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Grown-Up Hamburger Helper


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¼ cup neutral oil, such as canola, avocado or vegetable

1 large yellow onion, diced into ½-inch pieces

Salt and black pepper, to taste

3 garlic cloves, minced

5 strips Lepp’s bacon, finely chopped

1 pound Lepp’s ground beef

1 cup dry white wine

3 cups, or 750 mls. chicken stock (can use 2 tsp. Major’s chicken base mixed with 3 cups boiling water) 

¾ cup whipping cream (you can use a lighter cream or whole milk, but it may curdle while the sauce is boiling, which is still good to eat but doesn’t look very appetizing!)

2 Tbsp – ⅓ cup hot sauce, such as Sriracha or Mum’s Okanagan Hot Sauce, depending on heat tolerance! 

2 tsp. smoked paprika

250 grams, just under 2 cups, of elbow pasta 

5 slices American cheese, ripped into small pieces ( they’re the individually wrapped Kraft Cheese slices and are optional but add an extra creaminess to the dish) 

1½ cups grated Cheddar Cheese, medium to old is best 

½ cup finely chopped chives or green onions


Heat a large (12-inch) sauté pan or shallow Dutch oven over medium-low, and add oil and onion; season lightly with salt and pepper. (The hot sauce added later will add a lot flavour, so be careful not to overseason here.) Let the onions cook until they turn light beige in colour and begin to caramelize, 20 to 25 minutes.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant and just starting to brown, about 2 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and add bacon and ground beef; break up the meat into smaller pieces with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Continue to cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the meat starts to sear and develop a crust on the bottom of the pan, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully drain off most of the fat, leaving a little in the pan to keep the meat moist.

5.  Return the pan to medium-high heat and add white wine, reducing it until the mixture is almost dry, about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, heavy cream, hot sauce, paprika and bay leaf to the pan. Mix until combined and bring to a boil.

Once the mixture is boiling, add the pasta and reduce the heat to low. Cook until al dente, stirring often, about 15-20  minutes.

Once the pasta is cooked, add both cheese types, stirring until completely melted and the sauce is thickened.

Remove the pan from heat, stir in chives or green onions and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


We had our family over for dinner recently, and I needed something to serve all the grandchildren, who didn’t love the seafood I would be serving.  Imagine my surprise when the adults started eating my version of this NY Times recipe by the spoonful after dishing up their children’s plates.  It’s that good!  Even though it was being served to children, I still used the wine as the alcohol burns off and adds a depth of flavour. 

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