Wisdom and stuffles
As a private cook, I’ve had some crazy requests over the years from some very imaginative people who understandably lacked the cooking skills to bring their unique visions to life. Recently, I was commissioned to create a dish for a friend named Ted who desperately missed the taste of his ex-girlfriend’s creative cooking and, while he could certainly manage to cook for himself when it came to a few basic meals, he was no expert and far from creative. Being a family friend of sorts, I decided to wave my usual fees and only charge him for some choice ingredients that I thought would make for a tasty creative dish. I was also excited to see him, as well, as it had been a long time since we last had a proper visit.
“You’ve been pretty down in the dumps lately, Terry,” he said, as I laid my load of ingredients out on his yellowed and doily-peppered kitchen counter.
Being ever observant of people’s emotions and a man who appreciated open honesty, I explained to Ted that the mother of my child in Ontario was withholding contact with my son for reasons yet to be explained and that I wasn’t even allowed to know his exact address since I was forced to move back home to Newfoundland. All of this, of course, was weighing deeply on my heart almost constantly. He clasped a tight hand of support down on my shoulder and gave me a small knowing smile, as he had gone through almost the exact same scenario when he was my age more than 20 years ago.
“It’s sad to see that so many changes have been made for the better in society since I was a young man but that when it comes to father’s rights, there’s still such a long way to go. Sympathy sways the masses, b’y, and there’s rarely any of that for a grown man,” he said with solemn sadness.
As we talked, Ted helped me prepare our ingredients and began giving me advice however he could and as the minutes wore by I began to feel better about the heartbreaking situation I was in. My ego took a bit of a beating from some of the admonishing statements that came with his advice, but I knew Ted to be a far smarter and wiser man than me and thus worth listening to, regardless of the occasional stinging words.
When all was said and done, we had prepared a fine Newfoundlander’s dinner (mainlander’s lunch) of open-faced hot oven sandwiches stuffed with ground beef, a variation of my own personal trump card dish called Stuffles. With respect, here is the recipe:
4 extra-thick slices of soft bread, any kind
½ lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, small diced
4 thick slices of processed ham
1 green pepper, julienned
½ package of bacon, diced
1 cup shredded mozza cheese
1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese
1 cup green onions, diced
1 small can of pizza sauce
½ cup salsa
2 tbsp garlic butter
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large sauté pan, use a small amount of butter or oil and medium-high heat to brown your ground beef with diced onion, salt, pepper, basil and Italian seasoning.
Add pizza sauce and roughly 2 tsp of water and stir well to create a meat mixture. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare bacon in a separate sauté pan on mediumhigh heat, drain and set aside. Prepare remaining topping ingredients as listed and do the same in preparation for topping. On the bottom edge of each slice of bread, carefully cut a horizontal hollow out of the inside being sure to leave about an inch of bread along the edges to make a bread pouch. Carefully spoon an even amount of the meat mixture into the hollow of each bread slice. Next, prepare a 9x 13 baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out each slice of stuffed bread. Smear each slice with garlic butter, then top in order with sliced ham, cheddar cheese, peppers, green onion, salsa, bacon and mozzarella cheese. Top with pepper and salt as desired. Bake for roughly 12 minutes or until edges become golden brown in colour.
Dad’s Stuffles is the Food Dude’s own personal trump card dish.