Friday, June 5, 2009

The Squirrel Can Cook - Meat Rolls!

My high school had the best cook! While so many other kids were complaining about the food at their schools, we were all looking forward to lunch at ours. Shortly after I graduated, she left the school and opened a restaurant. Now it’s a burger place, and she’s retired. Oh, well.

Anyway, one of my favorite things that used to turn up on the lunch menu was meat rolls. When I started writing the Squirrel Can Cook features, I knew I had to do those meat rolls. It took a few tries to get it right, as I’m not really a baker, but I think I’ve got ‘em down.

As I said, I’m not a baker, so I used frozen bread dough. Let it thaw and rise per the package directions. (8 hours, for the brand I used.)

Our other ingredients are:
A small roast (see below)
Powdered brown gravy mix – 2 envelopes, if you don’t buy it in bulk jars, like I do
A medium onion

Meanwhile, let’s get that meat filling ready. Get yourself a small roast, just a couple of pounds, and not a real expensive cut. There are a couple of ways that you could cook your meat. For example, you could braise it. This would result in excellent flavor. It’s time consuming, but, since you’ve got to wait for the bread dough to rise, you’ve got the time.

Or, you could do what I did, and put that puppy in your pressure cooker. 20 minutes, and it was falling apart, which is just how we want it, because we’re going to shred that meat up. Put the cooked roast on a cutting board, and go to work with a pair of forks. (You’ll need to do this while it’s still hot. If it cools, the gelatin will stiffen up, and that’s not what we’re looking for.)

We only need about a pound (pre-cooked weight) of meat, but our roast is about 2 pounds, so after you’ve got it all shredded up, stick half in a baggy in the fridge. It’s great for taco meat, or sloppy Joes, or just about anywhere else where you’d otherwise use a pound of browned burger.

Chop the medium onion really fine, toss it in a sauté pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt, and sweat it until it’s translucent in color. Remember, you’re sweating it, not sautéing, so if it begins to brown, your pan is too hot.

Prepare 1/2 of 1 of your envelopes of brown gravy per directions. (1/2 envelope & 1/2 the water. Save the other half of the envelope for later.)

(If you’ve ever made cinnamon rolls, you know this technique.) Take your bread dough, which is now all nice and puffy (or should be) and roll it out until it is an even rectangle about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Mix the shredded beef, the onion, and the ½ recipe of brown gravy together, and spread evenly over the bread, leaving about an inch at the far side free of filling. Then roll it up, with the meat mixture inside. Wet the edge that you left free of filling, and seal it really well. You now should have a meat filled bread log.

Now, take a piece of string and begin cutting the rolls off of the log. Cut the log into about 2 inch segments. Lay the segments down, about an inch apart, on a lightly greased jelly roll pan. Cover the pan with a tea towel, and allow the rolls to rise for an hour. They should about double in size.

Bake your pan of rolls, per the directions for your bread dough, until they're a nice golden brown. Prepare the rest of your brown gravy (your 1 ½ envelopes). Top rolls with gravy, and enjoy! Serve with the veggie of your choice. Feeds 4-6.

The Squirrel shall not live by bread alone!

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