Updated 2022 – Please note that while I absolutely view learning to cook as a critical life skill, I have learned over the years that rigid thinking about nutrition is problematic. Yes, consuming less sodium overall is a good goal, but reality and goals don’t always line up perfectly. At the end of the day, fed is better than hungry and any decision beyond that is energy and financially dependent.
That said, this recipe for a Philly Skillet with Ground Beef is an excellent beginner’s recipe
This simple Philly skillet is another in my impromptu, unorganized, and a johnny-come-lately decision to dive into cooking basics here on Home-Ec 101.
I try my best to stay out of the center aisles of the grocery store. Yes, there are some pantry basics on some aisles that I must have, but for the most part, if you want to have a healthy diet, stick to the perimeter, that’s where you’ll find largely fresh ingredients. Shelf-stable items, in general, are the less healthy choice.
Still, there’s that one aisle we’ve all walked down. There used to be that large, cheerful glove with eyeballs large eyeballs that would stare at customers as they figured out what they’d serve for dinner. Over the years, the glove has gotten smaller, but the options have grown. I agree with the premise everyone needs a handful of meals that come together as quickly as those options, so I thought it might be fun to do a make-it-yourself series based on these skillet meals. You see, a trademark is a very big thing, so I’m purposely vague. These skillets in no way represent an actual skillet, living or dead any resemblance to a skillet, living or dead, is pure –ahem– coincidence?
I am not copying their recipes because I don’t have access to fun things like stabilizers, and I’m helping reduce your sodium intake while I’m at it. Additionally, these items are designed to hit the middle of the palate bell curve. If you make it yourself, you can always increase or reduce the spices and have something much more tailored to your palate. I look at the title and figure out what *I* think it should taste like, and get to work.
Last week’s Taco Skillet was the first, and this week we’ve got today’s Philly Skillet and guess what? This version does not have the cream of something soup, so it’s super easy to make it gluten-free if that fits your family’s dietary needs. Don’t eat beef? No problem, swap in ground turkey, pork, or chicken. HECK, live on the wild side and use seitan if that’s what you prefer. (When substituting the beef, you’ll probably want to add the optional Worcestershire sauce.
- 1 pound ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork
- 3 yellow onions, sliced
- 4 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
- 1 rounded tespoon garlic powder (you can substitute fresh, minced)
- 1 optional teaspoon salt* only use this if you use homemade beef or chicken stock. Otherwise, you'll lose the benefit of reducing your sodium intake.
- 1 optional teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups dried pasta -we used elbows, rotini, bowtie are also good options
- 2 cups beef stock -hot- divided (1/4 cup and 1 & 3/4 cup)
- 2 cups milk
- 4 oz provolone cheese
- 4 oz American cheese
- Brown the ground meat over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet.
- Drain off most of the fat.
- Add the sliced onions to the pan and 1/4 cup of the beef stock.
- Use your spatula or wooden spoon to scrape up any bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the onions just start to look translucent -more clear than raw onions, add the garlic powder or minced garlic and optional salt to the pan. Stir.
- Add the bell peppers and beef stock, and slowly add the milk while stirring. Add the pasta and stir often until bubbles appear.
- Reduce the heat until a gentle simmer happens -bubbles coming to the surface but not breaking the surface tension. Any hotter, and your sauce will look a little grainy; it'll work just fine, but it won't be pretty.
- Cover and cook for 10 - 12 minutes until the pasta is done.
- Add the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted.
Yes, you can use other cheeses, but provolone and American are recommended as they melt well and keep you from needing to make a roux for a smooth sauce.