Badger Common’Tater August 2015 Issue
I recently had the pure pleasure of joining the Bushman family at their home for lunch. This was an invitation I was quite tickled to receive and I spent weeks anticipating the special day knowing that I was to enjoy a meal steeped in Polish history and family tradition.
I arrived at the Bushman family’s door, camera in hand and with a hearty appetite. Jerry and Barb Bushman warmly welcomed me into their home and as I stepped into the kitchen, I breathed in the tantalizing aromas of the beginnings of Creamed Lettuce over Mashed Potatoes.
While Jerry entertained us with Bushman family stories, other members arrived and mingled together reminding me of the closeness this family shares. I felt honored to be a part of their day.
I was introduced to Jerry’s Aunt Caroline…. a lovely woman whom I later learned is more like a sister to Jerry than an aunt.
Caroline and Barb walked me through the steps of the recipe and had the kitchen running more smoothly than anything I had seen before.
Barb explained to me that although this recipe has a number of steps, it is certainly easy to break down and prep ahead of time. I will tell you it is SO very worth the little effort this meal takes to prepare.
When I arrived, Barb had already mixed the ingredients for the beginnings of the cream sauce, the sugar had dissolved and the bowl was simply waiting for the addition of the Half & Half.
Once that was added and we all did a quick little taste-test and approved it, we added the lettuce (picked fresh from Caroline’s garden), to the bowl, which we then set aside.
We turned our focus to frying the side pork, stirring until it was slightly crispy and ready to mix with the star of the show…the mashed potatoes.
Once the potatoes finished boiling and were fork tender, we added milk and butter. Then we mashed and whipped the potatoes until fluffy. We mixed the fried side pork and onions into the potatoes.
However, the creamed lettuce was just the one dish in a full course of Polish favorites! Pork chops simmered in a delicious sauce were pulled from the oven (another cherished Bushman family recipe), and fruit salad was placed on the table.
This was truly a feast! Everything I sampled was delicious. The warm, creamy mashed potatoes swimming in the sweet tanginess of the creamed lettuce urged me to reach for a second helping.
Just as I leaned back in my chair, fully satisfied and sure I couldn’t possible eat another bite, Barb returned to the dining room with another traditional Bushman family recipe, a Chocolate Chiffon cake made by Caroline in honor of Jerry’s birthday. This light cake and velvety frosting was the perfect finale to a fabulous meal!
Creamed Lettuce over Mashed Potatoes
– 2 cups sugar
– ½ cup + 1 Tbs. white vinegar
– ½ cup water (or to taste)
– ½ cup Half & Half
– 1-2 lbs. side pork, diced
– 1 onion, diced
– 5 potatoes, diced
– 4 Tbs. butter
In a mixing bowl, mix the 2 cups sugar with the white vinegar and water.
Once the sugar has dissolved completely, add the Half & Half to the vinegar/sugar mixture. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, tear the leaf lettuce into pieces and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the leaves. Set aside.
In a frying pan, fry diced side pork and diced onion
While pork and onions are frying, peel potatoes and dice. Boil the potatoes until tender.
Once boiled, drain the potatoes.
Add butter to the potatoes and mash. If potatoes are not creamy enough for your liking add 2-3 Tbs. of milk or Half & Half.
Mix the pork and onions into the mashed potatoes in a bowl.
In a separate bowl mix together the cream sauce and lettuce previously prepared.
To serve simply ladle the creamed lettuce over the mashed potatoes in individual serving dishes, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
A sincere “Thank You” to Jerry and Barb Bushman for allowing me to be a part of their day and for sharing this recipe with me.
This is certainly a meal that I plan to recreate for my family and I am sure it will become one of their favorites.