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.

November 23, 2013

Citrus Herb Roasted Hen

Savory Southern Sunshine

I have before briefly touched on the difference between a Fryer, Broiler, Roaster, Baking Hen and a Stewing Hen. Each are of different age and each have a certain purpose for their usage in recipes. Recapping, the Fryer is a young bird, 7 to 13 weeks old and from somewhere just under 2 pounds up to 4. It’s main purpose is as the name implies. Normally cut-up into the basic eight portions, this bird is best for frying because the young meat is so juicy and tender. Broilers are the most popular as some refer to them as an all-purpose bird ’cause you can use them in so many ways. Plumb and tasty, this type of poultry is of certain stock, bred for it copious amount of meat. Broilers typically run under 6 pounds and are between 4 to 8 weeks old. Roasters are much larger chickens weighing in between 6 to 9 pounds and are normally butchered around 14 weeks. The Hen is an adult female that has arrived at the egg-laying status in the hen-house. And the Stewing Hen is one a bit more mature, past prime and one that is no longer laying. This is why these old birds are better stewed or left to the soup pot as their meat is tough and stringy.

Now this recipe takes on the cooking technique that I use when making another Roasted Chicken Recipe and some of the elements of my version of Engagement Chicken. But the taste is nothing like either one. This one takes on a different flavor with a wider variety of herbs and the induction of orange with the lemon overtones are classic.


Roasted Chicken for Sunday Dinners
6 to 8 servings

1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 lemons, one juiced, one quartered and one sliced
4 clementines, two juiced, one quartered and one sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt-free Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed marjoram
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1/4 teaspoon crushed sage
1 teaspoon onion flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 -7 to 9 pound young hen or roaster (chicken)
1 medium onion, cut into eights
1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch sections
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine

Rinse the roaster under cold water inside and out. Pat completely dry with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and mix in the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, clementine juice, vinegar and and Creole seasoning. Simmer on low for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a small bowl, mix the marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage and onion bits together. Set aside. Sprinkle a good tablespoon into the cavity coating as much of the inside as possible. Add remaining seasoning mixture to the butter mixture.
Jumble the cut-up lemon, clementine, onion and celery together and stuff into the cavity. Truss the chicken legs and wings to hold together while cooking.

Brush the seasoned butter mixture all over the outside of the chicken. You can spoon a little under the skin of the breast for extra flavor.

Place the chicken in a roasting rack and set rack into the roasting pan, breast side down and pour chicken stock, wine and water in the bottom of the pan.

Place pan in the center of the oven roasting for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and turn the chicken over, breast side up. Cover the roaster with the lemon and clementine slices. Continue roasting about 1 hour.

Baste the citrus slices with the pan drippings a couple of times during the last part of cooking.

Check the internal temperature of the inside of the thigh meat and the breast. I removed the slices to let the top brown the last 10 or so minutes. (My hen took 1 hour 15 minutes to cook.) The poultry is done when its internal temperature registers 160 degrees F in the breast and 175 in the leg (stay away from the bone). Don’t ever trust the old adage about “when the legs wiggles loosely when twisted – it’s done.” The leg meat may be but as for the breast, not necessarily so.

Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Use the pan drippings to make a very savory, citrus tasting gravy.

Note: Use citrus like satsuma, tangelo, tangerine or any other small, sweet orange.

November 19, 2013

Sirloin Tip Roast - easy recipe and technique

A roast to serve proudly.

Oven Roasting: A dry-heat cooking method that cooks uncovered food normally on a rack or in a pan. Doing so correctly with meats will produce a moist interior with a thin, well-browned exterior.

Whether or not the cut of meat is seared depends on the cook. This preparation is not necessary for the roast to retain moisture as once thought, but it does contribute to a well-seasoned, flavorful ‘char’ taste on the surface as well as a better developed flavor in pan drippings. What searing does to the meat is that in doing so, it improves the flavor by catalyzing the Maillard browning reactions (a series of chemical reactions that rapidly take place when proteins and sugars are heated to around 300°F or higher) and adds texture to the outside. There are a few folks who believe it’s better to sear the meat after it’s roasted, not before. That is, roasts will lose around 1.7% of its natural juices if seared before roasting rather than after.

The problem most folks have when cooking a roast is not knowing how to go about cooking the cut of beef chosen and often, more than most will admit, the outcome is less than desirable.

While most recipes call for cooking large roasts in a moderately hot oven (350 to 400-degree), this method will lead to a haphazardly cooked inside not to mention a ghastly, overcooked outer band. And in turn, roasting smaller cuts in a lower temperature oven will not achieve a desirable serving of roast beef either.

You see, small narrow roasts like beef tenderloin, top sirloin, shoulder petite fare well with a relatively quick cooking time ensuring a juicy, tender slice of meat. These cuts should roast in an oven temperature set between 350 to 450 degrees F.

On the other hand, heat takes a long time to infiltrate deep into the center of large and chunky cuts of meat such as prime rib (standing rib, first cut), ribeye and, like the one today, sirloin tip roasts. If cooking at moderate high heat, the outer areas becomes hot bands of brownish-grey, overcooked meat while the inner area remains cold and rare. This is why these cuts should roast in an oven temperature set between 250 to 300 degrees F. for longer periods.

Now that we got all of that serious hullabaloo out-of-the-way, let’s get to something a little more appreciable, like an easy and most satisfying recipe worthy of a special occasion, say a holiday or a nice Sunday Dinner. The choice cut for today’s recipe is a large sirloin tip roast; a lean hunky cut that is perfect for slow roasting and comes out perfect. Each slice is just as beautiful as the next as you carve into the interior and every bite is just as delicious as the first. Enjoy!

Roast Beef: Sirloin Tip with au jus
There is nothing new to this recipe for many of you except maybe the cooking method. It is a time-honored recipe using the basic of Cupboard Cookery, that is, reaching into the cabinet and coming up with something worthy of family and friends.
10 to 12 servings

1 -5 to 6 pound sirloin tip roast
salt and pepper
1 package onion soup mix (I used Knorr's)
2 cups water
1 -10.5 oz condensed beef broth (red can)

Use kitchen twine to tie around the side of the roast to make it somewhat circular. This will help it cook uniformly and heck, it looks nice too. Lightly season all sides with salt and a good dose of black pepper and place on a platter. If you have the time, refrigerate it for about 6 hours to allow the salt to work its magic on the roast. (It will cause moisture movement toward the surface and then the fibers will infuse it back in for the moistest roast you will ever cook.) Allow the roast to set out (reasonable room temperature) for 2 hours before roasting.

Preheat oven at 275 or 300 degrees F. (use the higher if roast is 4 inches or more thick)
After roast is at room temperature (2 hours after refrigeration), rub the onion soup mix all over the surface. Place roast on a rack or roasting tray and the rack over a deep oven pan. Sprinkle the onion bits you have on the platter over the top. Add the water and beef broth to the roasting pan and place in the center of the oven.  Yup, I chose not to sear bet you didn't notice that, did you? Cook roast until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees F. for rare, 125 for medium rare or 135 (not advisable) for medium. My roast took about 3 1/2 hours to reach medium rare.

Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remember: Your internal temp should rise another 5 degrees at rest so the interior will be a perfect 125 for rare and 130 for medium rare. Slice thin and serve with the au jus in the pan.

Notes: Use the au jus as it is from the pan drippings or make a gravy by adding a thickener (like cornstarch with a little water).

Prep time does not include resting stage. Internal temps based on Southern Food guidelines.

November 17, 2013

Roasted Root Vegetables with Bacon Cider Sauce

Perfect Fall Side Dish

Nothing is easier than roasting vegetables in the oven and there are not many fall recipes that bring together the warmth of root vegetables that only a good roasting can accomplish. This is also a great passover dish, sans the Bacon Cider Sauce of course but a reduction of Kosher Chicken Stock with a tad of pareve margarine is a brilliant side dish for a non-Seder meal. It is imperative to chop the vegetables to the same size, that way, each will cook at the same rate. You can make this dish a day ahead; refrigerate both the vegetables and sauce, then reheat both separately before bringing the two together. Keep the bacon separate from the Bacon Cider Sauce while in storage.

Add and replace any vegetables you like. Use new potatoes or fingerlings or even sweet potatoes, beets, brussels sprouts, winter squash, celery root, cranberries, whatever you desire. If you use beets, use golden beets, otherwise the red ones will turn everything pinkish.

I cannot think of anything better, especially during the fall harvest times, the thankful times of late Autumn and into November, than this earthy, satisfying helping of roasted vegetables. The fact that each bite has a cover glaze of apple-bacon-butter-like bliss is outstanding in itself, but then, that's just my opinion.


Fall Root Vegetables Roasted and served with a Bacon Cider Sauce
6 to 8 servings

2 medium rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
2 medium turnips, peeled, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
2 or 3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch x 1/2-inch pieces
2 large parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2 to 1-inch cubes
4 stalks of celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 garlic toes (cloves), halved
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh snipped thyme
salt and pepper to taste

for the Bacon Cider Sauce:
1/2 cup diced lean-cut smoked bacon
2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
1/2 diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh snipped thyme
3/4 cup apple cider juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon orange blossom honey
salt and pepper to taste

For the Roasted Vegetables:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Add rutabagas, turnips, carrots, parsnips, celery, garlic and other vegetables if desired to a large baking pan with a high rim. Pour the melted butter and olive oil and jumble well to coat vegetables. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.

Place in oven and roast for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 375 degrees and turn the vegetables over to evenly roast. Cook about 20 minutes or until tender and caramelized.

Remove from oven. Move vegetables to a serving bowl. Pour the Bacon Cider Sauce over the top and sprinkle with the cooked bacon.

For the Sauce:
Meanwhile, in a medium saucier or skillet over medium high heat, saute the bacon in the olive oil until light brown. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to a small bowl and put aside.
Add onion and butter and saute over medium low heat until onions caramelize to a nice, warm and light brown color. Add rosemary, thyme, cider, chicken stock and honey. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Allow liquid to reduce in half. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour over the roasted vegetables in a serving bowl prior to service and sprinkle with the bacon.

Note: I used bacon from a pack of 'ends and pieces' which luckily contained mostly lean meat.  Ask your butcher or find it near packages of country style 'fatback' or salt-pork.