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Something Old, Something New

by John Raven, Ph. B.

Did you ever wonder about the origins of recipes? There are thousands of them out there and they all had a beginning somewhere. What was the very first recipe? My opinion is that the very first recipe, which was passed by word of mouth long before any form of writing was developed, was "Peel banana." The second recipe was "Skin antelope."

As civilization progressed, recipes became more complex and were recorded on "hard copy." We've got one for you this month that was developed by our friend Leslie Rayburn from down at Boerne (pronounced "Burr-knee"), Texas. Leslie debuted her new recipe at our May gathering of the Texas Hill Country Camping and Eat, Drink or Cook Anything Society.

Leslie's Smoked Turkey Tortellini Soup

  • 1-½ Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 4 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Ribs celery, diced
  • 3 Carrots, diced
  • 7-8 Fresh mushrooms, diced
  • 1 Red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 Can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 14-½ oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 Cup Frozen green beans (Italian or regular cut)
  • 3 Cans Swanson's lite chicken broth
  • 1-½ Cups Diced smoked turkey (breast or thigh)
  • Any reserved juice from the smoked turkey
  • ½ Teaspoon Dried thyme
  • ¾ Teaspoon Dried basil leaves
  • ¾ Teaspoon Dried marjoram
  • ½ Teaspoon Dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon White wine Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Lite soy sauce
  • ½ 8oz. Package dried tortellini with parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh Italian parsley, chopped, to garnish
  • Fresh grated Parmigiano reggiano, to garnish
Roast the red bell pepper under the broiler until slightly charred. Place in a plastic bag to steam. When nearly cool, remove skin and seeds. Chop into medium dice.

Heat olive oil in Dutch oven. Add chopped onion, minced garlic and saut until tender. Add the diced celery and carrots, saut for 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and saut until mushrooms are tender. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper and the rest of the spices.

Add the drained garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, 3 cans of chicken broth, turkey juice and the turkey, along with the Worcestershire and soy sauce. Bring to a slow boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Add dried tortellini and boil for 25 minutes. Add frozen green beans the last 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Garnish with Italian parsley and freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano. Serves six.

Leftover Brisket

Leftover brisket is way too good for the dog. It's not unusual to have some brisket left over when everyone you invite to your barbecue doesn't show up. Leftover brisket is way too good for the dog -- it's people food.

First of all, smoked or barbecued brisket freezes well. If you want to save it intact for later, wrap it tightly in clear wrap and then seal in foil. This way it will keep in the freezer for several months. You might want to slice the brisket and preserve it in individual servings in plastic freezer bags. Just be sure to express as much air as possible from the bag before sealing.

You can thaw and warm the brisket in the microwave or in a slow oven. Just be sure to remove the clear wrap first. You can leave it sealed in the foil if you are using the oven. No foil in the microwave please.

One of my favorite meals is sliced brisket sandwiches. Warm the brisket and serve it on white bread with sauce, fresh onion and pickle slices.

For the young people in your family I recommend chopped brisket sandwiches. Run some brisket through the food chopper or grinder, add some sauce and heat. Serve on hamburger buns with pickle and onion. Skip the pickles and onions if your kids won't eat them.

For a real full meal deal and treat, you might want to whip up a batch of faux fajitas made with leftover brisket. Or use fresh brisket if you don't have leftovers. Slice the brisket very thin and arrange to keep it warm. You'll also need: A stack of warm, flour tortillas, Pico De Gallo, guacamole, shredded cheese, and chopped onion. These "fajitas" are served "Do-it-yourself style." Have the ingredients arranged on the buffet so your friends and/or family can build their own. Start with a flour tortilla on the plate, add several slices of brisket, garnish with pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and onion or any combination of the above. Roll the tortilla and enjoy. Have lots of napkins available.

Leftover brisket can provide a welcome change from the regular bacon or sausage at breakfast. Simply saut the brisket slices in a lightly oiled skillet until brown on the edges.

You might want to try a few chunks of leftover brisket in your next pot of pinto beans, instead of the usual salt pork or bacon.

I don't know if anyone has tried this or not, but I intend to try it next time I have some excess brisket: I want to make jerky from smoked brisket. I'll give it a liberal coating of cracked black pepper and dry smoke it until all the moisture is gone. If you try it before I do, let me know how it comes out.

Barbecue Memories

My first memories of barbecue are connected to Grandma and Grandpa Veselka. Grandma and Grandpa Veselka were the in-laws of my uncle Dutch Meyer. Of Czech decent from around Carmine, Texas, the Veselkas operated several barbecue cafes in Taylor in the 40's and 50's. Grandpa would sit in front with the customers and drink beer and translate the words of the Czech songs on the jukebox. Grandma did all the work.

The Veselkas got in the barbecue business during the great depression. Grandpa was a dry goods salesman when the depression struck. Soon out of work, he set up a tarp-covered barbecue stand in South Taylor. This supported the family through the depression.

The only place I remember them from was Novasad's Barbecue Cafe on South Main Street in Taylor. It was a small operation with four or five tables. The pit was a large brick affair with the sausage smoker built into the chimney. The pit had metal doors on top and a grate over the coals. A drip pan caught the drippings so they didn't get in the fire.

I don't remember brisket from the Veselka's pit. I do remember chuck roast, ribs, chicken and occasionally goat or mutton. We always got our barbecue "to go". Daddy would take a large pot and get enough barbecue and sauce for a fine Sunday dinner for a couple of dollars.

The Veselkas had a wonderful sauce that was mostly Worcestershire. In the cafe, the meat was served on butcher paper along with bread or crackers, onion and pickles. On each table there was a used soda pop bottle that had a cap with a hole punched in it with a nail containing the "House Dressing," a mixture of vinegar and chili powder.

The stuff of memories.

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