A couple of years ago when I was at the supermarket trying to find two cans of dark red kidney beans for Jerri, I asked a young woman adding cans to her shopping cart for help. She was, I would guess, under thirty and very capable. In about two seconds she found the dark reds hidden next to their light red cousins. After thanking her, I asked what she was cooking for dinner.
“Oh I’m pretty much a heat and eat cook,” she answered. The phrase has stuck with me, for I too am a heat and eat cook occasionally. Give me a can of corned beef hash and I can turn it into a delicious breakfast just by adding heat and making toast. I’m fairly talented at baking frozen pizzas too, and I can warm a can of clam chowder that always makes me think of Ishmael and Queequeg eating supper at the Try Pots on Nantucket.
Aunt Dorothy’s recipe for Beef Tips In Gravy is not heat and eat, but it is simple enough for the most timid cook. The results will surprise you and your guests. Imagine how you will feel when someone at the table exclaims, “This is delicious! The meat is so tender and the gravy is wonderful.”
You will need to prepare yourself for the inevitable question: “Can you give me the recipe?” You could of course confess that it’s just cans of stuff and dried soup mix and spoil their enjoyment. Or you could say, “It’s a recipe from an old aunt, and I don’t have her permission to share it.” A true statement and everyone will be happy, including Aunt Dorothy.
2 1/2–3 lbs. beef
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup sherry
1 package dried onion soup mix
1 4 oz. can mushroom pieces and stems
Preheat the oven to 325º.
Trim any excess fat from the meat and cut it into one-inch cubes or one half- by two-inch strips. Mix the meat with the soup, the soup mix, sherry and mushrooms in a bowl.
Put everything into a three quart casserole and bake covered for about three hours. Stir after each hour and add a little wine or water if the gravy seems to be drying out or getting too thick.
Serve over rice or noodles with bread and salad.
NOTES: Any inexpensive cut of beef will work. Use a dry or semi-dry sherry. Do not use cooking sherry, as it is simply cheap wine with salt added.
Aunt Dorothy said that the mushrooms were optional. She also noted that you can cook this recipe in a crockpot: Stir the ingredients together and put them in the crockpot set on high. After an hour reduce the heat to low and cook for about six hours.
This recipe will serve six to eight people, but you can cut it in half. Be careful to add no more than half a package of dried soup mix, as it has a lot of salt in it.