Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Berkey Family Tradition: Beef and Homemade Egg Noodles

On my first Christmas with Aaron, his mom made a Berkey traditional meal instead of turkey, Beef and Noodles. Making the meal is a labor of love! The beef is made simply in the slow cooker and the egg noodles are dressed with a beef broth-based gravy and get this, they serve it over mashed potatoes (I'm not a fan of that part). My mother-in-law rolled out the dough for the noodles from scratch and all by hand. This prep was all done the day before and the noodles dried overnight. Aaron's Grandma Berkey made this for her family so my father-in-law grew up having this meal and of course so did Aaron.

Last night, I was channeling this Berkey tradition for a meal that we served to good friends of ours, the Pierce's. Shawn has been taking our family photos so we wanted to repay him for his generosity. I made the noodles with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and the pasta attachment and with the recipe below you don't have to wait for it to dry. I haven't made homemade pasta since we lived in our Chicago condo and I had more space to spread out. I didn't do much involved cooking in our tiny apartment kitchen before we moved to our new house. Aaron's parents gave me the pasta attachment a couple years ago for Christmas and I love it!

BONUS: Baby Ava loved the lull of the sound of the stand mixer going so she fell asleep the entire time. Of course, cooking with a newborn is interesting. I have to do things in stages and get help to finish things sometimes. :)

For last night's dinner, I served the beef on top of the homemade noodles (no gravy or mashed potatoes - don't tell my father-in-law!), roasted asparagus, and baked beans for Jill who doesn't eat meat. When I was rolling out the noodles, Aaron tasted them and said it tasted like "Thanksgiving." Believe me, that's a compliment! Anyway, we all loved the meal, including our friend's 2-yr old who had fun trying the uncooked noodles from the cutter!

Slow Cooked Beef: I put the 2 lb beef roast in the crockpot early in the afternoon with just a few ingredients: Worcestershire sauce, Bragg Liquid Aminos, crushed garlic, Penzey's seasoned pepper, and about 1/2 cup of water. I cooked it on high for about 6 hours. You can buy whatever beef roast at the store that looks good. I like boneless, but the bones will add more flavor. When the meat was in the crockpot, I measured the dry ingredients for the pasta to save time.

Semolina Egg Noodles - serves a crowd
  • 3 1/3 cups semolina flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup water (don't put too much)
Stand Mixer-Assisted Preparation - with my personal tips:
  • MIX: Start with paddle and all ingredients in the bowl. Try 1/4 cup of water to start and add more at the end if needed to get the dough to stick in one ball. Run the mixer at 2 for about 1 minute. Then switch to the dough hook. Run mixer at 2 and knead for at least 2 minutes. Watch the mixer because the kneading is forceful and sometimes the bowl will come out of the arms of the mixer. Make sure you form a ball and you may have to use your hands to form the first clump for the dough hook to knead.
  • ROLL: Lay out 4 long strips of wax paper on the working area. Cut the dough in 8 sections. Remove the bowl and attach the pasta roller and ensure that it's on tight. Hand-flatten the first dough segment and start with the roller on 1. Fold in half and run again on 1, then repeat but only ONCE until you get to 5. Lay the long noodle dough on the wax paper. You will have room for 2 noodle dough strips on each sheet of wax paper layered on top of each other.
  • CUT: Replace the pasta roller attachment with the wide noodle pasta cutter attachment. Ensure that it's on tight and secure before you start. Place the mixer bowl under the cutter. Cut the dough in 3 sections or preferred length of your noodles. Run each section through the cutter. Every so often lightly coat the noodles with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
  • COOK: While you're cutting the pasta, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. You will need about 4-5 quarts of hot water. By the time you're finished cutting the pasta, your water should be ready! Cook the pasta in 2 batches so it helps prevent sticking. Fresh pasta cooks in about 2-5 minutes. Place a colander over a dry pot or serving dish. Using a pasta utensil pull out the first batch of pasta from the cooking water. Drain (do not rinse), the pasta and make sure there is no water at the bottom. Add second batch of pasta and cook. Serve the pasta hot!

Serve it up! The beef roast will fall apart. It's best if you break up the meat into chucks so people can serve it over the noodles. I had butter on the table to put on the noodles since I didn't make the gravy. It's really simple, but you can use the beef juices to flavor the noodles, too. I like to keep the noodles separate since the recipe makes so much and you can use it for other meals. We served Cake Bread Zinfandel and it was a good compliment to the meal.

It was a great meal and I was thankful to share it with our friends. If you don't have a stand mixer, I highly recommend it! It's well worth the $300 to have a mixer for decades! I use my mixer ALL the time and it's pretty enough to keep on the counter, which makes me want to use it more!

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