Patties in school lunches get past 'no nuts' policy
BY CHEF VALARIE CARTER The Busy Kitchen
Monday, October 01, 2012
10/08/12 at 10:19 AM
Editor's note: The Busy Kitchen is a new Monday column written by two area chefs - Tiffany Poe and Valarie Carter - who also happen to be mothers of young children. They'll explore nutrition, cooking for kids and more.
We send our kids to a parent's day out program, and packing my children's lunches ranks among the most challenging meals of the week.
Part of it may be my embarrassment that the most creative thing a chef can conjure is a PB&J, but it's more than just my delicate ego.
A sack lunch can be a tall order because it has to be something that 3-year-olds can eat on their own, travels well, is nutritious, delicious, doesn't have to be cooked and now has to be nut-free.
With an ever-increasing number of schools going to a "no nuts" food policy, the sack lunch becomes even more difficult. No more old reliable. No more falling back on old PB&J.
Thankfully, my kids don't have food allergies, so I can only sympathize with the parent of a child who does.
Imagine the fear induced in a parent having to trust that every other parent, child and teacher will follow and enforce the "no nuts" policy.
Food allergies can be life threatening, so to do my part, I've come up with a tasty little pork and chicken patty to send for lunch.
I make them ahead of time and freeze them. Then, I can just pop one in the lunch pail with a cheese stick, some whole-wheat crackers, a piece of fruit and call it a day.
I usually send a little ketchup, BBQ sauce or other dipping sauce to tempt a tiny palate.
They also work great as the meat component on an English muffin sandwich. Add a slice of cheese for a great little take-along "cheeseburger."
PORK AND CHICKEN PATTIES
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup milk
1 medium white or yellow onion, grated or finely chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Italian herbs or herbs de Provence
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
A few dashes of Louisiana hot sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment or foil for easy cleanup.
2. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using a large fork, gently lift and combine the mixture well, taking care not to press the meat together as this will make it tough. (Just ask any Italian grandmother the secret to her meatballs!)
3. Let the mixture rest about 10 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to absorb the liquids. This will make for a juicier patty.
4. Using a scoop or 1/3 cup measure, scoop the mixture onto the lined baking sheets. Press down gently with your hand to form a flat patty or use the bottom of a glass. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 - about 20-25 minutes.
5. After the patties finish baking, you can broil them a little to give them some additional color. Remove from the oven and allow the patties to rest about 5 minutes.
Notes: I used a 2 2/3-ounce scoop and it yielded 15 patties. You could also use this same mixture to make meatloaf, meatballs or larger or smaller patties, of course. You will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Store patties in a freezer bag.
I like to grate the onion and then chop it a little too. When prepared this way, the onions seem to melt into the meat when cooked. If you have kids who think they don't like onions, they will appreciate this.
If you can't find either ground pork or ground chicken, usually the butcher at your local market will grind anything you need.
Original Print Headline: Patties get past 'no nuts' policy
A native Oklahoman, Valarie Carter earned a bachelor's degree in English from Oklahoma State University and an associate of arts in culinary arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta. She, her husband and their children live in Muskogee, where she makes pastries for The Bite.
This kid-friendly sandwich includes a pork and chicken patty, Provolone cheese and all of the fixings on a whole-wheat English muffin with whole-grain mustard. VALARIE CARTER / Courtesy