Show 390, September 12, 2020: Mike Learakos, Executive Director of Waste Not OC

Mike Learakos of Katella Grill and Waste Not OCThe world’s first off the grid, fully sustainable, completely green 100% solar powered freezer, “The Beast,” has been placed and activated on the campus of Anaheim High School.

The need for emergency cold storage for recovered excess edible food from the food service industry to distribute to non-profit food pantries has been a priority for Mike Learakos, Executive Director of Waste Not OC, and Impact The Change’s Founder, Jonathan Stone.

After three years of planning and building, ‘The Beast’ was created from a forty-foot refrigerated cargo container, designed to ship food. During a power outage, its solar technology will generate its own green power, virtually eliminating food waste, and operate completely off of the electrical grid.

“Local businesses are on board developing products for the unit to help protect, maintain inventory and manage temperature for thousands of vacuum sealed, frozen ‘Ready To Heat & Eat’ meals used to feed people that can’t get out for a nutritious, hot meal. This new cold storage unit will also help feed those in need during a disaster, regardless of power interruptions, including rolling black outs.”

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Three-Pepper Sausage Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton from Randon Houseby Sam Sifton

Here is a recipe I adapted from the cooking of Kurt Gardner, a New York theater man of great culinary passions who has been contributing the dish to our home for years, usually in proportions large enough to feed boroughs. Rare is the month where there is not a frozen bag of this stuff in our freezer, ready to be deployed.

2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
11⁄2 pounds andouille sausage, or fresh chorizo or hot Italian sausage
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
2 red or orange bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
2 poblano or Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
2 serrano or jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups chicken stock (if using store- bought, use low sodium variety)
1 pan cornbread, cut into cubes (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil in large fl at- bottomed sauté pan over medium- high heat. Add sausage and sauté until browned, approximately 10 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.

3. Add onion to the pan and reduce heat to medium, then sauté until onion begins to turn clear and soften, approximately 5 minutes. Add celery and peppers and continue cooking until peppers begin to soften, approximately 10 minutes.

4. Pour vegetable mixture into bowl with sausage, add chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste, and toss to mix.

5. Return pan to heat and deglaze with a splash of chicken stock, then scrape contents into bowl with sausage and vegetable mixture.

6. Pour mixture into a large roasting pan and add cubed cornbread, mixing by hand. Add chicken stock to moisten, cover with aluminum foil, and place in oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it is soft and the flavors well incorporated. If you desire a crunchy top, remove foil for fi nal 10 minutes of cooking.

(Dressing can be made ahead of time and reheated when needed. If dry upon reheating, add additional chicken stock.)

Excerpted from Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton. Copyright ©2012 by Sam Sifton. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.