Archive for April 13, 2010

Old family recipe: Schlung

And now, for my second installment of “Recipes I blog about while I eat them”:

I’ve just made my version of an old family recipe (if you can call something so informal a “recipe” at all).  It’s a sort of mock stroganoff which we call “schlung,” because that’s what it looks like — just a big, gloppy pile of schlung.  Or maybe a bunch of ingredients all schlung together.  (And I find from Googling that this fake word the Bennetts made up for this dish is also unfortunately used on occasion as a slang term for a reproductive organ, but that’s definitely not the intent here.)

The original recipe was made with ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, Philadelphia cream cheese, and diced onions, served over noodles.  Mine is a low-fat, vegetarian variant that evolved over time.  Here’s how it works:

Preheat a large nonstick skillet to medium heat; spray lightly with cooking spray. Brown about 4 oz. of veggie crumble (1/3 of a typical package) for 2-3 minutes.  Add about one medium-thick slice of onion, diced (maybe 1/4 cup or so?  Feel free to adjust to your taste) and a comparable amount of diced green pepper (I use frozen); heat and stir for a couple more minutes.

Add 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (I use low-fat), plus about 2/3  can (the same can) of skim milk.  Add 2 1/2 to 3 oz. of Neufchatel cheese, in about 4-5 installments, and stir in each piece until it’s mostly melted before you add the next.  (Neufchatel is often marketed as low-fat cream cheese, which is ironic, since Philly cream cheese was invented as an imitation Neufchatel.)  Continue to stir over medium heat for a few more minutes to boil away some of the excess moisture.  When it starts getting crusty on the outer rim, and maybe a little bit crusty on top, that’s good enough.

The classic presentation is atop wide egg noodles, but I take mine three different ways — over whole-grain noodles; over brown rice; or, like today, atop two pieces of whole-grain toast.  If you don’t know how to prepare any of those, you’re on your own.  Since it’s relatively labor-intensive, I like to make it when I already have leftover rice or noodles, and failing that I just use toast.  Then I can make rice or noodles the next day and have leftover schlung on that.  It makes 3-4 servings, depending on how liberally you slop it on, so I can go through all three substrates with one batch.

My father would always sprinkle paprika on top of his, though I’m not partial to it.  I’m in the habit of having a serving of canned pear halves as a side dish.

This will make kind of a mess.  Rather a lot of it will stick to the pan, the spoon, the containers you put leftovers in, etc.  And depending on how big your skillet is (or how steady your hands are), there may well be some spillage from all the stirring.  However, in a nonstick skillet, if you let the residue sit for a while, it’ll dry out into a solid film that easily flakes off the pan.  EDIT: No, apparently it won’t.  It used to do that in the old days, but when I tried it today, it just made the stuff stick rather solidly to the pan.  Maybe it’s because the ingredients are different or the pan’s composition is different.  Or maybe I’m confusing it with my memory of some other recipe.  Anyway, probably best to rinse the skillet out ASAP.

I know this isn’t a very precise recipe.  But schlung, by its very nature, is an inexact science.

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