Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Grownup "Hamburger Helper" (key to getting a perfect cheese sauce)

So I learned something the other day about my dear husband of mine...he LIKES Hamburger Helper...

Now, if I'm being totally honest I can't judge something I have personally never tried, I just have this vision in my head of melted powdered Velveeta over semi-bland beef. As his wife/friend/cook I strive to make dishes we like and enjoy, but as I was standing in the canned food isle, overwhelmed by the presence of this confounded mystery, I just couldn't do it, the culinarian in me just wouldn't allow it. So in order to recreate this nostalgic meal, I decided to make my own version. This is miles above the boxed brand (so I've been told), I subbed out beef for lean turkey, added some white wine to cut the richness of the cheddar (and because all fine things involve wine) and then some fresh peas for color. The result? High praises from the boy who grew up on this stuff annnnddd I thought it was pretty darn tasty myself.

Grownup Hamburger Helper

serves 4-6

1 (12oz.) box of pasta
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 small onion, diced small
1 TBS olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil)
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground yellow mustard
salt and pepper
1/4 cup white wine, such as Riesling
3 TBS butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk, not cold (really cold milk might cause your sauce to turn lumpy)
2 cups room temperature shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup green sweet peas (I used leftover cooked peas but those individual steam bags would work well in a pinch)


1.In a soup pan, boil salted water for the pasta. Cook 5-7 min, then drain - set aside.

2.In a large sauce pan, heat oil on medium heat, add onion and cook until translucent (5-10 min), add spices and ground turkey. Cook turkey until no pink is showing, when meat is done deglaze pan with white wine, cooking for 5 min. to burn off some of the alcohol.

3.Empty meat mix unto a plate and set aside, you'll now work on the sauce. Melt butter, then slowly add flour to make a roux, add milk slowly, making sure to whisk constantly to prevent lumps. Once sauce is done, add meat mixture, peas, and noodles. I scooped individual potions into ramekins and topped each with more shredded cheese and baked in the oven for 5 min. but it is up to you.

The key to making a smooth and creamy cheese sauce:

-Make sure your cheese is finely shredded and room temperature.
-Try to incorporate some acid (in this case it's wine) this prevent the cheese from getting chunky
-Having a roux always helps to thicken the sauce and it doesn't have a strong starchy taste like cornstarch
-Make sure when you add the milk that it is room temperature, otherwise your sauce might be lumpy.


  1. Nice pictures, but your recipe is still a rough draft. 1/4 white wine should probably say 1/4 CUP white wine, and you neglect to indicate when to add the peas.

  2. Thanks for catching that Erin - I could really use a proof reader some days! I made the corrections.


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