by Cristen Clark
They say a way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. Feed people good food, and they’ll be happy. I’ve found that comfort foods always deliver on this promise. Comfort foods also have the ability to transport you to a place and time, remind you of memories of the past, or, in this case, are rich and hearty enough to squelch big-time hunger after a long day of physical work.
My brother-in-law Drew raises cattle and as such, know a thing or two about long days and physical labor. Livestock need daily care no matter what the weather conditions are – a blizzard, heat wave, thunderstorm or calm and predictable weather. After a day of dodging the elements and tending to the herd, a good meal is required. Nothing fancy is in order; simple, honest food is what makes Iowa’s cowboys and cowgirls the happiest.
Beef and noodles have been a family favorite for a long time. My dad always requests this combination for his birthday. When he was younger, his mom often made him a beef roast, and I think this dish takes him back in time. Tender, slow-cooked beef roast, gravy and noodles come together to make a knockout dish. Add layers of corn and mashed potatoes and you have an instant comfort meal, with a fun twist. Don’t skimp on the garnish of green onion; it adds a bit of freshness to the dish.
This recipe is reminiscent of an Iowa State Fair food staple that many of you enjoy and look forward to year-after-year. Debuting in 2007, the “Hot Beef Sundae” is as unique as it is delicious and keeps Iowa State fairgoers lined up all 11 days of the signature event.
“The hot beef sundae is a signature item at the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters at the Iowa State Fair,” said Brooke German, Director of Marketing at Iowa Beef Industry Council. “The Beef Quarters serves over 23,000 pounds of beef annually (28,325 in 2015) and about 23,000 Hot Beef Sundaes each year.”
If you’ve had the chance to dive into one of these cups of pure comfort food, you know why it’s so popular! This do-it-yourself version will help curb your fair-food cravings and is perfectly suited for a tailgate or birthday party. Layer these sundaes up and put a cherry tomato on top for the perfect final touch.
Beef & Noodle Sundaes
Makes 8 servings
1 – 3 lb. beef chuck roast
2 tsp Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2 bay leaves
4 cups beef stock
3 TBSP flour
Salt and pepper
Mashed potatoes, 4-6 cups prepared (two packets)
Corn, 3 cups prepared
One, 1 lb. package of egg noodles cooked to package directions, drained
One bunch green onions, chopped finely
One small container of cherry tomatoes
Cook roast, salt, pepper, bay leaves and 1 1/2 cups of beef stock on low in the slow cooker for 8 hours. Remove meat from pan, shred and discard excess fat. Set aside.
With remaining juices, strain 3 TBSP fat off and place in large skillet over medium heat. Add 3 TBSP flour and whisk together, cook for one minute. Add remaining liquids that have been strained of excess fat, whisk well. Add remaining beef stock, and continue whisking while gravy comes to a simmer. Simmer gravy for a couple of minutes until thick. Remove from heat. Fold in egg noodles and beef.
In serving vessels*: Add a generous amount of mashed potatoes, a layer of corn, layer beef and noodles with gravy, and a cherry tomato on top. Garnish with chopped green onions or chives.
*Serve in bowls, ice cream glasses or even layer in a large casserole dish and serve family style.