Why hello there! And welcome to Kitchen Catastrophe, the blog most likely to make you chuckle, and then make you a little hungry, since Emeril Lagasse gave up stand-up. I’m your host with the most (to lose) Jon O’Guin, and today, we have a unique experience in Kitchen Catastrophes: A completely original recipe! You can jump straight to it HERE, or you can travel with me on the journey to make it be. C’mon boys and girls, Allons-y!
How to Serve Man (Spoilers: It’s a Cookbook)
Now, when I say an “Original” recipe, I have to make some caveats to that statement: Many of the recipes I’ve produced for these notes are modified from their original creation. The initial recipe for Buffalo Pierogi in Snicker-Snack for instance, included chili powder. I never liked the slight texture it added, so I scrapped it, and just used a variety of hot sauces. I often include my notes on which parts can be changed in a recipe, because here’s the thing: Once you know how to make a recipe, it’s yours to alter however you see fit. Like children. (Note: Do not substantially alter your children as you see fit. That’s likely illegal, and may lead to awkward family gatherings.)
However, what you soon realize is, once you understand the underlying principles, most food is made the same way. One of my favorite references to this is from Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything, a book that attempts to teach you…well, exactly what it says on the cover. Years ago, he put out a short little joke of a recipe to a food website I read, which was a recipe with no set ingredients. It was basically: “Place protein source in pan, and briefly sear. Add herbs of your choice. Remove from heat, and place in 375 degree oven until done. Remove from pan, and let rest. Use liquid to deglaze pan and make a sauce. Drizzle over protein, and serve.” And the thing is that recipe will work for a LOT of combinations.
You can see it in a bunch of places, in a variety of ways. Pasta Roni uses all the same ingredients, it just changes the ratio, and when the milk goes in. Pitas, wraps, and sandwiches are all basically “Put meat and vegetables in starch shell: consume.” It’s like learning to paint: Once you know how colors interact, it’s pretty easy to make things that are at least basically visually appealing. As such, I wasn’t worried when I recently had to improvise a meal before a friend’s 21st Birthday.
Alan is hard to make Palindromes with. Nala.
Anyone who’s meandered to the other sections of the site beyond the main page, or has bothered to read the copyright information at the bottom, knows that I don’t run the technical side of this site. That honor, as well as the honor of editing my nonsense to be more palatable to the general public, goes to Alan Vandegrift.
His average face when I forget a meeting.
Jon, don’t piss me off when I have my meat stick handy. Not a sexual innuendo. Just a big stick of meat.
Alan and I are college buddies, having met doing theatre at WSU. It was he who reached out and said “Hey, Jon, if I made a site for you, would you write funny cooking stuff for it?” And I looked around at my unemployment and said “Sure, not like I got anything better to do.” And it was a good thing, too. Digital technology is something that confuses me. Anything past the hardware stage is a mess. Coding, formatting, etc. I can build you a computer, no sweat. I can fix communication errors between your router and your smart TV. But the instant software gets involved, I start to flounder. I like my ware hard, and my innuendo vaguely homoerotic.
Now, a fun fact about Alan: his body is actively trying to kill him. Alan is, in no particular order, allergic to bread yeast and brewer’s yeast, cheese, and the color orange. So he can’t have most starches, cheeses, or clementines. Which limits my ability to cook for him (well, okay, the clementine was no great loss) because, as I’ve noted before, my family is basically all about meat, starch, and sauce. He also thought he was a lightweight for quite some time because beer made him sick. It turns out that it’s really hard to notice when something makes you nauseous, dizzy, and vomit when those are the expected effects.
You delightful poison, you.
BUT ENOUGH OF MOCKING HIS FRAIL FORM. HA. HA. Let’s mock his tiny, tiny cooking implements.
Bestrides the World Like a Colossus
Now, as those of you able to see may know, I am a large man. If you are feeling up the brail addition, we might have a disconnect. Anywho, yeah, I’m big. Last I checked, I was 6’2” and 260 pounds. I have been big for my age since roughly the age of ten. And while we could sit here and talk about how that’s affected myriad aspects of my life from dating, work, and even simple things like lying down, that’s not the agenda for today. We don’t have time for me to cry about how EVERYTHING I TOUCH BREAKS, like some sort of Ur-Lennie, seeking only the comfort of soft things, and ever killing every gentle soul his stupid, stupid hands fall upon. No, we’re here to talk about how Alan’s knives are made for children.
His stove, on the other hand, is of standard man-sized make.
What is this blade? Three inches? By Zeus, it is as the claw of a housecat, good only for cutting mice! HaHA! This is kind of blade one expects a magical wooden nutcracker to wield in battle against a vicious Rat King! Not to be used by MEN, of stature and bearing, those of us endowed with all that pleases the eye, stuffed, as they say, with honorable-
Here you go, Hercules. Knock yourself out.
Alright, Fine. I was using the wrong knife. THAT’S ON ME. But is this the end of his mockery? Does the knave then let us forge ahead, with power and virility in our stride? NO! (Which is probably good, since I don’t really know how to GET virility IN my stride. It sounds messy.) Instead, he gives me a pan to cook the food in, and THIS is what he hands me!
Jon, it was a joke, you didn’t have to put it all in the pan. Are you even listening to me?
ABSOLUTE BALDERDASH. I feel like the man in the fairy tale, who wakes every morning to find his house and bed smaller, as if his house is shrinking in to crush him, unknowingly pranked by mischievous Gnomes! I’ll not stand for this, I am a Gentleman, good sir, and must be- what’s that? Well of course I…Oh, I see. Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been informed I never told you what it is we’re striving to make with this Lilliputian Kitchen. So, allow me to remedy that.
The Thing That Has No Name
It’s a burrito Jon.
Yeah, that chapter title wasn’t very accurate, was it? Then again, how could it have been, the NAME was in the TITLE. Anyway, because of Alan’s dietary restrictions, he ends up eating a lot of wraps, burritos, tacos, etc, because tortillas don’t try to kill him.
As things were, we had assembled to celebrate his girlfriend’s birthday, and were killing time until we could meet our compatriots at the bars. So we needed something simple and filling for dinner, so we could drink all night without worry. Luckily, simple and filling is basically a description of any non-fried Mexican food, so we made burritos.
Now, I’d like to claim what happened next was a conscious, health-inspired mood. That too often, we Americans over-indulge in meats in our cooking, and we took a step back, and aimed for moderation. That, my dear friends, is not what happened. What happened was that the big brick of meat was too solidly frozen.
So cut through the heart, cold and clear- What, can’t a guy sing the least remembered song from Frozen?
So, instead, we diced some potatoes and onions, and sautéed them. We then threw on some general spices. When cooking Tex Mex, there are four “freebie” ingredients; ingredients that are certainly going to be added, so there’s no question: Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, and Cumin. They’re the basic flavors of Mexican cuisine, along with cilantro and general spiciness. As such, we grabbed those four, as well as a few more…eclectic choices.
Honestly, looking at them again, they aren’t very eclectic. More like “Hollywood Eclectic”, meaning a standard array of minorly distinctive traits. BOOM, SUCK IT, HOLLYWOOD.
And we Triple-Seasoned the dish; by that, I mean we first mixed the spices with a hot sauce, and threw it on the Potatoes and Onion, stirring until they were nicely colored. Then, we added the beef, and the spice mix again as we browned the meat. Then, we added beans to the mix, as well as water, and the spice mix again, and simmered it all together.
I end up taking a lot of pictures that are basically “Denny’s Skillet without the Cheese”
I do not jest when I say that these were some of the most…thoroughly flavored burritos I’ve ever had. I don’t mean that the flavors punched you in the mouth with spiciness, or that every bit was an explosion of the mix in your mouth. No, I mean that, as you ate, the flavors didn’t diminish. One time, when Pickling, I made a dill pickle that had three distinct waves of dill flavor: You bit into it, and it was dill. The liquid poured on your tongue, and it was dill. You swallowed the pickle, and a final rush of dill hit your senses. It was more like that, an inescapable glacier of taste.
We tucked in, throwing a touch of lime juice and cilantro to cut the glacier to something a little more manageable, and readied ourselves for a night on the town. That’s the kind of food this is: stick to your ribs, gets you ready to face the night food.
JOIN US NEXT TIME, WHEN JON BITES OFF MORE THAN HE CAN…CHEW! THAT PUN IS MEANINGLESS UNTIL YOU SEE THE NOTE! HAHAHA Post your guesses to the pun’s meaning in the comments below. As always, like, follow, subscribe, tattoo our logo on your eyelids, or just tell your friends!
(All measurements are, you know, whatever.)
3 potatoes, skinned and diced.
½ an onion, diced.
¾ lb. ground beef
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can black beans, undrained.
I can’t be precise with the mix. It’s a matter of taste, and ‘feel’.
I figure all told it was probably 2 tbsps of Chili Powder and Cumin, 1 tsp of Cayenne, and just a mixture of ½ tsp Lemon Pepper, 1 tsp Adobo seasoning, etc. As well as at least 2 tbsp Valentina hot sauce. (This doesn’t all go in at once)
Step 1: Heat about a tbsp. of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sautee the potatoes and onions for about 5 minutes, or until potatoes are softened, but still slightly springy. Then add 1/3 of the spice mix. Toss for about 2 minutes. Bring the heat to medium-high.
Step 2. Add the ground beef, and cook until browned, roughly 6-8 minutes. Add another 1/3 of spice mix. While browning ground beef, pour both cans of beans into a saucepan, and heat over medium, until warm.
Step 3. Add Beans, ½ c of water, and remaining spice mix. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until liquid is mostly absorbed. Serve in tortillas.