A Recipe From One of My High School Buddies
One of my best friends from high school contacted me and told me how his daughter Jen started a cooking blog at www.topateonyourplate.com and asked if I could call her to talk about her site. Jen is part time math teacher, full time mom and from what I see, a food blogger with a future. Her site Top Ate on Your Plate is a play on words but her recipes and photos are spot on.
Jen’s recipe, Mango Mexican Chicken, comes from her dad and is a family favorite. I can’t wait to try it.
What I like best about her post is her introduction where she describes the grilled cheese sandwiches her grandmother used to make for her dad, me and two other high school buddies who spent a great summer in 1971 working for the Bergen County Dredge Department.
I only wish I had some photos from those days on the Dredge.
Here’s Jen’s post and recipe:
It oozes. It’s ewwy, gooey, cheesy, chewy. The six types of cheese melt from the sides as you bite in. There’s mayonnaise involved, people. There’s mayonnaise and, of course, Wonder Bread, the classic white sandwich bread.
Oh, and did I mention the meat? Ham, turkey, salami, roast beef… It sounds like a classic grilled panini, fried in the skillet with a little bit of butter; my idea of the perfect sandwich.
Now picture this, it’s July in Bergen County, Jersey. It’s hot, humid and the sun is high in the sky at noon. Four high school football buddies are working at The Dredge.
On the dashboard of the neon orange Dredge pick-up, baking in the heat of high noon, lay the sandwiches they’d been dreaming about since 6:30AM. These cheese sandwiches, affectionately named dashboard sandwiches, were what they ate for lunch all summer…and they lived to tell about it.
“What’s The Dredge?”, you ask, with your nose scrunched and your eyes squinted, knowing the answer can’t be all that pretty. Run by the Bergen County Road Department, The Dredge was an anchored barge, stationed in the middle of a local creek and equipped with an industrial vacuum.
The mud, muck and all around grossness from the creek bottom were sucked through massive pipelines that led up from the creek bed to the barge and onto land where they emptied onto the adjacent garbage dump.
This mud was being used as fill to cover the dump so a park, where kids and pets would soon play, could eventually be built over it. The boys were hired to do the dirtiest jobs that the permanent employees refused to do. This entailed mundane tasks such as repainting and moving the pipelines.
It also included the more unusual duty of wading through the mucky landfill to retrieve and discard miscellaneous debris that had once rested on the creek bottom. Use your imagination about what “treasures” they found that summer.
My dad and The Reluctant Gourmet, himself, were two of the buddies working on The Dredge…eating the sandwiches and bonding over a friendship that would last the next 40 years. While neither of them seemed to have any culinary sense back in 1971, as high school juniors, it appears they have come a long way since then.
We are all familiar with the culinary expertise of The Reluctant Gourmet. What comes as more of a surprise is the relative success my dad has had in the kitchen since the unfortunate summer working on The Dredge.
Since his wife (my step-mother) is an excellent chef with a wide repertoire, he doesn’t seem to get all that much time in the kitchen. Despite this fact, he has perfected some recipes that are absolutely delish.
The recipe that I’ll share with you today, Mango Chicken Burritos, is a favorite. It is often requested when family and friends visit for dinner. His newest grandson (my son), Quinn, can’t seem to get enough! Enjoy!
Mango Mexican Chicken Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 chicken thighs boneless skinless, cubed into ½ inch pieces
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1 red onion sliced
- 1 red pepper diced
- 1 green pepper diced
- 1 orange pepper diced
- 1 yellow pepper diced
- 2 cans black beans drained
- 3 jars mango salsa
- 2 packages yellow rice prepared to package specifications
- 16 oz sour cream
- 8 oz shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 2 avocados diced
- 10 inch tortillas
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
- crushed tortilla chips
- Dice chicken and toss, to coat, with taco seasoning.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for about 8 minutes or until the chicken begins to brown.
- Add onions and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until translucent.
- Then add peppers, salsa and black beans and stir to combine.
- Simmer, covered, for one hour. If possible, prepare the day before, refrigerate overnight and reheat right before serving.
- Prepare yellow rice to package directions.
- Serve as a burrito bowl or burrito with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, avocado, yellow rice and tortillas.