Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fusion Cuisine is not a novel idea.

When a fancy restaurant advertises fusion cuisine, you’re paying an exorbitant price for a current fad.  Guess what?  This type of cuisine has been around for centuries.  Fusion cuisine is not just the merging of food from different cultures, but the cooking techniques as well.  As different countries and cultures, visited or invaded elsewhere, food items were either brought along, or discovered; not unusual to also discover that many went well together.  Cooking techniques were also shared, so where a culture had only baked bread over open coals, now they learned about the clay oven.
If you go into a restaurant that offers different cuisines, that is not necessarily fusion.  The dishes may be Greek, Korean and Mexican, but each dish is prepared and served in its traditional form.  An example of fusion would be to take the ingredients of a Greek Gyro (roasted lamb, taztziki sauce, vegetables), but preparing them as a Mexican Enchilada; adding some of the ingredients usually found in a traditional Enchilada, and/or taking away some of the Gyro ingredients.  While this might sound simple, care must be taken to ensure that the tastes meld together successfully.
The recipe I’m giving to you today is my attempt at fusion cuisine; a mixture of Irish with Mexican.  The O’Brien potatoes are cubed potatoes that are fried with diced onions, pimientos (roasted red bell pepper), or diced red and green bell peppers; this is the Irish part.  The other part will be ingredients that would typically go into tacos; the Mexican part.  The technique will include some frying, but finish off baking in an oven.

Taco Beef and Potato Bake
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup diced onion, divided in half
1 envelope taco seasoning, medium
1 (14 ½ oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, medium
1 (16 oz) can light kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 oz) bag frozen O’Brien potatoes, thawed
1 (10 ½ oz) can cheddar cheese soup
¾ cup 2% milk
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a skillet, over high heat, brown the beef; add ½ cup of onion halfway through cooking; drain.  Reduce heat to low; add taco seasoning and tomatoes; mix well.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.
Spray a 3qt baking dish with non-stick spray; spread meat mixture in dish.  Spread on top of meat mixture the beans and potatoes.  In a large bowl, mix together the soup, milk, bell pepper, remaining ½ cup onion and Worcestershire; pour mixture over the potatoes, spreading evenly to edges of dish.
Sprinkle the paprika and black pepper over the sauce.  Bake for 1 hour covered with foil; bake uncovered for 15 minutes.  Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 8-10 servings.
Mary Cokenour