Showing posts from January, 2016

Fried Cornbread

Where I come from, fried cornbread has only 3 ingredients: Plain  Cornmeal, Water and Salt..... as my great-great grandmother taught my great grandmother, my great grandmother taught my grandmother, my grandmother taught my mother and my mother taught me.  Actually, this recipe goes back at least to the 1600s in my family.

Actually, I can't give a specific "recipe", because one does not exist.  Each person who cooks it alters the proportions to taste.  Some add more water for thinner, crispier, lacier edges.  Some add less water for thicker, softer patties.  Some add more or less salt.  Some like it browner, like the dark, caramelized areas on pan fried chicken.  My uncle added fresh chopped onion, a dash of garlic powder and a dash of cayenne pepper (which was considered heresy.... tasty, tasty heresy).

Basically, you just make a slurry of cornmeal and water and salt to taste.  It should look about like this:

Then heat oil for frying in a cast iron pan about medium hot.  D…

My Chili Recipe

I've eaten a lot of great chili. Texas chili is awesome and has no beans. New Mexico chili (red and green) is fantastic... my great uncle makes an awesome pork chili verde! Midwestern chili is great in a diner, with freshly chopped onions an cheddar cheese. Carolina (N&S) style hamburgers would not bee complete without that specific style of drive in chili and a Nathan's hotdog just has to have that coney sauce. That said, I make damn good chili. I don't know what style it is, but I've spent years perfecting it. I use beans, not for filler but for flavor. The right beans add richness and sweetness and savoriness. Honestly, the technique is at least as important as the recipe - I'll probably need to do a video. Rex Stout, in a Nero Wolfe novel, wrote that chili was America's original gourmet food. European tradition says that we have 5 tastes; salty, sweet, savory, sour and bitter. Japanese tradition adds one more "umami", which is that hard to des…

A Primer on Cornmeal and Cornbread

As any elementary school student knows, corn was first cultivated in the "New World" by natives.  This was one of the first great foods taken back to Europe by explorer's and a staple of colonial cooking.  Cornmeal is simply ground dried corn.  Early Americans took to corn quickly and began figuring out ways to make bread and whisky from it.  Corn is actually more "American than apple pie", as it was a staple crop that enabled the independence of settler's from British and European imports.

Today, when one shops at a grocery store, one is likely to see several different brands and varieties of cornmeal.  There will be "Plain Cornmeal" in white and yellow varieties and "Self Rising" cornmeal also in yellow and white.  Most of these will be fine ground.  If you go to a specialty store (or  gristmill), you may see medium and coarse ground options, as well as other colors of cornmeal.  But, the average person only comes into contact with a fe…

Advice on Collards

If you don't like collards, here is my advice: You never know what type of collard greens those are in the grocery store or where they come from. Collards can actually be grown and harvested most of the year, but the best, sweetest ones come straight from the field after the first frost. The old fashioned "cabbage head", also called Morris heading, are best. Stay away from loose or "Georgia" collards. You'll know they are good if you try a tender bit of a stem right where it joins the leaf. It should be sweet with just a hint of bitterness. We only cook them with fatback and salt ( no sugar or hamhock), but to each his own. To cook collards: wash the leaves thoroughly, tear out the stems, chop the leaves into long, thick ribbons, chop the tender parts of the stems and discard the tough parts. Render out a few slices of fatback in a deep, wide pot. Remove the fatback and add some collards. Place the lid on just long enough for that bunch to wilt down and make…