Sunday, March 24, 2013

Egg roll experiment

When I started posting recipes on this blog, I decided I didn't just want to post recipes that were perfect, that I had made four or five times and finished (If you can ever consider a recipe finished). I want you to see that it's okay to start with an idea, and have it be okay, or even bad. And that's not the end of the world. We see chefs on TV that tell us this is the exact way to make a dish. They don't show you the time they put into each recipe. They don't talk about how it's their job to come up with new recipes, and they don't have to scramble to put dinner on the table after working until 7pm. They don't show you the two other variations on their technique that would also taste great. I want this blog to show that it's okay to experiment and make mistakes because we are almost never exposed to that in food media. You cannot be a home cook if you're afraid to make mistakes. And we know that cooking from scratch at home is better for your health than eating out or buying processed foods.

I have never made egg rolls before, but it seemed like an interesting vehicle for leftovers. We had a leftover pork roast that needed used up, so I decided to give it a try. These are pork, sweet potato, and onion egg rolls with dijon dipping sauce. They are not Asian themed egg rolls, this was just a means to use up my leftover pork roast and one, lonely sweet potato.

Since I had a huge chunk of roasted pork shoulder left, and I HATE shredding meat, I decided to see if all the hype on Pinterest about shredding your meat in your stand mixer is true. My response with pork is, sort of.

First, you have to remove the bone. :) Also, it did not work with a piece of meat this size. I had to cut it up into two inch chunks. After cutting it into smaller pieces, the mixer did break the meat down. Some of it was shredded, and some of it was, well, mashed. I was not impressed. Maybe it's a better technique for chicken.

I almost never peel vegetables, and this was no exception. I gave my sweet potato a good scrub and cut it into thirds. I then cut it into planks, and cut the planks into match sticks. One of my main concerns was that the egg roll wrappers would finish baking and the sweet potatoes would still be raw.

I then cut 1/4 of an onion into match sticks.

Then, covered the veg in olive oil, salt and pepper, using my hands to toss everything and make sure it was all coated.

For Christmas I was given new baking sheets! They are aluminum. I don't use teflon. I don't like cancer. So I gave these a coating of olive oil as well to help the egg rolls not stick.

To assemble, I placed one wrapper at a time on my cutting board, point towards me.

I added about 1 1/2 tablespoons of pork, and enough veg to cover the pork.

Then I rolled them thusly.

After rolling, place the egg roll on the baking sheet seam side down.

You can see here where I tried to tuck the corners too tightly and ripped the wrapper. This happened several times. I tried to just wrap the top over the holes.

I filled all 15 wrappers in the package. The last two were a little overstuffed, but I used up all of the potatoes and onions. ;)

I had a hard time deciding at what temperature to bake them. I found recipes ranging from 350 to 450. I decided to settle on 375, hoping that the sweet potatoes would bake at that temperature. I also debated whether or not I should have brushed the tops of the egg rolls with oil. The bottoms would get browned from the oil on the pan, but I wasn't sure about the tops. I decided not to.

I baked them at 375 for 10 minutes, flipped them over, and baked for another 10 minutes.

smashing garlic with my knife

For the sauce I combined 3 ounces of Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons of dijon, a clove of garlic that I minced, then smashed with my knife and a pinch of salt (the course salt helps break down the garlic), another half teaspoon of salt, and some black pepper.

First the bad news. When I flipped the egg rolls after the first 10 minutes in the oven, most of them were stuck to the baking sheet in spite of my layer of oil. I'm not sure how to fix this problem, except to not use aluminum pans. I didn't love the texture of the meat. This was probably more of a problem with the stand mixer's shredding than with the pork roast itself. I guess next time I'm back to using a fork and my fingers. Sigh. And finally, the texture of the wrapper wasn't the best. The first side down was very crispy except for where it had ripped when then stuck to the pan. But the second side wasn't as crisp. I could either brush the tops with oil next time as I had considered, or FRY THEM!

The good news was that vegetables were delicious and the sweet potatoes were fully cooked! None of the holes I made in the wrappers made any difference with the finished product. And the dipping sauce was delish. I'd say I enjoyed the sauce more than the egg rolls themselves.

This was far from my favorite meal, but I'm glad I made it. I'm closer now to being able to make a delicious egg roll than I was before I tried. And the assembly process was simple enough that I'm motivated to try again.

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