Monday, December 16, 2013

Hamburger Cobbler, Woman's Day December 1949

I have to credit Mrs. D. E. Dick of Worcester, MA for submitting this delicious recipe to Women's Day.  I don't know if it was her own creation or something she adapted from another recipe but it was a part of a section entitled "New Hamburger Dishes" in which contest winners' recipes were published.  Good job, Mrs. D. E. Dick.  (I wonder if the "D" and the "E" are her initials or her husband's.)

I had an interesting time explaining this dish to my younger kids.  They had only tasted cobbler as a dessert, not as a main dish.  Once tasted everyone enjoyed it.  Hubby said it was good enough to make again.  My 15 year old daughter said it was very filling.  (She eats like a bird so this isn't saying much though.)  My 13 year old daughter thought it tasted like pizza and my son, age 9, liked the meat and the biscuit topping- but not together.

Here is Mrs. D's original recipe:

Original recipe.

Here is my tweaked version:

Beef mixture
  • 1 Small onion, sliced  (*see note below)
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb Ground beef aka hamburger
  • 1t Salt
  • 1/4t Pepper
  • 1/4t Marjoram
The cheese (stands alone...)
  • 8 to 10 Slices American cheese, thinly sliced
Tomato mixture
  • 1-14.5oz Canned diced tomatoes, drained well (About 1C chopped tomatoes.)
  • 2T Worcestershire sauce
  • 3T Ketchup
Biscuit topping
  • 1 and 1/2C Flour
  • 1 and 1/2t Baking powder
  • 1/4C Shortening (I found a non hydrogenated brand at Whole Foods.)
  • 1/2C Milk 
  • 1/2t Salt

Preheat your oven to 450.

First brown the ground beef in a sauce pan or small Dutch oven over a medium high heat.  Dump meat into a colander in a clean sink to drain and set aside.  Heat the pot on medium and sauté until fragrant the onion, garlic, and mushrooms (my addition to Mrs. D's recipe) in the fat left in the pan from the ground beef.  Put the beef back in the pan and add the salt, pepper and marjoram.

In a bowl drain the tomatoes and mix with the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.  (If you've never used Worcestershire sauce and are tempted to leave it out thinking you're buying a whole bottle for just two tablespoons DON'T.  It adds depth to the recipe and is used a lot in vintage recipes so you'll likely use it up.  It's also great with steak.  I grew up thinking it actually was steak sauce.)   Add to the beef mixture and mix well.

Grab a 9" X 9" pan and spread the beef mixture evenly in it.  No need to grease it.  Top with overlapping cheese slices.  (Here's where I deviated a bit from Mrs. D's grand creation.  She calls for "processed cheese".  This may or may not have meant Velveeta.  I used organic American.  There's just so much time travel I can do you know?)

Now it's time for the biscuit topping.  Mix the last 5 ingredients in this order in a bowl:  flour, baking powder, salt.  Then cut in the shortening.  (If you don't have a pastry blender use a whisk.  If you don't have a whisk use a fork or your fingers.  There are videos on You Tube to teach you how.)  Then add the milk.  (I used whole milk as this is what we use in the house.  You can try it with a lower fat milk if you like.)  Mix until you get dough.  But not too much or your biscuits will be hard.

Mrs. D says to drop the biscuit dough on top of the tomato mixture but I found the dough to be too thick to drop.  I would have rolled it but I took the quick way out (I had no clean counter space and just needed to get dinner on the table.)  and just formed it into flat circles with my hands. While the dough was nice I might try this recipe next time.  I prefer a lighter biscuit but it may not hold up with the heavy meat and cheese so use it at your own risk.

Bake your beautiful cobbler in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the biscuits have browned a bit and the beef-tomato-cheese underneath is bubbly.  Then Mrs D. says to cut it into squares.  The baked cobbler was too loose to cut into squares but scooped up easily biscuit and all.

Ta dah!!!!!!!!

*A note about the onion.  I seem to have an issue with onion sizing.  This recipe called for a "small" onion but exactly what constitutes a "small" onion? Or a "large" one for that matter?  I tried to measure what I thought was right but the slices were too big to fit into a measuring cup.  So I took a pic.  How did people cook before cell phones??  ;)

Looks like a little less than a cup to me.

I would totally make this again.  It was warm and yummy on a cold night.  I served it with a salad and sliced apples.  If I made it on a weeknight I'd start in the morning cooking the meat and adding the tomato mixture then stick it in the fridge.  I'd put the biscuit topping on right before I popped it into the oven.

Reheating note- Dear son was home sick from school today and we had this for lunch, reheated in the microwave.  It was good but a smidge dry.  I think it's fine for leftovers but I wouldn't make it a day ahead for company.


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