When I was a kid, my mom started cooking all of our meals either by browning ground beef and onions or by making a white sauce (and in the case of hamburger stroganoff, she did one and then the other in the same pan). As a result, four of our mainstays—eggs a la goldenrod, creamed chipped beef over toast, creamed salmon over biscuits, and cheddar chowder—all started the exact same way.
This week, I decided I’d make one of these (creamed salmon over biscuits) and post the recipe, complete with photos and variations so you, too, could make all four meals. It was going to be in the spirit of Amy Sedaris’s I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence—funny, but kind of serious at the same time in the sense that it’s a real recipe that you could (theoretically) eat. We doubted anyone in our family would eat it (except maybe my spouse who prides himself on being a true omnivore in that he eats anything except American cheese), but, “All for the sake of the blog!” my spouse and I joked as we surveyed the resulting salmon sauce.
Except then he and our kids loved it.
My spouse had three helpings. Both kids loved the “fluffy biscuits” and our daughter had two helpings of the “salmon chowder,” which she ate like soup from a bowl rather than over the biscuits.
And I have to admit, I kind of liked it, too.
Not that I could eat any of it being that it was almost nothing but gluten and dairy and would cause me great pain if I consumed it. But it took, like, ten minutes to cook it, and that makes it incredibly appealing. I see now why we had these meals so often while Dad was on cruise (he was in the Navy, so this was “on cruise” meaning deployed on an aircraft carrier for 6-10 months at a time). Our neighbor’s mom fixed her and her brothers boxed mac and cheese and canned peas every single night their dad was on cruise. Compared to that, this was gourmet fare.
I did make a few modifications to Mom’s recipe. I bought wild-caught Pacific canned salmon, organic milk and butter, and “Heart Smart” Bisquick (the kind without hydrogenated oils but with DATEM, which should be A-OK because it’s “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA (according to Wikipedia)). But mostly, it’s just like Mom used to make.
Anyway, here’s the recipe(s). If you try it, let me know what you think.
Creamed Salmon Over Biscuits (with variations)
3 c Bisquick baking mix
1 c milk
4 T (1/2 stick) butter
3-4 T white flour
2 c milk
one can salmon
1. Make “drop biscuits” according to package directions. (If using “Heart Smart” Bisquick, the amounts listed double the two-person recipe on the back of the box.)
2. Melt butter in a large skillet.
3. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well, until the mixture is quite thick and almost dry. (I think the pros call this a “roux”. Mom called it a “paste”.)
4. Add the milk ~1/4 cup at a time, stirring well between additions, until it’s a gravy-like consistency. Add more milk if necessary to reach desired consistency (or if you make it too early and it has to sit a bit before you serve it. In this case, make sure you stir it occasionally so it doesn’t form a skin). If you add the milk slowly enough and stir well enough, the sauce will be smooth rather than chunky. If it develops recalcitrant chunks, stir it vigorously with a whisk. Salt to taste.
5. Stir in the salmon, breaking it up with the back of your spoon as necessary. Serve the sauce over cut-open biscuits and eat immediately.
Eggs a la goldenrod: Make toast instead of biscuits (we always buttered our toast while it was hot and then set it aside until the sauce was ready). Follow steps 2-4, then add 2 chopped hardboiled eggs to the sauce. Pour sauce over toast on individual plates, then garnish with more chopped hardboiled egg.
Creamed Chipped Beef Over Toast: Make like eggs a la goldenrod except substitute one package sliced chipped beef for the eggs, and garnish with more thinly-sliced chipped beef. (I hear chipped beef also comes in a jar, but I only ever had the kind in the plastic package in the deli meats section. I’ve not looked for it in years and years, though, so there’s no telling where you’ll find it in your grocery store.)
Cheddar Chowder: Make neither biscuits nor toast. Follow steps 2-4 to make the white sauce, but double all amounts (use one stick of butter, 4 cups milk, etc). When the sauce is bubbling, add chunks of sharp cheddar cheese, probably about four ounces or more (to taste). The cheese will melt and the resulting chowder should be thick but not stringy. Add white pepper for a little kick, if you like. Serve in bowls with dried chives on top (or fresh, I guess, but we never used fresh herbs when I was a kid).
And there you have it! Four meals, one way!
This post was written in response to this week’s “Remember the Time” prompt on The Waiting. Side note: I’m really enjoying writing posts for these prompts. Ah, nostalgia! This week nostalgia smells like salmon all over my house, though. I hope next week’s prompt proves less fragrant.