The Wonderful World of Risotto

I would first like to apologize to you dear faithful readers of Tellurian Things for neglecting my duties as the monthly food blogger. I hope you were not too disappointed. I’ll make it up to you someday. I also need to apologize for breaking the promise that my next blog entry would be on something Honduran. I have been working on my Honduran food, but I haven’t taken any pictures and my writing is not entertaining enough to muddle through without a little eye candy. So you’ll have to wait for that. But, I promise to make it worth it.

BUT to make it up to you, this post is about one of the most delicious things you can eat. It also happens to be a pretty simple thing to prepare and there’s no limit to what you can do with it! This is, as mentioned in the title, risotto. I love risotto. And I don’t know anyone who doesn’t (except kind of for my dad) and can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t. It is delicious. But, a lot of people are intimidated by it.

I’m here to say, “Don’t be afraid! Cook risotto! Eat risotto!”

If you’ve never had it before, risotto is just an Italian rice dish made with arborio rice. Not all grocery stores have arborio rice, and you really need it for the right consistency for your risotto. Arborio makes the risotto really creamy without having to add any cream. But it is worth any lengths you must go to to find it.

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Arborio rice, just find it.

Now one great thing about risotto is that you can add ANYTHING you want to it. The recipe I’m going to give you has sausage and shrimp with vegetables but you can really add anything. So without further adieu, here’s the recipe.

Cajun Sausage and Shrimp Risotto

  • 1 C arborio rice
  • 2-3 T butter or oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 C homemade shrimp broth
  • 1 1/2 C white wine
  • 1 lb andouille sausage
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, uncooked, heads, and shells removed and deveined
  • 8 oz mushrooms (I used creminis, but use whatever you want)
  • 1 bundle of asparagus (around 20 stalks)
  • 1 C cheese (I used about half mozzarella and half Romano, but you could use parmesan, too)
  • Salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning to taste

The first thing you need to do is prepare and cook your shrimp. You might have to take off the shells and devein them yourself. (You don’t have to devein them, but I recommend it because the vein is not a vein, it’s the shrimp GI tract… just sayin’) When your preparing them, SAVE the shells. You want them for your broth. Once the shrimp are ready, boil them in salted water until they turn white. They cook really, really fast, so don’t walk away. After they’re cooked, remove the shrimp from the water and add the shells. I had some extra mushrooms in my fridge that were a few days old and I had a bay leaf, so I threw them in there, too. Leave this to simmer for a while, maybe 10-20 minutes. Strain the shells and vegetables out and that’s your broth.

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My broth in the making

While your broth is simmering, it’s a good time to cook your vegetables. Slice the mushrooms and chop the asparagus into thirds. Sauté them in oil and cook until the mushrooms are soft and the asparagus is bright green.

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Next, slice the sausage in about 1/4″ slices and sauté them in a skillet until they are browned on both sides. This smells WONDERFUL!

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Warning: this will make you house smell so good.

Now to the risotto:

While the sausage is cooking, melt the butter with the garlic and onion in a medium sized stock pot over medium heat. Once the onions start to cook, add the rice and stir to coat the rice in the butter and oil. You don’t want to cook the rice, just get it coated and stir for a few minutes. Mix the wine and the stock together and add a cup of the liquid to the rice.

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the rice will still be white when you’re ready to add the liquid

Stir until the liquid is absorbed and add another cup. Stir, and when that cup is absorbed, add the last cup. I forgot to add the liquid one cup at a time and it still worked out fine, I just had to add more liquid later. Add the meat with the last cup of liquid so that the flavors will mix. Once the liquid is absorbed, add the vegetables and the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and the vegetables are mixed in.

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The final product

Now you’re ready to serve, eat, and enjoy! This makes a lot, so you might need to invite some people over, or freeze it. Now that you know how to make risotto, add whatever you want: italian sausage, chicken, sundried tomatoes, green peas, whatever!

And, again, I do promise to someday teach you haw to make some delicious Honduran cuisine. AND, maybe next time I post will not be the day of a test and I’ll have stuff to talk about other than just eating food. Even though the list of things I like to talk about more than food is pretty short…

Until then,

Griffin

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Chicken Cordon Bleu

Well get your pinkies out because today we’re gettin’ a little fancy. This post comes to you by request of my dear friend, Stephanie Cowart. Stephanie is known for many things. At present, she is most notably known for working in a super cool country that is not America! She is also known for enjoying games, traveling, A Very Potter Musical, anything else related to Harry Potter, and laughing. She is not, however known for being a graceful loser at Disney Scene It…. I think she has only lost once (and it was to a team that I was on. just saying.)

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sorry, Stephanie, you know I can’t resist bringing this up….
also, for the record, I’m making that weird face because I was laughing.

All gloating aside, Stephanie and I have been through a lot of adventures together and, as do most of my adventures, they usually involved me cooking something. Labor Day weekend of my senior year at Auburn, some camp people all decided to go to Jackson, TN for the second annual Labor Day Camp Friends Reunion (it was also the last, unfortunately…). While we were there, we decided to make a nice dinner and I decided to make Chicken Cordon Bleu, and one bent skillet and one alienated neighbor later, we had a delicious dinner prepared. Stephanie, I hope that you’ll be able to get all of these ingredients…

Chicken Cordon Bleu sounds, looks and tastes like it is really complicated to make. But, the beauty of it is that it is actually fairly simple. A little time consuming until you get the hang of it, but overall, not too difficult. First, here is what you’ll need:

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  • One boneless chicken breast for every person
  • One slice of swiss cheese for every person (I use baby swiss and get it sliced at a #2 thickness at Wal-Mart, you want them to be thick enough to be cheesy but not so thick that they won’t roll up. Basically, just get whatever you want!)
  • One slice of ham for every person the same thickness as the cheese
  • Store bought bread crumbs
  • Parsley
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup (or make your own…it’s really easy, I promise)
  • 1/2 lb sour cream
  • olive oil and butter
  • 1 lemon, zested (optional)
  • Garlic (always!)

Pound your chicken breasts (using a mallet, flat skillet, big spoon, etc.) until they are abound 1/2″ thick. (Hint: If you don’t want to be covered in salmonella, potentially, and raw chicken, place each breast in a ziplock bag or between wax paper to pound it out)

Season each piece of chicken with salt, pepper, and some of the chopped parsley; you could also add some lemon zest here, if you want.

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Place one slice of the cheese, and a slice of ham on each piece of chicken and roll them up. When you roll them: each piece will have a pointy end and a blunt end. Let any excess ham and cheese hang off at the pointy end and start rolling there. This will help your chicken make a better “package.” It helps to stick a couple of toothpicks in the ends to hold each roll together. But, if you’re like me, and can never remember to buy toothpicks, you can make it work–just be more careful.

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Once each piece of chicken is rolled up, roll each piece in the bread crumbs, then in the oil, then back in the bread crumbs so that you have a nice coating. You might still see some of the chicken through the crumbs, but that’s fine.
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After you’re done dredging, melt some butter, or pour some olive oil in the bottom of a skillet over medium heat. When the butter or oil is hot, brown each piece of chicken on the entire breaded surface (don’t stand it up on its end, that would make a mess) and place them in a baking dish once they’re browned. This is really quick. DON’T try to actually cook the chicken, we just want a nice crispy coat on each piece. The middle is still cold and raw at this point. Save the drippings in the pan!!
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Put the baking dish in the oven at 350° for about 20-25 minutes.
In the meantime, add the garlic (as much as you want, I usually use a couple of cloves) to the drippings in the pan. Give the garlic a minute or two to cook and add the sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. You want about equal parts of sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. Stir that together and turn the heat down to low so that the sauce can stay warm. If you want, you could also add lemon zest and/or parsley here.
After the 20-25 minutes have passed, remove the baking dish from the oven and spoon some of the sauce over the chicken. Return the chicken to the oven for a few more minutes (maybe 5). Sprinkle some more fresh chopped parsley over the top, and you’re good to go! I serve the rest of the sauce on the side so that anyone can have as much as they want.
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If you’re gonna make your own cream of mushroom soup, I applaud you and here’s how you do it. It’s basically just like making the cheese sauce from the crispitos. You will need:
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper
Chop about 5 oz of mushrooms (I used cremini, or baby bells) into cubes. Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat and add the mushrooms and garlic to taste. Once the mushrooms are soft, add about 2 tablespoons of flour and stir until the flour makes a kind of paste on the mushrooms. Add about a cup of milk and stir until all of the flour is incorporated, don’t stop stirring until you have a smooth sauce or you can get clumpy soup… The soup will thicken as it cooks, but you can add milk if you need to make it thinner. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and you’re good to go!
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When I made this last night, I served it with brown rice and roasted asparagus.

For the rice, I melted about 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and sautéed the rice with a chopped onion and two cloves of garlic minced over medium heat. When the rice was brown, I added 1 tablespoon of chicken base (which is like bouillon, but a little stronger) and 3 cups of hot water. I stirred this over medium heat and just let it sit for a while. Rice is kind of my nemesis. It’s easy to make it bland and can be inconsistent for me when I make it flavorful. I think it’s just because I get bored looking at it. Parboiled rice is easier to pay attention to, but I’ve had some weird results when I used parboiled rice, you have been warned. I just kept adding water to the rice while I was cooking until the end. When I was about ready to serve, I let the water boil off, seasoned with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice (be careful with the lemon juice because it can overpower the rice for some nastiness…) and let the rice cook after the water boiled off for a while.

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For the asparagus, I just poured olive oil over the top of them seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon zest and baked them at 350° with the chicken for about 15-20 minutes. Just watch the asparagus so they don’t get too done. They look ugly when they are overcooked.

And I’ll leave you with something to *hopefully* look forward to. Earlier this month, I got to go on a week long medical mission trip to Honduras. You can check out our blog from the trip here. While I was there, I got to learn how to make some of the local cuisine! I’m going to be practicing this month and hopefully next month, I’ll have some exciting Honduran food to talk about!
Til next time,
Griffin

Bonus: Strawberry Lemonade

I realize this is out of turn, but since tomorrow is Memorial Day, I wanted to share it with you. I love lemonade and it is perfect for a Memorial Day cookout or picnic. So here you go.

This will make about 1 liter of lemonade.

  • 5 small lemons
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C water, plus more to dilute later
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • optional: fresh or frozen strawberries, quartered (or any other berry for that matter), fresh basil or mint

The first thing you need to do is make a simple syrup. A lot of people are intimidated by simple syrup because it’s working with sugar. But this is seriously simple. With a fine grater, zest all of the lemons, making sure to not grate off any of the bitter, white pith. Add the zest to a small sauce pan with the sugar, water, and cloves. Bring this to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, let the syrup boil for about 5 minutes and pour through a strainer to get the zest out. (If you don’t have a fine strainer, you can either leave the zest out or deal with zest in your lemonade)

Put the syrup in the fridge to cool it off and juice your lemons.

Once the lemons are juiced, mix the juice with about half of your syrup, you’ll have left over syrup, but you can always find other uses for simple syrup. If you’re adding more fruit or herbs, add them here. I added about half a quart of quartered strawberries and a couple of basil leaves out of the garden. Add more water to dilute the lemonade. Let the lemonade sit for a few hours to let all the flavors mix. Before you serve the lemonade, taste it and adjust any flavors if needed. I have found that it gets sweeter as the fruit sits in it, but I like it really sweet! I served it with some of the strawberries in the glass and garnished it with two more basil leaves.

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The finished product

Now, I promise to leave you alone until the end of June.

Fried Green Tomatoes!

Well, we’ve made it through May. The blog is still up and running. Exams didn’t kill me or leave me permanently maimed. Overall, a successful month, I would say.

Before I begin my second food post, I am going to step out of my area of “expertise” (if you can call it that!) to share something musical with you. THIS TUESDAY, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros will put out their second album. If you’ve never heard of them, you need to hear of them. They are fantastic. I saw them last weekend at the Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, AL, and they put on a great show! You can listen to their new album here: you won’t regret it! And you can watch a video of them performing one of the songs from the new album here. I cannot stop listening to it. Seriously.

OK with that said, let’s get on with it…. If you remember from last month, I made some snarky remarks about Alabama being one of the fattest states in the nation. This month, I’m sharing part of the secret as to how we got as fat as we are: Fried Green Tomatoes! Well, not really the movie. But, it is a good movie; especially if you’re like me and like to watch movies set in the south that are at the same time very sad and very funny (see also: Steel Magnolias). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll beg for more–I know I have! But for real, on with the show now.

Fried green tomatoes are really the perfect way to kick off the summer. They mean that soon you’ll have fresh ripe tomatoes coming in that are so good you’ll want to eat them like apples. Not a joke. Also, they’re not too heavy like some fried foods so they just feel like summer. And as this is my last summer break of my life, I’m savoring every minute, and bite, of it!

I learned how to make fried green tomatoes while working at a bakery in Birmingham the summer after my freshman year of high school, and my life has never been the same. (Partially because of having met my incredibly unpleasant manager who would only let me make the tomatoes, cut up fruit, or do dishes. And mostly dishes. In an unrelated story, she was later fired because she got a little too involved when her son pulled a knife on another guy in the kitchen. So much drama…) But, mainly because I love fried green tomatoes! So, my recipe is kind of adapted from the bakery’s recipe and the inspiration for fried green tomato BLTs came from them as well.

The most important thing about fried green tomatoes, and anything with tomatoes for that matter, is where you get your tomatoes from. You DON’T want to get them from somewhere like this; you want to get them from somewhere like this. (For the record that’s Durbin Farms in Chilton County, AL where you can get the best peaches in. the. world. Bar none. As my mother says, “Georgia isn’t the peach state, Chilton County is the peach state.” And she is right. And I was born in Georgia…)

Or, better yet, grow your own green tomatoes:

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This is really the best place to get green tomatoes

That is a green tomato from my garden, but I didn’t use tomatoes I grew. I bought mine because I’m growing black tomatoes and I am dying to see them ripen! But, buy them fresh! If you can, always buy tomatoes that were grown within driving distance. (FYI: Red tomatoes at the grocery store were picked green and gassed with ethylene to make them turn red. Thanks, America.)

Whenever I cook anything, I like to gather all of my ingredients first. That way, if it starts to get a little crazy, you don’t have to run all over your kitchen trying to find what you need. Here’s what you’ll need for the tomatoes:

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That’s: all purpose flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, buttermilk, an egg, Ritz Crackers (or whatever crackers you have around), vegetable oil, and of course the tomatoes. The recipe will be at the bottom of the post, so I won’t give measurements here, just scroll down for those.

Note: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can add white vinegar to regular milk (about 1 T vinegar per cup of milk) and it will work just as well.

First, I will get everything ready to bread the tomatoes. Mix the flour and seasonings together. I always season my flour when I’m frying anything, and I pretty much always use these same seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, paprika). Crush the crackers pretty fine, but not too fine, I like to be able to distinguish pieces of the crackers. And, beat the egg with the buttermilk.

Once you have your delicious tomatoes, wash them and slice them. Thickness is a matter of preference. You definitely want them thick enough to taste the tomato, but you don’t want them so thick that they don’t get hot and gooey.

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about half the height of a penny is a good thickness for me, but do what you want

Now you get to dredge the tomatoes. This can get pretty messy, so you may want to have a big bowl of warm water and a towel nearby for your hands. You need to coat each slice with the flour mixture, dunk them into the buttermilk/egg, back into the flour, back into the buttermilk, and finally give each slice a good coating with the crackers. Once you have each slice breaded, you’re ready to fry them.

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sliced tomatoes, ready to dredge!

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all breaded and good to go!

Now, on to frying. A lot of people are terrified of frying. It’s not that scary. And if you’re frying vegetables, you definitely don’t have to worry about this happening! You can use a deep fryer if you have one. That’s what we did at the restaurant. But most people use a skillet, and that’s what I prefer. So get a big skillet (preferably cast iron) with a large, flat base and fill it with about 1/2″ of vegetable oil. Turn the stove on to a medium-low setting and let the oil heat up. To test if the oil is hot enough, just drop a piece of the cracker or breading and see how it fries up. It should start frying immediately, but it should not burn. If it burns, it’s too hot, turn down the heat and wait. If it sinks to the bottom and just sits there, you either haven’t waited long enough, or you’re being to cautious and need to turn up the heat.

**BEFORE YOU FRY: you need a place to put your deliciously golden food. Get a plate out and put a paper towel over it. You don’t want to scramble around looking for somewhere to put the tomatoes and have them burn up in the oil.**

Once the oil is hot, drop in a few tomatoes. Be careful not to overload your oil. If you add too many tomatoes at once, the oil will cool down too much and you won’t get good, crispy tomatoes. I can fry 3-4 at a time:

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This is one of the best smells in the world!

You’ll start to see the edges turning brown after about 45 seconds, that’s when it’s time to flip them. When you flip them over, make sure they look nice and brown on that side and if they don’t, flip ’em back. That’s all there is to it. Let the food tell you when it’s cooking and when it’s done. It should take about 45 seconds to a minute on each side.

Soon, you’ll have a plate full of fried green tomatoes!

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I made more than 3, but they smelled so good, we were eating them before I realized that I hadn’t taken a picture of them. I’m still new at this whole thing.

Now comes the hard part: you have to decide how you want to eat them. They are delicious plain. They are delicious with ranch dressing. They are delicious with the sauce that I’m about to give you the recipe for. And, they are delicious in a BLT. We went with BLTs. I got some thick sliced bacon and baked it at  350º until it was done (I like mine floppy). Toast your bread (I recommend getting some good bread for this: sourdough, or pumpernickel would be my top choices. We used cheap whole wheat sandwich bread…) I put three half slices of bacon, two tomatoes, some of the sauce that I made, and some cheese on each sandwich and put that back into the oven until the cheese melted.

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Oh yeah! Super good

Once the cheese melts, add some lettuce and you’re good to go!

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Fried Green Tomato BLT with a side of Fried Green Tomatoes

Now for the sauce. I made this sauce up when my mom made onion rings while I was home a couple of weeks ago. It’s basically like the sauce at any chicken finger place. Here are your ingredients:

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mayonnaise, ketchup, worcestershire sauce (not pictured), salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic, and onion. *The garlic powder should not be there, sorry*

First you need to mince 1 clove of garlic and some of the onion as fine as you can. I mean, really, really fine. The amount of onion is hard to measure. I probably used about 1/8 of the small onion in the picture, I ended up with probably 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced onion once it was all said and done, but you can do more or less, depending on your tastes.

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superfine

After you’ve minced the garlic and onion, you just mix everything together. Here are your measurements:

Special Sauce (for lack of a better name, and creativity)

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • about 1 1/2 T minced onion
  • 1 scant C mayonnaise (I mainly say “scant” because I loathe mayonnaise)
  • 1/2 C plust about 1 T ketchup
  • 3 good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • a good palmful of Italian seasoning
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t black pepper

Mix all that up, taste it, and adjust any of the ingredients as you like.

And finally, here is your fried green tomato recipe:

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 3 fresh green tomatoes
  • 1-1 1/2 C buttermilk (or milk with white vinegar added)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 sleeve of Ritz Crackers (or other type of cracker)
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 palmful of paprika (about 1 1/2 T)
  • 1 small palmful of garlic powder (about 1 T)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Beat the egg and mix with the buttermilk.

Crush the crackers into crumbs.

Mix together flour and remaining ingredients.

Slice the tomatoes to the desired thickness (about 1/3″)

Dredge the tomato slices on both sides in the flour mixture, dip in the buttermilk/egg mixture, dip back in the flour, then back in the buttermilk, and finally coat with crackers.

Fill a large, flat-bottomed skillet with about 1/2″ of vegetable oil. Fry the tomatoes in the oil for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side or until they are golden brown. Eat them, and be satisfied.

I realize that was long, but I only have your attention once a month. I have to make good use of it!

Until next time,

Griffin

Two Three more things:

  1. there were enough tomatoes to feed 4 people
  2. the sauce gets better as it sits overnight, the tomatoes (like all other fried foods) do not, eat them fast!
  3. Here’s a photo of the sauce:

Hello and Crispitos

Well, I know that you’ve all been on pins and needles today; waiting and waiting for me to put this post up. But, some things are worth waiting for. And, as my mother will tell you, communicating with a medical student is one of those things: difficult, but worth it. Hopefully, you will feel the same.

I’m just gonna get right down to it: my name is Griffin and I LOVE food. I love everything about food. I love eating food, cooking food, reading about food, shopping for food, growing food, pretty much anything you can do with food. So my job on here is just to talk about whatever I want to about food.

I also do some other stuff…mostly medical school. It’s not as glamorous as Hollywood would have you think, but it’s not too bad either. So I’ll try to throw in some tips on how to eat well on a budget (I’m already about $20,000 in debt–thanks, America) and with limited time (that’s self explanatory). But, I like other things, and occasionally they will probably come up, too.

But today, I thought I’d just start simple and share a recipe from this week. There’s also a story behind the recipe. First the story.

For me, a meal is more than just food (at least I try to make it that way), this particular meal is basically all about nostalgia. While I was in high school, the state of Alabama decided that the reason we were so fat was that kids could eat food with fat and sugar in them at school.

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Here is Alabama being the third fattest state in the nation in 2007!

The Alabama state legislature is FAMOUS for making excellent decisions, see this law for instance, so they passed a law limiting the amount of fat and sugar that could be in our food at school. This was a problem, because our school did have pretty good food (for school food, at least) before this law. But after the law, one thing was still good: crispitos. A crispito is basically a fried (I guess they started baking them…) bastardized enchilada covered with canned nacho cheese sauce with some salsa and lettuce. And my friends and I ate them almost every day. We loved them. A couple of years ago, my friend Taylor told me that he was craving some crispitos just like we had in high school. I decided I could do better than that and make my own for us to eat. So I did. And this is what I came up with. They are better tasting than the Hoover High School cafeteria ever made them, and better for you than the Alabama legislature could mandate. I hope you enjoy them, at least the pictures.

A word of warning: I never really measure anything when I’m cooking. I do everything by sight and taste. And I think you should to. You’re the one who’s gonna have to look at the food while you serve it, and you’re the one who’s gonna have to taste the food. But, I will do my best to give appropriate measurements.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 5-6 jalapeños
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • a lime
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 10 tortillas
  • 3 T butter or oil, plus more butter or margarine
  • 3 T flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 lb grated cheddar cheese, approximately
  • chopped spinach
  • 1 bottle of beer, whatever type you have, optional
First, I like to make my own pico de gallo. You need to make it a couple of days in advance. You just chop the tomato, one of the onions, about half the cilantro and some of the garlic cloves (2-3) and jalapeños (2-3) into small, even pieces. Mix them together, add about a tsp of salt and pepper and squeeze the juice of about half of the lime in there. Let it sit and work it’s magic.
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You'll end up with this

Be careful when you are chopping jalapeños, or you can end up with this:

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not cool

I prided myself on never having rubbed jalapeños in my eye. Rule of the kitchen: don’t get cocky.

Next, to make the crispitos:

Chop up the other onion, and the remaining garlic and jalapeños.

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In a large skillet begin to sauté the vegetables. This is where I added the beer. I poured about a half a cup of the beer into the vegetables and poured the rest in the beans I was making. Once the vegetables are soft, add the beef and cook until it is brown and crumbly.

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Vegetables, beans, and beer

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I couldn't get a photo where the meat didn't have this weird color. My lighting options are limited. I swear this meat was not this color.

After the meat is done, drain the mean and vegetables with a colander. This is where I like to season the meat. I used salt, pepper, cumin and coriander. But use whatever you have and make it taste how you want it to taste.

After the meat is drained and seasoned, place a few tablespoons of the mixture in the middle of each tortilla and roll them up tight. Place the enchiladas in a lightly greased 13×9 inch baking dish.

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Spread softened butter or margarine over the enchiladas. This puts the “crisp” in crispito. Bake the crispitos at 350° for about 15-20 minutes. Then turn the broiler on low and let them brown and crisp up for just a few minutes. Be careful, because broilers go from really fun to really bad really quick. You will end up with charcoal if you don’t watch it.

Now for the cheese sauce.

I guess you could just buy cheez whiz or something. But, that’s kinda gross. I like to make my own sauce. And it is easy. I just make a roux with cheddar. If you’ve never made a roux before, don’t worry, it’s super easy, and then you can impress people by using words like roux (pronounced “roo” for you non-francophiles). All you have to do is melt 3 tablespoons of butter (or heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil) over medium low heat. Add 3 tablespoons of flour and mix well. This should make a paste. You want to cook this over medium heat for about a minute. Now, pour in 2 cups of milk and whisk like crazy. The only things you really have to look out for are cooking the roux too hot and not whisking enough, both of which will mess up the texture of the roux. Now add the cheese. I like a lot of cheese, so I added almost a full pound. You can add as much as you want. After you add the cheese and stir it in, season the sauce with salt and pepper. I also added some coriander and cumin here, too. And you’re done. Super easy.

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I LOVE CHEESE.

Now, top the crispitos with the spinach (because it’s better for you than iceberg lettuce), some pico, and the cheese. I served them with rice and beans.

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I hope you enjoy them! See you in a month.