Red Hot Lettuce Wraps- A Clean Fridge Reveals All

Red Hot Lettuce Wraps- A Clean Fridge Reveals All

I’d let it go far too long. If I came home with one more jar of locally made mustard, barbecue sauce, or jam – or any bunches of beets or carrots, something had to be thrown out of the fridge. I was shoving things in and checking twice to make sure the door stayed shut.

It took my older daughter — now living on her own — to call a halt to the nonsensical arrangement of the refrigerator. Last weekend, when she brought home food to share and couldn’t find a spot for it, she settled down in front of the open door and began to sort and eliminate. Out went the multiple jars of pickles I’d accumulated from photo shoots and recipe testing.

Three ends of mayonnaise jars were rinsed and recycled. A bottom shelf in the door that somehow missed my notice became the home for wine and beer. Jars and bottles of Asian condiments consolidated to one shelf. Vegetable drawers were scrubbed, and several mutated forms of ginger and horseradish root were thrown out. For a weekend, we had a spotless refrigerator. I knew where everything was. I was able to see, think about, and cook dinner with what was in the fridge.

That night, happy to have found the pepper jelly my neighbor made last year, I fixed Asian-style wraps. Mixing the jelly with soy sauce and rice vinegar turned the sweet hot taste into sweet-hot-tangy-salty, all the flavor you need to spice up cooked ground meat. As she rinsed fresh buttery lettuce leaves while I cooked the filling, I disclosed that a large job, with about $200 worth of dairy and produce, was coming up that week and could potentially derail her efforts. Eye roll. She knows absolutely that I am, by nature, one who hides messy behind closed fridge and closet doors.

But at least we knew where to find the wine.

Red Hot Lettuce Wraps

1/2 pound lean ground beef, turkey, chicken, or lamb

1/4 cup hot red pepper jelly

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons rice wine or white wine vinegar

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/3 cup finely chopped water chestnuts

1 to 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil, optional

16 lettuce leaves, such as Boston, Bibb, butter, or iceberg

Toppings: cilantro leaves, shredded carrot, chopped peanuts Lime wedges

Cook beef or other protein in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Pour off any fat from skillet. Add jelly, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, water chestnuts, green onion, and sesame oil, if using; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot and onions just begin to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Arrange lettuce leaves around outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in center. To serve allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf and sprinkle with desired toppings. Serve with lime wedges. Makes 2 servings.

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