Brad’s recipes get adjusted in order to please guests
By Betty Street
A modest man. A man of few words. A private man. A man with a ready smile who loves a good laugh. A man also with delightful, creative and very pleasing cooking abilities.
Meet Brad Opitz, who supervises an asphalt crew. He’s been with Jensen Asphalt for the past 12 years. This is definitely seasonal work, only from April to November; and he builds cars in his shop and does body work in the winter. That last is Brad’s hobby and avocation.
For example, his favorite car is the ’72 Camaro, which Brad built for his son, Landon, now seven, when he was born. Brad is a wonderful father for both of his children—Landon and sister Kaylee, who is age six.
In the winter, Brad also cooks. He loves to cook. Some might say he lives to cook. He said he “takes four or five recipes and makes one of my own.” He doesn’t make the same dish twice, but tweaks the spices and ingredients to suit whoever is sitting down for his meals.
For example, when Kaylee eats Brad’s chili (see below), he makes a milder version than the one he serves the guys during football season. After all, you have to give the people what they want … and what they want is pretty much anything Brad cooks.
Brad said he invented the Layered Hot Dish (below) one day when he was bored. He assembled the ingredients and made the casserole, cooked it, and left it on the counter while he went to darts. Friends came home with him afterwards and “everybody ate it.” This is Brad’s measure of successful cooking.
Brad avoids cooking disasters by frequent tasting during the cooking process. “I tasted everything I ever made. If it doesn’t work, I divide it up and make it work.”
In other words, if it appears a dish is going to turn out yucky, he divides it in half and then works with each half adding this or that until he likes the end result.
Persistence and patience are useful qualities in cooking, car repair and laying asphalt. They are what make Brad so good at what he does.
BRAD OPITZ’S RECIPES
Chicken Noodle Soup
(“Knock-off” knoepfla soup)
3 cans cream of chicken soup
3 cans chicken broth
2 lbs. chicken breast cut in bite-sized pieces
Onions to taste, chopped
Celery to taste, chopped
Carrots to taste, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil soups, onion, celery, carrots, pepper and salt. Add chicken breast and put in boiling soups. Cook chicken completely in broth and keep stirring. When chicken is done, add biscuits cut up into bite-sized pieces. Cook until biscuit pieces (“noodles”) are completely cooked. Serve.
Layered Hot Dish
3-4 lbs. potatoes, sliced
1 cup uncooked rice
1 1/2 – 2 lbs. hamburger
Onion, to taste, chopped
Green pepper to taste, chopped
Half a jalapeno pepper, chopped
1-2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1-2 soup cans milk
2 cans green beans
Velveeta cheese, sliced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In 11×13 pan, place potatoes with rice on top. Hamburger, onion, and peppers are layered next. In a bowl, mix soup with milk and add beans; stir. This is next layer in hot dish. Place Velveeta slices on top and bacon strips last. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until done. Amounts may be increased or decreased depending on pan size and personal preference.
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 cans chili beans
2 cans kidney beans, 1 dark, 1 light
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 32-oz. can tomato juice
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 – 2 pks. chili powder
Brown ground beef and remove drippings. Add rest of ingredients, adding more or less of each to your taste. Let simmer for a time and serve.
4-5 lbs. pork or beef ribs cut apart
Cook ribs in slow cooker for 8-10 hours before grilling or oven-cooking. Wait until grilling or oven-cooking to put the sauce on; that’s when the ribs get their zing.
1 1/2 – 2 lbs. ground beef
Bleu cheese, shredded
Make 2 thin hamburger patties. On one place shredded cheese and bacon in the center. Top with another hamburger patty. Crimp edges together and grill until cheese in the center is melted. Continue making thin hamburger patty sets and grilling as directed until everyone has eaten his/her fill.
4 lbs. potatoes (at least), quartered
4-6 oz. butter with minced garlic added
Onion to taste, chopped
Green pepper to taste, chopped
Jalapeno pepper to taste, chopped
4 oz. chicken broth
Salt and pepper
2 cups shredded cheese
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Fold up sides of aluminum foil so broth won’t escape. Then make two parallel lines of potato quarters on the aluminum foil. Add chicken broth so potatoes will steam. Put onion, peppers and jalapenos over the potatoes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Place dabs of garlic butter on vegetables, then slices of Velveeta cheese and put bacon on top. Fold aluminum foil into packet and fold edges together. Bake at 475 degrees for one hour. Ten minutes before the hour is up, carefully take the packet from the oven and open. Pour shredded cheese on top and bake again for 10 minutes. Serve.