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.

August 30, 2012

Fried Pickled Chicken Strips

Say what?

I know what y'all are thinking, that boy done lost his mind.

Actually I am not reinventing the wheel here. This is an old southern way of marinating chicken, pork too, that goes back long before we had refrigeration. It is also the basis for a certain chicken chain way of doing it too. This is just my take on it.

Nothing new with chicken strips bathed in buttermilk, battered and coated in a seasoned flour either. I basically used Annie Bell's Fried Chicken recipe from our family's cookbook tweaking the cooking time just a bit.

Perfect for game day.  Make up a batch, grab a six-pack, settle in a comfy recliner and get ready for a great start to football season, which happens tonight here in SEC country.


Fried Pickled Chicken Strips
cut into nuggets too

3 or 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
about 2 cups leftover tangy pickle juice
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons Season-All, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn meal
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
vegetable shortening for frying

Cut each breast into 1-inch strips lengthwise. Place in a non-reactive container or bag and add the pickle juice. Seal and refrigerate over night or for 24 hours.

Remove from juice and shake off any pickling seeds or spices. Nothing worse that biting into a fried clove or bay leaf.

In a container, mix buttermilk, eggs, 1-tablespoon Season-All well. Set aside.

In another container, mix the flour, cornmeal, black pepper and remaining 1-tablespoon Season-All. Set aside.

Place the chicken strips into the buttermilk and let rest for about an hour. Remove one at a time allowing the buttermilk to drip off and roll into the flour mixture. Place on a wire rack and continue coating the rest of the chicken strips. Allow chicken to rest about 5 minutes and repeat a second time coating well in the flour mixture only.

Heat about an inch of oil over medium high heat until it reaches 375 degrees F. Add a few strips at a time, not overcrowding the strips and cook about 2 minutes before flipping the strips over. Continue cooking until golden brown. Remove to a second wire rack to drain. Repeat with remaining strips until all are cooked.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. We like a spicy mustard with this one.

Note: I used the left-over pickle brine from my Pickled Asparagus ~ it was a most exhilarating taste experience.

August 27, 2012

Creamy Chicken Divan Casserole

Broccoli, Chicken,
Cheese Sauce
. . . what more is there?

It is said Chicken Divan is from a restaurant of New York's now gone Chatham Hotel, from a dish that resembles more of Chicken Parisienne (Parisienne being the hotel's restaurant name) than the soup can versions our moms made for us (at least my generation). The slow cooker Chicken Parisienne recipe I featured over three years ago used vermouth, sour cream, mushrooms and yes, the ever popular cream of mushroom soup.

Then there is my creamy Chicken Divan over rice casserole that forgoes the soup can relying instead on a little of heavy cream thickened with arrowroot and flavored with dry sherry. It may be a tad bit healthier, but it doesn't lack taste, we still like it today as well. And then there is another dish I made, one I called Chicken Divan My Way with broccoli, spinach, hints of curry and yup, two types of cream of canned soups all in a sauce covering bow-tie pasta. Oh yeah, gonna remake that one for sure.

I guess you can say we kind of like Chicken Divan. So, here goes another recipe. This one is actually made from many recipes. A little bit of this taken from that, and it came out gosh darn heavenly. Hope you try it and if you do ... Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken Divan Casserole
a most delectable recipe
serves about 6

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
pinch of thyme
bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 stalk celery
3 cups water
1 1/2 bu fresh broccoli, florets only (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup golden sherry, or dry
1 to 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
squeeze of half lemon
1/2 cup grated Gruyère
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, celery and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer and add the chicken. When boil returns, reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow chicken to rest in broth.

Steam or quickly pan cook the broccoli with a little of the chicken broth. Remove from heat just as it turns bright green. Strain well and place in a buttered 3-quart casserole.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the flour. Reduce heat to low and stir for 3 minutes to rid the flour taste. Do not brown. Slowly, 1/2-cup at a time, incorporate two (2) cups of the chicken broth into the pan stirring with a wire whisk. Stir in the sherry. Cook for about 8 minutes stirring all while. Stir in the Dijon, white pepper and lemon juice. Return to simmer, then remove from heat and stir in half (1/4 cup) of the Gruyère.

In a mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream with wire whisk beater until stiff peaks form. Fold this mixture into the pan of sauce. Season with salt to taste.

Remove chicken from the broth and slice into bite size slices or pieces. Place chicken into and around the broccoli.

Spoon about half of the sauce over the broccoli. Stir the Parmesan into the remaining sauce.

Spoon the remaining sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère.

Place in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for about 20 minutes to heat up the sauce. Turn broiler on high and brown the top if desired.

Serve with a pasta or rice dish and toasty bread.

August 24, 2012

Smokey Oven BBQ Pork Ribs

from Drick's Rambling Cafe
Cooking Barbecue Pork Ribs Indoors

Well, if you ask me, there is nothing finer than eating tender pork ribs drenched in a saucy barbecue topping, the kind that keeps your fingers sticky and your lips glistening wet, almost from ear to ear. Maybe a little primitive but this basic and honest way of eating ribs is fundamental in enjoying the pleasure that comes from juicy cooked, run-down-your-chin western style barbecued ribs. And the best part is these are cooked in the oven.

You may have noticed I have been cooking a lot of my normal barbecue foods indoors of late and as I've said, it's because of so much darn rain. I used to get out in it and cook under somewhat our patio cover of house and umbrella but this year, I just gave in and stayed inside. And, I am glad I did because I have found new ways to enjoy the foods we love.

Take these St. Louis style ribs for example, my favorite rib by the way. A method I use in the winter months in other recipes, one by infusing a smokey taste into meats by allowing the meat to baste in the marinade during the initial cooking phase, this way of cooking turns out tasty ribs every time. The sauce is a new one I played with, again using my basic ol' bbq sauce, changing up a few ingredients like adding a really good chili spice blend sent to me by a new friend, Larry from Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings. It is loaded with varying types of ground chili powders, many with smokey overtones like chipotle and I know this is what made the sauce so good. That's why I listed it as a 'really good chili powder blend,' one that contains several types of dried chiles. Or you can mix up your own with the likes of chipotle, ancho, smoked and sweet paprika, guajillo powders as well as a few herbs/spices like oregano, garlic, cumin and coriander. You can find Larry's ingredients here almost at the end of the post (but be sure to check out his fine chili photos).


Smokey Oven Barbequed Ribs
outdoor taste of cowboy flavors cooked in the oven
serves 4 to 6
St. Louis cut ribs

2 racks (5-6 pounds total) St. Louis cut pork ribs, or your favorite style
cracked pepper
1/4 cup liquid smoke
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1/2 cup apple cider
Barbecue Sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons really good chili powder blend
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup minced sweet onion

Wash the ribs and dry. Remove silver skin if desired although prepared in this manner I did not. Cut pork racks into individual ribs. Place in a 2-inch deep baking pan or roaster and sprinkle the cracked pepper heavily all over the ribs standing on the side if possible.

Mix the 1/4-cup each of liquid smoke, soy sauce, cider vinegar, Worcestershire with the apple cider and pour over the ribs. Cover and allow to set for 1-hour refrigerated. Turn or rearrange the ribs in the marinade and allow to set out at room temperature for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place pan on center rack uncovered in oven and cook for 45 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients and heat over low heat until simmering. Remove from heat.

Drain the marinade liquid from the ribs and discard the liquid. Baste the barbecue sauce over the ribs and pour remaining sauce into the pan. Reduce oven to 275 degrees F. and continue cooking ribs for 2 hours basting and turning ribs every 30 minutes.

Remove, cover with foil to steam and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

August 22, 2012

Chili Spiced Roasted Chicken or Chile Polo al Horno

Chile Polo al Horno Asada from Drick's Rambling Cafe
a.k.a. Red Stained Chicken

Once again, my intention to cook outdoor this chicken using a chili/achiote mopping sauce on the grill was thwarted when the rain gods took over my plans. I therefore converted my recipe to an oven method and frankly, I think I like it better with the added vegetables roasting along side. The vegetables picked up a little of the flavor which turned out really great.

This is an exceptional dish as the chicken comes out very tasty and moist while the vegetables simmer and roast to perfection. The ancho chili brings about a very developed taste, almost as if using the Guajillo chilies of Mexico although ancho is not as hot and the use of achiote molido is used for color, hence the 'red stain' name and makes for a fiery looking bird. But that is not the case, in fact, the peppers along with the other spices bring out the sweetness of a fine roasted chicken. Enjoy!

Chili Spiced Roasted Chicken
my take on Chile Polo al Horno Asada
serves 4 to 6

1 -4 to 5 pound chicken, cut-up, halved or spatchcocked

Chili Chicken Paste:
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon annato powder (achiote molido)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 6 garlic toes, peeled and pressed
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice from Mexican or Key limes
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened or heated

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • juice of 1 Mexican lime (or Key West)
  • 3 garlic toes, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 2 cups ice

  • 1 large onion, sliced thick
  • 3 each - yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, new potatoes -all cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
  • slices of red bell pepper and sweet onions as desired
  • olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Make the chili paste by whisking ingredients together in a small bowl or saucepan. (I toasted the spices just a bit first.) Put aside.

Rinse the chicken under running water and pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Spathcock or butterfly the chicken by removing the backbone completely with a sharp butcher knife or chicken shears. Some folks remove the breast plate but I just lay it down, skin side up and press to break the wishbone and breast area so that the chicken lays completely flat. Separate the skin from the chicken on the breasts and thigh areas by running your fingers underneath the skin. Place in a large sealable bag or glass dish. Put aside while you make the marinade.

In a small saucepan, heat the marinade ingredients over low just until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add the ice water, ice and stir until ice melts. Add marinade to the chicken. Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours turning the chicken over every hour. Discard the marinade and let chicken rest for 30 minutes. Pat chicken completely dry with paper towels before applying the chili paste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place onion slices on bottom of a roasting pan. Place chicken on top of onions skin side up. Be sure to use a brush being careful not to stain your clothes while applying the paste. Spoon a little of the rub mixture under the lifted skin areas and then coat the chicken completely. Place the cut up vegetables around chicken and add a little olive oil to any remaining butter paste in the bowl. Brush vegetables with the oil mixture. Lightly add salt and pepper to the vegetables as desired. (I started with the potatoes and carrots on the bottom.)

Insert meat thermometer into the thigh meat away from any bone. Place pan in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. and cook for about 60  minutes. Tent a piece of aluminum foil over the chicken and continue cooking for 30 minutes or until internal temperature registers 170 degrees F. (breast meat should be 165) Remove chicken to a platter, cover with foil and let rest.

Toss the vegetables in the pan drippings and return to the oven to cook for about 15 minutes.

Remove from pan oven. Carve the chicken or cut into serving sections. Serve the vegetable on the side.

August 18, 2012

Slow Cooker Cola Roast Beef au Jus

Sandwiches of tender beef,
onions and dripping au jus...

It won't be long now, less than two weeks before the start of football season, college that is, SEC to be specific. The games start August 30th and I cannot wait.

I am already thinking of all the good foods I want to prepare during this upcoming season and I guess I've already started with this recipe today. The best part of this one is how easy it is, not to mention how darn good too. It all starts with a rump roast, the best I think for cooking beef for sandwiches and when making po-boys. Now, if you don't know what a po-boy is or know its history, be sure to check out my Grilled Cajun Chicken Po-boys with Comeback Sauce. It is just another way to enjoy this type of sandwich.

Nothing goes better with a roast beef po-boy than au jus, ya just gotta have it for dipping that toasted French bread in to soften and soak up the wonderful flavored thin sauce. I mean, that is the reason for making it. The enhancing southern roots of brown sugar and Coca Cola adds a slight sweetened element that I think makes this po-boy one of the best tasting combinations I have experienced in a roast beef sandwich and folks I have eaten my share. Y’all try this one for sure; I know you will like it too. Enjoy!

Cola Roast Beef au Jus
makes the best darn po-boys
serves 6-8

  • 2 large yellow onion, thick sliced
  • 4 to 5 pound beef rump roast
  • freshly ground peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 -12.5 oz Coca Cola
  • 2 -14.5 oz beef broth
  • 2 envelopes onion soup mix
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 3 garlic toes, minced

Place sliced onions on the bottom of your slow cooker. Rub the roast with fresh ground peppercorns all over roast. Notice I removed all of the top fat from the rump roast which the butcher normally leaves on; a layer of fat is needed when roasting but not when stewing or cooking in this manner. You want to remove all of the fat and its taste from the au jus.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. I usually heat the mixture in the microwave for about three or four minutes to get a jump start.

Pour cola/soup mixture over the roast.

Cover with lid and cook 8 hours on low (slow) heat.

Remove roast to a platter. Allow to cool, as long as you can stand it, and slice the meat as thin as you can.

Or you can just pull it apart if you like your po-boys debris style. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon into a bowl.

To serve, remove a little of the inside bread of either French, po-boy or hoagie style rolls. Toast to get a crust on the inside and add your favorite condiments. We like mayo and horseradish sauce. But that's just us. Fill with a generous amount of beef and a good layer of the onions. Some folks like lettuce and tomatoes on theirs as well. Serve the au jus in a bowl with each po-boy for dipping and be sure to serve with plenty of napkins, paper of course, this ain't ah formal meal.

August 15, 2012

3 Meat Italian Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

as I know it

For some unknown reason, we've had a hankering for 'winter type foods' as of late. Maybe we are tired of eating warm weather foods like cool BLT's, salads and cold wraps. With soaring temperatures and the heat index reaching to 110 degrees F. the last few weeks, maybe the heat has gotten our minds a little fuzzy. I dunno but I do know that at times, when it gets this hot, all I want is a hearty hot meal. Crazy!

I like to use Sweet Italian sausage in a pasta sauce from time to time, as I did when I posted Southern Tomato Meat Sauce for Pasta. A reader emailed a while back inquiring of its taste, that is, why I would add a sugary sweet sausage to a tomato sauce. She was thinking of something similar to brown sugar or maple breakfast links. I explained how 'sweet' when referring to this type of sausage takes on a completely different meaning other than sugary. In reality, the sweetness of fennel used in sweet Italian sausage rides nicely along with many ingredients found in regular Italian sausage like garlic, basil and oregano. Hot Italian sausage is good to use sometimes too as many varieties contain red pepper flakes.

Packed with savory flavors, this recipe relies on two types of Italian sausage and a little pepperoni along with overtones of garlic, onions and fresh herbs riding happily along in an almost fresh tomato tasting base. I guess you could call this a 4 meat sauce if you want. This recipe is based on one that I make in the dead of winter using canned tomatoes and dried herbs so I also give you the option of dried herbs as well. Enjoy!

Meaty Spaghetti Sauce with Beef, Italian Sausage and Pepperoni
fresh herbs adds a most refreshing taste
about 6 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground Italian mild sausage
  • 1 pound lean (93%) ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced pepperoni
  • 1 -19 to 20 oz package Italian Sweet sausage links, casings removed
  • 5 garlic toes, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz cremini or button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 -28 oz Cento crushed tomatoes
  • 1 -28 oz Cento San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried crushed
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • dash or two of celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooked spaghetti
  • Parmesan

In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, add olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add ground sausage, ground beef, pepperoni and cook stirring to break up the meats until brown and liquid is cooked out. Toss in the sweet sausage (cut into half-inch pieces) and cook covered about 10 minutes stirring occasionally allowing the moisture to steam the sweet sausage.Do not break up; leave them as 'meatballs'.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant; stir in the onion, bell pepper and mushroom and turn the heat up slightly. Stir all while to prevent burning. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Reduce heat to medium high and add the crushed tomatoes. Add the juice from the peeled tomatoes and dice the San Marzano tomatoes. Add these along with the seasonings to the pot. Bring sauce to a low simmer reducing heat to low. Cook for 1 hour stirring occasionally.

Add a little sauce to the cooked spaghetti, toss before plating and top pasta with a good helping of sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan or your favorite Italian cheese on top.

Note: If not using the leanest beef or pepperoni, cook first and drain away grease before adding olive oil and ground sausage.

August 11, 2012

Roasted Chicken and Pork with Buttermilk Dumplings

 Life and love
of home-style dumplings

this is the type of dumplings I'm talking about

- not to confuse with this kind of dumpling
In the south, much like elsewhere in the world I suppose, when we hear of a death in a friend's family or an aunt, uncle or cousin in our own, we get to cooking. It is a custom in many communities, townships and cities of all sizes. There are some folks I know that will make the same dish, as a rite of duty, to take to the grieving family. Be it a certain family's namesake casserole, a certain vegetable from their garden, a cherished pie from dear great great grand or a newfangled jello pudding stack layered cake; it doesn't matter, it is all appreciated.

I had to think about what I wanted to cook when I learned the mother of a coworker passed, a gracious soul still spirited at ninety-seven years. Family was important to her, and her kitchen was the pride of her family, the soul of its unity, at least until she reached a point that she had to give up her love for cooking. I'm talking about good, wholesome cooking, the way a young girl was reared during the twenties and through the Great Depression, learning the fundamentals of finger licking southern home-style and deep reaching soul food way of cookery. That is the kind of cooking that rekindles me each time I think of it, every time I make and with every bite of my enjoyment.

Our family normally sends our hefty pound cake to the bereaving family's home. Something told me this time my efforts should reflect a different spirit. After much thought, I chose an old recipe from our family cookbook but I changed it up a bit by roasting the pork and chicken along with the vegetables that made the stock deeper, something I think brought about a much richer depth. Something just told me this family would appreciate the extra effort and the home-style taste of pork with the chicken and dumplings. Later, as I handed over my dish along with a couple pans of cornbread muffins, it was told to me of the funeral plans to celebrate the life of this dear mother. Yes, a celebration of the living and of a time to rejoice; of the planning for a reunion that will occur later at the end of our lives as well. I was also told of how long it had been since they had enjoyed a plate of dumplings, several years in fact, since their mother became convalescent.

Now as you look at the photos of the recipe in progress, know that I doubled the recipe when I made it; one to take to our friend's family and one for us to enjoy as well. Like all homey, good recipes, this took a little time to develop with the several stages of cooking so know that you will spend most of an afternoon in the kitchen. But when it came together, oh my goodness, I knew it was something special, for I do believe I had a little guidance in it's doing. Hope you try it, hopefully for a celebration of another rejoicing occasion. Enjoy!

Roasted Chicken and Pork  
with Buttermilk Dumplings and Gravy
serves 10-12

for the roasted chicken:
1 -3 to 3.5 pound whole chicken
3 tablespoons EV olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
juice of 1 lemon
2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary ( or 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, ground in a mortar)
2 carrots, cut in half
2 celery stalks, cut in half
1 large white onion, cut in eights
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced

for the chicken stock:
reserved strained pan drippings from roasted chicken plus water to make 2 quarts
roasted vegetables from the roasted chicken
2 garlic pods
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
carcass from the baked chicken
salt and pepper to taste

for the roasted pork:
1 -3 to 4 pound pork shoulder blade roast, cut into 2-inch wide slices
2 tablespoons EV olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon no-salt Creole seasoning
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

for the buttermilk dumplings:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup of cold whole buttermilk
1 tablespoon or more chicken stock (cooled down)

for the dumpling creamy gravy:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 celery stalk, small diced
1 large carrot, small diced
2 garlic toes, minced
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups strained chicken stock
1/4 cup small diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup buttermilk

Begin by prepping the chicken by removing the giblets and neck from inside the cavity. Save for making the stock if desired. Cut away visible fat from the chicken and rinse chicken under running water. Pat completely dry with paper towels and place in a roasting pan.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. Rub mixture covering the outside and under the skin on the breast and thigh area.
Place a sprig of rosemary in the cavity and break the other one in half. Place under the skin on the breast. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and place the vegetables around the chicken with the breast side up.

Place roaster in the oven.
Roast in the oven for 1 hour or until thigh meat hits around 150 degrees on a meat thermometer. It is okay to just under-cook the chicken as it will go thorough another cooking phase and besides, you want the fibers to be nice and limber, not tough and stringy.

Allow to cool to touch and discard skin. De-bone the chicken reserving the carcass, the roasted vegetables and saving the pan drippings as well. Put chicken meat aside in the refrigerator until ready to add to gravy later.

While the chicken is cooling down to de-bone. cook the pork. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F,
Wash the pork strips and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, creole seasoning and garlic in a small bowl. Rub mixture coating the pork.
Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
Drain off the liquid and flip the strips over. Cook another 30 minutes to brown.
Remove and let cool.
De-bone and cut the meat into 1/4-inch slices.

Cover pork and keep warm.

Meanwhile, make the chicken stock by adding pan drippings with enough water to make 2 quarts. Add this to a large stockpot along with the roasted vegetables, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and the carcass (minus any skin). Bring to a simmer over medium high heat then reduce to low. Simmer for about an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste towards the end. Strain broth through a fine mesh wire colander reserving the liquid and discarding the solids.

Make the dumplings by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oil and buttermilk and stir until moistened. Add enough chicken broth to form a soft dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and form into a ball.
Roll dough to 1/16-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch wide strips. Cut these strips into about 3-inch lengths.Place on a lightly floured pan until ready to add to the gravy mixture.

You can use the same stockpot to make the gravy or sauce if desired, just rinse it out and wipe away any scum accumulated around the sides. Melt the butter with the oil over medium high heat and add the celery and carrot cooking for about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic cooking until fragrant. Stir in the flour and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes stirring to lift the flour from the bottom. Add the reserved chicken stock, about 1 cup at a time stirring to until it comes back to a simmer after each addition. Continue to add stock until gravy is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. I only used about 5 1/2 cups. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk and red bell pepper. Allow to come back to a simmer before adding the roasted pork. Simmer pork for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and allow to come to a low simmer.

During this time, you can also cook the dumplings by bringing remaining chicken stock along with about 1 quart of water to a gentle boil. Add dumplings one at a time.
Cook gently stirring occasionally to keep the dumplings from sticking together. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the dumplings are swollen and cooked through, yet still firm to the touch. Strain dumplings from liquid. You may save the liquid in case you need it to add it to the gravy although I did not.

Place the dumplings into the stockpot with the chicken and pork gravy mixture. Stir gently and heat over low heat. Place in a large server if desired and keep warm until time to serve.

Note: For presentation, I removed the chicken breast meat before de-boning and after reheating, sliced it thin to serve on top of the dumplings.

August 8, 2012

Country Style Oven BBQ 'Ribs'

Boneless, succulent
loin-cut 'ribs'

Now normally I would frown on anyone cooking barbecue foods indoor during the summer, it just something I reckon is steep in me as being a sacrilege act. It also heats up the kitchen which is something we try not to do this time of the year. But I also understand that sometimes the weather just doesn't cooperate, not in the least. I have spent many afternoons and evenings outside, in the rain mind you, hovering over a fire all while cursing the dark sky above, and in most instances, about the time I pull the meal from the grates, the skies lighten and a shinning ray of spite glistens the meat surface from the sun or moon as if to remind me of the powers that be are far greater than my own whims. I have come to terms with this fact long ago and as a believer, I understand. It is what it is and I am thankful for the light.

This recipe uses country style ribs or boneless pork loin which I think is a good marketing trend from the pork industry and a really good choice when cooking indoors. I paired these oven 'ribs' with the  Ranch Style Texas Beans and together, each played nicely with the other. When using a moderate low heat, moist style of cooking as in this recipe, the meat turns out really tender and picks up the saucy Texan flavor. The sauce I created is somewhat tangy from the tomato base with a hint of smoky western flavor from the liquid smoke and chipotle pepper. Enjoy!

Barbecued Boneless Country Style Ribs
6 to 8 servings

4 pounds boneless pork loin or country style ribs
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic toes, minced
3 tablespoons butter
1 -15 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup Worcestershire
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper red sauce

Wash pork under running water and pat dry with paper towel. Lightly salt and pepper pork and place in 2 shallow baking pans with a little spacing apart. Bake in a preheated 325 F. degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove pan and drain off drippings.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in the butter over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes. Turn off heat.

After draining off pan drippings, pour sauce over the pork.

Bake uncovered 45 to 60 minutes or until meat is really tender. Baste the pieces of meat that are not covered in sauce or rearrange in the sauce occasionally.

Remove from oven and cover with foil for about 20 minutes before serving.

Note: At the end of the first phase of cooking (45 minutes) I combined all of the meat into one deep pan before covering with the sauce.

August 5, 2012

Ranch Style Texas Beans Recipe

Western Pinto Pot

If you are fond of barbecue foods, no doubt a side dish of bake beans have appeared on your plate many times. Around the south, in the middle and eastern part of the south, we tend to like our beans sweetened with some form of sugarcane product be it brown sugar, molasses or syrup. Most always it is seasoned with ketchup, mustard and spices to round out the 'baked bean' flavor.

Folks to our west, those with influences from Mexico, well they like their beans in a different way. The Mexican seasonings of cumino, chile peppers and chili powder blends harmonious with a southern style of cookery that brings about a cuisine unique to Texas; a style and taste that is found mainly in the lower part of the state. Not to get off track, but Texas is one big melting pot of cuisine influenced in other areas from settlers of Germany, France, Spain, Polland and along the coast, a very strong influx of Louisianian Creoles.

Now as told, a pot of pinto beans in the Lone Star state always start out with dried beans, that is when making a ranch style dish as this one. The beans are slow cooked with onions, smoked meat and southwestern spices followed with an additional backdrop of flavor using onions, a hot pepper such as jalapeno and sweetness of the tomato. As I put this recipe together, cooked it and enjoyed the western flavors, it reminded me of another of my bean recipes - Frijoles Charros. This is a recipe that is easy to make but will take most of the day from start to finish so be sure to plan ahead.  


Ranch Style Texas Pinto Beans
8 to 10 servings
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, ham hock or smoked meat of choice
  • 2 garlic toes, minced
  • 2 cups chopped onions, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups peeled, diced tomatoes
  • 2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
Sort and wash beans. Place in a large stockpot and cover with water at least 2-inches above the beans. Add vinegar and bring to a boil cooking for 1 minute. Turn off heat, cover and let set for 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander. Set aside.

Slice the bacon in 1-inch pieces and cook in a large stockpot over medium high heat until fat renders and bacon is brown. (Or add ham hock or smoked meat directly to the water.) Add the water to the stockpot along with the beans. Add salt, pepper, garlic and 1/2 cup chopped onion. Bring to a boil over high heat and when boiling, reduce heat to low simmer and cook for 1 hour or until beans are almost tender.

Add the Worcestershire, chili powder, mustard, cumin and brown sugar. Stir, reduce heat to low and cook stirring occasionally 30 minutes or until beans are tender. Stir in the tomatoes, jalapenos and remaining onions. Continue cooking until beans are nice and soft and the mixture begins to thicken, about another 30 minutes.

August 2, 2012

Creole Deviled Chicken Recipe

An Oldie and Goody

There's a saying around these parts, one I suspect from the time when Creole cooks were highly prized in many kitchens. It goes something like "A house with chickens will never go hungry." There is another verse in folklore that refers to all the honor a hen house bestows on a household. From the many things made from the eggs, the flesh of the chicken and the benefits of the rich broth, so much goodness does indeed come from chickens and it you happen to have a yard full then you are surely blessed. Many times in walking around our neighborhood I hear clucking sounds, sometimes a trilly calming purr as if to say how happy all are and even a cackle every now and then, perhaps when laying. There are chickens all around and I suspect houses with full bellies as well.

The essence of flavor for this recipe is much like the marinade and coating I made a while back in making Chicken Fried White BBQ Sandwiches, a form of Devil's Chicken with an Alabama BBQ sauce all wrapped nicely in a hoagie. The slight spicy seasoning is based on the same theme Creoles used when preparing poultry in this manner generations ago. This is a very lovely dish with layered tastes and a nice depth of flavor, a very refined 'chicken and gravy over rice' if you will dare call it. Enjoy!

Creole Deviled Chicken
or known in the Creole Kitchen as Poulet a la Diable
serves 6 to 8
  • 1 -3 to 4 pound chicken
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 small garlic toe
  • 2 cups of reserved chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 1/4 cup dice red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grain mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • good dash of cayenne
  • 6 cups cooked white rice (2 cups uncooked)
Wash the chicken under running water and place in a large stockpot. Cover with water; add the onion halves , bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring water to simmer over medium high heat. Reduce to low heat when boil appears. Remove any scum from the surface if you want to maintain a clear broth. Cover and simmer on low for about an hour. Remove from heat and place chicken on a platter. Strain the solids from broth discarding the solids. Allow chicken to cool to the touch and remove meat from the carcass. Dice meat and put aside.

In the same stockpot or a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir cooking for a couple of minutes. Stir in the onion, celery and jalapeno and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook until you can smell the garlic, about a minute. Add in the 2 cups of reserved broth. Stir to blend and increase heat to medium high. When simmering occurs, turn the heat to low and stir in the vermouth, red bell pepper, mustard, white pepper and cayenne. Simmer for 3 minutes stirring really well. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Place the chicken in a ovenproof serving dish or casserole and spoon the sauce on top. Place in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Serve over hot white rice.