Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cheap Lobster, Expensive Bacon, Pork Tacos, Multiple Hot Dogs, and a Dozen Summer Squash Cakes: a Weekend in Eating

Between last Sunday and Thursday evenings, the Husband-Elect and I ate no meat. None. Not an errant piece of chicken or a single drop of beef broth. Animals remained unsquished by our grinding mandibles, and we didn’t even realize it until Thursday night, when we tucked into Pork Belly Tacos and a plate of Carne Asada for a friend’s birthday party.

(Incidentally, if you’re ever feeling down about life, go to Paladar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and order a mojito and a pork belly taco with pineapple. Everything will start looking like a Frank Capra movie.)

In the four days since, I’ve scarfed enough beef, seafood, and pork to put all of Chicago into a coma. Some of it came from the aforementioned restaurant. More came from a lovely barbecue with some longtime girlfriends. Even more came from a one-year-old’s birthday party. The birthday girl herself didn’t partake, but compensated by smearing her cake all over her head, like an awesome chocolate helmet. (Mmm ... chocolate helmet.)

Anyway, it’s been glorious, and interrupted only by intermittent cups of the most potent sangria this side of the Rio Grande. And maybe some ketchup.

Sadly, a woman can not live on beef and sangria alone. At some point in her life (especially if she wants to spawn, according to Newsweek), she has to ingest vegetables. So, upon arriving home from Meatathon ’09, I took to my 900° kitchen and grated some squash.

The squash grating was for this Squash Patty recipe from As it turns out, you can cook grated squash much the same way you’d cook grated tuber for Potato Pancakes. Some flour, a little binding agent, a splash of oil, and *voila* - instant snacky-type discs of deliciousness, with moistness and flavor to spare.

For the CHG version, I only used a tablespoon of fat, and counted on cayenne, salt and pepper for most of the flavor. The changes are reflected below, but if you should make it your self, there are a few things to know

1) This recipe depends almost entirely on two things: seasoning and the browning process. Be liberal with the first, and committed to the second. I might make an experiment patty, and then season and brown the rest of the batch with those results in mind.

2) Since these reminded me a lot of potato pancakes, I’m pretty sure they’d be great with some applesauce. I’d definitely serve them with some kind of dipping mixtures.

3) Patties like this would usually be fried in a heavier pan – probably a cast iron or some kind of All-Clad thingie. I used a large non-stick one to cut down on fat without burning the food.

I’m headed South next week, so I expect Meatathon’ 09 to re-commence. Until then, my leftover Squash Cakes will suffice. And maybe some bacon.

Summer Squash Cakes
Makes about 12 2-inch patties
Adapted from

1 tablespoon bacon grease or vegetable oil
2 cups unpeeled yellow squash (about 1-1/2 medium), grated
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 egg, beaten
1/8th teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
Lots of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: The dish depends hugely on the intensity of your seasonings, so don’t skimp and feel free to tailor them to your tastes. Browning is important, too. Take care not to undercook.

1) In a large, nonstick pan, heat grease/oil over medium-high heat until hot. You know it’s ready when you splash a drop of water in, and it jumps.

2) While pan is heating, mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until just moistened.

3) Drop rounded tablespoons of the squash mixture into the pan, and cook for about 4-7 minutes on first side. When patties are BROWNED, flip them over, squish them a little with your spatula, and cook another 4-7 minutes, until second side is browned.

4) Remove patties and drain for a minute or two on a paper towel. Serve warm, with applesauce if possible.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
45 calories, 1.7 g fat, $0.11

1 tablespoon bacon grease: 126 calories, 14 g fat, free
2 cups unpeeled yellow squash (about 1-1/2 medium), grated: 53 calories, 0 g fat, $0.71
¼ cup all-purpose flour: 114 calories, 0.3 g fat, $0.03
1/3 cup cornmeal: 168 calories, 0.8 g fat, $0.15
1 egg, beaten: 74 calories, 5 g fat, $0.38
1/8th teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
Lots of kosher salt and freshly: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
TOTAL: 535 calories, 20.1 g fat, $1.31
PER SERVING (TOTAL/12): 45 calories, 1.7 g fat, $0.11

Design by Free Wordpress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Templates