I swear if I find one more lunchbox with the kids’ sandwiches untouched, I’m going to combust. Go stark raving mad and absolutely bonkers. Bonkers–bonkers!
Sensing and perhaps identifying with my overall frustration, you’ll understand that this isn’t a rare event. Our son usually eats his sandwiches but our daughter is an unrepentant recidivist. She is 8 years old and if I’m lucky, she might eat half a sandwich. More commonly, however, I’ll find that tell-tale “mouse” bite out of one half of otherwise untouched sandwiches. Most of the time, however, they’ve been left completely untouched. That’s right. We’re talking pure neglect! (Of course, we all know that neglecting to eat your school lunch should be a criminal offense. I’m not sure who makes the laws or whether it is worth marching to Parliament House over this issue but my bag’s packed. I’m halfway out the door!)
Day after day, month after month, this little scenario continues. Mum dutifully makes the sandwiches each morning. Child ignores or refuses to eat said sandwiches. They come home. Prior to his visit to the vet a few years ago, the dog was getting the leftover sandwiches and I swear that two years later, he can still identify a lunchbox. My children barely eat and our dog barely stops! His ribs still bear testament to those uneaten lunches.
Anyway, now that I’m getting back on my feet again after my recent health setbacks and have been teaching the kids how to cook, I’ve revisited the school lunchbox. This afternoon I spotted some chicken mince in the supermarket and with fresh resolve, I adlibbed chicken rissoles for the kids lunchboxes tomorrow and my husband even gets some to take to work.
These rissoles were made with what I had to hand at home. I didn’t have any coriander at home today but I think that would make a wonderful addition. The whole idea with this recipe is that you add the veggies you like and then add some breadcrumbs, eggs and cheese to the chicken mince. As this combo will be a bit slushy, just thicken it up with flour until the mix forms a fairly solid lump. This took at least half a cup of flour when I made them, although I was pouring the flour straight in and judging by feel when the consistency was right.
A word of warning concerning food safety when cooking using raw chicken. Raw chicken is a breeding ground for Salmonella bacteria. Please ensure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after touching raw chicken and before touching something else. It’s all very well to spread your love around but you need to keep bacteria contained. I also wear disposable gloves while mixing the mince and make sure I have all the ingredients ready to go in so I’m not tempted to grab ingredients with contaminated fingers.
When sending the rissoles to school, it would be a good idea to send them along with a freezer brick or frozen drink, again to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
I’ve called this recipe: “Chook Rissoles with Buried Treasure”. “Chook” is what we Australians call chickens and it was my nickname back at school so it seemed appropriate. The “buried treasure” is, of course, all those hidden veggies although if your kids help with making the rissoles by perhaps grating the veggies, they’ll know they’re in there. However, I’m sure when they smell these tasty rissoles, they’ll just “2, 4, 6, 8…Bog in. Don’t wait”.
Chook Rissoles with Buried Treasure
1 kilo raw chicken mince, preferable organic
¼ cup oil
1 zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 cup approx fresh bread crumbs (a good use for left over bread!)
2 eggs, beaten
Splash of soy sauce
Dash of sweet chilli sauce
Could also add coriander or other fresh herbs and some red capsicum would also taste great.
- When it comes to making the rissoles, you will be pan-frying the onion, garlic and mushrooms and the remaining ingredients will be going directly into a large bowl with the raw chicken mince.
- Taking a chopping board and sharp knife, dice the onion and mushrooms, keeping them separate. They will be heading for the frying pan.
- Grate the zucchini and carrot. The cheese can be bought pre-grated or you can grate it now. Add the zucchini, carrot and cheese to a large mixing bowl.
- Turn the hot plate onto medium to high heat. Using a large, heavy frying pan, add the oil and heat until it is starting to sizzle.
- Add the diced onions and garlic and fry until slightly browned and then add the mushrooms. Fry until light brown in colour. Then add to the mixing bowl.
- Using a blender or other device, pulverise a few slices of bread to make breadcrumbs. I probably added about a cup full although I didn’t measure them precisely. Add to the mixing bowl.
- Pour about half a cup of flour into a cup and keep to hand. You don’t want to be touching the bag of flour with chicken mince hands. Remember, you do not want to be spreading those raw chicken germs and the potential for Salmonella all around your kitchen.
- Crack two eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork and keep to hand.
- Add the chicken mince to the mixing bowl.
- Add the beaten eggs to the rissole mix along with sauces.
- Put on a pair of disposable plastic gloves and start kneading through the mix making sure all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. The mixture will be quite sloppy at this point.
- Add plain flour until the mix thickens up and gains a solid, dough-like consistency.
- It is now ready to cook.
- Heat the oil.
- Take handfuls of the chicken and veggie mix and roll it in your hands to make balls and add to the frying pan. When the pan is full, place the remaining rissoles on a large dinner plate or plastic chopping board. You can now remove the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.
- Return to the frying pan. With the hotplate on medium heat, fry the rissoles until they are well browned on both sides. I put the lid on over the top. Cook thoroughly.
We had a sample for dinner tonight and my daughter loved them. She seemed very keen. I can only hope she is equally enthusiastic when she opens her lunchbox tomorrow.
I would like to try making these again with some fresh coriander and even some chopped macadamia nuts. You could also add frozen peas or corn kernels to the mix. It is very flexible but you do need to ensure all the ingredients can bind together.
This recipe certainly received a big thumbs up at our place!
PS I’ll give you a little laugh at my expense. I forgot to pack my daughter’s lunch this morning after going to all the trouble of making the rissoles and running very late with last night’s dinner. A friend drops the kids off on Fridays so I can rest and so I was fully in lounging round the house in my PJs mode and I needed to apply a cattle prod to go out. I thought she had netball this morning and so went via school off to the local netball courts and back to school again. It was quite a tour for that very precious lunchbox.
So if my daughter doesn’t eat her lunch today after all of that effort, I’m going to…Well, I’ll surely think of something. Dear me! How long can I blame the chemo for what my elderly grandfather used to call his “good forgettery”?