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Chef meets gourmet challenge with Lunchables.

Byline: THE $10 GOURMET By Jim Boyd The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - Randy "Mookie" Hollister, chef-owner of Mookie's Place, knew he had a challenge on his hands.

When asked to prepare a menu for two for only $10, Hollister complained that the rising price of food over the years has made such a small budget too difficult. Hollister, however, came through with flying colors.

Hollister spent only $9.91 for the ingredients for Turkey Queen Elizabeth - turkey cutlets stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese, sauteed and served with a sauce of mushrooms, roasted garlic, sour cream, fresh chopped tomato and scallions he made in the same pan.

Hollister served the stuffed cutlets with cubes of red potato simmered in bouillon and then pan-fried in butter.

"I think this is a nice gourmet dish," he said. "I think it's going to present well. It's going to taste fantastic."

How did Hollister keep his costs down when he discovered that the deli at the Springfield WinCo, the store where he did all his shopping, sells small amounts of sliced ham but not small amounts of sliced cheese?

He did it by purchasing a $1.64 package of Oscar Mayer Lunchables, a kids' meal. The package contained just enough ham and Swiss cheese for the filling, with some crackers left over that he jokingly offered as an hors d'oeuvre.

Hollister went shopping knowing that he wanted to do something similar to the Chicken Queen Elizabeth he has served as a special at restaurants where he worked. Hollister believes the dish was invented by Georges Auguste Escoffier, considered the greatest chef in history by some.

Hollister found turkey was more economical than chicken and he considered it better suited to the holidays, so that's what he purchased.

The $10 Gourmet is a feature designed to allow professional chefs to give menu ideas to home cooks by preparing a meal for two on a $10 budget. Small amounts of staple ingredients don't have to be included in the cost. Hollister used flour, butter, salt, black pepper, white wine and a bouillon cube from his kitchen stocks.

The 1-pound package of sliced turkey breast he purchased contained four slices and actually made enough Turkey Queen Elizabeth to serve four people for lunch. He also had 10 eggs and a half pint of sour cream left over to use for other meals.

Hollister has been cooking professionally since 1976. He worked as a chef for the former Rodeway Inn, the Red Lion hotel chain and the Downtown Athletic Club before opening Mookie's Place Restaurant and Catering at 1507 Centennial Blvd. The Springfield restaurant was closed for several months while Hollister and his wife operated Mookie's at the Emerald Valley Athletic Club in Creswell. Now divorced, Hollister has refurbished the Springfield restaurant and operates it with his mother, Joanne Hollister, as his partner.

Mookie's Place received a license to serve beer and wine about a month ago. The lunch menu includes pastas, burgers, soups, sandwiches and chef's specials. The dinner menu features Mookie's Famous BBQ Baby Back Ribs and other entrees, with prime rib served on Friday and Saturday.

Turkey (or Chicken)

Queen Elizabeth

4 turkey cutlets, each about 4 ounces, or substitute skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

2 slices Swiss cheese (about 1 ounce per serving)

2 slices ham, cut into matchstick pieces (about 1 ounce per serving)

3 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil

Salt and black pepper

Flour for dredging

2 eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons ( 1/8 cup) white wine

5 large mushrooms, sliced

1 head garlic, peeled and roasted

1/2 pint sour cream

1 ripe tomato, 1/2 finely chopped and 1/2 diced (use more diced tomato if you have it available)

1 or 2 scallions (green onions), sliced

Place a turkey cutlet in a recloseable plastic storage bag or enclose them in a sheet of plastic plastic wrap. Pound carefully with a mallet until the cutlet is approximately 1/4-inch thick. Repeat the process until all cutlets have been flattened.

Place the flattened cutlets on a work surface. Slice the cheese into pieces and fit a layer of cheese onto one side of each cutlet. Top the cheese with a layer of ham, again on one side of the cutlet only. Brush egg around the edge of the cutlets to act as a glue.

Take the side of the cutlet without filling on it and fold it over the filled side to create a pouch that looks like an omelette or a pastry turnover. Press the edges together so the egg will stick them together.

On medium heat, begin melting the butter in a large saute pan.

Season flour with salt and pepper and place it in a bowl.

Dip each filled cutlet into the flour and then dip the cutlet into the beaten egg. (Don't be afraid to get flour and egg on your hand; you have to keep the filling from spilling out.) Place each cutlet into the saute pan to brown. When browned on one side, turn over to brown on the other side.

Move the cutlets to one side of the pan. Add the sliced mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they begin to exude juice.

Deglaze the pan with the wine, then add the finely chopped tomato, roasted garlic and sour cream; simmer to create a sauce.

Cover the pan and continue cooking the cutlets in the sauce until done (the meat should be moist and white, not pinkish). The total cooking time will be about 14 or 15 minutes. Add the remaining coarsely diced tomato and chopped scallions to the sauce just before serving.

Note: This recipe actually provided lunch for four people instead of two. One filled turkey cutlet per person proved to be an ample meal, although a person with a hearty appetite might choose to eat two.

Chef Randy Hollister served Turkey Queen Elizabeth with pan-fried potatoes he made by cubing 8 baby red potatoes, simmering them in bouillon until tender (approximately 10 to 15 minutes), draining them, and then browning them in butter in a saute pan with only pepper for seasoning because the bouillon had already provided salt. A salad or green vegetable also would be suitable accompani- ments.

SETTLING THE BILL

1 hydroponic tomato: 62 cents

1 bunch green onions: 48 cents

1.09 pounds turkey breast slices: $3.58

1 pint sour cream: $1.23

1 package Oscar Mayer Lunchables: $1.64

1 head garlic: 38 cents

1 dozen large eggs: 77 cents

.19 pounds mushrooms: 53 cents

1.18 pounds red potatoes: 68 cents

Total: $9.91

CAPTION(S):

Turkey Queen Elizabeth, turkey cutlets stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese and served with a mushroom sauce, are served with red potatoes simmered in bouillon and fried in butter. Randy Hollister owns Mookie's Place in Springfield.
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Article Details
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Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 17, 2004
Words:1139
Previous Article:Break out the bubbly for a sparking holiday season.
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