Monday, April 11, 2011
It's Called "Junk"
And, yes. It's delicious.
I didn't name it. I definitely didn't make it up. But, it is a staple at our table none the less.
What is "Junk"? Well, it is one of the most versatile dishes; and simple, and satisfying, and my children....they adore it. So there! Kudos to fellow homeschooling pal, Crystal for cluing me in.
The principle is this: you build on a theme; cubed potatoes on bottom, a meat on top, dump in all the other elements that fit your theme, cheese it, bake it, eat it.
Usually the best "Junks" have been a mish-mosh of leftovers. Like the one time our "Junk" was cubed yukon potatoes, chorizo and leftover taco meat, olives, raita, queso fresco, and half of a stuffed poblano pepper from our local Mexican eatery. It was heaven. And I mean H-E-A-V-E-N.
The most common and base recipe is as follows:
Junk (and no, you are not allowed to change the name)
2- 3 medium potatoes, peeled (or not, if you like that), and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1-2 pounds ground meat, cooked and seasoned with salt and pepper (or anything leftover hanging out in your fridge)
1 can tomato sauce or 1 1/2 cups ketchup (that's right, KETCHUP! no shame...)
1 tomato, chopped or 1 can tomatoes, drained and chopped, if needed
sprinkle of seasoning (like taco or Italian)
1 cup shredded cheddar
Grease a 9x9 inch dish. Place potatoes on bottom (a sprinkle of salt on top wouldn't hurt), and layer first the meat, then the sauce, tomatoes, seasoning, and cover with cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender when you poke around hungrily with a fork.
This is a typical lunch or dinner in a pinch for our family. Other themes that we have made that work well are: BBQ Chicken Junk (cubed potatoes, shredded chicken, bbq sauce, sour cream, chives, and cheddar...it's like a loaded potato!), Greek Junk (mashed potatoes, ground meat with a pinch of cinnamon and oregano, tomato sauce, olives, onions, artichoke hearts, and feta), Pizza Junk (cubed potatoes, pepperoni and pork sausage, pizza sauce, mushrooms, mozzarella, parmesan).
Yet to try but plan on next week: Hawaiian Fajita Junk (chicken, bell peppers, onions, pineapples...oh....my)
Really...if you can think of a theme, you can pull this off. And it is so homely and divine in the same mouthful.
There is no shame in simple. And surely no shame in utilizing what your fridge seems to accumulate in a week.
So, eat well (and less stressed)!