Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine - January

 

January 1, 2020 | View PDF



In past articles of the Alabama Gazette I gave a preview of what to expect in future articles. I commented about recipes in old cookbooks. The use of real ingredients not hydrogenated this and artificial sweetened that, but ingredients that were simple, fresh and raised or grown as close to home as possible. The recipes from these cookbooks used fresh sweet milk and heavy cream, real butter, bacon drippings, lots of eggs and lard. Also, the recipes called for ingredients that you can make at home cheaper and healthier than buying them in a store. I have said that peanut butter, mayonnaise, applesauce, hummus and pesto can be made at home with a good food processor. Granola needs a sheet pan, a bowl and a list of your favorite fruits and nuts.

In past articles of the Alabama Gazette I gave a preview of what to expect in future articles. I commented about recipes in old cookbooks. The use of real ingredients not hydrogenated this and artificial sweetened that, but ingredients that were simple, fresh and raised or grown as close to home as possible. The recipes from these cookbooks used fresh sweet milk and heavy cream, real butter, bacon drippings, lots of eggs and lard. Also, the recipes called for ingredients that you can make at home cheaper and healthier than buying them in a store. I have said that peanut butter, mayonnaise, applesauce, hummus and pesto can be made at home with a good food processor. Granola needs a sheet pan, a bowl and a list of your favorite fruits and nuts.

Even though you can make every meal from scratch, there are some items that I listed in earlier articles that also define the South. Go to a store in Montgomery and find Wickles, Barber’s Buttermilk, White Lily Flour, Kelley sausage, Red Diamond Tea, Golden Flake chips and DUKE’S, my favorite mayonnaise. Don't forget to Think Alabama, Buy Local!

I am periodically asked about the topic for my next article. With what you have just read, it can be about anything. My standard remark is that I am not sure until I seriously sit down and write the article. I always have some ideas for a topic, from watching TV cooking shows, reading food blogs and the myriad of e-mails I get from food related websites. This time of year many food bloggers seem to have the same writer's block as I have and the old standby is to write about leftovers. But I am not writing just about the leftovers from a single meal such as Thanksgiving. Starting with Labor day, we have leftover BBQ and since Veteran's Day is the designated day for us to make the dressing for Thanksgiving, we have leftover chopped vegetables. From Thanksgiving and Christmas there is the leftover turkey and fixins'. New Year's Day leaves black-eyed peas and with the leftovers from parties and potlucks during the year, my freezer “hath runneth over!”

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yield: serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 corn tortillas, cut in long strips, fried crisp, used as garnish, see note.

8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 cups minced onion

4 cups tomato puree

1 tablespoon minced chipotle in adobo

1 or 2 jalapenos depending on taste, seeded and chopped fine

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 bay leaf

1 ½ quarts chicken stock

salt to taste

GARNISH:

cooked chicken boneless and

skinless, cut into strips

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

Fresh cilantro

Lime wedges for garnish

Chopped avocado if available

Note: tortilla strips can be substituted with your favorite corn chips

METHOD:

1. In large pot, heat oil and saute the garlic and onion until soft and aromatic.

2. Add tomato puree, jalapenos, cumin, cilantro, coriander,bay leaf and chicken stock.

3. Bring to boil and then simmer for 35 minutes.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chicken, avocado, shredded cheese and crisp tortilla strips and cilantro. Serve.

I am one step ahead though, because I already portioned the leftovers. I do not have a turkey carcass or a pork butt the size of a bowling ball in the freezer. I packaged the pulled pork into ¾ pounds units. I made a stock from the turkey and added mirepoix, which is usually leftover salad ingredients. The leftover side vegetables are bagged up and in the freezer. I do this at least a day or two after the meals that produced all of the leftovers. So after New Year's Day, I have the makings of all sort of meals from my favorite breakfast tacos to stuffed Pork Loin.

So you are expecting recipes using my leftovers. Since they are my leftovers, you may not have the same ingredients that I have on hand. And since I am sitting in my living room and it is getting colder outside and thus colder inside, I am craving a hot soup. And my favorite hot soup is Chicken Tortilla. Very flavorful, has good presentation and can be made as spicy as you want. There are as many favorite tortilla soup recipes as there are favorite recipes for tuna salad. Use what you have and make it your way. This is what I have for this recipe and this is how I make it. Other variations for this soup is to add black beans and crumbled farmers cheese.

Basic Gumbo

Since the next recipe is a Creole specialty there is a rule of what you do first. First you make the roux! This step is strictly a personal one. Mix the same amount of oil and flour, at least ¾ cup each, in a heavy saucepan on medium heat, stir frequently to keep from burning the flour. When you stop depends on how dark you want your roux. You want to cook the flour taste out so you should cook the roux until there is some color. Anywhere from tan to mahogany will do.

Yield: serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

¾ cup oil

¾ cup flour

2 onions, chopped

3 tablespoons butter

4 cups frozen cut okra thawed

2 to 3 cans Rotel tomatoes,

depending on taste

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 ½ cups chopped celery

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

chopped green onions

File powder

2 quarts chicken stock

or fish stock (if you can find it or make it)

Hot cooked rice.

METHOD:

1. In a wide pot, sauté the onion in butter until soft, about five minutes.

2. Stir in the okra and sauté an additional 3 to five minutes.

3. Stir in the tomatoes, bell peppers and celery and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Add remaining ingredients except file powder and rice and simmer covered for about an hour stirring frequently. Simmer until

liquid has thicken.

5. Add whatever meats you have, shrimp, chicken, sausage, oysters, or fish fillets. Simmer an additional 15 minutes.

6. Ladle into serving bowls, top with scoop of rice. Garnish with green onions. Sprinkle with file powder.

New Year’s thought: I just do not want to look back and think “I could have eaten that.”

 

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