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Kitchen Mailbox: Italian bean stew, classic mac 'n'cheese fabulous winter fare

Thursday, January 27, 2000

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The recipes we share today have been gracing our tables for quite some time. They could be considered old-fashioned but not out of "style. "

First up, Italian Bean Stew. We checked out a couple of old Italian cookbooks and found this dish to have several variations. For instance, one recipe had no meat, another used oregano instead of basil. But, when we read through this recipe it seemed to have just what we look for in a recipe today: easy-to-find ingredients, quick preparation and it's deliciously filling. You only need one accompaniment with this dish - good Italian bread.

Same goes for our next recipe, Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese. You'll see many variations of this timeless recipe. American cheese is called for in some recipes, Cheddar in others - we could go on, but suffice it to say, we gobbled it down in no time.

Elaine Kray of Munhall sent us her grandmother's recipe for Italian Bean Stew. This hearty dish is perfect for this time of year.

Italian Bean Stew

4 pounds chuck roast, rump roast or round steak, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes, see note
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 pounds fresh green beans, washed and ends snipped
6 cups spaghetti sauce, your own or jarred
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup parsley flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 to 8 potatoes, peeled and cubed

In heavy stockpot, add oil and beef cubes. Slowly cook beef until cooked through. Add sauce, seasonings and green beans; stir to combine. Add enough water to cover beans, about 1 1/4 cups.

Simmer stew slowly until sauce thickens and beans are soft, about 4 hours (if you find the sauce thickens too quickly, add more water).

Add potatoes; continue to simmer until potatoes are soft.

Notes: We used chuck roast; it works best for stew type dishes. The sauce will be watery at first,

Both Lorraine Frost of Elizabeth and Mary Jane Hyatt of Penn Hills sent in the same recipe for Joanne Piatti of Monroeville.

Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 pound macaroni (1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dry white wine, see note
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the macaroni until just tender. Drain.

Heat the butter; add onion and cook until soft. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Slowly add the cream and wine and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Mix together the macaroni and the cheese sauce. Put into a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Note: Substitute milk for the wine if you like.

Suggestion: Before baking, top may be sprinkled with buttered bread crumbs made by mixing 1/4 cup bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon melted butter.


Who can help Linda Sachs of Hampton? She is looking for a recipe for filet mignon stuffed with lobster.

Anyone remember Fatigati's Restaurant in South Fayette? Steve Leinbach of Ambler, Pa., would like the recipe for their meat sauce.

Rae Heintz of Ross would like a recipe for banana peppers stuffed with sauerkraut. Heintz's husband loves these peppers but she can't find a recipe. Can anyone help?

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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