Meatball Sub Casserole A Hit with Pasture Burning Crew

burningpastures

Wyatt and BDP are backburning which keeps the fire contained and from spreading to other pastures. BDP prefers not to have the fire roaring quite this much but rather a slow burn. If the wind switches directions or when a fire adds it’s own wind, things can quickly get out of hand.

Just as April showers bring May flowers, Spring burning helps keep invasive weeds, trees and brush from taking over the grass.  It also helps add nutrients to the soil which makes the grass better for the cattle, helping them gain more weight, and baby calves will grow up strong and healthy.  

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This is a dish that transports well, so I often take it to the guys when they can’t get home to eat, like when they are working cattle or burning pastures in the Spring.  I love to work ahead, so I usually double this recipe and make two casseroles; it freezes well and that gives me a back up meal for later. From frozen, I prefer to thaw it in the fridge 8-10 hours, then bake, uncovered, as the recipe directs, allowing for a little extra time, if needed. 

1 loaf buttered garlic bread, cut into 1 inch thick slices
8 oz. cream cheese, sofrtened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb. frozen cooked meatballs, thawed (can be either beef or pork, or a combination of both)
28 oz. jar pasta sauce
1 cup water

In a greased 9 x 13 pan, arrange bread slices in a single layer, buttered side up; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and place meatball quarters onto a baking sheet; heat meatballs, uncovered, on center rack for 10 minutes, or just long enough for them to render their fats; drain fats and let meatballs cool.  When meatballs are cool enough to work with, cut each meatball into quarters and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese with mayonnaise, italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes; gently spread this mixture over bread in casserole dish; sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella.

In another mixing bowl, combine pasta sauce with water; stir in meatballs, then spread this mixture over casserole.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake, uncovered, on center rack of oven, for 30-35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly throughout and golden brown on top.

Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli

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There are several methods for spreading fire to burn pastures. We have found that the old-fashioned method of having Wyatt drag a rake to spread fire works best for our burns. It’s always good to have young guys on hand to help with the legwork of laying out the premise of the area to be burned.

burning pastures

It’s ideal to have several people on quads with water sprayers to help with a controlled burn and monitor the fire from all areas. This way, a couple of people can help put out the back burn as the fire gets close to the property line, and the others can watch to make sure the fire stays contained.

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I snapped this photo of Wyatt as he was headed across a smoldering area of the pasture. It immediately made me think of Jesus on the cross, crucified to offer us eternal life. In my mind the sticks seem to portray those who cry out to him from eternal darkness.

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My friend, Maddie, introduced this dish to me and I even got to sit in the kitchen and watch her create it. We are crazy over it!

Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli

**This recipe was featured as part of Chef Alli’s Farm Fresh Kitchen on MomsEveryday Kansas and WIBW 13 News, April 2015.

Special thanks to the farmers and ranchers of the Kansas Farm Food Connection for making this segment possible. 

 

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