Friday, November 18, 2005

Recipe Friday

Brian
Previously on Recipe Friday . . .
TGR: If I could only come up with one good recipe.
[Sounds of screaming]
Lucy: Reverend, where is your recipe now?!

The following events take place between ten and eleven a.m.:

Hey, recipe gang! It’s been a while. Luckily, I’ve got a recipe today that is tasty, easy, and reminiscent of childhoods past.

Not Your Lunchlady’s Sloppy Joes

You’ll need the following tools:
  • Big skillet
  • Toaster (oven)
  • Stove
  • Spatula
  • Sharp, but not too big, knife
  • Cutting board
  • Can opener
And you’ll need the following food-type items:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 - 7.5 oz can tomatoes, diced (you can get them bigger then diced, then use kitchen scissors to cut them up in the can if you want)
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • Chili power
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Quick cooking oatmeal (plain)
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Hamburger buns
Begin the preparations:
  1. Clean the onion and green pepper.
  2. Stand the green pepper on end on the cutting board. Insert your knife into the top, pushing all the way through to the bottom. Cut a circle around the stem and push or pull out the core and all its seedy whiteness. Compost that bugger.
  3. Slice the remaining hollow cylinder of green pepper in half, then into quarters. Then take one quarter and slice it into strips about 1/4” thick. Pinch all those strips together and slice them cross-ways so they end up little tiny pieces. Do the same with the other three quarters of the pepper.
  4. For the onion, slice off each nasty end and peel off all the papery covering. Sometimes it helps if you make a superficial cut in the covering, which gives you an edge to peel. Once you have the naked onion, cut it up into pieces about as small as the green pepper pieces, or as small as you can get without crying.
Now, you have to look in your heart and ask yourself a question: is the ground beef I am going to use frozen?
  • If you’re using non-frozen ground beef, throw it in the skillet along with the green pepper and onion pieces. Then brown it over medium heat. What does browning mean? We’ll get there in a second.
  • If you’re using frozen ground beef, it’s going to take a little while to brown it, so put it in the skillet but leave the onions and green peppers out until you are about halfway done.
  • Browning ground beef basically means breaking it up into tiny pieces with the spatula while you are cooking it. You know you’re done browning when the meat is, oddly enough, brown. At that point, you can say to yourself, Well done, Brownie, you’re doing a great job.
  • If the meat is a frozen hunk when you start, you can still brown it, but it takes a little longer. Put it in the skillet until one side starts sizzling. Then flip it over and use the spatula to scrape off the partially cooked meat on that side—basically, scrape off whatever you can. By the time you are done, it should be just about time to flip it back over and do the same to the other side. Keep doing this until there is no frozen meat left and it all just breaks up into tiny pieces for you. But don’t forget to add the onions and peppers halfway through.
Now what?
Once you’ve got the ground beef all browned, and the onions and peppers have been in there a little while and it’s all simmering, you’ll want to ask yourself, how much grease is in that pan? If it looks like a lot, you’ll have to drain it out. This is a complicated maneuver which involves putting a lid on the pan, lifting the pan by the handle, then holding it sideways over a can or bowl or something with one hand on the lid handle, so that grease can run out the bottom into the can, but you don’t let any of the food fall out. If you used lean enough ground beef in the first place, you probably don’t have to drain it at all.

Put it back uncovered on the burner, if you took it off, and then add the following:
  • 7.5 ounces of diced canned tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oatmeal
  • Some Tabasco sauce (your call)
Mix it all up with your spatula, and then reduce the heat to low-medium. This is one of those “it’ll be done when it is done” sort of things—you have to just watch it, stirring it up occasionally, and then eventually decide, okay, it’s time to eat this. Maybe it’ll take five minutes, maybe eight, maybe twelve: I don’t know. You can’t really mess it up.

Toast your buns in the toaster oven. No, your hamburger buns. When they are done toasting, and your meat is done roasting, and you are nearly done boasting, stick the buns on a plate, slap some sloppy joe on there, and eat away. Goes great with Jell-O.

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Adapted from the sloppy joe recipe in The New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

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