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I Only Have Eyes for You

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It looks like that nasty old winter is finally going away. Everyone is ready for spring and all the good things it brings.

I have a new recipe for you this month that I think is an original recipe. It's something I put together to win the Best Potato Dish competition at the Valentine Hug-In in Luckenbach, Texas. Some of us old chili competition regulars have been meeting in Luckenbach the Saturday closest to Valentine's Day for many moons. It's just a day or so of fellowship and relaxing around the campfires. The Hug-In features a potluck dinner for the troops. For some time now, the competition for the best potato dish has been between my friends, Jo Ann and Nina. I entered the competition this year after discovering my new recipe.

The recipe came about serendipitously, as do most good things in the food world. I was looking for a quick and easy way to prepare some round steak that came from the freezer frozen solid. I can never remember to put things out to thaw, so often I am faced with the task of cooking frozen foods. The round steak had been sliced very thin to start with, as is the custom around here. It was no more than a quarter inch thick. I made very thin slices of this so it would cook quickly. I seasoned the meat with whatever caught my eye or imagination from the spice rack. The resulting meat sauce was served over refried beans on a flour tortilla and was very good.

When the potato competition neared, I got to thinking that my new meat sauce would really go good over some potatoes. So here comes the recipe.

Pedernales Potatoes

  • 4 cups potatoes, diced
  • 1 lb. lean, tender beef, ground
  • ¾ cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons beef bullion granules
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco green jalapeno sauce
  • Olive oil, butter
  • Salt, Fresh ground black pepper
The potatoes should be of a variety that does not go mushy when cooked. Dice the potatoes into 3/8-inch cubes. Cook in lightly salted water until just tender. Drain and rinse.

The meat should be a tender cut such as sirloin or top round, ground fine with no fat. Saut in olive oil the onion, garlic, beef bullion granules and meat in heavy skillet until meat is done. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add the Tabasco sauce and mix well.

Place the potatoes in a suitably sized baking dish, and dot them with butter. Top with meat mixture. Cover with the shredded cheese. Bake at 375 degrees until bubbly and the cheese has melted. Note: You may want to adjust the amount of Tabasco -- just put in enough to get the "wang" you like. Dish can be topped with bread crumbs to get a brown top. Serve hot. If the meat mixture seems too dry, add a little water while cooking it.

And there we are. This dish is primarily a meat sauce. It could be served with good results on pasta or other vegetables. I think you could mix the meat and potatoes, adding a little more water, and bake the mixture in a crust for a great meat pie. The only limit is your imagination.

While wandering around the Internet, I came upon a recipe for pinto bean bread. Being that most Texans love pinto beans, I copied the recipe. My friend Scott did the baking of our first batch. The recipe makes a great bread. It should be very nutritious with the addition of the beans. It has a nice tan color, and the texture is great. The only thing we found that detracted is the fact that the bread tends to crumble easily.

Here's the recipe. Give it a try. I think you will like it.

Pinto Bean Bread

Blend in large bowl:

  • 2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 2 packages dry yeast
Add
  • 2 cups cooked, mashed, unseasoned Pinto beans
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
Stir in
  • 5-6 cups flour
Add enough flour to handle dough easily. Turn onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, turning once. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in size, about one hour. Punch down, cover, and let rise again until almost double. Divide dough into two portions and shape into loaves. Place in greased pans; cover, let rise until almost double, about 45 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Time-saving Tip

Does your family like potatoes? Sure they do -- everyone likes spuds. Here's something I like to do that saves me lots of time preparing meals.

Get a big pot and boil up a dozen or so medium potatoes in lightly salted water. Scrub the spuds real good with a brush under running cool water before putting them in the pot. Cook them until they are just fork tender. Take them out of the water immediately. If you let them soak, they will get watery. After the potatoes are cool, the skins come off easily. To store them in the refrigerator, leave the skins on until you are ready to use them.

The precooked potatoes easily convert into home fries, pan fried potatoes, potato salad, or hash. They can be heated in the microwave and used "as is". One of my favorite snacks is a cold potato with a little butter and salt.

If you have a time-saving tip or a new technique that works for you, send it to me and I'll post it here for all the Texas Cooking readers to use and enjoy.

See you next month.

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