As a Boy from Detroit, my exposure to grits came late in life and in a very non-traditional way. Not for breakfast with butter and salt & pepper like many of my good Southern friends are used to, but spicy, bold grits for dinner! Rachel’s family considered it preposterous! “What self-respecting Southerner would eat grits that way?”.  I finally convinced my beautiful bride to try them and she raved to her parents so much that I decided to surprise them one evening with a big steaming bowl of shrimp & grits! Of course they became reluctant converts – – but now I know the truth! After hearing about a pot of grits I made for a potluck at the local Moravian church my Father-in-law Ray said “Why dont you make some of your grits for Thanksgiving” Wooot! Thanksgiving! That’s a Grand Slam in our culinary life – thats like getting called to the big league!  Below is the recipe I am taking to dinner this afternoon.  Moravian’s checking this site for last Sunday’s recipe will see a slite modification in the addition of mushrooms – but everything else is pretty much the same.

Chow!

CHOWBELLY’S HIGHLAND GRITS

Ingredients
1 lb Chorizo Sausage
1 Thick Slice Ham, julienned
1 lb 61-70 ct Tail-off Shrimp
1/2 lb Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
1/2 C. Diced Sweet Onion
1 tbls Minced Garlic
1 C. Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
1 lb Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
2 C. Old Fashioned Grits
3 C. Water
Salt
Pepper
1 tsp Zatarain’s Crab Boil
1 C. Sour Cream
1 C. Heavy Cream

Preparation:
Begin by preparing the chorizon – if it’s cased slice it in half and push the meat out of the casing like you would toothpaste. In a medium sized saute pan, brown and thoroughly drain the chorizo and set it off to the side. I prefer to line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towel and spread the drained meat over the paper towel to remove even more of the orange grease. Wipe out the pan and add 1/4 stick of the butter. Once melted add the diced onions and mushrooms and saute until translucent. As they are approaching the translucent stage add the minced garlic and saute briefly. Remove to a small bowl and set onion and garlic off to the side.  In the same pan add a bit more butter and add the julienned strips of ham. Let them fry up good with nice carmelization visible.  In a stainless steel pan you will see the remnants of your past few steps crusty on the bottom of the pan.  This is referred to as the fond and it is one of the best parts of any dish! Return the empty pan to the heat and add the chicken stock.  You dont want the chicken stock to boil, you just want to use it as an agent to loosen the bits from the bottom of the pan.  This is called deglazing the pan.  Scrape the bottom and stir things around – you really want to get that flavor off the bottom of the pan and incorporated into the chicken stock. YOu can add the remaining butter to the pan for added richness.  Next add the shrimp and remove from the heat.  The heat of the chicken stock and the pan will partially cook the fragile shrimp and they will continue to cook in the grits.  Now in a large pot bring the water to a boil and add the grits, as they begin to open up and absorb  the water stir in the chicken stock and shrimp into the mixture.  Add the onion and garlic to the grits and mix in thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the Zatarain’s crab boil, the cream and the sour cream. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl and top with layers of shredded cheese, chorizo and the julienned ham slices.

Advertisements

This afternoon I was getting a little hungry after a particularly long conference call so I wandered down to the kitchen.  The pantry is a bit sparse since I am travelling so much. I wasn’t in the mood for an ordinary sandwich and I didnt really want to go to too much trouble because I had another call in a half-hour so I grabbed some roast beef, grated parmesan, raspberry jam and spicy brown mustard.  Mixing the mustard and jam together produces a yummy compound mustard that related very well to the roast beef and the parmesan dusted on the outside of the grilled sammich!  Being the loving sorta man that I am I made Rachel a sammich too and about a half-hour later she IM’d me upstairs and said “THAT WAS THE BEST SAMMICH EVAR! WHAT WAS THE SAUCE?” 🙂 playfully I replied “Ancient Chinese Secret!”

 Now You Know! Shhhh!

Saturday night I was jonesin’ for a soda late in the evening – I told Rachel I was going to step out and get a soda and asked her if she wanted anything.  She told me then that we were going to Holly Springs Moravian Church in the morning to celebrate their 3rd anniversary – and oh yeah, there’s a potluck dinner after the service! Well that stopped me in my tracks, cause I am a glory-hound when it comes to cooking! I hadnt planned a thing! So I came back, sat down and launched the online version of my favorite grocery stores’ weekly ads to see what was on sale.  Opening Harris Teeter’s ad I see Pork Loin on sale! Say no more! My mind instantly started thinking Grilled Pork Loin Wrapped with Bacon!! So off I went to Harris Teeter in search of enough Pork Loin to feed a roomful of hungry Moravians!  As I walked into the store I was greeted by a beautiful display of juicy white peaches. Well, that changed everything – I knew I was still making the Pork Loin, but now I started thinking Peach & Pepper glaze! You’ve gotta love taking the best the earth has to offer in season and pairing it with fresh Carolina pork! Walking through the produce section I nabbed a couple of large, juicy peaches, a nice round, firm, sweet Vidalia onion, some various sweet and hot peppers, some vine-ripened tomatoes and a nice large bulb of garlic.  I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to put it all together, but it seemed like a good place to start.  When I got home this is how it all went down- 

Peach & Pepper Glaze
2 peaches peeled & diced small
1 large Vidalia onion diced small
3 vine-ripened tomatoes diced small
1 bulb (about 6 cloves) of garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
1 cup of sweet & hot peppers (your choice)
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
1 can tomato paste
Kosher Salt
Coarse ground black pepper

As you’re dicing each ingredient, toss it into a large non-reactive pot like stainless steel or non-stick. Because of the acidic content of the tomatoes you really dont want to use a cast-iron pot unless you really love that metallic taste!

Once everything’s combined you can place it over a medium heat, stirring frequently. Because of the brown sugar you can’t get the heat too high or you’ll scorch the bottom of your pan and end up with a nasty charcoal flavor.  Heat it all together slowly until it’s simmering and then cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until proper thickening has taken place.  It’s best to do this the night before and refrigerate the whole pot to let the flavors combine overnight.  The next day about 10 minutes of simmering will pull all the flavors out! This recipe makes a large amount – enough to serve with a large pork loin and keep half back for a nice peach salsa!

Grilled Pork Loin
It’s best to start this the day before too – letting flavors combine overnight really adds complexity to your flavors.  For the grilled pork loin: start with a good chunk of pig, wash it thoroughly and trim any excess fat.  Pat it dry completely – its essential for the meat to be dry when you start applying the base for the rub.  I like to lay out a sheet of foil to wrap the loin in – that way none of the rub gets lost!  After combining the ingredients for my rub I slather the pork loin with plain yellow mustard – the kind that says Fancy Yellow Mustard on the jar, but its really the most ordinary kind I know! Then I just start rubbing the spices onto the meat. The mustard helps it cling and adds just a little extra zip to the finished product. I swaddle it all together in foil and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning I toss the whole package right into a 350 degree oven and let it roast for about an hour.  A few weeks ago I met Fred Thompson, the BBQ Nation author, at Barnes & Noble in Cary, NC. He told me that roasting meat in a foil pouch is what the professional BBQ’ers call a Texas Crutch and it’s a preferred method on the BBQ circuit.  The pork loin roasts in the oven for about an hour and then I take it out of the foil and roll it onto a BBQ grill for about 7-8 minutes per side over a medium heat just enough to carmelize it and get a nice crust on the outside.  Wrap it back up in foil to keep the heat in and let it stand for about 10 minutes before slicing. This time is important for all the pores to close back up and keep the juices sealed deep in the meat.  Carve it up, ladle some of the Peach & Pepper Glaze over the top and sit back and enjoy the compliments!

Pork Rub
1 tbs Kosher Salt
1 tbs Coarse Black Pepper
2 tbs Chili Powder
2 tbs Brown Sugar
1 tbs Paprika
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 – 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper

It’s not every week the Moravian’s have a potluck – I just wish it was! In addition to my Peach & Pepper glazed Pork Loin there were a number of other equally yummy dishes that put me into a Sunday afternoon food coma. Michaela and the Marley-bunch had an incredible chocolate eclair cake, Hope’s awesome soup was enjoyed by everyone, there was an amazing au gratin potato casserole (not sure who made that, but it was great!), lemon pie, chocolate pie, Mmmm – too many other yummy things to even list!  Enjoy the recipe’s above!

If you’re not too sure what a Moravian is – check out this link: http://spmoravian.org/moravian.htm

Now I can imagine what you may be thinking – “isn’t this the same Boy from Detroit  who talked up the Eastern-North Carolina Barbecue?” All I can say is, “it’s different! Its like sirloin or ribeye – you can argue all night long about which is better, but if you sit down to a juicy, pink slab of either, you know you’re gonna have some good eatin’!

Today I flew into Dallas-Ft.Worth and made my way to my hotel. Being famished I immediately grabbed the DiningIn guidebook and BAM! Page 1 was Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse! What a great reminder of my first visit to Texas about 8 years ago. Back then I was an IT Decision Maker for one of the Toyoda companies and Dell invited me and about 20 others out to Austin to tour their facilities.  They wined and dined us and took us to an incredible barbecue joint way up on a hill in beautiful downtown Austin.

I ordered up Sonny’s Dinner Plate – a combo of smoked turkey, smoked sausage and sliced brisket with mac & cheese, BBQ beans and peach cobbler! Doesnt get any better! Opening the styro-pack the smoky smell struck me, but then . . . there it was – the telltale pink ring around the brisket! Nuthin’ prettier on a slice of beef!  I love turkey and sausage, but eating them fresh outta the smoker just adds a whole ‘nother layer of YUM!

Needless to say, if you ever find yourself in this great state – find your way to a barbecue joint IMMEDIATELY! Just look for the smoke rising outta the roof – if you can’t smell it from the parking lot – keep on going!

In the spirit of  Merlin Mann‘s popular 5ives website, I am posting my Top 5 favorite food blogs. Merlin has another great website (43 Folders) that has inspired me in countless ways to be more productive.

The five blogs below are some of my favorite reads in the world of food blogs.  Each one has a unique perspective and provides a different slice of the food blogging community without being overly commercial.

Take a look and enjoy each one!

Top 5 Favorite Food Blogs

1. Fallen Souffle

Jennifer Roberts shares her culinary inspirations.

2. Simply Recipes

Elise Bauer takes a break from technology consulting in the Silicon Valley to share family recipes of the highest caliber.

3. Becks & Posh

English-girl-abroad, Sam Breach, has beautiful photography, excellent writing and an awesome insight into some fabulous ingredients and recipes.

4. Is My Blog Burning?

This site tracks online blogging events.

5. Slashfood

Slashfood is a great aggregator blog that brings together the best of the food blogging world.

Since moving to North Carolina I dont get a chance to see or talk to Tiffany as much as I would like to.  She has left the local community college and has taken up residency in  student housing at Oakland University.  These coookies are one of her favorite comfort foods and I bet she could use some comfort right about now.  As soon as the weather turns enough so that I dont have to worry about them melting I ‘m gonna make her up a batch and send them her way.

Here is the recipe – it can be found on most boxes of Quaker Oats or Hershey’s Cocoa Powder. My twist is the chunky peanut butter!  Enjoy! And Tif, if you read this, I love you very much and know that against any odds, you will prevail!

No-Bake Cookies

2 C. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2C. chunky peanut butter
1/2 C. milk
1/3 C. cocoa powder
3 C. Oatmeal

1. Add sugar, margarine, peanut butter, milk and cocoa to a large saucepan. Cook over high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil for 3 minutes stirring frequently.

2. Remove from heat. Stir in oats and mix thoroughly.

3. Drop by tablespoon onto waxed paper. Let stand until firm.

One night a few months ago Rachel made me a yummy snack while I was watching Iron Chef America on The FoodNetwork

It was a creamy, tart&tangy sorbet topped with crunchy granola. I had heard the food processor whirring for a few seconds while she was out in the kitchen, but I had no idea she had whipped up such a yummy confection!

1C. Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt
1 Bag of Frozen Raspberries
2 Tbls Honey
2 Tbls Orange Juice
2 Tbls Granola

Toss the yogurt, orange juice and honey into the food processor and mix together. Add the frozen fruit, mix til smooth.  Spoon out into a small bowl and sprinkle each serving with granola for a crunchy treat!

Craving it again a few days later I tried to recreate her recipe (by eye) and wound up adding too much yogurt and orange juice – Voila! Same tangy flavor in a smootie!

Since then, I have tried several other varieties of fruit and the raspberries remain my favorite.

Buono Appetito!