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RBR Tailgating: Pork Dumplings

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The most important thing you can do in a bye week is mouth off. That always works.

One of the dangers of being the holder of a much coveted Friday post slot here at RBR is that whatever ideas may dance about in your head as the week winds toward press time can be usurped by those with earlier, less interesting, non-Friday time slots. You can’t blame them. There’s a lot of space to fill between tailgating posts.

I’ll have to admit to winging it this week. I was going to take advantage of the bye to wax poetic about what a tender lover I am, but as happens, that subject was exhausted by another writer. I wasn’t prepared for this eventuality - sometimes life comes at you sideways.

What I can recount for you without risk of recovering recently trodden ground is my family’s off week preparatory regime. LSU is on the horizon. We, like our team I assume, have taken advantage of the allotted time to prepare for our meeting with Bayou Bengals.

The first thing I did was call the Louisiana State Police and let them know that I make my way to Baton Rouge around once a year, but I’m always there for the Alabama game in Death Valley. I made it a point to let them know how silly I think their 70 mph highway speed limit is. That got them riled. That’s the smart thing to do.

I just feel like this is the year.” said the dispatcher. A voice behind her was heard to say “We’ve been letting them off the hook for the last couple of years.” But that didn’t scare me.

Motivated by the obvious truth that taunting never comes back to hurt anyone, I taunted further. The dispatcher was quick to point out the new Dodge Chargers the LA State Police were running. I told her all about the new mini-van we were bringing to the game, the t.v. (television) that kept the kids from asking us if we were almost there yet, and the satellite radio that let us hear an entire Billy Joel song rather than just half before descending into static as we head on down the highway, and the ergonomic back supports. I didn’t mention the infrared wireless headphones. It’s not like I have to tell them everything. “I feel like we have the edge to take it to them, and we’re going to take it to them and I feel like we are going to dominate.” I said.

No offense to the LA gendarme, but Mapquest has us in Baton Rouge from Birmingham in six hours and ten minutes. Sad. I’m a hit it in five.

On this trip my kids will see Wreck It Ralph twice, and then some more but not the whole thing for a third time. This mini-van don’t wait.

When asked if their police cars had the capacity to show Wreck It Ralph, or even Steamboat Willie, the LA spokesperson was quick to point out “We put stuff up, too, over here," she said. "If that helps to motivate, if that helps motivate them, then so be it. We know what motivates us, and that's we want that No. 1 that's next to their [name]. We want it.” That’s kind of word garbage, but those that quote can’t edit.

I’m ready for my words to win the upcoming battle. Talking beats real world results. That’s the culmination of the wisdom I have learned over many, let’s say five for no reason other than convenience, years. So I’ll back off the rah-rah football stuff and put forth a simple snack for the bye week.

Pork Dumplings

- 1 lb. ground pork

- 1tbsp. grated ginger (plus more to taste)

- 1 cup sliced cabbage

- 3 cloves minced garlic

- wonton wraps

- ¼ cup sliced green onion

- ½ cup soy sauce

- pinch five spice

- juice of 1 lime

- salt to taste

- olive or vegetable oil

We have a friend, a Chinese immigrant, who hosts an annual New Year’s/Christmas party. To be clear, that’s the Western New Year she invites us to celebrate but it’s rung in in a fashion that would make any of the 1.3 billion of her former countrymen jealous.

She’s coy about the recipe for her dumplings. “It’s just a simple thing,” she says as she dodges any attempt to get an ingredient list from her.

This is my best approximation of what leaves twenty or more guests making small talk around the buffet table as we wait for the next batch of the things to come out of her stack of steamers.

The best way to make these dumplings is to take the pork, ginger, cabbage, garlic, and all but a sprinkling of the green onion and mix them together in a bowl before putting an appropriate amount in each wonton. The pork et al doesn’t need to be cooked ahead of time. Traditionally it isn’t, but I’m gearing this for game watching.

I intentionally did it differently.

First add a few glugs of oil to a pan over medium high heat and add cabbage. When the cabbage softens add pork. Add green onions, garlic, a dash of salt, and ginger and cook through, crumbling pork into as small pieces as possible.

In a separate bowl add the soy, five spice, lime, and the rest of the green onion and blend. It’s amazing how hard it is to fold five spice into a liquid. You can stir and stir and it still sits on top like cake batter. I put all four ingredients into a sealed container and shake.

Set a dollop of pork et al in the center of a wonton, dip a finger in water, trace the edges of the wonton, and fold, pinching together.

The reason I pre-cooked is that it only takes ten to fifteen minutes per steam pan for a batch. If you didn’t pre-cook, the required time is twenty-five minutes per batch.

I think this is a great appetizer for an occasion. I’ll admit to not knowing what the occasion could be when - I’m not kidding - Miami vs. Notre Dame for all the wrong reasons - looks like the most competitive non cocktail party game of the week.

Enjoy. No injuries. Roll Tide.