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Grandma’s Beef and Noodles

by Laura on March 31, 2009

It took my mom 30 years to manage to make her Beef and Noodles exactly like Grandma’s, so I suppose I should not be disheartened. And in fairness to both my mom and myself, my mom is hamstrung by my dad’s complete aversion to salt and I on the other hand was hamstrung by either my absentmindedness or my hectic life depending on how you want to spin it (I choose the latter).

So I feel pretty confident that I can post the recipe here even though mine did not taste perfect.

So first of all the salt. Do not go lightly here. If you are using storebought stock, you can probably get away with salt at the searing stage and the onion stage only; if you are using homemade stock, then probably you will need to add additional salt with your stock. My dad really prefers his food be cooked without salt, and then people can salt at the table. This is a great idea in theory, but some dishes need that salt added while cooking and this is one of them.

And now my mistake. Have you noticed that beef stock is just not called for much anymore? Well I don’t keep any on hand and I forgot to buy it. I was even at the store for goodness’ sake. My dish tasted perfect at the pot roast stage; I could taste Grandma’s kitchen in that bite and I nearly swooned. But I needed more stock for the noodles–so will you–and all I had was chicken. The final dish was good, but it just was not quite beefy enough, you could taste that hint of chicken stock (my mom is shaking her head in exasperation right now because she warned me–but I had to make this this past weekend and could not go out for beef stock). I added some canned beef, which helped immensely but it was not liquid enough for the noodles, which must be cooked in the dish, not separately. And because I did not want to add too much chicken stock, my noodles did not really have enough liquid to move around freely and so some clumped together.

Note to self: buy beef bullion and some beef stock.

Anyway I am still glad I made this. This dish is not for the faint of heart where beef is concerned. My grandma was a cattle farmer’s wife and it shows in this dish. It is for people, like me, who just flat out love the taste of beef. It is also very hearty and filling–how I put away as many bowlfuls of this as I did as a child I don’t know. I was growing I guess. These days I would serve it with a generous vegetable side and a salad (my grandma probably did too, but of course all I wanted was the Beef and Noodles).This dish is of course my entry to my Grandma’s Recipes event. The deadline is April 11, but my next few weeks are kind of crazy so I wanted to get my entry done (did I say my life was calming down in a previous post? Am I nuts?). So don’t forget to send in your own entries and check back after the 11th for the round-up!

Grandma’s Beef and Noodles
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: midwestern

 
Adapted from Laura’s Mom & Grandma
Ingredients
  • For the meat:
  • 1 3-4 lbs piece of braising beef, preferably bone-in (but mine was not) (My mom uses chuck and so would I normally but the local farmer’s market only had rump, which they put in netting for me–not necessary)
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • coarse salt and pepper to coat the beef, at least a tablespoon of salt
  • decent pinch of salt for onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 T white wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • For the final dish:
  • 3-4 cups beef stock, maybe more (you want the noodles to move freely)
  • canned beef, optional (anything to up the beef flavor, but if you have beef stock is not necessary)
  • salt if stock is homemade
  • 1 lbshomemade, handcut noodles (if impossible, buy a homemade style egg noodle, such as Amish egg noodles)
  • 1-2 T flour if needed (see directions)
  • salt and pepper to taste for final dish
Instructions
  1. Heat an oval dutch oven (any braising dish will work, although Grandma always used an oval, about 5 qts, which happened to be what I have too) over medium high heat. When it is hot, add the oil and heat it to shimmering. In the meantime, dry the beef thoroughly and coat and rub it in salt and pepper. Be generous here–can you see all the salt in the picture? Place the beef in the heated oil and sear on all sides. Take your time and let a crust develop before turning it. Get as many sides as you can–due to shape you may miss some, which is ok.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 F. (I frequently cook at 275 F for the first several hours and start the dish even sooner, for a total cooking time of 5-6 hours.)
  3. Remove the beef and place on a dish that will catch the juices. Throw the onions and garlic into the pot. Turn down the heat if it is too hot, which will happen with cast iron. Cook until the onions are translucent. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, just a splash or 2. Add the 2 cups beef stock and bring to a boil. Add the beef, with its juices, back into the pan. Cover the pan with parchment paper hanging over the sides and place a heavy, tight fitting lid on top of that. Place in the oven for 3-4 hours. Turn the beef over halfway through, especially if your cut of beef is higher than the liquid line.
  4. When the beef is falling apart tender, break it apart into bite sized clumps. Add canned beef if using. Add enough stock to be able to cook the noodles and add some salt if using homemade. When the noodles are done, take notice of now thick or watery the sauce is. If it is too watery, let it simmer, uncovered. Mix 1-2 tablespoons (depending on how watery you think it is) with the equivalent of cold water and add it to the sauce. The finished dish should be saucier than mine looks (see notes above about my stock problem). Taste for salt and pepper.
  5. If you have some guests who need heat in their food no matter what, serve with red chil pepper flakes (Grandma just rolled over in her grave, as did Grandpa too, but what can I say I am married to a Chile Head).

 

 

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

lk (healthy delicious) March 31, 2009 at 8:05 pm

this looks so good! but um… canned beef?

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Laura March 31, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Canned beef is a very old fashioned, probably midwestern thing. I grew up eating it. I never use it now, but my farmer’s market had some and so I grabbed it because my mom said it is great way to amp up the dish. But don’t worry if you don’t have it–salt and beef stock will take care of the missing flavor from it.

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Claudia March 31, 2009 at 9:52 pm

I love braising beef. Actually I love braising anything. This looks wonderful for a snow April first.

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Joanne April 1, 2009 at 8:33 am

I would definitely be one of those people adding red chili flakes. Can’t help it, love the spices.

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Elyse April 1, 2009 at 8:52 am

This dish looks eerily similar to a dish that my grandma makes!! How fabulous. I think the dish looks delicious, and hey, now you’ll always have beef stock on hand!! I can’t wait to try this out–although, I have a feeling that grandmas just have a special touch when it comes to making food perfect.

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That Girl April 1, 2009 at 9:45 am

I cook like your dad – I go light on the salt when cooking and let diners add more as they need.

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Grace April 1, 2009 at 10:15 am

first of all, i’m a notorious over-salter. not for myself–i crave the stuff–but other people say it’s too much.
moving on to more important things, this is a sensational dish! it would certainly soothe a person’s body and spirit. :)
my entry is coming soon, possibly tomorrow!

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noble pig April 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I love dishes like this…it’s one of those you have to continue working at but with much reward!

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HoneyB April 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Looks like some yummy comfort food!

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Cynthia April 1, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Oh gosh, I want some of that! Big soft fluffy noodle and tender beef. So good!

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Anonymous April 3, 2009 at 8:15 am

this is silly of me, but the other thing i remember is that grandma served beef & noodles over home-made mashed potatoes for grandpa. she did not for laura usually. and she would never have put wine in her beef & noodles! love, mom

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Steffany Rawls February 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I have to agree, my grandmother NEVER used alcohol in her cooking and I CRAVE her beef and noodles all the time. I make them and drape them over mashed potatoes, not a very healthy meal, but yummy none the less, and you’re right, I live in Iowa, canned beef is plenty stocked around here, probably not very much anywhere else. But I give her kudos, she was VERY detailed about the recipe and that is wonderful, for those of us standing in our kitchens over something that was supposed to be Granny’s recipe to a “T” and then we taste it and say to ourselves, “that’s not quite right.” You just have to keep fiddling with it…my granny has been gone for 6 years now and I can still taste her beef n’ noodles. But, I keep trying!!!

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jen March 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm

My grandparents were also from Iowa ! I am going to try and make beef and noodles tomorrow. We also eat them over mashed potatoes! I found home made noodles in the frozen food part of wallmart . I will braise the chuck roast after rubbing w/ salt pepper and a little garlic powder, and cook crock pot all day add enough water and beef stock to cover the meat and a little onion. Once the meat falls apart I will try to rid some of the fat and add the noodle and continue to cook for an hr. During that time I wil make the mashpotatoes.

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Anonymous April 3, 2009 at 8:21 am

i forgot to add that my parents canned their own beef for many years. they would only use an old cow because young and tender meat breaks down too much in the process and does not keep the great flavor. i helped them a few times but have never done it myself. i buy it anytime i find a product i think is good. it is so handy for hot beef sandwiches or any dish that calls for a slow cooked beef like stroganoff or beef & noodles, and it is almost instant. love, mom

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Ashley April 9, 2009 at 5:52 pm

This looks absolutely wonderful!

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Joanne July 15, 2011 at 12:33 am

Ok – this comment is 2 years past your post, but I can’t help myself. I found your blog by googling Rose Levy Beranbaum’s pancake recipe (my book is in a moving box) and then found this recipe. I love beef and noodles. My mom always used beef that they canned themselves, so I never thought of making it from raw meat. I think I read you live in Ohio – I grew up in Indiana, about 2 miles from the IN/OH state line. So I’m pretty sure this is the real thing. Thanks for posting. Enjoying your blog – keep up the good work!

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Ruth July 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

This is nice but grandma’s beef and noodles were made from scratch!!. I remember the noodles being mad from dough and rolled out and cut with a knife not store bought ones!!

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Laura July 15, 2011 at 9:05 am

yes they were but I know people don’t always have the time. I have done it both ways.

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Cynthia January 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Thanks so much for the recipe Laura!! When I asked mom how she made the beef and noodles I got “I don’t remember it’s been too long.” I almost cried. Mom used to use the frozen noodles! I didn’t get those, but I did pick up some good Amish noodles when I was back home at Guggisberg Cheese factory over Christmas so I am looking forward to making this for my husband. Thanks for saving my bacon ;)

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Bruce February 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I make this when I have leftover roast. I almost always have a big chunk of beef and broth left over that works perfectly. Yes, canned beef is something common around here. When you have bought a side of beef, you can have it processed and canned and a great way to store if you have an undersized freezer. Same stuff, just stored in a different way. It’s usually just a flavorful.
Thanks for the recipe. I also will use half an envelope of Lipton onion soup mix to add the flavor and the saltiness.
Thanks.

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Kristi November 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm

This is the BEST recipe. Thank you taking the time to post so long ago. It’s become a family favorite as I am requested to make it several times. I have been using Kitchen Basics Beef Broth and adding Das Dutchman Essenhaus Beef Base at the end to enhance the beef flavor! You are so right, salt is important!

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Laura November 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I love comments like these! Thank you so much for telling me!

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Vicki November 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I just finished mixing up these noodles and they’re in the 10 minute “rest time”. I got a pasta machine and this will be my first time using it. I used to LOVE my grandma’s beef and noodles – and she too used to serve it over mashed potatoes. We always had Harvard Beets as a side. Delicious, comforting meal. Thanks for the recipe. I know the noodles are going to be delicious!

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Laura November 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Awesome! Comments on this post make me happier than really any other post. Those noodles are one of the best memories of my childhood–I love knowing our recipe has helped others recreate the memory too!

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Wendy January 25, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I made this today for company, just as you instructed. The beef and noodles turned out perfect! I am going to serve them with mashed potatoes.

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Laura January 25, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Yay!!! Thanks for telling me, I love hearing that!

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