Southern Alabama Specialties

Recipes and folklore from the Gulf Coast. Like this favorte recipe, Garlic Shrimp Linguine, gets a nod from Creole cookery and blends new and old world flavors in making one fine dinner.

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

Life is good on the Gulf Coast as you'll find folks grilling and barbecuing all types of fine foods. Burgers, dogs, steaks, wings, ribs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, gator, heck ... if it lives around here, we eat it!

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

An establishment in these parts, sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal is a way of life for many of us. It is quality time well spent sharing our blessings. Enjoy our recipes.

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

Platters like this are often on tables around Mobile Bay especially when there is a Jubilee. A Jubilee only occurs in Mobile Bay - find mouth-watering recipes under the Fish and Seafood categories.

May 30, 2011

Fresh Sweet Corn Pie

what I learned about
Sweet Summer Corn

There are many factors like pollinators of wind and insects, the up and down conditions of weather, as well as what you might already suspect, soil conditions and the amount of moisture; all affecting the outcome of corn and how it will taste. Crazy as it sounds, there is more than all that.

Of the many genes, over a dozen, that can improve the sweetness of a corn kernel, three are thought of as the most important in deciding the content of sugar awarded to corn varieties.

There is the sugar gene (su), the sugar enhancer (se) and the supersweet (sh2).  So what does this have to do with today's recipe? Nothing what so ever if you already know about how sugar converts to starch and the timing you have from harvest to the table in order to retain the sweetness of the types of corn. Briefly, the field corn, the old yellow sweet corn contains the sugar gene and turns to starch rapidly after harvest, especially if it is not cooled down.  Corn with sugar enhancer genes (se), like the one I'm using today, will break down into starch just the same as 'su' corn, but because of the intense sugar, it will of course retain more sweetness to the taste. Supersweet corn, and here I suspect would be all-white varieties like 'Silver King' and 'Silver Queen', do not convert sugar to starch readily thus staying sweet for a longer period.

The sugar sweet corn (se) picture here, know as a bi-color corn, goes by many names and there are endless varieties. Of the research into this post, the most important thing I know to tell you are threefold:
1) Look for color of the kernels to determine sweetness and in determining storage time;
2) The thinner the kernel's skin (pericarp), the sweeter but more tender the corn; and
3) My grandmother was right, always pick early in the morning and cool it down before it turns to starch.

This recipe uses sweet summer corn that heralds from the panhandle of Florida, fresh from the days picking but make no mistake, the taste is a savory blend of home goodness with southern flavors of yesteryear ~ not a sweet pie at all. Enjoy!

Fresh Sweet-Corn Pie
about 8 servings

1 cup finely crushed butter crackers
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 1/2 cups fresh corn (about 3 ears)
1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced green onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, optional
1/2 cup white cornmeal mix
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

Combine crushed cracker, panko and melted butter in a small bowl and set aside about 1/2 cup of the mixture for the topping. Press remainder of mixture into a 10-inch deep pie plate.

In a medium saucepan, add 1 cup of the cream with the corn, Lawry's salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.

Blend the cornmeal into the remaining cream and stir this quickly into the hot mixture until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Gradually add beaten eggs and stir vigorously.

Fold in the cheese and pour mixture into the cracker pie crust; sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 30 minutes or until browned. Cut into wedges and serve hot.

May 27, 2011

Mango Avocado Salsa, Beef & Chorizo Chalupas, Chipotle Marinade and Chili Pepper Marinade for Grilled Meats

chili chicken banana boats
Mexican Fiesta

Saturdays are always Mexican night around our house and lately we're been going out to eat rather than me doing what I love to do, which is making a good homemade meal that taste so much fresher than the foods sitting around on hotplates in restaurants. You know what I mean, how else can they get the food out so quickly, right? I mean, we sure can't. So I thought it was high time to get back in the saddle and ride wild... here's what I came up with... oh, and you can join in too...

...start off with a salsa made from delicate sweet ataulfo mangoes, plum tomatoes and ripe avocados. I use it as a dip like the recipe below and I also like to add it as a topping to many types of foods.

May 25, 2011

Beer BBQ Pork, Dixie Chicken Sticks: Recipes for Memorial Day

Ya'll be careful out there.

Over hot charcoal embers, smokers or gas fired grills, barbecue and grilling cooks will be all over the place this weekend.

This year, I'm taking it easy with simple and fast cooking, easy clean up too. But the best part, delicious barbecue flavor.

True barbecue as we know it, is cooked over a long period and over a slow heat – Grilling is fast cooking, turning every few minutes on each side and basting with a marinade that leaves a barbecue taste. Basting the meats with mopping sauce further enhances the flavor and leaves a barbecue essence on the palate. Basting the meat during the quick cooking time also helps to keep it moist as it lays on an added layer of goodness. And as you may notice, I always bring the marinade to a good boil when using it as a baste or mop solution. It's been mingling with raw meat for goodness sake.

Here are two recipes I hope you will enjoy...

May 23, 2011

New Potatoes with Roasted Vidalia & Garlic Butter Jam

Triple Roast

Yeah, I'm getting in another Vidalia recipe before the season ends and since new potatoes are coming in too, I thought the two to be a perfect match. Of course, gotta have garlic right? And to me, there's not too many better ways (well, I could think of many actually) to serve potatoes than roasting them in the oven.

And since I was roasted the potatoes, I decided to roast the onions to bring out more of the natural sweetness, the garlic too. Now that got me thinking of a vinaigrette I made a while back and with a little tweak, I came up with this warm potato, buttery salad, more of a side dish that is absolutely a taste of maddening bliss.

May 19, 2011

Roast Beef au Jus

When jus is more

This recipe is so simple yet yields one of the best flavored roast, that is if you like jus, and we do.

This makes one heck of a po-boy but I often cook the roast first for dinner and slice it thin to serve on top of rice or potatoes, along with the savory jus saving the leftovers for a later round of mouthwatering, au jus dripping sandwiches.

Even though the roast beef comes out of the oven juicy and flavorful, it is the jus that shines in this recipe. Folks, as good as the roast is, it really is all about the jus. Enjoy!

May 17, 2011

Yellow Summer Squash - 3 recipes

Summer Gold

There is a variety of squash named Gold Summer Crookneck but what I'm meaning here are the bumper crops arriving from now until late summer and from the classic yellow summer squash plants. Regardless of your garden plantings or in my case the farmer markets (this city boy hasn't planted squash since back when I was disrupted by Ray Stevens in the produce aisle) any type of summer squash would do for these recipes: straight or crookneck, globed, the many types of zucchini, even pattypan. Summer squash have a short life as for storage and are picked somewhat green or immature to be wholly eatable. It is important to harvest them in this tender stage before the seeds fully develop and the skin becomes tough. When you purchase them, always pick out ones that are heavy for their size, are shiny and not dull with unblemished skin. 

In these recipes I like to use yellow squash as noted, sometimes adding zucchini or green globes for color and the yellow or green pattypan would do well too but would be in my opinion, better suited for the latter recipe, stuffed. The Cajun white cibleme pattypan would be rather bland. Save it for your winter squash type recipes or use it as a filler.

More squash recipes:

Now for today's 3 recipes, enjoy!

Cheesy Squash Casserole
makes 6-8 servings

1 1/2 pounds yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoon margarine or butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter crackers, crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Steam squash and onion over a small amount of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender; drain.

Over medium heat melt margarine in a saucepan and stir in the flour until blended. Slowly stir in the milk and cook until mixture thickens stirring all while. Remove from heat. Add in cheeses, pepper and salt stirring until cheese forms into a sauce. Add the egg to the squash mixture; toss to coat and stir into the cheese sauce.

Coat a 1 1/2-quart baking dish, casserole, or soufflé dish with cooking spray. Add the squash mixture and sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake about 30 minutes or until golden brown and center is firm.

Momma’s Squash Casserole
Her version of Squash Delight

1 pound yellow squash
cooked chopped bacon, if desired
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 egg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chopped pimento
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup coarse breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped pecans, if desired
1/2 stick butter, melted

Wash the squash well and slice. Cook squash in boiling water until tender along with the onion and bacon, drain well. Press out liquid.

In a large bowl, combine the egg with mayonnaise. Fold in the peppers, salt, sugar, pimento, cheese, and last the squash mixture. Spread into a greased casserole dish. Mix the breadcrumbs, pecans, butter together and sprinkle over the squash mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes until set and topping is brown.

Yellow Squash Boats with Green Tomato & Corn 
makes 4 boats

4 large yellow squash (large pattypan works well too)
olive oil
1 large green tomato, seeded & chopped fine
1 /2 cup yellow corn kernels (about 1 ear)
1/3 cup pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup or more bread crumbs
1 small red onion, minced
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter
cracked pepper to taste
chopped pecans if desired

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash the squash well and cut off the end stem cap. Slice off the top (side) of each squash and reserve. Scoop out center to make boats and discard the seeds. Rub oil over the surface of the cut side of each squash and place the boats on a baking pan cut side down. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before stuffing.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Cook the removed side part of the squash with onion in just enough water to cover until tender, or steam, as I like to do before finely chopping. Drain the squash mixture completely squeezing out excess water and mix with egg, butter, cheese, pepper and crumbs. Stir in the tomatoes and corn. Add more crumbs to bind if mixture is watery. Spoon mixture into boats piling on top. Bake 30 to 40 minutes in oven. Top with the pecans the last few minutes if desired.

May 14, 2011

Pollo al Carbon or Grilled Chicken

Mexican Fiesta
from the grill

This is a recipe I 'lifted' from my Mexican / Western cookbook that I will never finish. I just don't know when I will ever have the time.

This is a way of cooking that I have enjoyed many times and the elements I will often borrow in making other types of grilled recipes. The marinade has all the right qualities in making a juicy, moist bird - acid from the fruit and vinegar, salt to plump liquid into the fibers and a well balanced blend of Mexican flavors. The marinated and grilled, or rather charred chicken is caused by the marinating sauce itself. This is one time that it is okay to blackened the outside of the bird, but be careful not to char or overcook the internal meat. It should still remain moist and flavorful having soaked in the pungent spiced, citrus sauce. It is said this way of cooking derives from the meat being cook directly on hot coals. I prefer to cook on a grate.


Pollo al Carbon
Grilled Blackened Chicken

2 whole chickens, about 3 pounds each
6 large garlic (ajo) cloves, minced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
Juice of 2 large oranges (naranja)
1 tablespoon lime juice (limon)
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 tablespoon dried hierbas de olor (a mixture of thyme, oregano and marjoram)
1 teasppon ground cumin (comino)
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
2 tablespoons salt 

Wash the chicken and cut down backbone and open flat. I like to press downwards breaking each of the breasts to achieve a perfectly flat bird. Remove any visible fat but leave the skin intact.

Mix the marinade with remaining ingredients and place in a non-reactive container or a sealable bag. Add chicken and toss mixture to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours but not more than 4. Turn the chicken over about half way of the marinating time.

Remove chicken from the marinade and place directly over the heat source on a medium fire.
Grill either over charcoal or on a gas grill being careful not to burn the skin excessively. Use the marinade to mop on the chicken during the first 3 turns. Like true al carbon cooking, it will blacken from the sauce but you do not want to burn the meat. Turn the chicken at least 4 times moving it around on the grill from hot to cooler spots if necessary and away from flareups. Remove when juices run clear.

Slice or shred the meat from the bone and serve on platters with steamed tortillas, a variety of salsas, cheese and My Frijoles Charros.

Note: Some folks like to add cinnamon (canela) and cloves (clavos), about 1/4 teaspoon each I think would be fine, but I prefer to save these spices for turkey.

May 13, 2011

Sweet Grilled Vidalia Onions

Distinctly different flavor
a great vegetable side dish

This is the time of year I am in heaven. Some of the early crops of summer are starting to come into the markets and home gardens are looking promising. Nothing is better than when I see vidalia onions appear on the shelves. Only from Georgia, only grown in 20 counties due to climate conditions and the type of soil needed to yield that distinct characteristic only found in a vidalia.

I mentioned to Lana, Never Enough Thyme, who I believe grew up near the growing part of vidalia country and now living a little bit further up in northern Georgia, I told her that I was into my second 10-pound bag of these southern truffles. That's how much I love 'em. They only appeared mid April and I am told will last until late May. I've said before that I could almost eat them like an apple, some do, but I prefer them in ways like this recipe or in our Vidalia Onion Pie, and in just about everything else I cook come to think of it....right Claudia?

Now the Deen family cooks a whole vidalia adding a beef bouillon cube to each one but I have never tried that one. This is the way we do it is our family, the recipe that is in our cookbook and the one we love to share. It is how I did it the last time I grilled steaks too. Hope you try it in the oven or on the grill.


Whole Sweet Vidalia Onions

for each onion:
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup beer
sprinkle of brown sugar, optional

Cut the top from each onion and peel the outer skin. Carefully trim the roots from the bottom leaving the whole onion intact. Use a spoon, melon scoop or peeler to remove a little of the core from each onion going about half way down and about an inch in diameter.

For each onion, cut a square of heavy aluminum foil and mold around the sides. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Add the pat of butter and the beer. Loosely bring the corners of the foil together at the top and twist together to seal.

Oven .... Place on a pan in a 375 to 450 degree F. oven for about 30 minutes to cook.
Grill .... Place on a hot grill for 30 to 45 minutes.

Let onions cool a tad and remove to a bowl if desired, the flavorful juice is just outstanding.

Note: Do not discard this juice, save if for other uses. I like to use it in a butter reduction when sautéing shrimp. Yum...

May 9, 2011

Teriyaki Garlic Steak Marinade

Flavor Up

One of the things I like to do as most of you know, is spend time outside on the patio enjoying  a few moments of relaxation. Now when I have the pleasure of grilling dinner at the same time, life is good.

Western seasoned steaks meet eastern flavors ... and that folks is my newest steak flavor coming off the grill.

I used My Steak Rub and mixed this marinade to infused together a very flavorful grilled steak, having somewhat undertones of a baste similar to a Japanese steak house dipping sauce along with the western seasonings of the rub. All I can say is, this was one great steak. And the combination is a definite keeper.

Afterthoughts: add lemon or lime for a varying taste and use with poultry, pork and seafood...

Teriyaki Garlic Steak Marinade

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon prepared minced garlic
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 tablespoons cooking oil

Whisk together.

Use with or without a rub...

Funnel into a shaker bottle for use and storage.

Shake well before use.

Apply to steaks 10-20 minutes prior to grilling.

Use to baste on the grill if desired.

May 7, 2011

Brissilling Chicken: the Art of Greenvillian Grilling

Brissilling Chicken: 
the soul of Greenvillian grilling

Folks, this perhaps is a tough one to write about as in some regard talking about Chicken Brissil is like revealing family secrets. And I'm not talking just about my family, but many from my home town as well. Now who am I to fling open the coop?

My desire has always been and continues to be, to pass along great recipes from my family to friends and folks like you, even complete strangers so that all may know the wonderful foods we enjoy in the south. Southern heritage recipes as I like to call them, are ones that you won't find elsewhere but here in the south, ones that are passed along with pride to the next generation. Doing so keeps the recipe alive and with each passing we are somehow savoring the taste of yesteryear, remaking it just as good today as it was for the last generation. In essence, there's history in every mouthful.  I published my granddaddy's version of his mopping sauce for Brissilling Chicken and his sauce too in our family cookbook but have been hesitant in mentioning the other versions at all. But then I got a nudge of sorts from of all places, Dear Abby, the one about 'the secret pancake recipe' and after reading the many responses I found my answer many times over.  Briefly, it is okay to pass along recipes before they are lost or destroyed and especially if they are already published or revealed. Okay, enough of that.

Now let me say this, that there is nothing new in grilling chicken using a lemon pepper basting solution and I am not saying it started in Greenville, not trying to pull a fast one here. All I am doing is saying we go about it a little different, and call it a funny name.
Brissilling, now exactly what is that? Go ahead, look it up, Google it, do what ever search you like and if you come across a meaning as in a cookery term, I want to know. I have only heard of if from my hometown area. I am not making this up folks, it is in print and I'm not talking about our family cookbook here, not on the Internet (until recently from this post) and to many, handed down from generation to the next from memory in some form or another of the printed version. I have my whole life talked to folks from Greenville, many who have moved away and most everyone knows some form of chicken brissil.

page from cookbook
I have a printed cookbook by the Hobby Club of AFWC, Greenville AL chapter. There is no cover, no date on the one I have but from the kind of coated paper, the style of typesetting, the artwork and the listed recipe authors, it is assumed the publication is in the late 1930's or early '40's. It has been my intent to locate a few of the relatives for more information, and through hometown friends I have heard bits and pieces of fond memories, but very little facts. Like many recipes written in the period, many of these are without clear instructions on how to go about the cooking process, and many times just listed ingredients, not necessary in any order. These things were just known, taught in the kitchens of homes and besides, everyone goes about cooking in their own manner, now don't we?

Here is what I do know. Glenn Stanley's recipe is for a mopping sauce used to baste the chicken during the cooking process, a term we know as brissilling. He like to also use this to moisten the chicken at the table along with slices of toasted bread to mop up the juices. Mrs. Perry Vann's #1 sauce recipe is very similar to Glenn's basting sauce and her #2 red sauce is a finishing table sauce. Chicken Brissill was almost always done on large scale affairs as it sometimes would take most of the day from start to finish. Granddaddy Cotton and his Mason buddies held fundraiser dinners often and town folks looked forward to these events as well as in the backyards of Greenvillians for social gatherings.

Once a week I spent the night in town with my grandparents as they and the Vann's played a round of Bolivia, a three deck card game that is so much more complex than canasta. It was boy scout night for me and game night for them, along with Red Skelton on TV. Over time, I picked up on how to play the game and also a little better understanding of the temperament needed and a few strategies as well. Perhaps knowing the Vann's so well is the reason we had a hankering for a red sauce with our chicken brissil. Read on...

3 recipes for Brissilling Sauce 
Mopping Sauces

This is the 'secret sauce' that is used to cook and baste the chicken. Nothing fancy but to use it properly, ya gotta know how to Brissil (see below methods). Recipes are given as written. Italicized notations are my observations and how I was taught.

Mr. Glenn Stanley's recipe
1 1/4 pounds butter or oleo (early term for margarine)
1 quart good cider vinegar
1 lemon
red pepper
Melt one pound of butter in the vinegar, add 2 tablespoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper. Drop in lemon cut in half. This is used to baste the chicken during the brissilling method.
When the chickens are ready to eat, add the other quarter-pound of butter to the remaining sauce to use on the toast which is served with the chicken brissil. Be sure to bring sauce to a good boil before serving.

A note from Glenn: While a clove of garlic may be added if desired, the addition of ketchup or other ingredients makes it chicken barbecue, not chicken brissil. There seems to have been a rift about this. I understand the true method of brissilling chicken is in using the vinegar sauce as a mop solution and also as a serving sauce, but my family always served Chicken Brissil with a red sauce on the side.

Mrs. Perry Vann's Sauce No. 1
1 pound butter
1 quart vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
Melt butter, add vinegar and salt. Heat

Daddy Cotton's Mopping Sauce for Brissilling Chicken
1 pound butter
1 quart vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 lemons cut in half
In a large pot, big enough for dipping chicken halves, melt butter and add vinegar salt and red pepper. Drop in lemon halves, about a quart of water and heat to a low boil.

Red Sauces for Brissilled Chicken

Mrs. Perry Vann's Sauce No. 2
1 pound butter
1/2 cup vinegar
1 large bottle catsup
1 large bottle chili sauce
4 lemons
2 level tablespoons sugar
2 level tablespoons Worcestershire
1 level tablespoon salt
Melt all together, blend and stir over low heat for 10 minutes.
Sauce No. 1 is used until chickens are about half done or 30 minutes. Then use Sauce No. 2 for the remaining cooking time, about 30 minutes. Save any Sauce No. 2 that is left and serve on toasted buns. This portion will barbecue about 10 chicken halves. (see, she makes no bones about this being BBQ)
Daddy Cotton's BBQ Sauce

Daddy Cotton's BBQ Sauce for Chicken
1 stick of butter (4 oz)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 -14 oz bottle ketchup
1 -12 oz bottle chili sauce
1 large lemon cut in quarters
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
black pepper to taste
Blend over low heat stirring often for 10 minutes. Remove lemons and squeeze juice into the sauce, discard lemon (rinds will turn bitter). Serve in a gravy boat.

Brissilling Chicken Methods

Now this is where the recipes end and the real meaning of this post begins. I am not going to even begin to fathom where the term brissil or brissilling comes from...I only know how I was taught and I welcome all comments and suggestions from Greenvillians in honing this honored term, it's cooking method and meaning.

Fire Pit
I was taught to brissil chicken over moderate hot coals using a brick fire bit in my granddaddy's back yard. His was large, holding about 40 chicken halves at a time.  The coals had to be just right, a good 3 inches deep using glowing oak briskets with a few pieces of moist pecan chunks mixed in for flavor. The metal cooking grate, positioned a good 12 to 15 inches above the ashy-white hot embers, was deep enough to produce a good draw and pulled the smoke up into the chimney. The chicken went on skin-side down first for about 3 minutes and then flipped over. Every 5 minutes or so, the mopping sauce was applied using a long-handled mop, actually a broom handle with a wad of muslin tied to the end. The butter from the sauce and fats from the chicken would almost always cause flareups followed with a good sprinkling of water from a coke bottle. That is where I helped, filling up the bottles and replacing the  metal sprinkler stoppers that he borrowed from Annie Bell who used them in ironing. Anyway, I just can't help but think that the constant basting of the lemon/vinegar sauce, the flare-ups from the oils and the steam caused from the dousing of water somehow plays a role in the term 'brissilling'. We all know, slow moist heat is the best way to grill chicken.

Charcoal Barrel Grilling
moist, brissilled chicken
Now, we did not always cook 40 chicken halves. Only when folks entertained and served Chicken Brissil. Granddaddy Cotton and Momma too would often cook on charcoal grills, brissilling around 8 or so halves at a time.  Our grill out in the country consisted of a 55-gal drum cut in half. The method is pretty much the same regardless how much chicken you plan on cooking. The idea is to cook over moderate heat, cook high enough from the heat source, if possible keeping the flames from reaching the birds. Baste often so that the sauce soaks in which also keep the meat moist and watch for flare ups. Use a spray bottle when flareups happen to douse the fire and that will produce the needed steam.

My Way
I pretty much follow the same theory, but cook on a gas grill most of the time and in doing so, am not able to cook so high above the heat source as how I was taught over coals. Therefore, I have modified the mopping sauce recipe and cooking method a bit. I also use the sauce (watered down) as a marinade to soften up the chicken, making the meat moist with the brine solution and I added a little sweetness to it too.

My Brissilling Sauce
for 2 whole chickens

cracked black peppercorns
4 lemons, halved
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar plus 1 cup, divided
marinating chicken halves
Cut chickens in half, wash well, pat dry and sprinkle with black pepper. Add remaining ingredients, except the cup of vinegar, to a large measuring bowl along with water to make 1 1/2 quarts. Place in a large resealable bag and add chicken halves. Refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours.

Prepare grill. Remove chicken to platter and place sauce in stockpot. Bring to a boil and add remaining cup of vinegar. Reduce heat and simmer on low 5 minutes to get the mopping sauce ready for grilling.

My Method
Heat grill to medium, 350 degrees F.  Place chicken skin-side down. Cook 3 to 4 minutes and turn over cooking 5 minutes. If flare ups occur, dip chicken in sauce. Keep lid closed as much as possible. Every 10 to 15 minutes, dip chicken in sauce and rearrange on grill moving to cook evenly on the grill. As the chicken browns, move to cooler part of grill. The thighs will do better on the hotter areas while the breast part stays moister on the cooler parts, that is if your grill is old like mine and is a bit cranky....

My Cheatin' Sauce
1 -12 oz bottle Chili Sauce
4 oz Kraft's Hickory Barbecue Sauce
Lemon juice, Worcestershire to taste
Mix, heat and serve.

that's all ... and as my Granddaddy Cotton would say, "See ya in the funny papers."

May 5, 2011

Dewberry Cobbler Cream Dessert

Thorny brambles, 
oh sweet pleasures

There is a short period of time in lower Alabama, a time long before the June bugs come around in May and before the Maypop flowers bloom in mid April that we are humbled with the fruits from the prickly stems along the coast known as our beloved southern dewberry. Actually belonging to the rose family and officially called Rubus trivialis, the vines or canes spread outwards along the sides of roadways and clearings making it somewhat easy to harvest unlike the blackberry that grows densely, kinda shrubby and will produce larger fruit later in the season. The dewberry is a little sweeter, a whole lot softer and the vines produce much less fruit than the average blackberry cane. It takes all the will power I know not to eat the sweet fruits before getting home for if I did, I would not be able to enjoy the goodness of this short lived pleasure.

This dessert is one of Aunt Ida's cobbler treats, to me she was the queen of cobblers and did so many darn good things with them. I am lucky to have known her and this is how I remember her making this one. Like many of her desserts with seed type fruits, she goes to the trouble to strain out the seeds and then she adds diced pears to give it body. If the seeds don't bother you then don't waste the time, I won't tell. This dessert is really more like a custard slump or pie I suppose and served with a creamy ice cream topping, but who's gonna correct her, bless her heart, not me.


Ida's Dewberry Cobbler Cream Dessert
use any berry or bramble fruit for this slump

pie crust recipe for double crust
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 cup pecan meal or finely minced pecans
3 good cups dewberries (or your choice)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
blackberry drink or pear juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pears, diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
whipped topping
1 pint vanilla bean ice cream, softened
2 cups whipped cream
zest of lemon if desired

Make your favorite pie crust for 2 pies rolling one out for a deep 9-inch or a 10-inch pie.  Roll remaining crust out into a rectangle. Sprinkle each crust with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 cup pecan meal to make a shortbread-like crust. Press the sugar and pecans into the pastry. Line one 10-inch pie pan with the pie crust sugar side up and cut the rectangle into 1/2-inch wide strips lengthwise. Set aside

Wash the dewberries gently rinsing under water and place in a saucepan. Use a fork to crush them up a bit and stir in the sugar. Heat over medium low heat and cook for about 20 minutes until the berries cook out. Dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice and stir into the berries. Stir until thicken and remove from heat. Run through a food mill or press through a mesh strainer with the back of a spoon.

Discard the berry pulp and seeds and to the juice mixture, add enough fruit juice to make 3 cups. Stir in the vanilla. In a large bowl, beat the eggs just a bit and stir in the flour. Fold in the diced pears and then the berry mixture.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Place strips of crust, sugar side up, along the top as desired. Place dessert in the oven and bake reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Remove and let cool. Refrigerate if desired.

Meanwhile, make the topping mixing with the softened ice cream, the whipped cream and lemon zest. Place in freezer to firm.

Remove the topping from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving. Top cobbler with the topping when ready to serve.

Note: Any leftover strips of pie crust strips that is not needed for the top of the grunt, Ida would bake along side on a pan and serve them in with the dessert as 'extra goodies' as she called them.

May 2, 2011

Southern Tomato Meat Sauce for Pasta

A pasta sauce not just for Sundays

Folks talk about Sunday Sauce and all types of pasta sauce as if everybody's born to be Italian and some go as far in thinking there's only one right one, being the original, the one passed along in their family from Mother-who-in-heavens-knows-anymore. I doubt they do either. Well, when it comes to eating spaghetti and making a meat sauce, I reckon it don't matter what part of the country you live in or where you got your recipe, it's all good, right? And before ya'll get all riled up, let me say I know yours is the best.

The sauce we make down here is a bit different I suppose than some from the 'real country' as one put it, yet the more I got to looking at others, the more resemblance I saw and I guess that's because Mobile and the south was the entry for so many folks from so many countries. Long before anyone thought about setting sights on the Upper New England territories, settlers were already mingling with the natives down here, probably making some kind of good sauce, melding different flavors into a new one. It's no wonder so many of our good food sounds somewhat familiar to many from overseas, our roots stretch around the globe.

This is the way I grew up making tomato sauce with meat. Grandmother used just ground beef, Momma used beef and pork and well, I kind of use whatever I fancy at the time as long as it fits within the budget.


Southern Tomato Meat Sauce for Pasta

1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 pound bulk country sausage (I also like Italian sweet links)
oil if needed
1 large chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced celery
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup red wine (whatever you drink)
7 cups tomato meat (like Creole or Roma types) or two 28.5 oz cans San Marzanos tomatoes (sieved if desired)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
1 -6 oz. can tomato paste if using fresh tomatoes
Meatballs, optional

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, add the ground beef and Italian sausage, cook over medium high heat to brown stirring occasionally to form sucs on the bottom of the pot. Remove meats to a plate and if needed, add olive oil making about 2 tablespoons. Add the onion, bell pepper and let the onion soften but not caramelize and then toss in the celery, mushrooms and garlic to sweat a minute or two. Add the wine and let this cook out. Stir in the meat, the tomatoes and season with the salt, pepper, bay leaf and oregano. Bring to a low simmer and cook covered for about 2 hours. Remove bay leaf.

Stir in the tomato paste and meatballs if using and simmer for 1 hour or until thickened. Toss a little of the sauce with pasta prior to serving.