Though Labor Day is not a day marked on the liturgical calendar, the Church has a lot to say about the nobility of work and the just treatment of workers. For example, you can read the 1986 statement of the US bishops Economic Justice for All, as well as the Labor Day Statement 2015.
To celebrate Labor Day we recommend having a picnic and inviting friends and family, laborers all. But, in keeping with the spirit of the day, even the cooks should have a rest from hours over the stove. So, here are a couple of easy and delicious recipes that can be doubled and tripled to serve a crowd and can be made in advance. After eating watch a great Labor day movie like: On the Waterfront, or Erin Brokovich (trailers below).
This one for Chalupas is from The Blue Denim Gourmet, a cookbook compiled in Odessa, Texas, where they know beef. It’s so easy, you may not want to let on how little time you actually spent cooking.
Combine in a large container:
A 4 pound pork roast (trim the fat)
2 whole jalapeno peppers
11/2 teaspoons of oregano
2 Tablespoons of chili powder
2 cloves of garlic, smashed, but not chopped
2 pounds of pinto beans, which have been soaked overnight
(Forgot to soak the pinto beans? Put them in a large bowl, cover them with water and put them in a microwave oven. Cook on high heat for 15 minutes. Rinse, and they’re ready for the pot.)
11/2 teaspoons, each, freshly ground salt and pepper (or, just plain old salt and pepper)
No browning, no sautéing, just plop it all in the container and cover the whole mixture with water. Cook the meat and beans 6-8 hours, stirring frequently.
Recruit your friends to bring the accompaniments: tortilla chips, salsa, shredded cheese, chopped onions, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and chopped avocado or guacamole. When you’re ready to serve, set up a bar with the bean and cheese mixture and the sides in bowls. Let your guests assemble the chalupas with as much or as little as they choose. Make sure the beer is cold.
Do you love beans, but want to skip the meat?
Do you love beans, but want to skip the meat? You can keep all the sides in the chalupas recipe, but change the main dish to Drunken Beans. This one is from the Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans cookbook, where they know beans. The original recipe calls for two slices of bacon, but you can omit the bacon or make bacon one of the sides.
Cook enough dry pinto beans (or Rio Zape, Red Apaloosa or Anasazi beans, if you can find them) to produce four cups, cooked. (Don’t add salt until the beans are soft, but you can add a crushed clove of garlic and chopped onions, if you like.)
Put the cooked beans and their broth in a stockpot and warm them up. Add 1 bottle of lager beer and simmer for about 20 minutes to cook off some of the beer.
While the beans are simmering, sauté two slices of high quality bacon, diced, in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel.
Pour off all but 1 Tablespoon of the fat. (If you are cooking vegetarian, start your skillet work here, with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.)
Add to the hot fat/oil:
½ medium chopped yellow or white onion
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3-4 Serrano chiles, seeded if desired and chopped
Sauté over medium heat until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes
Add to the soft vegetables:
½ pound Cremini mushrooms, sliced
Sauté until the mushrooms are wilted and soft, about 10 more minutes
(If you are using the fried bacon, stir it in now.)
Add the mushroom/onion/garlic/chile mixture to the beans and cook until the favors are blended, about 10 minutes
On the Waterfront: