Years ago when I was cooking for seven every day, I often needed a quick meal. An old standby that I clipped from the newspaper was Quick Spaghetti Supper, but my family always referred to the medley as Jungle Stew. It was a term my kids gave to the “mystery meats” at the school cafeteria and a label they affectionately slapped on my skillet concoction as well.
The recipe called for a few basic ingredients, that I always kept on hand: hamburger, spaghetti noodles, tomato soup, cheddar cheese, and canned corn. I broke the noodles into two-inch pieces and cooked them in the skillet along with everything else, making it easy to get the dish to the table in 20 minutes. I always set out the hot sauce for those who wanted a little more jolt.
There are lots of similar recipes that require more ingredients and oven baking, but I’ve stuck with this one because of its simplicity and taste. It’s so easy that even a youngster can make it. I’d not thought of the hamburger-noodle mixture until my daughter-in-law mentioned, “that dish you make with the funny name.” Right away I knew she was talking about Jungle Stew.
“You should put that on your blog,” she suggested. I realized I had ignored Jungle Stew, since it seemed so ordinary. But here it is. I’ve often thought it should be called Desperation Stew, because I threw it together so often when I was “desperate” or in a “stew.” ☺️
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 Tbs. oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 can (10-oz.) cream of tomato soup
- 1 cup water
- ½ pkg. (4-oz) uncooked spaghetti noodles
- Salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
- 1 small can of corn (or one ear of fresh corn)
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Sauté onion until lightly browned. Add meat and cook until beef is no longer pink. Add tomato soup, water, and uncooked noodles. Separate noodles so they don’t clump together. Cover with a lid.
- Cook until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste. Add corn and mushrooms; stir. Top with the shredded cheese. Serve from skillet along with your favorite hot sauce.