One of my flaws is that I will tinker around with a dish, hit on what seems to work, and then not remember exactly what I did. This frustrates the Phenom to no end. I never have been able to recapture the fresh pasta sauce I made 15 years ago. Now, I have just given up because I suspect we have built the memory of that pasta up until it has reached mythic levels.
This week, per Phenom's request, I made a batch of a local specialty he grew up eating: Ground Steak Sandwiches. There is a social club in Phenom's home town that makes a terrific version. People will line up around the block to get these sandwiches on festival days.
It's kinda like a sloppy joe, but without tomatoes. Essentially, the meat is held together with a white gravy. I've tried to figure it out on my own. I've purchased several community cookbooks from this community to find recipes. I seem to recall a bribe was once offered. And, now, I think I've hit on what makes a pretty good version of the ground steak.
I browned (1 lb at a time) 3 lbs of ground beef. I think I had 2 lbs ground chuck and 1 lb ground round. I added just a little pepper to the meat as it was browning. I drained it off and allowed it to cool. Then I put it in the crock part of my crock pot and stashed it in the fridge. (BTW, this is the only thing I make in the crockpot. I'm pretty much a failure at the crockpot.) The next morning, I put the crock into the base and turned it on low. I added one can of low sodium beef broth and went to work.
When I came home, I decided that the liquid level wasn't quite enough and added 1/2 a cup ish of hot water. When I was ready to eat, I pulled off about a cup of liquid and whisked it with 2 tbls flour, and added it back to the meat. I also added 3/4 - 1 tsp salt and about the same amount black pepper. After it simmered a few more minutes, I decided it wasn't quite tight enough and sprinkled a couple tsp corn starch over the mixture.
Serve on toasted buns. In Phenom's home town, they serve it with slaw and a slice of tomato. Phenom just likes it with a generous amount of mayo on the bun.