The mother starter was laid to rest after the making of this bread, as it was going to be too time and flour consuming to continue its growth. Perhaps Paul will tell you about it. Perhaps he’s still trying to decide whether or not the two weeks of love and nurture he gave it was worth it. It was a perfect combination with dinner, so I would say it was worth it.

The recipe for this soup (Cook’s Country, Oct/Nov’09, p. 17):

4 T unsalted butter
3 pounds (!) white or cremini mushrooms, broken into small pieces
2 Leeks, white and light parts only, halved lengthwise and chopped
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 t chopped fresh thyme
5 c beef broth
1/2 c cooking sherry
1 c half & half (original recipe called for heavy cream, but I subs. w/ H&H)
2 t lemon juice
Chopped chives for garnish

A: Melt butter in large dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until butter is golden brown and has nutty aroma, appx. 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, leeks, 1/2 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper, and cook, covered, until mushrooms release their liquid, appx. 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, appx. 15 minutes. Remove 2/3 c mushroom mixture, chop fine, and reserve.

B: Add garlic and thyme to pot with remaining mushroom mixture and cook until fragrant, appx. 30 seconds. Stir in broth and sherry and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until mushrooms and leeks are completely tender, appx. 20 minutes.

C: Puree soup in blender (unless you want to go the extra step like I did!) until smooth. Return pureed soup to pot, stir in half & half, lemon juice, and chopped reserved mushrooms and return to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, drizzling individual portions with additional sherry and sprinkling with chives.

P.S. THREE POUNDS? It was worth it!