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Archive for the ‘Southern Twang’ Category

FRIDAY FOOD THING

I am somewhat of a persnickety coffee drinker. Recently, I have fallen under the spell of Dunkin’ Donut’s ground coffees. My favorites are “Dunkin’ Dark” and “Dunkin’ Turbo”. In fact, I like to blend them together or with “Dunkin Regular” as well. Trouble is, Dunkin’ grocery store coffees are $10.

Ouch.

Enter Luzianne, the famous Depression-Era coffee whose cheaper prices resulted from the inclusion of chicory. (I do NOT like chicory coffee!) Needless to say, cheaper coffee prices during the Great Depression were appreciated by a nation long-addicted to caffeine.  Many folks who drank Luzianne chicory coffee soon discovered they preferred the chicory-infused taste over the more expensive non-chicory coffee brands, perpetuating the success of Luzianne. To this day — as did I — most coffee drinkers still associate the brand name exclusively with chicory.

Until the other day.

Turns out, Luzianne offers an extensive, GREAT TASTING 100% premium Arabica  NON-chicory coffee product line, for about 6$. I gotta tell you, Luzianne “Medium Roast” coffee is quickly replacing my more-expensive Dunkin’ Donut brew for a lot le$$ money. (Luzianne Medium Roast blends quite well with my Dunkin’ mixtures, although Luzianne coffees — both their dark and medium roasts — have no problem standing on their own, the point of today’s FFT.)

Those Great Depression folks knew a good deal when they saw one.

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FRIDAY FOOD THING

Hog's Head Cheese

Today’s FRIDAY FOOD THING was going to be a leap of faith for me: a review of something I have never had before. Something I’ve been afraid to try. A Southern something called Souse. Something that’s often called Hogs Head Cheese. Souse sounds better, but it was not meant to be. When I got home from the grocery store, a bottle of wine and my package of souse was nowhere to be found. The only thing I can figure is the grocery store bagger must have put the wine and the souse on the bottom shelf of my shopping cart, where I neglected to look. The wine and the package of souse is probably still sitting in the parking lot cart caddy.

Well, the package of souse probably is…

+ + + + +

04/28/2012

Tim Says: Oh, oh. The ball’s a rolling. I just called a local butcher shop and can purchase a hog’s head for $8 plus tax. Sounds cheap to me! I asked if they could cut my head in half for me. They laughed. “I meant the hogs head!” “No!” they said. “That would tear up our saw.” I made a mental note. Haven’t stepped off the cliff yet. But now I know the cliff is there if I decide to leap.

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FRIDAY FOOD THING

By now you probably realize I am relatively fearless when it comes to trying new foods. And that my roots run Southerly, to boot. And you also probably know I enjoy trying something new every time I go to a grocery store or market. Something “new” can mean anything from an unusual brand of mustard to a foreign-labeled something-or-another whose packaging I can’t even read. How truly boring it would be if I shopped for the same items every week and ignored all those curiosities rarely presented at eye-level.

I tend to like most forms of liver (old fashioned liver and onions!) and am very fond of pâté, liverwurst and other such products. I like breakfast scrapple (the big butts in this link are a mystery to me, too) and I like chicken livers, and I make it a point to abscond with the Thanksgiving Butterball turkey liver whenever I get the chance.

“That’s funny — this turkey has no liver!”

(No, it doesn’t. That’s because I fried it in olive oil yesterday, dusted with onion powder and sweet basil.)

So it did not come as a surprise to find a 1-pound package of “NEESE’S LIVER PUDDING” sitting in my shopping cart come checkout time the other day. I could hardly wait to place a slice in the frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of fresh basil, rosemary, crushed garlic, and Cayenne pepper. True to its name, liver pudding did not hold its shape, turning into an aromatic blob in the bottom of the frying pan. After a while I placed the blob on a paper towel to absorb the excess drippings before spooning the pudding into a small bowl. Then I grabbed a box of Ritz crackers and a butter knife. Holy SMOLEY! Lot’s of room here to experiment.

Next time I’m going to add some chopped green pepper and onion, and mix the liver pudding with a healthy serving of rice — a down and dirty version of Louisiana, uh — well,  dirty rice.

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I’ve lived in the South most of my life, including 13 years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as well as Mobile, Alabama and elsewhere. During that time I paid attention to Cajun food, Cajun chefs, and Cajun culture. Whenever I make red beans and rice — one of my favorite Louisiana vittles along with Jambalaya — I plan on making it a two-day fandango. The first day I make the stock*, chill it, skim the fat, and soak the red beans (the smaller the better) in the resulting liquid overnight. Then, (day two) I cook the red beans and have at it. Red beans & rice is one of those “magic melds” of complementary flavors. Then again, any bean served with rice, in my opinion, is magic. For instance, try black beans in this same recipe. There is nothing special in “Tim’s Red Beans & Rice” other than how great it tastes. Here’s how to make it:

INGREDIENTS

1 bag (16-oz) dried red beans — real beans, not canned. Don’t be tempted.

1 or 2 or 3 smoked ham hocks, hog jowls, or pork side-meat (side meat is very salty — be careful!). “Smoked” is the keyword here. Some folks use smoked turkey legs, but these are only rumors, mind you. My preference is smoked jowls, if you can find them.

1 package or more (two 10-inch pieces) smoked sausage. Hillshire Farms “Smoked Polish Kielbasa” is okay. Stay away from Italian unless you want Italian Red beans and Rice.

2 or more medium onions, chopped fine

4 cloves crushed garlic (more or less)

1/2 green pepper (chopped)

3 stalks chopped celery

1 to 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper (to suit your own taste). Cayenne pepper comes in varying degrees of hotness, but red beans & rice is supposed to be hot

2, 16-ounce cans chicken broth (it will be reduced during Day 1)

3-4 cups cooked rice (at serving time). I prefer non-sticky (converted) rice, but sticky rice works well, too. Some folks cook the rice with the beans, but I disagree. It’s too difficult to determine liquid levels and it’s way too easy to overcook the rice. Besides, the table-side presentation is much better when the beans and spooned over fresh rice.

Do not add salt, as the ham hocks, hog jowls, or pork side-meat will provide most of it. Only add salt when everything is finished.

The above ingredients are basis only. Customize as you go.

DAY 1 (MORNING)

Put everything EXCEPT rice, beans, and smoked sausage in large pot and steep for 3-4 hours. The ham hocks, hog jowls, or pork side-meat will infuse their loveliness into the ensuing stock. When done, add water to replenish liquid level and remove the ham hocks, hog jowls, or pork side-meat, picking the meat and returning to stock, but that’s not necessary.  I usually snack on the pickings, a “chef’s prize” if you will.

Skim the fat (or put the stock in the refrigerator for a couple hours to solidify the surface-level fat).

Add the red beans to the stock and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 2

Spoon out about 1/4 of the soggy red bean mixture and puree in a blender. This is easier to do when the stock is cold. Return to stock. Quarter 1/2 of the smoked sausage lengthwise and slice into 1/2-3/4″ pieces. Add to stock pot. If you want, use a crock pot. Simmer on LOW heat for about 4 to 5 hours or until beans are tender but not mushy. You will need to continuously monitor and regulate the liquid level while simmering. At the end, you want cooked beans, not overdone, but with a minimal amount of broth left over. Some amount of juice is desirable. Remember, the puree bean mash made and added at the beginning, tends to thicken while cooking. I usually use water (as opposed to more broth) to bring the liquids up to par level.

Slice and add the other 1/2 of the sausage about 45 minutes before the beans are done.

SERVE

Serve the slightly wet (some juice is okay) bean-stock mixture over fresh-cooked rice. Provide hot sauce and Tabasco sauce table-side.

For more ideas on cooking Red Beans & Rice, search the Internet on “red beans and rice”+recipe.

NOTES:

The bean and stock freezes rather well, so you can make large batches. However, always prepare fresh rice!

(*) This is an all-purpose Southern stock. Make a LOT of it. Freeze it. Then use it as a base in which to cook outstanding green beans, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, black-eyed peas,  you name it. And — yes, Rich — maybe even lima beans.

(originally published and copyrighted© 1998-2010 by Simply Tim in the Recipe du Jour news letter.)

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