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Southern Cuisine - July

 

It was time for my yearly pilgrimage to Saint Francisville, Louisiana. It was time for the literary festival celebrating Walker Percy's life and works. There are lectures about “The movies of the Moviegoer” by Read Mercer Schuchardt, “The History and Culture of Barbecue.” with John Shelton Reed and “Walker Percy–A Personal History” by a friend of mine since college, Dave Duty and much more for any Walker Percy fan. And if you know anything about Walker Percy, there is always Crayfish and bourbon. The celebration was canceled last year because of COVID. There was not enough time to make up for the lost time from last year but there was enough good food, good drinks (bourbon, of course) and new friends to make the weekend enjoyable.

Back on the home front, gasoline prices are still getting worse. I bought my hybrid car just at the right time. I went from a car that got combined 20 mpg to one that gets combined 44 mpg. Since gas has doubled in price, and I get twice the gas mileage, I figure I’m just holding my own with my gas.

I have scoured the stores for food deals and have found a store that is not though about as a place to buy cheap groceries. The food section at TJ MAXX should be on your list for finding something new and unusual every time you go there. It is where I go to discover something I would not buy very often but as an addition to my menu when I want to change my menu up a bit and not spend a fortune for a gourmet item. Also when you go to Kroger’s, look for the Manager’s Special. I just finished reading an article about ice cream scams. The cartons are the same size but the weight of the ice cream has gone down. Some ice cream makers are being real sneaky and change the description to frozen dairy dessert. There is a standard of identity in ice cream, such as level of milk fat content, which frozen dairy dessert does not require. A frozen dairy dessert can contain corn syrup while ice cream does not.

I was at a grocery store doing my usual trek up and down every aisle, when lo and behold; I found a store discount deal on Short Ribs. Not letting a deal go by on one of my favorite cuts of beef, I bagged every one of the packages they had. Short ribs is on my list of hard to find and too expensive for what you get cuts of beef. Along with beef tongue, beef cheeks and short breads (thymus gland).

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Braised Short Ribs

INGREDIENTS:

4 lbs beef bone-in short ribs cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces

2 yellow onions chopped

3 large leeks white and light green parts only, rinsed and sliced

4 garlic cloves peeled and thinly sliced

3 large carrots peeled and chopped

(1) 750 mil bottle Cotes du Rhone or cabernet sauvignon

Cups chopped celery

4 cups beef stock – homemade is preferable (see notes above)

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 eleven oz bottle Guinness Stout

Olive oil

Fresh thyme sprigs

2-3 dried bay leaves

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Polenta for serving

METHOD:

1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F. Pat the beef very dry using a paper towel. Brush with olive oil. Generously season all sides with salt and pepper.

2. Roast for 20 minutes, remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325.

3. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil to medium-low and add onions, leeks, celery, carrots, and sauté until onions and leeks are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute more.

4. Add the wine and stock and Guinness bring to a simmer. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

5. Return the meat to the pan and nestle in the carrots, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. The meat should sit just above the liquid line. For a good braise, you don't want it fully immersed in the liquid.

6. Cover and transfer to the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Remove lid and cook for another 30-45 minutes, until the beef is fork-tender.

7. Remove from the oven and skim off the layer of fat on top and discard. Cover and rest the beef in the juices for at least 45 minutes.

8. Gently re-warm on the stove before serving.

9. Serve meat and juices over a shallow bowl of polenta.

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Quick, Delicious Food for Celebrations!

We were going to prepare some finger-food for a graduation party and after much discussion and searching for a dish that a teenager would like and for us, easy to make, we found this recipe ...

Sliders

INGREDIENTS:

(1) 16-oz package dinner rolls

1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil

½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped

1¼ lb. Ground sirloin (90/10)

1½ Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. ground black pepper

¼ c. mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. ketchup

1 Tbsp. mustard

(1) 8-oz bag shredded cheddar-jack cheese

½ c. Dill pickle slices

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. everything bagel seasoning

METHOD:

1. Preheat the broiler. Remove the rolls from the packaging in one piece. With a serrated knife cut crosswise through the all of the rolls at once, to divide the top half from the bottom (keeping the sides of the rolls intact). Place both halves cut-side up on a sheet tray and broil for 2 minutes until lightly toasted. (If using slider rolls, separate the tops from the bottoms and place cut side up on the sheet tray, sides touching; broil as instructed). Set aside.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes until just slightly softened. Add the ground sirloin and cook, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper, and stir well to combine. Cook until the beef is no longer pink and the liquid from the pan has almost fully evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

3. Preheat the oven to 375˚. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard.

4. Spread the cut sides of the rolls with the mayonnaise mixture, and then sprinkle with half of the cheese in an even layer. Layer the meat mixture over the cheese, then top with the remaining cheese and the pickles. Cover with the top half of the rolls.

5. Brush the tops of the rolls all over with olive oil and sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the tops of the rolls are golden and toasted. Pull sliders apart and serve warm.

6. If you don't have everything bagel seasoning, use sesame seeds instead or mix 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt into the olive oil before brushing on the rolls.

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I had this tray of crawfish one night at the Percy conference. There is more there than you can eat and it is as spicy as you can stand. The cold bourbon helps. “Pinch the tail and suck the head.” A tawdry-sounding phrase, but it's actually how you eat crawfish.

Crawfish Boil Recipe

Made with live crawfish, Louisiana and Cajun seasonings, corn, red potatoes, these crawfish are so delicious!

INGREDIENTS:

3 lbs. (1.3 kg) crawfish

8-10 cups water

6 oz. (170 g) Louisiana Crawfish Shrimp & Crab Boil

2 Tbsp. McCormick Cajun seasoning

1 Tbsp. McCormick Lemon Pepper seasoning

1 head garlic, unpeeled but separated

3 ears corn, cut into 2-inch pieces

12 oz. (340 g) small red potatoes, halved

1 lemon, sliced into rounds

METHOD:

1 Fill a large pot with water. Bring the water to a boil. Add the Louisiana Crawfish Shrimp and Crab Boil, Cajun seasoning and Lemon Pepper seasoning. Stir well to a rolling boil.

2. Add the garlic, corn, potatoes, sausage and lemon slices. Cover the pot with its lid and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Taste the crawfish boil water. If it's too salty, add more water. If it's too bland, add more seasonings to taste. Transfer the crawfish into the pot and cook for 3-4 minutes, with the lid covered.

4. Turn off the heat and let the crawfish soak for 10 minutes. The longer the crawfish soaks, the spicier they will be. Remove all the ingredients using a strainer and serve immediately. Discard the crawfish boil water.

 

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