Garbage Plates (A Rochester, NY Favorite!)

This weekend we had some friends over to eat. We call it the Food Fest and host it every year in July. Showcasing some of our favorite foods in ridiculous quantities, just for fun! This year we decided to have a very specific theme: Garbage Plates!

The original “Garbage Plate” is from a local eatery named after it’s owner, Nick Tahou’s. It features most of the foods you can find at any local diner, all piled up together on a plate, served with a couple slices of fresh bread. It’s fantastic!

I got the recipe through a friend, and thought I’d share it here as well (with my modifications…) It made for a great summer party meal! (And is just ridiculously filling!!) Note: I did triple the ingredients below (except for the onion) for a party of about 20 people, half kids.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Special Sauce Ingredients:

1 – medium onion, chopped
1 – tbsp garlic, minced
1 – tbsp. oil
1 – lb. triple-ground beef
1 1/2 – cup water
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
1 – tsp. ground black pepper
3/4 – tsp. cayenne pepper
1 – tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 – tsp. paprika
1/2 – tsp. ground cumin
1/2 – tsp. allspice
1/4 – tsp. cinnamon
1/2 – tsp. powdered cloves
1 – tsp. salt (to taste)

Mix beef with water and oil and dissolve as much as possible, for finer texture. Begin heating on medium-high heat while adding all of the ingredients, stirring frequently. (Don’t want to burn!) Cook for 10 minutes or so, still stirring, then reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 more minutes. (The longer the better, but keep the sauce moist… may need to add water here and there. The consistency should be thin, but not too watery.)

The Garbage Plate:
Hamburger patties, or hot dogs (preferably Zweigle’s … another Rochester favorite)
Baked beans
Macaroni Salad
Home Fries (and/or french fries)
Diced Onion
Mustard

Grill up your favorite meat, and when it’s ready here’s the order for piling up the delicious food on your plate: (Large paper plates worked well for us.) First, add about 1 cup each of Mac salad, baked beans (COLD, not hot), and either home fries or french fries (your choice… some of our guests had both!) Next, add the meat. Two pieces. Next cover the plate with a ladle-full of the special sauce from above. Add some diced onion and crisscross the plate with mustard. Serve with two slices of fresh bread.

And just try to finish it! :-)

Arepas!

The final piece of the pabellón meal (that I am going to post here) is a piece that can actually stand on its own. Arepas are little cakes made of precooked, white corn flour that are usually cooked on a griddle in a little bit of oil, and then cut and filled with all sorts of good things. Sometimes it’s cheese, sometimes it’s meat, or vegetables, or a combination of any of those.

They come in all sizes, but for the pabellón meal, generally I make them about 2 1/2-3 inches in diameter. (If the arepa is the meal, they are generally 5 inches or so.) Also, they are formed to about 3/4″ thick.

Arepas
2 cups harina de maiz blanco precocido*
3 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
Canola Oil

Mix the flour and salt and water until a nice, wet dough is formed. Form round cakes by hand to the desired size. Add just enough oil to cover the cooking surface (I like to use a griddle) and cook until brown and crispy on the outside. Be sure to cook evenly on both sides. (Arepas can also be baked in the oven, usually after browning in the hot oil first. I do not usually bake mine.)

Once finished, allow to cool for a few minutes then slice open and add cheese (we use Queso De Freir, but most any white cheese will do) or whatever filling you’d like. Then enjoy!

* There are several places to get the precooked white corn flour … here are a couple of good options: Harina P.A.N. (from AmigoFoods.com), or Goya’s (white) Masarepa. I am actually able to find both at our local Wegmans.

Also, someday, I hope to visit the Caracas Arepa Bar in New York City. Check out their menu for some good ideas on what to put inside your arepas!

Pabellón Criollo: Carraotas Negras (Black Beans)

Another important piece of the pabellón meal is the black beans! Now, I do take the shortcut of using canned beans to start with, but you could certainly use dry beans. Prepare them as instructed and then finish them as described below. (But I’ll start with cans… it’s easier, faster, and they still taste great!)

Carraotas Negras (Black Beans) for Pabellón
2 cans black beans
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 1/2 tsp chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp adobo (with pepper)

Mix in garlic, onion, cilantro and adobo, and cover beans. Simmer on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes. The longer (and slower) you simmer, the better the flavor and consistency. Should be thicker when it’s ready to serve.

The amounts above are definitely approximations. Add each/all of those ingredients to your taste preferences. But that combination, simmered to perfection… a fantastic part of pabellón!

Pabellón Criollo (Carne Mechada)

When I was a kid, my family moved to Caracas, Venezuela. It was quite an experience, living three years of my youth in a foreign country. I learned the language, absorbed some of the culture, and acquired a taste for the food!

Now, as an adult, one of our favorite meals to make is pabellón criollo—the Venezuelan national dish!

I don’t always make the full meal, in fact, I almost never include the platanos [plantains]. (That’s just a personal preference.) But even when we just make parts, it’s fantastic! I will post each part of the meal separately here, starting with the recipe I use for the carne mechada [shredded beef].

(Note: I found this recipe posted to an internet forum several years ago now. I translated it, and of course, I modify it slightly every now and then. Usually we use a bit more meat (3lbs or so), and roughly double the rest of the ingredients. I also usually add a teaspoon and a half of Adobo once I add the meat to the vegetables.)

Carne Mechada:
1/2 kilo (about a pound) Flank Steak (any beef for roasting will do)
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Pepper (Green and/or Red) finely chopped
2 sticks of Celery, chopped
1 Bunch of Cilantro – finely chopped
1 Can of Stewed Tomatoes
Garlic, Salt & Beef Bullion if you want

Place the meat crockpot with about a cup of water, medium onion, and a little salt. I add adobo and olive oil as well. Cook on low for many hours until tender, pulls apart easily.

Turn crockpot off, remove the meat and let it cool so you can shred it with your hands. Do not dispose of the liquid.

In a large pot, put just enough oil to cover the bottom. Heat up the oil and begin sauteing the garlic, onions, cilantro, pepper(s), and celery. Let it cook till all smells great, but do not burn the onion and garlic. After these have simmered for a bit, add the tomatoes and simmer a bit longer. Add the shredded meat and let it simmer a while longer. Now add the beef bullion, and the liquid from the crockpot. You can add a couple cups of water as well.

Stir this up and let it simmer for as long as you can, as this will let the flavors cook together. Making it delicious!

Serve when ready with rice, black beans, and arepas y platanos if you can. (More ideas for those to come!)

¡Buen provecho!

Lomitos (de Argentina)

Today’s “recipe” is more of a “how to.” Lomitos are a sandwich that is common in Argentina. We have a friend from there who has familiarized us with some of the cultural favorites of her country, and this is one of the Campbell family favorites! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Sirloin Tip Steak (sliced very thin)
Deli-sliced ham
Eggs (optional)
Lettuce
Tomato
Mayonnaise
Bread

Cut the steak into pieces that will fit well onto whatever bread you are using. In frying pans, brown the steak and the ham in a tiny bit of olive oil. If you’re going to add an egg to the sandwich, you’ll want to have it cooking as well (in a separate pan or the same one). Cook the egg as you’d like (just not scrambled…) :-)

Once the meats and egg are ready, assemble the sandwich. Mayonnaise on both slices of bread, then steak, ham, egg, lettuce, tomato. It’s that easy, and it’s delicious!

Enjoy! Buen provecho!