For the past week or so I've been getting a lot of emails through a Facebook group I joined. The group was created by some old high school classmates since they're planning a 30th anniversary reunion. It'll be in Rhode Island of course so I won't be attending (but I wouldn't attend even if I still lived there since I didn't really care for high school or my fellow classmates LOL).
Anyways (as Rhode Islanders are want to say) these emails got me thinking about high school and one of my favorite things about then was the hot lunches. Weird, huh? Most kids hated them and would avoid them like the plague, but for some reason I preferred them over some sad brown bagged crusty old sandwich...go figure. Hot lunches in those days were a hell of a lot better than the fast food unhealthy crap they serve these days.
One of my favorites from the cafeteria were those minced and breaded pork patties shaped like a little pork chop and served with pork gravy. For years I couldn't find any equivalent until I saw Banquet had a Savory Pork Patty frozen dinner with a very similar tasting meat when comparing to my memory of those school lunch offerings.
I decided to try my hand at recreating my childhood comfort food with a more hand-crafted home-style flair. The result is what's offered below, my version of a 1970's cafeteria staple. I've paired it with my version of yet another old skool fav, mac and cheese.
click pic for close-up
1 pound pork sirloin, hand-minced (yes, a bit of knife work, but this gave it great chunky texture...if you'd rather have smooth, then use ground pork)
2 slices whole wheat bread, finely cubed
1 tbsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. chicken broth powder
1/4 tsp. ground sage
1/2 cup Panko seasoned breadcrumbs
salt, pepper and Zatarain's seasoning to taste
Mix these ingredients well in a large mixing bowl. Shape into patties. If you want to take the time and try to shape them like pork chops, go for it.
Coat liberally in more Panko breadcrumbs and fry in a butter/olive oil mixture in a skillet 'till golden brown on each side.
Top with some pork gravy from a jar.
Mac and Cheese was simply penne pasta cooked to just al dente, then drain reserving about a half cup of the boiling liquid. Mix with butter and jarred cheddar cheese sauce as well as some good grated parmesean. Pour into baking dish, top with more parmesean and bake at 350 degrees 'till topping is melted and pasta is bubbling.