Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Pernese dinner - Meat Rolls - round 1 & 2

So we've had left overs all week. What with battling a mild case of the flu bouncing around the household, it was a good week to skip doing much cooking, and we had lots of stew to eat up, and some left over fried chicken, and last night we just had ground beef and rice. A nice, easy. low cook week.
But, that meant we didn't have any left overs for the weekend. So this morning I got up and started thinking about what I wanted to cook this weekend. One of the gf (gluten free) blogs I follow had posted her recipe for home made pop tarts on facebook a few days ago and that sounded pretty good. I've been meaning to try her recipe, I had just, somehow, never gotten around to it.
Honestly, I really don't tend to do a whole lot of sweets. I grew up in a diabetic household, and dad was never very good about sticking to his diet, so mom tended not to do sweets too often so as not to tempt him. So, much to the despair of my step kids, dessert isn't a regular thing here. But, it was a good weekend to try these. Have to say, we like them, though have decided the crust is a bit too sweet for us. (The kids didn't think so, though..)
You're wondering how this leads to meat rolls.. well, we used some of my home made blueberry jam as filling, and they apparently reminded my husband a bit of bubbly pies, which got him thinking of meat rolls, which he associates with being sick.. Or something to that effect. He wasn't able to actually explain how he got to the idea. I asked him what he thought I should try making today, if there was anything he wanted me to try to create, and he said "Some of Jaxom's meat rolls because he always ate them when he was sick."
Now, for those of you not in the know, Jaxom is a character in Anne McCaffery's Dragon Riders of Pern series, and meat rolls are pretty much a dietary staple in the series. However, there's not really much of a recipe given in any of the novels, though it pretty much comes across as a small meat filled roll, maybe similar to an egg roll in size, or smaller, wrapped in some sort of bread. It's basically a good travel ration and something they would take out to the fields with them.If you are from the midwest.. think mini-runzas.
So today's challenge was to attempt this. And, all told, we have had decent results, but there is still some room for improvement.

Round 1:  

I attempted to use a standard gluten free bread. I put all my ingredients into the bread maker and ran it on the dough cycle. Since we were planning on doing a savory, I added some garlic powder, dry mustard and a dash of paprika to the dough for additional flavor. Today's bread was Bob's Red Mill. It was what I had on hand this weekend. It has a nice chew, but it's a bit more fussy about some of it's ingredients. (OK, I just don't like having to separate a bunch of eggs and then have to figure out what to do with three egg yolks..)
Meanwhile, I browned some ground beef, onions, a bit of salt, pepper, garlic, paprika and dry mustard to use as my basic test filling. We decided to keep that fairly simple for this phase of testing.

Once the dough was ready, I separated some and attempted to wrap it around the filling. This did not work.
The dough was just too sticky to work well. I attempted to roll it out on a heavily floured surface. This didn't work all that well either. We got a few of them made and baked them at 350 for about 30 minutes. They taste good, but they aren't pretty and it was seriously just too much of a mess to stick with. So the rest of the dough went back into the bread maker and now I have bread as well.

So on to dough attempt #2:
For this round, I went back to the pop tart pastry. Figured it was worth a shot and it does seem to have worked better, though it's biggest problem is that it is almost too dry to work with. Always something.
I did modify the dough, of course, as a savory crust certainly doesn't need all that sugar. We left the sugar out, added some spices and about half a cup of shredded cheddar cheese. I did need to add a bit more liquid to it as well, and It could possibly still stand to take a bit more, but it was a start.

They still aren't very pretty, but they are tasty. Hubby thinks they could use some lard in the crust, so might give that a try on the next round.
But that won't be tonight. Tonight, I'm feeding these to Hubby, who is now working on trying to avoid the crud that got the rest of us last weekend I'm still not entirely sure what led his virus  infested mind down the path to meat rolls, but, it has been a fun attempt and I will have to work on it some more to get it just right. They would be pretty handy for lunches around here...

side by side comparison. pastry dough on the left, bread dough, larger one, on the right

2 1/2 c AP gf flour
1 tsp xanthum gum (omit if your blend has it already)
1/2 - 3/4 c milk
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp kosher salt
assorted herbs/spices to taste preference * optional

Combine all and knead til smooth.
Roll between layers of parchment or wax paper until 1/8 of an inch thick.
Cut into rectangles of desired size. Fill with ground beef filling (could also use ground chicken or turkey, or even fish. Might also work with softened veggies. I will play with fillings more once we get the dough perfected.)
Once you have your line of filling, gently roll dough around filling and pinch ends closed. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350.

I added a small line of taco sauce in some of mine as well, just to see how that would hold up. It handled it just fine, so a saucier filling might work as well, though in the books these were usually fairly dry. Again, travel rations, intended to hold up to being in a pocket or saddle bag for several hours or longer.

Will report back with the further adventures in meat roll making as we progress.

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