THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Spring cleanin’

columnist-logo_ryantatsumoto_FINALFor some reason, I decided to clean out our kitchen pantry while I was in the middle of doing our federal and state tax returns. It was probably to break away from the monotony of pencil pushin’, as well as the realization that the extra tax burden will consistently be in the four-figure range until retirement. But since we haven’t cleaned out our pantry for quite a while, it was as good a time as any.

I do admit that on occasion, I’ll return from a trip to the supermarket and simply place the newly-purchased can goods right in front, without rotating the pantry stock, but while cleaning out the pantry, I realized how prevalent this practice was for the Mrs. and yours truly. When all of the outdated stock was purged from the pantry, it literally cleared about three shelves. We had canned goods that had pull dates from about the time of President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. There also was a can of Spam hidden behind other outdated cans that looked a little pregnant. I didn’t think Spam had a pull date or even went bad.

Of course, there was a fair amount of canned goods either just at the pull date or newly expired within the past several months. And you know that everyone tends to stretch manufacturers’ pull dates, especially if the can isn’t rusty or swollen. I mean, consuming milk past the pull date, especially when there seems to be something semi-solid sloshing around in the carton is one thing. A can of tomato sauce that still appears pristine, even if the pull date was in 2015, is a whole different story. I mean, tomato sauce is acidic, so nasties like Clostridium botulinum bacteria probably can’t propagate in that can. And I will be simmering that tomato sauce, killing off any other nasties that may have awakened during Obama’s second term.

But what’s a person to do with this newly found plethora of recently outdated or soon to outdate canned goods? Sample some of the Gochiso Gourmet’s zombie apocalypse canned cuisine, which doesn’t require a lot of fresh ingredients and can even be prepared with outdated foods.

This recipe is my take on that labor intensive classic bean-based stew from Provence, which usually includes goose or duck, along with pork or pork sausage. Because my pseudo version only uses canned or dried ingredients, it’s a fast cassoulet … or fass-oulet …

Fass-oulet
Two 12 oz cans of roast beef with broth
Two 14.5 oz cans of chopped tomatoes
Three 15 oz cans of white beans, drained
One 14.5 oz can reduced sodium chicken or beef stock
Two cups of dry red wine
One tbsp Herbs de Provence (found at most markets)
One tsp dried chopped garlic
One cup dried mirepoix (dried chopped carrots, celery and onions)
Two tbsp dried parsley
Three Bay leaves

Add all ingredients to a five-quart Dutch oven or stock pan, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. As an option to clean out your freezer, you can also add sausages you may have grilled over the summer and simply froze for use at a later date.

I highlighted this recipe — even before Obama was elected to his first term — which again uses only canned, bottled or dried ingredients. I made a slight adjustment to the original recipe, as I initially used just two cans of refried beans. Because I recently had several cans of black beans that were on the verge of outdating, I simply mashed them to form a paste, but the rest of the seasonings are the same.

Bean and Olive Spread
Two 15 oz cans of beans (kidney, black, pinto, white, etc.)
One 4.25 oz can chopped olives
One 4 oz can roast, diced green chiles
One tbsp chili powder
One tsp ground cumin
One tbsp dried cilantro
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Two heaping tbsp Goya Recaito sauce (optional)
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Mash the beans until a rough paste forms. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until all ingredients thoroughly incorporated.

Serve with crackers, chips or sliced baguettes, or use as a healthy sandwich spread. Options include adding diced fresh tomatoes, cooked brown rice or barley, fresh cilantro or roasted diced jalapenos. Use in place of usual sandwich spreads (mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup) with sliced grilled chicken breast or pork tenderloin with sautéed peppers for a “fajita” sandwich in a sliced baguette.

The last recipe does include one fresh ingredient, fresh eggs. However, since it is a binder for the patties, it would be difficult to exclude the eggs. But I’m sure you may also have some “outdated” eggs in your refrigerator, which means you’ll be “cleaning” out your refrigerator. I didn’t list this recipe strictly for outdated canned goods, as it’s a mainstay of the Tatsumoto household, but that one can of Reduced Fat Pringles Sour Cream and Onion crisps invariably always outdates and I did have one can of mushroom soup that expired in February…

Fish Patties
22 to 25 oz of canned tuna or salmon (three to five cans)
One 10.75 oz can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
4.5 to 5 oz of sour cream and onion potato chips
Two eggs lightly scrambled
Non-stick spray

Place the potato chips in a zip sealed or produce bag and crush to the consistency of cracker crumbs. Drain and flake the tuna or salmon, add the condensed cream of mushroom soup. Potato chip crumbs and the beaten eggs. Form into patties and pan fry until golden brown.

Waste not, Want not
So, instead of tossing those canned goods that have gone a little past their expiration date, make a fast meal with one of these simple applications. Or better yet, just rotate your canned goods so you can use them when you “want” to use them instead of “have” to use them …

The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the Univ. of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a clinical pharmacist during the day and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster at night. He writes from Kane‘ohe, HI and can be reached at gochisogourmet@yahoo.com.

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