GEORGIA BRUNSWICK STEW
So good that at least three states claim to have originated it, Brunswick Stew is a dense concoction that includes meat, corn, tomatoes and potatoes -- but that's where the similarity ends. The original Virginia version called for squirrel meat, the North Carolina one leans most heavily toward chicken, and the Georgia version combines both pork and chicken.
While purists may say the true Georgia Brunswick Stew includes a hog’s head, the truth is that most Americans are probably going to have trouble buying a real hog’s head at the supermarket. So here we are substituting pulled pork or a piece of hickory smoked ham.
8 ounces of butter, divided
1/4 cup plus 1 oz. Liquid Smoke
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3 cups ketchup
1/3 cup prepared mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
3 oz. Worcestershire sauce
3 oz. mild hot sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced onion
2 cans chicken broth (14 ½ oz. each)
1 pound shredded cooked chicken, white and dark
8 oz. shredded pulled pork or minced hickory-smoked ham
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 pound frozen baby limas
1 can creamed corn (14 ¾ oz.)
1/2 cup water
1 small can kernel corn (8 oz.)
In a sauce pan, melt 4 oz. of the butter, then add 1 oz. Liquid Smoke and the next 11 ingredients. Blend and stir, bringing to a simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Set aside.
In a large stew pot, melt the other 4 oz. of butter. Add the potatoes, onion, chicken broth, chicken and pork/ham. Bring to a boil, then lower heat slightly and cook until potatoes are done.
Add the diced tomatoes, baby limas, creamed corn, 1/4 cup Liquid Smoke and water. Add the ingredients from the sauce pan. Return to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and cook for 60-90 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding more water sparingly if necessary during simmer period. In last 20 minutes, add small can of kernel corn.
YIELDS ABOUT ONE GALLON
When we were growing up, pimiento cheese sandwiches were something typical to expect if we went over to a friend's house for lunch. Mothers assembled these sandwiches in one of two ways -- either with the bread crust included, or with the bread crust cut off. If the sandwiches were for children, the bread crust was usually left on. If they were for a ladies' gathering, the crusts were cut off, and the sandwiches cut into four triangular pieces on white bread for tea lunch. (The typical companion tea sandwiches consisted of thinly sliced cucumbers and mayo on wheat bread.)
Pimiento cheese is a versatile dish that goes beyond sandwiches. Its tangy flavor lends itself well to being used as a cocktail spread with crackers, or as a dip for celery or other vegetables. Lately, we've embraced pimiento cheese as an ideal topping for grilled hamburgers. In the South, prepared pimiento cheese can often be found in the dairy section or deli counter at grocery stores. Outside of the South, you'll likely need to buy the pimientos by the jar and make the pimiento cheese spread yourself.
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
1 jar pimientos
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon grated onion or onion powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon mild cayenne pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Pinch of salt (optional)
Grate the cheese and place in a mixing bowl. Dice the pimientos and add them to the bowl along with some of the juice from the jar. Add the mayonnaise and remaining ingredients, and mix well or blend in a food processor. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more mayonnaise until it spreads easily.
Country-style sausage is available throughout the USA if you don't mind shopping for it in the frozen food aisle, or buying it a pre-mixed mold in the hot dog section of the supermarket. But we were aiming for something with less chemicals and nitrates, and closer to the oink where sausage comes from.
So we found and adapted an old unsigned recipe from the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee.
TENNESSEE COUNTRY SAUSAGE
3 pounds of medium-lean ground pork (purists may want to buy 2 pounds of lean pork and 1 pound of pork fat, then grind them and mix together).
1 tablespoon salt
3 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (plus a pinch more if you like your sausage HOT.)
1 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
2 teaspoons garlic
In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Using your hands, work the mixture well into the pork, taking care to make sure it is distributed evenly throughout the pork.
Shape the sausage into the 3-inch patties, about 3 ounces each. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Wait until the pan is hot, then add the patties. Cook 4-6 minutes per side, making sure the sausage is cooked through the center. Drain the patties on a paper towel, turning them once.
We like to serve ours with grits topped on the plate by a spoon of pan gravy. Sweet potato pancakes, like the ones they make at the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, Tenn., would round out this Tennessee breakfast in sound fashion.
Okra, a.k.a gumbo, is a common element of regional Southern cooking that's not been fully adopted by the rest of the country. It's often associated with Creole dishes, but is common throughout the South, really. Okra is a tropical vegetable that does best where there is less chance of frost during the growing season, which helps explain its relative rarity in other parts of the U.S. The edible portions are the seed pods. It's easy to cook okra badly, resulting in a slimy mess. That's why some people cook it once, then give up on it. If you're frying okra in a cornmeal batter, make sure to get the oil hot enough. If you're using it in a stew, make sure to cook it long enough.
2 cups sliced okra
2 cups diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onion
4 slices bacon
1/2 tsp mild hot sauce
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper
In a Dutch oven or deep frying pan, cook bacon halfway through. Add onions and saute then. Then add tomatoes, okra, hot sauce and water. (Include 1 bay leaf, optional.) Bring to a simmer for 30-45 minutes. Cook this dish SLOWLY, stirring occasionally so it does not burn.
Serves 6 people
SouthernAirs developed some of these recipes, aiming as always for authenticity. Others are on loan from cited friends and relatives, or from authoritative sources with permission.