Culinary Arts, the field I have the pleasure of working in, is one that remains constant in teaching new things to those who indulge in it; particularly about people. As with most things in life it has both a positive side and a lesser mentioned dark underbelly. My world is one of vibrancy; a spectrum of many inspiring hues. I have a low tolerance for those who disrespect the dynamics of our world. The brotherhood found in a kitchen family is a special breed and at times has strongly reminded me of the camaraderie I have seen among my noble friends who serve in the military. Today, it has come to my attention that I have been plagiarized. Any one who knows me will tell you I have a strong distaste for lies and cheating.
As a cook sometimes you create something that is special. Perhaps it reminds you of a family holiday moment, maybe it tastes like your first cultural exchange, it might even just be a bite that makes you think “Damn, I’m good at this.” Either way, there is something uniquely you in that creation that you then choose to share or keep for yourself. It is hard to maintain a culinary identity when you cook someone else’s recipes or only what other people want to eat. Not everyone gets the opportunity to build a menu for a project, open their own restaurant or have the luxury of being given free rein to cook what their heart desires. I have been quite fortunate in some of my endeavors to create amazing things or at least try to.
When I worked at Costa Rica Beer Factory I was given complete creative liberty with the menu. It was a thrilling process… There are days in professional kitchens when cooks get bored and throw something together, just for a change of taste, hoping it will at least be edible. I had at least two of those days during my time at that restaurant. One of those creations has now not only been blatantly plagiarized, a nonsensical back story has been built for it and it was broadcasted on national television in my second home country! I am setting the record straight. Not because I want the world to know I created the dish, but because if it is going to be remade, I want it done right. If you cannot give credit where credit is do, at least do the dish justice. So dear readers, this is the true story of the Shotgun Skillet:
I was tired after a rough beginning to the work week and gearing for what promised to be a rougher weekend service. I had been jonesing for the ol’ south where I grew up and had my cooks quietly cursing my ipod and its current country music bender. A taste of home was what the stomach ordered and I was determined to whip something up with what we had on hand. I scoured our pantry. Then it hit me, like tetris pieces fitting perfectly together, clearing the needed line to enter the next level.
I rounded up about 7 ingredients and the dish took about 7 minutes to cook. I took the idea of home fries that graced my childhood dinner table, seared some meat enough to lend it some color, mixed in a bit of Mexico… ’cause let’s be honest Texas used to belong to the land of the hot sun and added just enough heat to make you wish for sweet tea. I sat down, thought of southern drawls and cowboy hats, inhaled deeply and took a bite. Bull’s eye.
One of the restaurant owners happened by, noticed something new on my plate and asked me what it was called. I replied simply: “Shotgun Skillet” (later translated to “La Escopeta”). The request soon came to include it on the menu, I reluctantly agreed but would not change the name despite their pleas. In the south we ride shotgun, shotgun our beers and even attend shotgun weddings… the term can refer to something done quickly… I felt it fitting.
I am including the recipe below, hope someone out there makes it and enjoys it as much as I did. Word of advice to those staking claim and making up lies… check your facts and be humble. There is no shame in making someone else’s food, just own up to it. I do. Also, if you feel the need to mess with a good thing, then just keep it to yourself.
Until next time…