There are a number of cookbooks from the Depression era which offer a treasure trove of frugal recipes we should tap into. Granted, some don’t fit with our modern situation – for instance, certain seafood items were cheap then but now quite expensive. And some were just plain weird – peanut butter stuffed onions? No, thanks. Still, there is much to be learned from cookbooks of that era, especially in terms of stretching expensive or scarce items. This Beef and Beans recipe is based upon one from a 1930s community cookbook and it is delicious!
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Recently I’ve been exploring recipes from the Depression era, wartime and other periods of scarcity. I’m finding myself more and more impressed by the creativity and fortitude of the homemakers of those eras. It’s easy to get in a cooking rut when you’ve been feeding a family for decades. That’s why I’m looking at this as an opportunity to try some new recipes and exercise my own cooking creativity. This Beef and Bean recipe stretches a very small amount of beef into a tasty meal that will feed several people.
Beef and Beans
- 1 pound beef roast, cut in one inch chunks
- 1 1/2 cups dried beans (I used a combination of pinto, Great Northern and red beans)
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons oil
- salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste
- Cook dried beans. You can do this the traditional way: Soak beans in plenty of water overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender. Or if you have an Instant Pot you can skip the soaking and cook them in it. It should take about 25-30 minutes of actual cooking time.
- Cut up a one pound roast in one inch chunks. When buying a roast, look for one that is about 2 to 3 pounds. Have the butcher cut it in half and wrap for you or do so when you get home. You can cook one and freeze the other for another meal.
- Heat a heavy, oven safe pot over medium heat, add oil (may also use any meat drippings you might have, lard or butter) and when hot, add onions. Cook until translucent.
- Move onions to the side and add beef. Season lightly with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder (or your preferred seasonings). Brown beef on all sides.
- Add cooked beans and season again.
- Top with diced tomatoes and season one last time.
- Bring to a boil and bake at 300 degrees until beef is fork tender – about one hour. Check periodically and add a bit of water if necessary.
Serve “as is” or over mashed potatoes, rice or noodles.
I must say, this recipe exceeded my expectations. One family member had three helpings. We had enough leftovers to send with my husband for lunch the next day plus about two more cups worth. A couple of days later I turned those leftovers into a delicious soup:
Cook a couple of tablespoons of chopped red onions and one chopped bell pepper (I used a yellow pepper) in butter for a couple of minutes. Add 1.5 cups uncooked rice and toast lightly. Add leftover Beef and Beans, about half a cup of leftover mixed vegetables, 3/4 cup of leftover refried beans, 1/2 cup leftover cooked rice. Season to taste. I used cumin, chili powder, black pepper and Creole seasoning. Add enough water to make a soup consistency and simmer 10-15 minutes. I served this with quesadillas and it was an excellent way to use up the last of the leftovers. And that, my friends, is why my soups are never the same twice!
This Beef and Bean recipe is based on one from The Chicago Daily News Cookbook of 1930.
Here is where I got the idea:
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This recipe is linked up at Miz Helen’s Full Plate Thursday.