Katie's Old Fashioned Mac 'n Cheese topped with Roast Beef and Stewed Tomatoes

When I think of comfort foods, a few leap to my mind immediately:  Mac 'n Cheese, Roast Beef, and Stewed Tomatoes.  Have you ever combined them into one dish? Mmmmmmm!  One of my very favorite places to visit is Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  There I can count on being soothed by the idyllic farmland pastures and the reverent pace and values of the Amish people. And there I find a few of my favorite diners and dishes.

One of those is Katie's Kitchen.  Every time I go there, I order the Macaroni and Cheese topped with Roast Beef and Stewed Tomatoes.  I don't try to be adventurous. I stick to what I know I will love.  I've tried a couple of times to replicate this dish at home, and I think I finally nailed it.  But don't worry Sister Katie, I will be back for the original.  It can't be beat!

Katie's Kitchen - Authentic Amish Cooking in Lancaster, PA

Roast Beef and Gravy 

Make roast beef and gravy according to your favorite recipe. I have become a strong advocate of pressure cooking.  Once I learned the technique, I have come to rely on it as my main method of food preparation.  Pressure cooking preserves the color and texture of food and retains the nutritional qualities. The bonus is . . . it prepares tasty food in record time!

Select a good grade of beef (about 3 pounds).  I like a chuck or English roast.  Lightly coat it with flour generously seasoned with salt and pepper.  Place olive oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker and brown the roast on all sides over a medium heat.  Add beef broth, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Secure lid tightly; place over high heat until pressure is reached. Cook on High heat for 75 minutes (85 minutes for roasts more than 2 1/2 inches thick).  Turn off heat and let pressure reduce on it's own until released.

For Gravy:  Remove meat from pressure cooker and wrap in foil to keep warm.  Strain juices and return to cooker.  Add 2 T. cornstarch and whisk.  Add 2 T. butter and continue stirring until thickened. Add salt, pepper, and Gravy Master according to taste.

Shred or cube some of the beef and add to the gravy.  Keep warm on stove.

3 lbs. Beef (chuck or English Roast)
3 T. flour
salt and pepper
2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 C. beef broth
1/2 sweet onion
1 stem celery with tops
1 clove minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 t. drived thyme
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Stewed Tomatoes

At Katie's Kitchen, the stewed tomatoes taste sweetened.  I tried. to figure it out, and I thought maybe they add sweet pickle relish.  I came up with the brilliant idea of adding my homemade Red Pepper Relish to the diced tomatoes.  Score!  I make a big batch of red pepper relish for canning, so I just had to retrieve a half-pint jar from my pantry and add it to the tomatoes.  You can experiment with different sweet relishes that you make or buy.  This red pepper relish is a big hit with my family and friends. If you don't want to can it, you can make a smaller batch for one-time use.

1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1/2 pint (8 oz.) sweet relish

Drain the juice from the diced tomatoes.  Combine the tomatoes with sweet relish in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until hot.

Mac 'n Cheese

You can follow your favorite Mac 'n Cheese recipe, or try mine.  Again, I use the pressure cooker.  If you like firm but creamy Mac 'n Cheese, you can't beat the pressure cooker for success!  My favorite is with American Cheese, but sometimes I use a combination of shredded Cheddar and Velveeta.  I prefer Mac 'n Cheese that is gooey and creamy rather than dry or stringy.

1 lb. elbow macaroni
2 C. chicken broth
1 C. water
2 T. butter
1/2 t. salt
1 lb. cheese

Place chicken broth, water, butter and salt in pressure cooker.  Heat until butter is melted.  Stir in dry macaroni. Place lid on pressure cooker and seal.  Bring up to pressure, reduce heat and cook for 6 minutes.  Remove from heat, quick release pressure by cooling pressure cooker with cool water.  (The dry macaroni absorbs all of the liquid . . . no need to drain. And all of those nutrients are in your food and not going down your drain!) Stir in cheese until melted and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Pull it together!

Put a heaping of Mac 'n Cheese on a plate.  Top with some roast beef and gravy and sweetened stewed tomatoes.  Love! Comfort!

This is us -- Danny and Katie -- taking a leisurely ride through Lancaster, PA

Scenic Farmland in Lancaster, PA

I'll be back, Katie!

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