Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine for October

 

October 1, 2018 | View PDF



An anniversary is the celebration of a recurrence of a date marking a notable event. Even though I was not a part of the Alabama Gazette when it first started, this October will be the anniversary of when I started writing my articles named SOUTHERN CUISINE. My first article appeared in the October 2014 issue. I have shared about one hundred and fifteen recipes, given advice on cooking methods, and told stories about some of the people and places that helped define Southern Cuisine.

My first topic was about family and I said that topic would be explored many times. As I stated then, you cannot talk about Southern Cuisine without talking about the influence of the family. The stories told to each succeeding generation, the recipes taught and handed down and even the favorite utensils used for certain recipes. I included two family recipes in my first article. So keeping with tradition, I will be including another family recipe in this article.

A topic for discussion when celebrating an anniversary, is reminiscing how things used to be “back when”. There is never a shortage of topics since everything changes over a period. This is true in the culinary world. Case in point is when did you last have a Tomato Aspic? Or enjoy a pear half nestled on a leaf of iceberg lettuce with a dollop of mayonnaise and shredded cheddar cheese on top? Over a span of ten to twenty years, our tastes have changed and health concerns about what we eat have increased.

Some of the changes in the past ten years include the decline of a family sitting down to a meal. Evening meals are somewhat still popular. Breakfast is the meal being hit the hardest. Grab and go from the home or from fast food restaurants has made a sit down breakfast a meal that sometimes held on weekends. Even an icon of the morning meal is disappearing. Orange juice consumption has declined, partly because of the health concerns of consuming so much sugar early in the morning. The concern about sugar intake and other health concerns have dropped the sales of sodas and diet sodas to a thirty year low. The concern about sugar has not hit the yogurt and frozen yogurt sales but has hurt the ice cream popularity. Brussel sprouts and lima beans are out but broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions are in. A noticeable change in consumption has been with red meat, which has declined about 20% from 2005. Chicken has made the largest headway in the meals of today. Due to health concerns, peanut butter has been replaced with other nut butters, especially in schools where some ban peanut butter in the schools lunches.

There is a potential problem with using old family recipes. As with the concerns of too much sugar and the health problems some have with peanuts, old recipes should be updated to meet modern day concerns. I have recipes that call for SPRY. This is a commercial shortening containing a mixture of both lard and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Another concern to some people is the aluminum in baking powder.

Here is family recipe from my grandmother for banana bread. My mother and my wife, Anne, have made additions to the original recipe.

BANANA NUT BREAD

INGREDIENTS

¼ pound cool butter (1 stick), more for greasing pan

1-cup sugar

Two eggs, at room temperature

Three large very ripe bananas.

See note

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecanspreparation

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Using electric mixer, cream butter until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar and cream together 2 minutes more. One at a time, mix in eggs. Mix in bananas until only small lumps remain.

Stir dry ingredients together and mix into banana mixture just until combined. Do not overmix! Stir nuts in with a spoon. Pour into prepared pan. Bake about 55 to 60 minutes and check at the 50-minute mark. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Note: We save the overly ripe brown soft bananas in a plastic food bag until we are ready to bake some loaves. We try to bake at least two loaves and a time. Yield: 4-6

Get in your kitchens, buy unprocessed foods, turn off the TV, and prepare your own foods. This is liberating. Joel Salatin

I made it to New Mexico during hatch chile season. And keeping to tradition every time I fly into Roswell, New Mexico, I eat at the Cowboy Café and have the Alien Omelet. A large hatch chili stuffed omelet covered with a Hatch green sauce. This marks the beginning of a vacation that includes Hatch chilies in every meal. If you have not figured it out, I like Hatch Chiles. It has an umami that adds a depth of flavor that other peppers do not have. Do you remember that word from past articles?

This next recipe is a fusion of Southern, Indian, and Southwest cooking and

flavors.

HATCH CHILE COUNTRY CAPTAIN CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

1 large onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic minced

4 ounces Hatch Chiles, roasted, peeled seeded and chopped,see note

3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into large bite-size cubes

1-tablespoon curry powder

1-teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup golden raisins or raisins

One can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped

1/2 cup chicken broth

Hot cooked rice

Garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro, slivered toasted almondspreparation

1. In a 6-quart slow cooker, add onion, garlic, and chile. Arrange chicken pieces over vegetables.

2. Whisk the next two ingredients with the chicken broth. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Add raisins, apple, and tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 1/2 hours until chicken reaches 165°. Serve over rice.

Note: Hatch Chiles are found canned in most grocery stores, in 4-ounce cans.

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, and the wisdom of cookbook writers. Laurie Colwin.

I want to share this recipe to show that a name for a recipe brings different images to different people. Case in point is the Shepherd’s pie. It is not a sweet baked dessert with a pastry crust eaten by sheepherders. It is a meat, usually beef, or lamb, cooked with peas, carrots, and corn, and covered with mashed potatoes and then baked. Take the same idea and replace the beef with pork. Instead of peas and carrots, add apples and onions. Top that with mashed potatoes and you have Country Pork and Apple Pie. This a perfect dish for a 12 to 14 inch cast iron skillet with a lid. Takes some prepping and several stages of cooking, but will impress and feed a crowd. Yield: 4-6.

COUNTRY PORK AND APPLE PIE

INGREDIENTS

One pound sliced bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 medium onions, chopped

3 pounds boneless pork, cubed

¾-cup flour

3 tart cooking apples, peeled and chopped

One teaspoon rubbed sage

½-teaspoon ground nutmeg

One-teaspoon salt

¼-teaspoon ground pepper

1-cup apple cider

½-cup water

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

½-cup milk

5 tablespoons butter, divided

PREPARATION

Cook bacon in the cast iron skillet until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towel to drain.

In the bacon drippings, sauté the onions until tender, remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

Dust the pork with the flour and brown about a third of it at a time in skillet. Add additional oil if needed. Remove from heat and add bacon, onions, apples, sage, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cider and apples. Cover and bake at 325 for about two hours until pork is tender.

In a saucepan, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain the water and add heated milk and melted butter and mash. Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the skillet from the oven and spread the mashed potatoes over the pork mixture. Brush melted butter over the potatoes.

Broil six inches from the heat for 5 minutes or until the topping is browned.

Sprinkle chopped parsley over top and serve. Yield 10

Culinary tradition is not always based on fact. Sometimes it's based on history, on habits that come out of a time when kitchens were fueled by charcoal. Alton Brown

It is not too early to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. If you are thinking of changing some of the menu items, try the recipes early and test for amount ant taste for flavor. You do not want any surprises the day of.

 

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