Monday, September 28, 2009

Southern-Style Sunday

My friend Trenton and I have been trying to plan a cooking day for weeks and finally made it a reality yesterday. Our theme — a tribute to southern comfort food. The menu — crispy fried chicken, mac and cheese (Trenton is a master mac-n-cheese maker), fried green tomatoes, stewed tomatoes and okra, fried okra, a little country pan gravy for fun and mint juleps as liquid refreshment.

We started the day at the farmer's market, followed by a stop at Whole Foods Market and went from there. Trenton's mac and cheese incorporated a home made cheese sauce of Uniekaas Reserve Gouda, Swiss Emmenthaler and Fiscalini Cheddar. We asked the cheese guy at Whole Foods for a recommendation on a nice medium cheddar and he hit a home run with is suggestion on the Fiscalini — slightly sharp, a little nutty, creamy and well balanced — perfect to balance out our list of cheeses. Trenton slowly and carefully prepared the cheese sauce. We par-cooked Orecchiette in well-salted water and mixed it into the sauce. The mixture was then layered in a baking dish, topped with more cheese and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs, and dotted with a touch of butter once the breadcrumbs started to brown.

My fried chicken was simply seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne, paprika and a little thyme and chilled until time to fry. Just before frying in canola oil, I tossed the cold chicken in all-purpose flour. The okra and green tomatoes were both breaded in a mixture of half corn meal, half flour and seasoned the same as my fried green tomato recipe from an earlier post. We fried the tomatoes in canola oil in an iron skillet, and deep fried the okra in the same oil as the chicken once it was finished. I threw in a few cloves of garlic with the okra as it was frying and it was a nice little treat — almost like instantly roasted garlic, really tasty with the okra.

The idea for the stewed tomatoes and okra came from a vintage cookbook I picked up recently that chronicles US regional food circa 1947. The dish was really light and simple and complemented the rest of the rich plate very well.

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Okra and
Tomatoes
adapted from The United States Regional Cookbook, ©1947
2 cups sliced okra
2 cups sliced tomato

3 tablespoons butter (can substitute olive oil or half butter and half olive oil)

1 small onion, finely chopped

salt and pepper


Sautée onion in butter until onion begins to soften. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.
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What an amazing Sunday dinner we had! Steve joined us and we sat on the porch and ate by lantern light. The only question is what will our next theme be and when?

Mint Juleps! Made with Homemade Mint Simple Syrup

1 comment:

Trenton said...

MmmMmmmmm! An absolute joy that would make Paula Dean proud! Can't wait for "Exploring the Orient: A Date with Ginger"! ...just came up that ;)