Jody's Old-Fashioned Beef & Noodles--Homemade, Simple & Delicious!

Just Like Grandma Made

In today's busy world, cooks are looking for meals that can be fixed quickly.  Between working, soccer games, and other commitments, no has time to spend hours in the kitchen.  

Cookbooks, magazines, and recipe sites abound that target people with hectic schedules, promising fast fixes that are simple but delicious.

While some snap meals requiring only a few ingredients are tasty, many of them aren't.  Let's be honest.  The faster a meal comes together, the less likely your family will like it.


Yet, when you think back to the meals your grandma made, especially if your granny grew up during the Great Depression, do you remember how mouth-wateringly delicious they were, even though her meals were nothing fancy and very basic?

How did she do it?

For one thing, she used whole foods and made everything from scratch.  Today's cooks cut corners by using canned broths, frozen vegetables, and other pre-packaged foods to save time.  It's okay to take short-cuts, but it does mean sacrificing quality and never quite measuring up to granny.

Grandma also used basic seasonings, like salt and pepper, to bring out the flavor of the meal, rather than overwhelm it with too much spice.

Here is a recipe for beef and noodles that will take you back to the era where more time was spent in the kitchen making down-home, country meals for a family that gathered around the table to talk to each other, not tap away on their phones during dinner.

Homemade noodles send beef & noodles over the top!

Jody's Old-Fashioned Beef & Noodles

Jody is not a Depression-era granny, but she is a Boomer who knows the right way to make a classic dish that might make you a little nostalgic for a simpler time.  

In fact, Boomers and those who came before them often have a hard time pinning down an exact recipe to share because their cooking is based on adding a "little bit of this" and "a little bit of that" before giving it a taste to determine what is missing and recalibrating as needed.

If you buy grass-fed and fresh from the farm beef rather than the tougher offerings at the grocery store, this recipe improves exponentially.


Ingredients:

3-5 lbs. beef Chuck roast 
Water, enough to cover roast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4-cup diced onion (or a little more, to taste)
1 heaping Tbsp. of beef base
1-2 cans beef broth, optional
8-12 ounces of noodles (depending on whether you prefer your meal to be heavy on the noodles or heavy on the beef!)

Directions:

Trim some of the fat from your roast, but make sure you leave enough to generate a tasty broth.  Sprinkle the salt, pepper and garlic powder over the roast.  Place the roast in a Dutch oven and cover it with water.  Add diced onion.  Boil the roast until very tender, usually 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  

Remove roast to a plate.  Strain the broth, removing bits of fat, before returning the broth to the pan.  Add the beef base.  If your roast did not produce enough broth for your noodles, add 1-2 cans of beef broth, depending how "soupy" you like your noodles.  

Shred beef and return to pan.  Bring to a boil and add noodles.  Cook on low for 20 minutes, or until noodles are tender.  I like to use a meat shredder like the one below.  They are strong, which makes lifting your roast out of the pan a lot easier than trying to use a spatula without dropping the roast and making a big mess.  The claws shred the meat more effortlessly and quickly than using two forks.  The original Boar Paws come in a variety of colors.


Your retro dinner is ready to delight the next generation!

You can adjust how "brothy" you make beef and noodles to suit your preference.

What Noodles Taste Best With Your Beef?

Back when Hector was a pup, as granny would say, most housewives made their own egg noodles instead of buying them from the store.  If you really want to capture the essence of the glory days, making egg noodles is much simpler than you might think.  They only require three ingredients, but handling the dough is the tricky part.

Here's where you might be tempted to scroll on, but just think how proud granny would be to see you making noodles.  Give it a try!


There is absolutely no comparison between store bought noodles and homemade.  Inn Maid has the noodle market cornered, but their noodles will detract from the flavor of the beef and noodles by about 75%, based on the research and "scientific studies" of my taste buds.  If you insist on settling for pre-packaged noodles, the best are Essenhaus Amish Egg Noodles.  I prefer the narrow, but wide are good too.  Extra wide are overkill.  Using the Essenhaus brand will cheapen the flavor, making it about half as good, but if you're willing to make the trade for the extra time, that's up to you.  

If you insist on store-bought noodles, Essenhaus is better than most brands.

How to Make Your Own Egg Noodles

Making egg noodles isn't as daunting as it sounds.  If you can make pie crust, you can make egg noodles.  If you can't make pie crust, then you can find granny's recipe and instructions here, along with those yummy cinnamon wheels she made with the leftover dough.

It sometimes just takes a little practice until you get a feel for the dough and learn to make adjustments to achieve your desired outcome.  

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1-1 1/2 cups flour

Directions:

Beat the eggs and salt until blended and slightly frothy, about 30 seconds.  Add 1 cup of flour, stirring with a fork until a ball of dough forms.  

Scatter some of the remaining flour on an extra large cutting board or counter top.  If the dough is too sticky to roll out, add a dusting of flour until it can be rolled out with your rolling pin.  

Knead the dough on the flour covered surface two or three times, making sure it is covered with enough flour, yet elastic enough to stretch out with your rolling pin and not retract.  Continue rolling the dough until it is a thin sheet, less than 1/8" thick.  

It's easier to make egg noodles on a cutting board, but it has to be a huge one.  


Cut the dough into three-inch long strips, and then make one cut horizontally through the middle.  Let dough dry 2-3 hours, but DO NOT allow it to dry completely or it will harden and break into pieces when you are ready to slice it into noodles.  If you cut it when it's too wet, it will clump together and stick to your counter or cutting board.

When dough is ready to slice, you can stack the three-inch moist, but not wet, sections on top of each other and slice uniformly for the width size you prefer noodles.  When you are finished slicing, scatter the noodles on a medium sized cookie sheet and allow to dry thoroughly before bagging.

You can use the noodles fresh, or you can put them in freezer bags and store them in your freezer until you need them.

Noodles expand considerably once they've cooked, so we prefer narrow ones with our beef & noodles.

The type of eggs you use in this recipe makes a noticeable difference in how smoothly the process goes.  Fresh eggs from Amish country or the farmer's market are ideal.  Free-range eggs from the grocery store are over-priced and not comparable, so if you don't have farm fresh, just use regular eggs.

Yes, noodle makers are designed to do the same thing, but this is the old-fashioned method.  Why struggle with temperamental machinery and all the clean-up when it's just as easy to do manually?

Want another recipe where homemade noodles make something taste better than ever?  Check out another of Jody's recipes for homemade chicken noodle soup--you've never tasted one this good!  


Side Dishes for Beef & Noodles

Beef and noodles provide your meal with a meat and a starch, but to keep your diet well-balanced, you can round out your meal with a fruit and a vegetable.

Salad, cooked carrots, mixed veggies, or green beans pair well with this meal, and applesauce or cooked cinnamon apples can provide enough sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth without weighing your down.

Remember, noodles are VERY filling.  Once they hit bottom, they feel like an air bag exploding in your gut. 


Beef & Noodles Offer Nostalgia

The older generation pinched pennies and didn't overspend on groceries and meals out like we often do today.  They knew how to "make due" until payday, and beef & noodles was a meal that could be stretched to feed a family, leaving everyone full and satisfied at the end.  

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