As I mentioned yesterday, we had a really busy (and fun) weekend. It was 11:30 before we were ready to go to bed Saturday night. I wonder if other people need the same “wind down” time we do when they get home around the time they usually go to bed — we need to chill for about an hour before going to bed.
Any way, Sunday morning was church and we were up early. Thankfully I had already gathered the stuff I would need for the day. We went to church and then went directly to the church my parents, sister and her family attend, as this is where the Christmas Blessing was being held for H.A.N.D.S. (the ministry of my brother-in-law and sister). We arrived around 12:15 and began preparing the food.
I messed up the rice. I put all ten pounds in a pan with the required water. I think it probably goes without saying that I have never made that much rice at once before. :\ Anyway, I put it on the burner to boil and went about prepping the other ingredients. A while later, my brother-in-law Mike (Yes, my sister and I both married Mikes; it has made our lives interesting. ) smelled something burning a few minutes before I did. Turns out the rice was scorching before ever getting to a simmer. He was very gracious about it and dumped it and we started again. Thankfully their church is very near lots of stores. We then proceeded with the method that he was familiar with — put the rice in a large pan and twice as much water, cover with foil and bake on 350º for 45 minutes, check the rice for proper texture; add more water if necessary and bake for a few more minutes until it is the desired texture.
My parents and kids are a HUGE help!!!! At one point, my dad, Tiffany, Lauren, and Brian were all peeling potatoes. Some started dicing and my Mike started peeling. There were fourty pounds, so it took a bit to complete. My mom began dicing onions. As she was cutting the first one, she commented on how strong it was. Tiffany told her that she’d read that if you chew gum while cutting onions you won’t cry. Dad went out to their van and got her a piece from his stash. She diced about nine medium-large onions and did not shed one tear. Amazing!
By this time we’d gotten all the potatoes diced and in pots, beginning to heat up, on low. Potato dicers had moved on to mushrooms, which even my eight and six year old nieces helped with (using plastic knives). My dad moved on to slicing carrots on my mandolin, which eventually wore out his arms – yes both of them as he is ambidextrous in many things. I wish he would have said something, because I just didn’t think about it – we would have had someone take over for him, by the time I noticed, he only had a couple carrots left and would not let it conquer him.
I began sauteing the onions, mushrooms, and carrots in olive oil with some salt and pepper. Mom finished dicing the onions and began browning the ten pounds of sausage. Lauren was watching pots of potatoes making sure that they did not go the way of the rice. We had 3 large stock pots on a regular size stove. What I mean by this is that normal household stoves do not accommodate putting large pans on more than one burner. The stoves in this kitchen are the flat surface type but there is a little raised lip on the edge, which kept one of the pots from sitting completely on the heated surface.
By this time the potatoes started getting done. With the help of Mike (my brother-in-law), Mike (my husband), Brian, and Sean, we got the first pot of potatoes drained and in a large container for me to mash them. The idea was to make them a bit ‘runny’ or ‘loose’ so that they could sit in the foil roasting pan, covered with foil, in a warming oven for a couple of hours. The first batch worked great. The second batch had a few lumps and Brian used something and began mashing them by hand and they turned out fine. But that third pot of potatoes were not cooked as done. I did not catch it until I had started to mash them. You can just tell, as the mixer goes over those chunks of potato, if they are done right or not. This batch was not and I had already put the evaporated milk, butter, and salt in with them so there was no putting them back in the pot of water and boiling some more. We have now reached crisis number two. The decision was to add a bit of water, cover with foil, and put it in the oven in hopes that they will get softened up enough to mash.
Meanwhile, my Mike continually washes dishes and keeps things from getting out of control mess wise. You see, I’m a messy cook. Plain and simple. He saves me from myself and keeps things straighter than if I’m left to my own devices.
For a Crowd
With two pans of mashed potatoes in the warmer and the other in the oven, I began to work on the sausage rice dish. It is very much like the filling for the Breakfast Burrito without the cheese and two added ingredients: thinly sliced carrots and rice. Add a bit of oil to the skillet; I prefer olive oil. Now add in the onions, mushrooms, and carrots. To feed a crowd, we used roughly six pounds of onions, five pounds of mushrooms, and one and a half pounds of carrots with ten pounds of rice, ten pounds of sausage, and a ?24 ounce? bottle of olive oil.
Side Dish for 2-3 or Entree for 1
As a side dish for two or three people you need:
- about 1/3 cup of finely dice onion
- 3 mushrooms diced
- about an inch and a half of a carrot sliced very thin (either on the lowest setting on a mandolin or using a potato peeler)
- about 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 2-3 ounces of sausage, browned and drained (or cook in veggies later on)
- about 1 cup of rice, cooked
As with the breakfast burrito filling, heat your pan with the olive oil. Add onions, seasoning lightly with salt to draw out the water quicker. Once those get a head start and are just softening a little bit, add the mushrooms with a little more salt. After about a minute, add the carrots. Turn down the heat so you don’t burn it, if you had it on high, like me.
If I’m using turkey sausage, it is at this point that I add 2-3 ounces raw, to the veggies. Turkey sausage is leaner than pork sausage and what fat is released as it cooks flavors the veggies nicely. If using pork sausage you should probably brown it separately so it doesn’t drown the rest of the dish with grease.
When the sausage is browned, add about 1 cup of cooked rice. I usually do this with leftover rice, so I don’t usually need any extra oil but if your rice is clumping together, add a tiny bit of oil – 1/2 teaspoon or less even – and some salt and pepper. You really need the pepper to make it taste good, but just a few twists of the pepper mill or shakes of the shaker. If the rice begins sticking to the skillet and you don’t want to add any more oil, move the ingredients away from where it is sticking and add in a little water. Now stir, scraping the browned bits off the bottom and mixing it in with the other ingredients.
When I made this Sunday I used freshly made rice. We browned the sausage, drained it and set it to the side. We sauteed the veggies and added them with the sausage. When everything was pre-cooked, we put some oil in our very large skillets, added several scoops of rice, and then several scoops of sausage veggie mix. Stirred it around breaking up the clumps of rice and making sure it was thoroughly combined, seasoning it with salt and pepper. At times the rice was too clumpy and I would add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the top of the rice and mix it through.
I wish I had pictures of this but alas I don’t. I will take some the next time I make this here, which may not be for a while because with each skillet I mixed, I had to taste for proper seasoning. So, I’m really quite done with it now.
Oh, as for that last batch of potatoes, they took forever to soften. We turned the heat up to 350º and added more water. They finally softened up enough that I could mash them without too many lumps. [I guess I should state here that we have always called them mashed but years ago I was introduced to a new term “whipped potatoes” and have realized that what we call mashed potatoes is really whipped potatoes because we use a mixer and want all of the lumps out.]
I hope you are having a fun and yummy holiday season! Until next time, God bless,