Back on the island. Once the incredibly long, unbelievably painful series of flights is over, all you want to do is settle in a bit. But the fact remains that everyone needs to eat, and there are a number of great restaurant and takeout-shop options on St. Croix. Here, the portions are usually very generous. What you do is eat what you can, and then take the rest home with you.
What we’ve come up with for some time now is what we’re calling “Blue Yonder Hash.” It involves everything you’ve brought home, and one incredibly important ingredient:
This little packet is what will make every leftover meat, fish, potato, artichoke dip, breadstick, and vegetable you bring home from a restaurant into a brand new, utterly delicious dinner. This little package costs practically nothing, is stupidly easy to prepare, and creates some kind of alchemical glory out of whatever you throw into it. I think the only thing we haven’t thrown into it is truck tires.
The process is fairly simple. You must obtain an onion and saute it in some nice butter until it softens up a bit.
Following this, you start up another pot. This pot is the Vigo Red Beans & Rice, shown above. It needs some water, a little butter, a little boiling, a little stirring, and some simmering for about 20-25 minutes. That’s it. So while that’s running, you pull out every leftover you’ve got, slew them over a cutting board, and get to work. Trim the fat off the meat (do not fail to do this), even things up, but don’t be afraid about putting everything from pita bread to artichoke dip to both breaded fish and grilled fillets in there. Throw them all in, turn the heat down (the onions should be soft and browned by now). Heat on low, let everything think things through for a bit.
In a short time, the Red Beans and Rice will be ready. Here’s the big fun: slop it all in, mix it all up, and heat slowly for a few minutes.
Here’s where Gordon Ramsey and I will probably have a major difference of opinion — I agree, this doesn’t look like a five-star entree, but I’m not throwing it out. I’d get canned out of Hell’s Kitchen faster than a tuna if I’d offered this. But I will tell you a few things: it is very, very delicious, will save you a great deal of money from eating out every night, and will keep even the most boo-yah divers, snorkelers, swimmers, runners, hikers, and even beach bunnies going for many hours after eating it. It’s one of our mainstays at Blue Yonder and we stock the cabinets for our renters with the Vigo packets. After a long day of diving, snorkeling, and wading through the cutting Croix sun, sometimes you just want a nice little pot of easy, fast, economical and warm comfort food in front of the television, on the deck, or under the stars at the pool. (For us right now, it’s in front of the Olympics). Because even if you’re the toughest, meanest unit on the mainland, the Croix sun and heat is going to tire you out, and this is a nice way to handle the dinner problem when you’ve got leftovers and you’re too tired to move your legs to the car.
Tonight, at the Kid’s request, we’re trying a new mashup with the Vigo jambalaya mix, some leftover hamburger, superb bacon (Cheeseburger in American Paradise on the East End where we live), a little artichoke dip, maybe some good cheddar cheese, and we hope a few exciting Track and Field finals.