Oh, shoot! I cannot believe I missed this! I have a professional tip for you on your next adventure Will.
Be careful when blending meat. If you over mix it, you will start to extract protein and it will become too tacky and potentially tough. Also, in this same vein, make sure to add any salt towards the very end of the mixing process! Salt helps extract the protein faster and when the protein cooks it binds everything together rather firmly if you extract enough.
Here is some quick science (Not sure if these are the best docs, as I just glanced over them… Too busy trying to pack for SHUX!). The second link is an example of when you want protein extraction.
As an American who eats food daily, I should ask: what sorts of things does he enjoy? “American Food” can be a big ol’ umbrella.
Good point. Salt added before mixing + thorough mixing = sausage texture. Very gentle mixing + salt on surface only = proper hamburger texture. Meatloaf’s somewhere in the middle, depending on your preference.
He’s at a quite delightful stage where no matter what you put in front of him, he will eat it and tell you it’s the best ever! I tried him on brussels sprouts the other day, and he loved them.
He eats Nachos, Chilli, Mexican and burgers and hotdogs regularly, so those sorts of things probably won’t feel “American” enough to him, and given that food from the South of North America is quite popular over here, it might be nice to go North and get some ideas from the Northern states and Canada
His absolute favourites are indian curries (and katsu curry) but he’s not keen on thai flavours in quite the same way - too floral I think, and pizza
Worth bearing in mind I have fibromyalgia, so I rely on a lot of shortcuts, which I’ll get into one day, some of them are brilliant (and I can take credit for none of them!)
Oh, my. There’s just so much to choose from. Not all of which you might want to bother with, of course. My Philadelphia-area childhood wants him to love the Philly cheesesteak (provolone, onions, and hot pickled peppers, thanks), but the roast pork sandwich with broccoli raab is just as Philly and better, assuming he’d eat raab. If only you could get Amoroso rolls for those. Assuming you can get shaved steak, you could probably make a passable cheesesteak, at least.
The meatball sandwich feels like my childhood, too. Lots of sauce and cheese. Or spicy Italian sausage in place of the meatballs, with plenty of fried peppers. After a while in Chicago, I gained a special love for that town’s Italian beef, even if it is messy as all get-out. Chicago-style hot dogs are also undeniably American. Honestly, you could probably sell him on some of the wild regional hot dog styles for minimal effort.
I also feel that I should mention the garbage plate of Rochester, NY.
I feel like this could be its own fascinating thread.
Ooo, you really want to try something very localized to my neck of the woods. You could make a Pork Burger (as long as cultural/religious/or dietary constraints prevent you from eating Pork).
This one is very simple. Ask for minced Pork (85% Lean 15% Fat, that way it is not too greasy, but enough not to be dry), and gently shape into a ball weighing approx 1/4 pound to 1/3 pound (Not going to convert for you we are making “American” food!), and lightly press to form a flat patty. If your market can make the patties for you, the better. But make sure they are OK with it, I will not speak on their behalf on that.
Season with black pepper, salt, and a lil’ paprika for color. Grill/bake/panfry until internal temperature reaches 165F (you can do 160F, but I prefer 165F personally). Serve on a bun with BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions… Really whatever your preferred burger topping.
For those who want to know too much...
I had to make almost 300 pounds of these suckers on last Wednesday… 1/3 pound size.
Anything with provolone in the ingredients goes on the list
His mum was Italian, so it would be really nice for him to explore Italian American food, as Italian is a staple for him - familiar but different!
Ha, we have about 3 italian sausages knocking about at any one time, he has them as snacks and basically on everything as a “condiment”! Most kids cover their food in ketchup, he covers it in meat!
The garbage plate would go down a treat, though he eats quite a small amount, so I would have to do it as a shared dish I reckon to not waste food - but the philly cheesesteak is already on the shopping list, I’ll let you know how it goes - though given I probably won’t be able to get the absolutely authentic ingredients, it will only be an approximation!
The only constraints come from me - I grew up with such a limited diet, I must have driven my parents mad! I didn’t eat hardly anything, but am slowly introducing new foods to my diet - most recently was
seriously, I am aware that this is weird
seafood - and I’m not talking “seafood”, I’m talking the most basic white fish. And I don’t get it, because those times that I’ve “been brave” and tried, say, shellfish, they were delicious! So I know I like them, but put them in front of me most times, and I get such a strong repulsion that I cannot put them in my mouth without major effort. I don’t eat tomatoes, onions, I do eat peppers but they are on the fence - however process them into a little jar of paste, or sauce and I can’t get enough of them!
that’s an aside into the crazy of my food youth, but I’m getting better, one bit at a time!
Pork burgers - yes! I have a mincer, so I can get pretty precise with fat content, so much better than packaged minced meat! (Though I do buy it 90% of the time, because cleaning!)
OK - so here’s my Philly Cheesesteak ingredients - tell me if anything is too far wrong:
Meat - Beef Short Rib (sliced with the bakers lame)
Cheese - Provolone
Pickles - Home Pickled red chilli (What vinegar would you use?)
Toppings - Choice of Peppers and/or Onions
Bread - Durum flour bread, twice proved
And obviously smothered in Heinz ketchup (I’m joking)
@SleepyWill I cannot believe I have never seen this thread before today!
I went back and I took a look at your bacon problem… If you want crispy bacon, you need to get some with more fat (The stuff you had in your photo looks nice, but it will never crisp up. It is the same issue we have with bacon we make from the Pork Shoulder Butt… Lean and great for a BLT, but will never get crispy). Your crispiness is from reducing the water from the fat and then the rendering step can occur. My wife likes very crispy bacon, and to avoid mess… I have been doing it in the oven… Next time I make some, I will take photos and post here.
Plus, I thought of a couple of more meals: Mac and Cheese, Breaded Tenderloin Sandwich (think wiener schnitzel with pork on bun), pulled pork, bbq ribs (can be done in the oven)… I can think of more, but I have to keep packing. Will think and try to post more with how to make them easy when I have time!