Meat and Potato Skillet Gratin #Sunday Supper

This may be one of my favorite Sunday Suppers. I love nearly everything with ground beef in it. I have been dying to try this recipe, so I was thrilled when Em from Sunday Suppers posted this week’s Dinner Ideas with Ground Beef.

Best thing about this dish? It’s a one pan dish. There’s a lot of steps and prep, and it takes a long time to cook, but once you get going it’s a snap – unless you’re like me and start fixing dinner too late and end up eating at 8:00.

It’s hearty, but not heavy. I didn’t think a pound of ground beef was enough. Seemed the potato to filling ratio wasn’t quite enough.

Make sure you use a big enough pot to reduce the heavy cream or else you’ll end up like me – having your way to nice Dear One scrubbing the stove top!

This gratin reheats well, so you can make it ahead and reheat it uncovered in a 350-degree oven.

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 2 thyme branches
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 pound ground lean beef
  • 3/4 t kosher salt, more as needed
  • Black pepper, as needed
  • 1 C thinly sliced onion
  • 3 ounces baby spinach (3 packed cups)
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound russet potatoes
  • 4 ounces Gruyère, grated (1 cup)

Crush and peel 2 garlic cloves. In a small pot over medium heat, combine cream, the crushed garlic, the thyme and 1/2 tablespoon sage. Bring to a simmer; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Strain and cool.

While cream cools, heat oil in an ovenproof 10-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add half the beef and brown well, crumbling with a fork as it cooks. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; transfer meat to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining meat, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper.

Add onion to pan drippings (drizzle with oil if pan seems dry). Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Peel and chop remaining 2 garlic cloves; add to pan with remaining sage. Return meat to skillet.

Toss in spinach, a handful at a time, until wilted. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, the Worcestershire and pepper to taste.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.

Layer half the potato slices over meat, with slices overlapping one another. Season lightly with salt and pepper; top with half the cheese. Repeat with remaining potatoes and cheese. Spoon reduced cream evenly over top.

Cover pan tightly with foil and bake until vegetables are very tender, 60 to 75 minutes. Uncover and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

4 to 6 servings

Dinner Ideas Using Ground Beef

Sunday Supper MovementThe Sunday Supper Movement is committed to bringing our readers delicious recipes that encourage them to gather and eat together around the family table. Search for your favorite ingredients on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Sunday Supper Pinterest boards for plenty more ideas and inspiration.

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Tuscan Chicken & Vegetable Stew

I have to say from the outset that there is a lot of chopping going on here. A LOT. It was one of the things that almost kept me from trying this recipe.

You read – I’ll chop …

My new dear friend, mentor and cruise ship guru, Chloe, was making this one day while we were working at her home. (CHOP, CHOP, CHOP) Her house was filled with the most wonderful aromas. She assured me that this recipe was easy  … especially if you buy a rotisserie chicken. She gave me the recipe and looking at it, I still wasn’t sold. CHOP, CHOP

Chop this. Chop that. Chop that other thing. Oh, yeah, and chop that thing over there, as well. And not just the Swedish Chef inspired chopping that I usually do … chopping so things are the same size. UGH! Not my forte.

The next day, while we were working (yes, I spent a tremendous amount of time at her house), we sat and had this stew for lunch. Well, hush my mouth and pass my chopping knife! You could have added 7 more ingredients to this and I would have chopped away. (Well, not really)

Chop … chop … chop …

I acquiesced and tried it at home. This makes a HUGE pot of stew – which is good when you hate chopping neatly as much as I do. The Dear one and I had this for dinner one night and had 3 containers for the freezer. Some toasted bread and a green salad and you’re set on a chilly evening.

So, Chloe … I went on an interview for a job as a tour guide. I was very content to sit on a tour bus with cruise ship passengers riding around Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island. Tour over, passengers leave, count your tips, done. Chloe and I hit it off instantly. You know, that rare, kindred spirit vibe you find only a few times in your life, if you’re lucky. During this interview, Chloe mentioned that she wanted to retire after the 2017 season. The next thing I knew – and I’m not quite sure what she saw in me, maybe it was my silliness in actually being willing to take the job – she was training me to take over her job when she retired. (chop, chop, chop)

It was terrifying at first. So much information. So many moving parts. I would sit next to her, day after day, in utter awe at all the information in her head. Her ease with the most difficult people (myself included) was grace personified. Her innate ability to take the most difficult of scenarios, turn it around and make it seem like there was never an issue.

I am sure many people who began the conversation all fired up had no idea how she managed turn the situation around, or perhaps didn’t even notice that the situation was turned around. She calls this the “please, pass the butter” voice. (I’m still working on that.) It was inspiring.

But, aside from training me – mentoring really – adopting a bit – for this job of many facets … wait, I’ll explain. Does anyone remember the old Ed Sullivan Show? There was a fella on the show, quite often actually, who had many thin bamboo poles. He would start spinning plates on these poles and run around the stage, watching the plates, jiggling the poles, spinning plates, keeping all the plates up in the air. That, in a nutshell, is my job.

Sorry, digressed … aside from mentoring me in this difficult transition, she became a dear friend. She and her darling husband Scott (and the dearest Lucy) fed me, wiped my tears, picked me up from the ground when I was at my lowest, taught me, guided me, became my family, laughed with me, drank wine with me at the end of a frustrating day, sighed with me, and guided me through a frantic summer and fall.

On one of my worst days – I had made at least a billion mistakes – I had stepped away and there were tears streaming down my face. Scott came over, wiped them away and said, “Do you think Chloe has never made a mistake? Chloe has made more mistakes than this. Learn from them. Make new ones. And don’t let anyone see you crying.”

I am truly grateful to Chloe for so much … more than I can ever possibly express, more than my heart and head can hold at times. It’s that rare type of symbiotic friendship where words are not always necessary, giggles and laughing are ever present, compassion is a given, forgiveness always there, and life is so much richer with them in it.

Thank you so much, dear woman, for all you’ve done for and given me.

Anyway, enough mush …

Every time I make this soup, I think of sweet Chloe and miss the stuffin’ out of her! Hmmm, maybe I should give her a call while I’m chopping freakin’ vegetables …

I joke about the chopping, but there is a lot. But once that’s done, that’s really it – jut add ingredients and stir. The apple cider vinegar gives it a layer of flavor that brings everything together.

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chopped carrots
  • 3 cups chopped celery
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (19 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken breast (I used rotisserie)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley
  • parmesan cheese

In a large pot over medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and saute for about 4-5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.

Stir in the zucchini and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes until slightly softened.

Sprinkle in the flour to create a roux and cook for another minute. Slowly add 1 cup of the chicken broth while continuously stirring until it starts to thicken and comes together. Then slowly pour in the remaining chicken broth.

Stir in the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, beans and entire can of tomatoes.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the chicken and reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and cider vinegar and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until everything is heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese, if desired.

Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes

Ready to serve

After what seemed like forever, I left New York (again) and went home to Maine (again). The next days were filled with errands, getting the house settled before the Dear One’s return, and breakfast and giggling with my girlfriends.

But in the evening, I was home alone, and then suddenly you realize just how big the house is and how empty, and you want to have people around you, so then the conversations went something like this …

Thank you so much for watching the house and picking me up and picking up the mail and packages and turning up the heat. Wanna come for dinner? Sure, but I have a house guest. Bring him. The more the merrier.

Hey, I’m back in town. Wanna come over for dinner? Sure!

Okay, dinner for 2 is now dinner for 4. I can do that. Same recipe, just no leftovers.

Uh, oh, the phone is ringing … we’re going out for dinner, do you want to come. Sorry, can’t, company coming. Oh, well, I’d much rather come to your house. Sure, come on over. GREAT! But I have a house guest. Bring her along.

Dinner for 2 turned into dinner for 4 and then into dinner for 6. Yipes! Now what!? I trolled through the recipes I have been dying to try and found this recipe that I had first seen in Relish Magazine and then in  Y’all Come Over by Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson. One skillet. Perfect. Lots of great ingredients. Fab! Seriously simple and quick to make. Even better! Turned out to be really easy to double, just switching from a 10″ cast iron skillet to a 15″ cast iron skillet.

(Heard around the dinner table … hmmm, yum, this is so good. So glad you’re back home. We missed you. Does M know you’re having 4 men over for dinner while he’s away? Answers: thank you, I am too, and me you, and OF COURSE he knows. HEAVY SIGH!)

As it turns out it was a good thing I fed them all BEFORE the insanity started! See, it seems I live my life like Lucy Riccardo. No, really. Stop giggling, please, I have so little dignity left.

This group of fellows and my dear friend Lisa were my saviors for the week and a half I was home alone. There were locked doors and dog doors (and snow) and pterodactyls (and snow) and more locked doors and broken windows that needed to be removed and replaced (and snow) and lost spare tires and snow and cancelled flights because of snow and more cancelled flights (can you believe more snow in Maine) and yet more cancelled flights (you know the word that fits here) and a wee bit of emotional upheaval.

While I realize I have kept them all VERY entertained (when one of them now hears my voice on the phone, he laughs, asks if I’m okay, and then ‘so what did you do’), they kept me very entertained and feeling loved and cared for during my first time home alone trial by fire.

Give this dish a whirl … you will be making it for company again and again!

  • 1/4 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve drippings)
  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 1/2 t salt, divided
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced onion
  • 1 can (14-oz) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 t crushed red pepper
  • 2 cans (15-oz) Great Northern beans, drained

NOTE: I sort of increased this to 1 1/2 of the original above recipe, but using 3 cans of beans and two cans of the tomatoes and 4 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bacon

Place the bacon drippings in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

NOTE: I made the bacon in the skillet I used to make the whole dish and just left the drippings in the skillet.

Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Brown the chicken in the bacon drippings, turning once, until the skin is golden brown. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and stir in the onions. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits.

Adding tomatoes

Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes or until the juices are thickened. Add the reserved bacon and the beans. Top with the browned chicken pieces, skin side up. Place skillet in the oven and bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes.

Some bread to sop up the sauce, a salad, and you are done!