Mise en Place Is Essential (April 19 – April 25)

There is a very important French culinary term: mise en place. It means putting things in place. This is the preparation that systematically encourages us to gather the ingredients as we set out the correct pots and pans, wash the vegetables, prepare the proteins, etc. Organized mise en place allows one to expedite the mixing or cooking, without spending time searching for the correct tools, seasoning, or realizing at the last minute that one does not have enough eggs to make a dish. Planning is key and even more so now as certain ingredients may be scarce. This is my mom’s recipe for Smothered Steak, which I have enhanced through the years. You will need: cubed Steak, a little butter and flour, canned mushroom soup, Sherry, carrots, potatoes, and bell pepper.

Begin with putting 2 to 3 cans of 22.6 oz. mushroom soup into a Dutch oven, depending on the number of people that you are feeding. With a whisk, slowly stir in and add Sherry until the soup becomes as a saucy consistency. Add fresh cracked pepper. (I don’t add salt because salt is already in the soup.) As part of your mise en place are, peeled and pre-boiled carrots, for about 1 hour. Prepare a washed bell pepper. Peel and slice potatoes (keeping covered in water to not turn brown, while assembling the dish.) Once the carrots have parboiled, prepare the cubed steaks. Do not use an egg batter. In a skillet, sear the flour dipped cubed steak. (I like to rinse the meat with a little water first, that way the flour adheres to the meat.) Lightly sear the steaks in butter briefly, to create a crust on the meat. Now, assemble all. Push some of the prepared carrots and raw bell pepper into the mushroom soup mixture. Then, add the seared cubed steaks, making sure that soup is in between each addition. Add the peeled and sliced raw potatoes. Finish with the remaining carrots, making sure that the soup mixture covers the top portion. I like to double layer the covering, first with tin foil. Then, place the Dutch oven top of the foil. Bake for at least 2 hours at 400⁰F. It is a one dish meal that is sure to please. © Kelly McBride Loft

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