Every so often I write a recipe that completely changes the game for me. A recipe that makes me proclaim to the void and all the gods, old and new that this will be my legacy. And let me tell you, managing to make crispy but oh so tender brussels sprouts that taste like the classic ground beef tacos you had as a kid is that moment.
And the process is simple: just drop the bad boys in the fryer for a few minutes and absolutely coat them with a super easy and basic homemade taco seasoning blend and that’s that on the sprouts. Then to top it all off I find the lemon-lime dip so fun. When you hear lemon-lime it takes you back to thinking about Gatorade, candy, fruit snacks, etc. But in all actuality it packs plenty of zing and coolness from the yogurt to cut through the spicy and semi-charred flavor of the sprouts. Every time I make this I’ll take a sample sprout to see how I did, and then I just keep going and going.
Picture it: Belton 2001. One day when the Marshall Primary School menu for the next week was released everyone’s attention was immediately captured by something we never heard of, bird dogs. None of the other kids knew what it was, and to add insult to injury none of the adults did either. Not even the lunch ladies!
What we got was a total game changer. Bird dogs consist of chicken fingers, bacon, honey mustard, and cheddar tucked into a hot dog bun. When I explain it to people who never lived in Anderson county, South Carolina they never seemed to get it, but honestly it’s so perfect. Somehow the hotdog bun proportions are so much more satisfying than the normal chicken sandwich and I will die on that hill.
Clearly I’m not the only one to think so because these little buns of glory became a cultural icon in my hometown. They worked their way into mom and pop restaurants, sleepovers, and I even went to a banquet where they were served!
If you ever wanted a super obscure southern dish that you can’t even find on Google that doubles as stoner food then look no further! I mean come on, look at that!
Truth be told I’m not the best about eating breakfast. I’m really bad about opting to sleep every available second during the work week and end up running out the door in a rush. As sad as it is to say, a good breakfast has become a bit of a weekend indulgence for me.
For my latest indulgence I wanted to go full country and make a broke and southern staple, fried bologna. It’s a similar concept to fried ham steak or bacon in that it’s crispy, salty, meaty goodness, just a little more humble. Like any good breakfast sando we have plenty of melty cheese and an overeasy egg on top. And then because I can’t help myself and love a good condiment; we have maple-mustard mayo to cut through the richness and add a little kiss of sweetness, like any good morning should have.
Today we’re definitely putting the redneck in The Fancy Redneck. I mean what’s more country than putting a can of beer up a chicken’s butt, letting it just hang out in the oven for a while, and calling it dinner?
All horrendous visuals aside there is a method to this madness. The beer creates a nice steam inside the chicken that keeps it moist while cooking and gives a subtle eau de beer perfume to the meat. When paired with an ultra spiced compound butter for the baking the result is like a rotisserie chicken that your local grocery store could never.
I think almost everyone in South Carolina is no stranger to a salmon patty. Typically it’s one of those things that’s associated with that deeeep country and no frills. But what if we jazzed it up and gave it new life?
Enter lemon, dijon, capers, and a parsley lemon sauce. Salmon, whether fresh or canned is one of those ingredients that deserves zip and pep. Finding the brightness of the ingredients under the crispy crust from frying the patties is a match made in heaven. Continue reading “Salmon Patties with Lemon, Dijon, and Capers”→
I really struggled on if I wanted to post today, or even post a blog this week. Yesterday my grandma Margaret passed away and it’s left me with a lot of thoughts and emotions. I thought a lot about how delicious her cakes were, and how her macaroni and cheese pie was so phenomenal it set my brother on his own personal quest to make the perfect macaroni.
The more reality set in and I thought about it, the more I felt a need to cook the things she cooked. Maybe it was a way to honor her. Or maybe it was a way to feel close to her again after that privilege was taken from me.
Part of me even thought maybe it would be too hard to create something based in memories that come with a sepia-toned glow when all you’re facing in the present is a stark sense of grief. But as I spent the day making her rum cake recipe and doing my best to figure out how to make her macaroni pie I felt a sense of therapy.
Even though I never got the chance to know her exact macaroni recipe, as soon as I tasted the fruits of my guess work I had that moment in Ratatouille where the food critic immediately is warped to his childhood, and without realizing it, I smiled.
Growing up my dad would take my brother and me fishing during the summer. He always had these grand ideas of catching a huge catfish and us eating it for dinner. Every time he would bring a cooler with this goal in mind, and every single time we didn’t catch a catfish to cook. A couple of times someone downriver had more than enough and gave us some, but we as a family weren’t looking so hot.
I like to imagine these tacos are the dream scenario of what we would have cooked if our family fishing skills were worth a damn.
They consist of cornmeal crusted catfish, tartar sauce made with southern chow chow relish, and a honey mustard lemon pepper slaw on a yellow corn tortilla. All these flavors are so classic summer in the deep south, and the harmony between spicy and crispy fish, creamy and tangy tartar sauce, and the little bit of sweet from the crunchy slaw gets more R-rated noises out of me than any dish I know.
A trip to Charleston, South Carolina had the power to turn anyone into a shrimp and grits eating fool. Most traditional shrimp and grits recipes use a kind of tomato-y peppery sauce on top of the shrimp. I wanted to take that idea and cheesy grits and kick it into overdrive.
Shrimp fra diavlo keeps the kind of spicy tomato goodness on a classic shrimp and grits, but amps up the garlic and herb content to make it sing. And the cacio e pepe grits? Ohhhhh those grits. Cacio e pepe is a Roman pasta dish that is essentially the real Italian version of an Alfredo. Cacio e pepe translates into cheese and pepper. So think parmesan cheesy grits with a huge black pepper punch. Even my friend Mike who lived in Charleston called them the best grits he’s ever had. Put simply, this shrimp and grits goes beyond classic Charleston into nirvana.
Brunch rules. It gives you an excuse to day drink, and it’s a time where people get creative in food combinations. Hi chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and biscuits and gravy. One by one I’m on a mission to provide the best brunch recipes, and this here is a special one.
My brother Sean, aka The Biscuit Queen, is the most incredible baker. He provided the extra fluffy, extremely layered, and above all; inordinately buttery recipe for the biscuits. I could wax poetic about how beautiful and artisinal these biscuits are with their subtle honey flavor and golden glow.
And to pair with them is my sausage gravy that’s packed with fresh sage and some crushed red pepper for your nerve. The salty gravy with attitude absorbs so beautifully into the sweet and buttery biscuits.
In short, this dish tastes like warmth and family because that’s where it comes from. You also get to read the recipe as my brother wrote it which is fun.
I feel like anyone who’s followed me for a while had to have known that a chicken and waffles recipe was coming eventually. How could it not? I consider chicken and waffles to be the ultimate not only brunch, but possibly southern dish as well. You have your salty, sweet, crispy, soft, and juicy all in one plate.
For my recipe I took inspiration from Michelin starred Dusek’s in Chicago