Rouses Magazine - The Down Home Issue

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♥ the down home issue ♥


Authentic Italian pizza, no passport required.

Down-home cooking. I hear those words and I can practically taste the food. Fried chicken. Roast with rice and gravy — one of my all-time favorites. Homestyle green beans. Lima beans. Greens cooked with chunks of ham. Down-home cooks can take just about any piece of meat, even something tough like a shank or a seven steak; they smother it down and make it taste good, with a gravy made from the pan drippings. Game birds and venison — if it comes from a bigger animal — can be tough, but they can be melt-in-your-mouth tender when braised, smothered or stewed by a good down-home cook. And what they can do with vegetables! PHOTO BY CHANNING CANDIES

Most down-home cooking is done in big pots. It’s food that’s meant to be shared. You don’t smother okra for one person, just like you don’t make one bowl of gumbo. With down-home cooking, you’re fixing for two, or a few, or a whole family. Or cooking for a hungry crowd for a lunch or dinner rush, which is what our chefs and cooks do every day in our stores. As a matter of fact, the food on our cover came right off the hot line our cooks prepare each day. If you’re only eating our Cajun and Creole food and seafood, you’re missing out on some of the best fried pork chops and fried chicken anywhere, as well as our perfectly seasoned beans and greens. Our hot bar menus change daily, but I guarantee you will always find something down-home and delicious to eat.


— Donny Rouse, CEO, 3rd Generation

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Spread on the smiles – naturally. Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread products are always free of preservatives and artificial flavors and colors.

Ain’t gone no more!

TABLE OF CONTENTS IN EVERY ISSUE Marketing & Advertising Director Tim Acosta

Creative Director & Editor Marcy Nathan

Art Director, Layout & Design

1 Donny Rouse 5 Letter from the Editor by Marcy Nathan 7 Cookin’ on Hwy 1 with Tim Acosta

31 A Fan of the Can by David W. Brown 35 Potluck by Marcelle Bienvenu 37 Kind of a Big Dill by David W. Brown

Eliza Schulze

9 Ali Rouse Royster



10 Whatcha Cookin'

41 Shrimp & Potato Stew with Eggs

Kacie Galtier

Creative Manager McNally Sislo

Copy Editors Patti Stallard Adrienne Crezo

Advertising & Marketing Amanda Kennedy Harley Breaux Stephanie Hopkins Nancy Besson Taryn Clement Mary Ann Florey

Meatball Stew

EVERY STOVE HAS A STORY 13 Fix Yourself a Plate by David W. Brown 16 Smothered & Stewed by Ken Wells 21 Dough Si Dough by Marcelle Bienvenu 23 The Fry's The Limit by David W. Brown

Ground Beef with Carrots 43 Smothered Green Beans with Potatoes Mississippi Pot Roast Pot Roast Creamed Peas with Onions 44 Classic Fried Chicken 45 Crunchy Pickle & Ranch Dip Corn Spoon Bread

24 A Legendary Mistake by Sarah Baird

Butter Beans

26 The Pot Roast State by Sarah Baird

46 Corn Riblets & Flowers

Homemade Biscuits

47 Lemon Ice Box Pie

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Charles McKenzie and Shantrell Conerly are two of the amazing chefs and cooks who work at Rouses Markets in downtown New Orleans. That’s where they cooked and we photographed most of the food for this issue, including our cover. Linda Green made the food for her story, which starts on Page 13. W W W. R O U S E S . C O M




Fix me a plate of all meats, please! All jokes aside, steak with a side of grilled shrimp pairs exquisitely well with a heaping pile of pulled pork and smoked sausage. Just hold the veggies. Oh, and can I get a sweet tea with that? – Kacie Galtier, Designer & Illustrator

Nothing beats a plate of country-fried steak with mashed potatoes, lima beans and creamed corn. I’d also go for a plate of fried chicken, green beans, mac ’n’ cheese and black-eyed peas. Or any other combo…when it comes to Southern cooking there’s very little I won’t eat! – Eliza Schulze, Art Director

I’m going straight for that juicy dark meat! Two legs and a thigh with buttery mashed potatoes and sweet corn. Of course, I’ll need a little dessert, so I’d have to choose the peach cobbler with that crumbly top. – McNally Sislo, Creative Manager



lara, the woman who took care of me from the time I was very young, was a fabulous cook. My sisters and I spent countless hours in the kitchen with her, watching TV or doing homework while she cooked. Occasionally she’d let one of us lick the bowl in exchange for mashing the potatoes.

Everything she cooked was utterly delicious — meat loaf, fried pork chops and white beans, macaroni and cheese, stewed chicken. My dad even argued that her chopped liver with schmaltz (chicken fat) was better than his Jewish mother’s. She never wrote down recipes and she never measured ingredients; she had a cook’s hand. I wish I’d stood alongside her when she cooked instead of just mashing the potatoes; I can barely make a proper roux.


By Marcy Nathan, Creative Director My dad came down with Covid as we were preparing to send this issue to press and I still had this letter to write, but needed to help him at his home, which is where I grew up. I hope you don’t mind a second helping of my letter, Clara, from our September-October 2018 issue, Cooking at Home. It seems very appropriate for this Down Home issue — and considering the circumstances. In my family, food memories are some of our strongest. My sisters and I have spent a lot of time sitting in dad’s kitchen reminiscing about childhood meals and talking to my dad about his favorite foods; Clara’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes are high on his list, just after raw oysters and seafood gumbo, along with a gin martini with olives. We’ve also been looking at family pictures. My sister Courtney found my mom’s courtesy check cashing card from the old Metairie Road Supermarket in a picture drawer, and an old calendar that has an entry from when my mom was sick that reads, “Mrs. Dotty had a good night. Before she went to sleep we were talking about food she loved, and she said mashed potatoes.” Clara’s, no doubt. My sister said it was a sign. I think I might agree.

My strongest memories of her take place in the kitchen. I particularly loved eating lunch with her. No matter what we were having, even a sandwich, there was always a side of Bunny bread, stacked high. Clara was more than a nanny for me. She was a second mother. She always made me feel special, which wasn’t easy in a large family. For her, food was love. She cooked fried chicken, mashed potatoes and peas — my favorite — the day before I left for summer camp, and again as a “welcome back” two months later. She knew from my letters that I’d been homesick for her and her food. I haven’t eaten Clara’s fried chicken in over 20 years, but I can still taste it. My mother was a good cook, too. She just didn’t do it often. She had her hands full with four daughters and a full-time job. Mom had every plastic-bound Junior League cookbook, from Jambalaya to Talk About Good! and River Road Recipes — and boxfuls of handwritten family recipes on index cards. Her Polish-born aunt and uncle ran a catering business out of their home kitchen in Alexandria in the 1960s. They became quite well-known for their baked goods, including a layer cake that was similar to doberge. My aunt Susan (“Noonie”) has promised to find us the recipe, so I can share it with you in a future issue. My mother died of cancer way too young — I was 20. Clara died not two years later. It was like losing my head after losing my heart. I never fully recovered. But I recently reconnected with three of her grandchildren, and it’s been fun reminiscing. I have such happy memories. And such funny ones. Like many women in New Orleans, Clara liked to keep her money on her. She taught me to store mine in my bra, the way she did — a habit a cashier at Rouses thankfully helped me break later on. Every time I see a customer pull money or a credit card out of her bra, I am reminded of Clara. This issue is a tribute to all of the home cooks, like Clara, who share their love through food. Thank you.

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COOKIN´ ON HWY 1 By Tim Acosta, Advertising & Marketing Director


e have been filming new commercials over the past year, some of which feature our store directors. Reggie Legendre, our store director in Golden Meadow, is an avid fisherman. We planned a morning shoot on a boat captained by one of the best guides in Golden Meadow, Four Horsemen Tackle owner Captain Aaron Pierce. The day before, I realized I didn’t have a current fishing license. I wasn’t going to go out on the boat and just sit there and watch Reggie fish, so I went to a bait and tackle shop, The Reel Outfitters, in Thibodaux, to get a current one. While I was there, I picked up some boudin balls. The Reel Outfitters, or as I refer to it, the bait shop, is the kind of place you’d expect to see on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It’s a former gas station. They’ve got meat pies and crawfish pies and boudin balls — because this is Thibodaux — and sandwiches, po-boys and daily specials. When he isn't working, Kris Tardo (the owner of The Reel Outfitters), like Reggie, is fishing. When I heard he planned to open a bait and tackle shop, that seemed like a dream come true. I hadn’t heard he planned to put a restaurant inside of it until I ran into him at Rouses Markets on Canal Boulevard one day with an entire buggy full of roasts and chicken. I just assumed he was having a party, when actually he was shopping for the bait shop.

As soon as I knew the bait shop was also a restaurant, I went in for a club sandwich. A few weeks later, I tried the fish po-boy. One Thursday I went in, and the whole bait shop was talking about Miss Aarin’s smothered okra with shrimp, so of course I ordered it. It came with rice, with a piece of cobbler for dessert. The whole meal reminded me of down-home cookin'! The good thing about smothering stuff down is that you can use whatever you like. Okra. Corn. Green beans. They all taste good smothered down. At home, my wife, Cindy, and I like to cook smothered green beans with red potatoes and smothered cabbage with ham ends and pieces. We smother freshly shucked corn with onions, sausage, garlic, jalapeños and, of course, RO-TEL tomatoes. We leave the smothered okra to Miss Aarin because she does it so well.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Aarin Robertson, Tim Acosta and Kris Tardo at The Reel Outfitters in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

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$ T

here’s a lot to be said for visiting other places, and I do love to travel, but I could not imagine living anywhere else. There are lots of reasons for me — family, food, climate and culture being way up at the top of that list. Part of that culture is what is known around the world as our famous Southern hospitality. It’s smiling and saying hi to a stranger as you pass by; it’s asking how’s ya momma-n-dem; it’s having anyone and everyone over to eat at your tailgate, no matter which team they’re rooting for. That down-home friendliness is the very fabric of our community.

Rouses is a family business, and our family is deeply rooted on the Gulf Coast, so it is natural that our company’s culture mirrors that of our community. While we are a chain of grocery stores, at our heart we are a service business, and have been since my grandfather and his cousin first opened their doors all those years ago. When you come into your local Rouses, we strive to provide you with stellar customer service. We work on this at every level — we hire people who we believe will go above and beyond to do so; we train our team on how to best serve our guests; and we’re always looking for ways we can “wow” you. This can be as straightforward as greeting shoppers in the aisles and asking if we can help find anything. Or it can be more behind the scenes, like sourcing the best products for the shelves or anticipating when our bigger “rush” times will be, to make sure we have enough cashiers and baggers working, ready to ring you up and help you on your way home. A grocery store is an essential piece of a neighborhood, of a community, and so are the people inside of it. And here on the Gulf Coast, where food is such an integral part of our heritage and our lives today, grocery stores can become an extension of our kitchens, our homes and our family.

- Ali Rouse Royster, 3rd Generation

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ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Cornish game hens are not some rare exotic fowl; they’re just very small, very young, very tender chickens. You can prepare and cook them the same way you would a whole chicken, but you must adjust the cooking time—the hens’ small size means they’ll need less cooking time than larger chickens. We like them roasted and smothered, which helps keep the meat juicy. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT If you’re a dark-meat lover, try duck; unlike chicken or turkey, duck is all dark meat, including the breasts. Duck has a strong flavor that’s more similar to red meat than to chicken, and its skin is fattier than chicken or turkey. So when it’s cooked, that extra fat translates into greater juiciness and a rich flavor. Duck takes longer to cook than chicken, but it’s worth the wait.

REMEMBER TO RINSE YOUR RICE ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT We eat rice with just about everything. Rinsing rice before cooking removes any surface starch that could make it gummy as it cooks. Rinse rice in a bowl or pot with several changes of cold water, draining between rinses, just before you cook it;

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Flip to Page 41 for our favorite down-home recipes and more cooking tips! 10

R O U S E S S E P T E M B E R | O C TO B E R 20 21

you should be able to see the starchiness being released into the water. For best results, use a mesh strainer.

USE SEASONED AND SMOKED MEATS FOR FAT AND FLAVOR ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Ham shanks, cut from the area just below the pork shoulder or hip, and ham hocks, cut from the bottom half of the pork leg, both add a deep, smoky, salty flavor to any slow-cooked stew or vegetable dish. Shanks tend to be meatier than hocks, so if you want a higher protein content, use shanks. When your dish is finished cooking, cut off any meat that’s still connected to the bone. Discard the skin and bones, then add the cut meat back to the pot.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Ham seasoning—what butchers sometimes refer to as “ends and pieces”—is basically just

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Smoked sausage adds a whole lot of flavor to smothered okra, potatoes and corn. Andouille (pronounced ahn-DOO-wee), a dense, highly seasoned, heavily smoked Cajun sausage, really brings the heat. Smoked green onion sausage adds an extra kick with chopped green onions, and hickory-smoked Conecuh

chunks of boneless ham that’s ready to be cooked. For a spicier, smoky, Cajun flavor, use hamlike tasso (pronounced “TAH-so”), which is brined for preservation and smoked until its flavors are highly concentrated. Smoked turkey legs, wings and necks are great alternatives if you’re trying to avoid eating pork.

sausage lends a bacony flavor to any dish. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Pickled pork, also known as pickle meat, ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Pork neck bones also have a bit of meat on them, which falls off the bone after a few hours of cooking. They add a rich, smoky flavor to beans, greens and smothered vegetables.

adds a tangy, vinegary flavor to green beans, while salt meat is simply salt-cured pork cut from the front leg or shoulder. If you’re using salt meat, wait to salt and season your dish until after it’s fully cooked and you’ve tasted it, because salt meat releases a lot of salt and flavor during the cooking process. Even if you’ve used salt meat


before, always wait to season with salt till near

collection with our

the end of cooking, since the salt concentration of

newest "Whatcha

different packages of salt meat can vary.

Cookin'" reusable tote, available at your local Rouses Markets in

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Bacon adds richness and flavor to lima

Fall 2021.

beans, and bacon grease is perfect for adding a more complex flavor when you’re sautéing or roasting vegetables. Even just a dab of it added to healthier cooking fats like olive oil can greatly enhance the flavor of your vegetables.

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FIX YOURSELF A PLATE By David W. Brown Photos by Romney Caruso


hen Linda Green was young, her grandmother would cook ya-ka-mein, a creole dish for which New Orleans is now famous. All the neighbors in her Central City community would smell the spicy noodle soup cooking and show up with a bowl in hand—literally. They’d sit on the porch until the ya-ka-mein was ready, and everyone would get their share, eat and shoot the breeze. “Ya-ka-mein is one of New Orleans’s best kept secrets,” says Linda, who is herself a New Orleans institution: an acclaimed chef who is called “the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady” for her success in bringing her family’s recipe to the world. Her culinary repertoire covers the whole span of down-home cooking. Food, family and community are intertwined, and a single bite of some special dish can transport us across decades. Her smothered duck, for example, takes her back to her childhood. It is an old family recipe resurrected for New Orleans festivalgoers. And like the ya-kamein for which she is celebrated, she learned the recipe from her mother and grandmother. “It’s all about family,” she says. “My mom, my auntie, my grandma—they showed us how to be a family, and that’s what I am with my children and grandchildren. They cooked and that’s how I learned to cook.”

As a child, her job in the kitchen was to chop vegetables next to her mother. “Oh Lord,” she says, “I used to have a big ol’ knife and a chopping board! I had to cut the stalks of celery, peel the garlic, chop the parsley, cut the green pepper— I had to do all that.” Her smothered duck was born of a Thanksgiving tradition.

They always had turkey and duck alongside oyster dressing, mirlitons and bell peppers. (“And you’ve got to have gumbo, definitely,” she explains.) When she was a child, though—seven or eight years old—she couldn’t quite get on board with the idea of eating duck. It scared her, so her mom took the oyster dressing and used it to stuff the duck. “Oh my God,” she says. “Let me tell you something: My mama cooked that duck, and every year after that, they could have anything they wanted on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they had to have a duck in their house for me. I’ve been with duck ever since.” Her mother taught her how to cook it. “It’s tender,” she says. “It melts in your mouth.” The recipe is simple, she says, because many of the spices lining store shelves today simply weren’t available when she was young. They used salt and pepper and fresh vegetables, and she still does. The duck is quartered and washed, well-seasoned and set aside. Meanwhile, she prepares the roux: the goal is a caramel color, made with flour, duck fat, onion, green bell pepper, parsley, garlic and celery. She sautés her roux, getting her seasoning tender, and once it hits the right color, she adds water until the gravy is just right: not thick, not thin, but rather, where it can hug the rice just so. Once it’s ready, she pours the gravy on the duck, covers it in foil, and bakes it in the oven for an hour and 45 minutes. Once it’s cooked, she removes the foil and lets it roast just long enough to get a golden-brown color. “After that, baby, you’re good to go. You’re going to get you some smothered duck with gravy and rice, and a little potato salad on the side.” Her smothered pork chop recipe goes much in the same way. “When I tell you— mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm—it’s nothing nice. It’s delicious.” Serve it with potato salad, greens, cornbread and bread pudding.

♥ As for the cuisine for which she is most famous, she says it is a result of the great diversity of the city of New Orleans. “Ya-ka-mein is a Chinese dish,” she says. “But you have to understand that, even though it’s a Chinese dish, it’s an African American dish, too. What we did was take it, put our own spices and herbs in it, and

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elevate the dish. It has always been in the Black community.” It is especially popular, she says, late night when bars are getting ready to close. “That’s the first thing people would get: a plate of chicken and a ya-kamein. And ya-ka-mein—another name for it is Old Sober. It is a hangover cure.” And for that kind of medicine, sometimes only the best will do. “I’ve had many call me from Tipitina’s and tell me, ‘Help me—I’m hungover and I need a ya-ka-mein!’ and I fixed it for them because I know what to put in it and the right amount to put in it.” They would later call her back and let her know how much better they feel. “When you’re out there drinking and having a good time, the salt is coming out your body, and you’ve got to put a little bit back to feel better,” the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady says. The dish is sometimes served in a cup. In the broth is meat, chopped green onions, noodles and a hardboiled egg. (There is also a vegan version, and you bet it’s popular. In 2013, she won the PETA-Food Network Vegan Gumbo Fest.) Under no circumstances do you eat ya-ka-mein with a spoon. It is eaten with a fork, and then you drink the broth. A few years ago, Linda says scientists from California came to New Orleans, curious about the curative powers of ya-ka-mein. They studied it and found, yes—it sobers you up! “The liquid, that part is the part that sobers you up—that juice. And I happen to have that old-school flavor,” Linda says. And that flavor is all over the place these days. Her food has been featured everywhere from The New York Times to Rolling Stone. She was one of the first people from New Orleans to win “Chopped,” a culinary contest on Food Network in which chefs compete against one another, preparing dishes that are evaluated by a panel of judges. She was even featured on the late Anthony Bourdain’s show “No Reservations.” That happened the first year she served her food at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Already, her ya-ka-mein was famous locally. A woman named Diane stopped by her area and said, “I need to see Ms. Linda.” “This is Ms. Linda,” said Ms. Linda. “Anthony wants to try this,” said Diane. “Anthony who?”


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“Anthony Bourdain.” Linda recalled: “I almost dropped my cup. Anthony Bourdain?” He was a fast fan of her cooking, and featured her on the “Cajun Country” episode of "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" in 2011. She recalls a conversation she had with the culinary superstar. “Ms. Linda,” he said, “I’ve eaten everything all over the world, but I’ve never had this particular flavor before. You need to do something with this.”

♥ Linda Green’s mom, Shirley, was “an amazing cook and caterer,” says Linda, who worked for 33 years in Orleans Parish school cafeterias, a path Linda would later follow.

COOKING TIPS FROM MS. LINDA GREEN GET TO KNOW YOUR SEASONINGS ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT My mother always used fresh seasoning. Bell peppers, celery, onions, garlic: Each brings out the flavor of what you are cooking in its own way. Bell pepper, for example, really brings out the flavors of red beans. I’m always cooking, and everything my mother said turned out to be true. When I talk to students, I explain that they should get to know those seasonings—the onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and so on. Everything has its own taste.

GARLIC MAKES A RIB ROAST SING ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT When I was young, we used to get our rib roast from Schwegmann’s. My momma Shirley used to say, “You’ve got to get your garlic in it!” and my job was to stuff garlic in the roast. To make a rib roast, punch or cut holes all over the roast, and stuff whole garlic into them. Afterward, season it really good, put flour on it, and heat oil in the skillet. Fry it

The path did not last forever, a little before roasting to get that crisp on it. That’s though. When Katrina hit and what I used to cook every Sunday for my kids: rib the levees failed, Linda lost her job of 25 years. Her last roast with dirty rice, potato salad and green beans. school was Edgar P. Harney in Central City. When the water came, their jobs vanished in an instant. “It was a hurtful She says: “That’s how I became the thing,” she says. “We thought we were going Ya-Ka-Mein Lady.” If she missed a stop, she to go back to our jobs, but they never did said, it was because she was still serving at call us back. They never said anything, even the previous one. “If they didn’t see me at the up until today. They never said anything to second stop, I would get to them at the third all the teachers, principals, nurses, social one—unless I was out of ya-ka-mein!” workers, the cafeteria, custodians—nobody.” Her phenomenal popularity with the When Linda returned to New Orleans second line garnered her an invitation to after the flood, Tipitina’s—the worldJazz Fest to do a cooking demonstration. “I renowned music venue—asked her to cater was excited,” she said of her first, anxious for them. One of the jobs she did was cook year there. “I didn't know what to do. I for disadvantaged musicians. “I did that, and started asking around, and everybody I I loved it. I had something to do every day.” talked to said, ‘Oh you can do this. You go She already had a stellar reputation as a get it. You can do this.’ And I started doing chef from her work feeding ya-ka-mein to cooking demos at the Jazz Fest, and believe the Mardi Gras second lines every year. She it or not, my line was longer than some of the would go stop to stop with them, and when vendors out there! I didn't know what to do, they didn’t see her at a stop, it was common or how to do it. But I do a lot of my thinking to hear someone shout, “Where’sthe ya-kawhen I'm laying down, and I just did a lot of mein lady? Y’all seen the ya-ka-mein lady?” praying. And I just asked God to guide me. And the first year was a success.”

THE SECRET TO LINDA GREEN'S GREENS ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT They call me Linda Green Greens. I cook all the greens: collard and mustard, kale and turnip. I like to mix a little cabbage with them, because it’s a little sweet and it blends in with the greens. That’s another trick I learned from my momma and my grandma, Mama Georgia. She’s the one who used to make the ya-ka-mein, and people would come with a bowl and sit on her porch on Dryades and wait patiently until it was done. We called it Porch Popping. You could also put a little honey in your greens—but just a little bit. You want to balance that flavor and the salt.

FRENCH BREAD IS BEST FOR BREAD PUDDING ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT I always use French bread for my bread pudding. I use it when it is stale, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be stale. After all, once it’s wet, it’s all over with! If you don’t have French bread, that is okay, too. You can even use sliced bread. Bread is bread.

MACARONI AND CHEESE THE NEW ORLEANS WAY ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT I used to just cook spaghetti macaroni, but when I started cooking at Jazz Fest, I started using elbows, too. A lot of customers still request spaghetti because that’s how we eat it in New Orleans and that’s what they were raised on. It’s what I was raised on, too! I always knew if we had meatballs and spaghetti one night, we’d be having macaroni and cheese the next. I

“I went out on faith and I never looked back. I’m enjoying the blessings that have been bestowed upon me,” she says.

♥ Today, it can be hard to find someone in New Orleans who doesn’t know Linda Green. She is a New Orleans icon. Every year brings new awards and acclaim—and not just her ya-ka-mein. Best po’boy in New Orleans? She won that one in 2017. Best bloody mary? 2017, 2018 and 2019 at two different festivals. In 2018, Ms. Linda received the Dream Achiever Award, granted by State Farm Insurance. She even won best non-traditional dish at the 2014 Sushi Festival. Perhaps most notably, she was awarded a CultureBearer Grant in 2019 from the New Orleans Tourism and Cultural Fund.

The pandemic badly disrupted the city’s I make macaroni and cheese, I use cheddar cheese— culinary activities and because that’s what gives you that pull when you dip festivals, though things your fork in—and a white American cheese, because seem finally back on track, and Linda isn’t that’s what really melts. wasting a moment. “I can’t stop now,” she says. “I have to continue. After Katrina and her work at Tipitina’s, I’ve been doing a lot of global success would follow. She still cooks stuff. We were feeding the homeless and at several festivals every year, including the seniors with the city. They just finished.” Jazz Fest, the Bloody Mary Festival, and the Now, she is working with the Louisiana French Quarter Festival. State University AgCenter Food Incubator in Baton Rouge, and with Rouses Markets, to “I was grateful for Tipitina’s. When they get her award-winning bloody mary recipe, knew I had lost my job, they came up with a Ya-Ka-Mary, on store shelves. game plan for me. I was able to come back cook spaghetti and elbows the same way, and when

to New Orleans. I went to Texas—we were over there for the night of the hurricane,” she recalls. When she came back to her city, a new life awaited.

“It’s a long time coming,” she says, and it has taken a lot of work to bring the product to fruition. She is thrilled to get her famous recipe in people’s homes.

You can try her other dishes at Rouses at 4500 Tchoupitoulas St. in New Orleans, where you will find her every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 in the afternoon. She also does curbside ya-ka-mein service through her company, Ms. Linda's Soul Food Catering, and caters for businesses, private events, families and festivals across the city. “You know,” she says, “they have people that live here that still don't know what ya-ka-mein is, and they've been living here in New Orleans all their life!” She is very quickly educating those poor souls. Her fame and acclaim are nice, but she remains grounded and focused on her work. “I’m aware of it, but I’m not aware of it,” she says of the world’s approbation. “Cooking is what I do—it’s my livelihood. I have responsibilities, and I do these things because it is my job.” She has some well-honed and battletested advice for the next generation of New Orleans chefs: “I tell a lot of young chefs nowadays that what you have to do is listen to your grandmothers, moms, dad, and older uncles and aunties. The people who raised you, they knew how to cook back then. They can tell you what to put in this and that.” When you taste her food, she says, “you can taste all the stuff my mother did. Everything has its own taste—that’s what she taught me how to do. If I’m cooking, everything is going to have its own taste. I’m grateful she taught me how to cook.” As for New Orleans, with its boundless love for the cultural icon that is Linda Green, she returns the love and then some. “I live in this city. I was born and raised in this city. I love my city,” she says. “I have so much support from my city, and whatever I can do for it in return, I don’t have a problem doing it, because my city is good to me. New Orleans is a good city and I love it.”

David W. Brown is a freelance writer whose work appears in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Scientific American and The New Yorker. His most recent book, The Mission: A True Story, a rollicking adventure about a motley band of explorers on a quest to find oceans on Europa, is in bookstores now. Brown lives in New Orleans.

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SMOTHERED & STEWED By Ken Wells Photos by Romney Caruso

you need a roux to make a stew.


hen I was growing up on the banks of Bayou Black, my mother made an amazingly tasty dish she called smothered potatoes. To cook a dish big enough to feed our family—six boys, my parents and my Wells grandparents who lived with us—she would caramelize six to eight large yellow onions, chopped, in a big pot. Then she would throw in her diced potatoes (about double the volume of onions) and stir everything together.

She’d add chicken stock, enough to cover the mixture, and bring everything to a boil. Then, she would lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. The dish required a lot of attention. She would remove the cover from time to time, stir like crazy, and, as the potatoes absorbed the chicken stock, add more stock to keep everything moist and prevent the concoction from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Toward the end, she would add her seasonings—salt, pepper, a dash of Tabasco or cayenne pepper, maybe a little garlic, parsley, thyme and a bay leaf or two. Her goal was to cook the potatoes to a consistency just north of mashed potatoes. She had a variation of this, sometimes adding cut green beans to the recipe and cooking them down with the potatoes to a delicious tenderness. Neither variation ever failed to please. What made this dish “smothered”? Well, for my mom, a Toups by birth from a French-speaking Thibodaux family that cooked Cajun food, the explanation was that the onions made it smothered.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT You can use sliced bread to absorb and blot extra grease or to skim the top of a stew, soup or gumbo, the same way you use bread to sop up gravy.


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Of course, there’s another explanation for why this dish is called smothered potatoes: the cooking technique itself. Cajun and Creole food experts describe “smothering” as a variation of braising meat, seafood or vegetables. Like braising, smothering happens in a closed environment (in this case, a lidded pot or Dutch oven) with plenty of water, broth or wine, and the process is a long one; smothered meat dishes often require four or more hours of low heat and high patience. You could, as some do, call smothering a kind of “stove-top braising.” Stove-top braising? My mom would’ve looked at anyone who used that term and said, “What’s that, cher?” Call it what you will, the fact remains that smothered potatoes (and chicken, and pork, and just

about anything else) are delicious and quintessentially Southern. We eat so well in the Gumbo Belt because we cook so well. But even our professional chefs admit that there is a fair amount of befuddlement about our terminology, especially when it comes to beloved dishes and styles of cooking—stews, fricassees, etouffees, and various smothered food recipes. Do you know the difference between a crawfish stew and a crawfish etouffee? And since etouffee is a bona fide French word meaning “smothered” or “suffocated,” why can’t it be called smothered crawfish? (Answer: It probably could be; it’s just not done.) And what about the difference between a chicken stew and a chicken fricassee? Again, my mother spoke French and cooked a mean chicken stew with a dark roux. But I never heard the term fricassee used in our house or our kitchen. I decided I needed help to clarify this confusion, so I consulted two of my favorite chefs and people, Pat Mould and Randy Cheramie. Pat is as rooted as a cypress tree in South Louisiana food culture. He’s a Southwest Louisiana native who has served as a chef for two of Lafayette’s renowned Creole-Cajun eateries, Café Vermillion and Charley G’s, and for years was chief organizer of the city’s annual Festival Acadiens et Creoles, which has a huge foodie component. He is widely credited with inventing a much-copied version of smoked duck and Andouille gumbo. Randy also has impeccable South Louisiana cuisine cred. He is a Golden Meadow native who for 20 years owned and operated Randolph’s, a South Lafourche fine-dining restaurant founded by his father in 1946. Since 1999, he has been a mainstay at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute on the Nicholls State University campus where he’s taught everything from classical French cuisine to perfecting the Cajun roux. (A man of many talents, he also ran the joint for a few years.) I asked Pat about the chicken stew/ fricassee confusion. “There’s really no rhyme or reason as to why some people call it a stew and some call it a fricassee. I go back and forth on it. For instance, when I do shrimp I call it a stew, and when it’s chicken I call it a fricassee—and


I use dark roux in both. I think it’s simply a generational thing; whatever the dish was called in your family is why it became either a stew or fricassee.” I asked Randy to weigh in. “So, the difference between stewed, fricasseed and smothered, huh? That's a good question. A chicken fricassee in France, in the classical tradition, is made with a blond roux. Weird, right? The first dish I remember enjoying as a very young child was my grandmother's smothered potatoes, or patate etouffee as she would call it, cooked much like your mother's recipe.” As for crawfish stew or etouffee: “When my dad made shrimp or crawfish etouffee, he melted grated onions in butter over low heat for a long time, then added the shrimp or crawfish with more butter, or crawfish fat, seasonings and sliced green onions and minced parsley. It was never made with a roux! So, to us, etouffee meant ‘smothered in onions.’ Our shrimp or chicken fricassee was made with a medium brown roux with peeled potato chunks cut one inch, then

garnished with sliced green onions and served over cooked white rice. Could that fricassee be called a stew? Sure it could!” You’re probably noticing that this isn’t necessarily clearing up the confusion. Chef Randy agrees. “I think cooking method titles have been a little muddled for a long time. To me, braising and stewing are two distinct techniques. To many home cooks, it's the same thing. We say most bread and pastry goods are baked and most meats are roasted. What's the difference? There is no difference! Baked potatoes, baked bread, roasted chicken, baked fish, roasted vegetables—the technique is the same. My family, and many others, never make a roux for sauce picante or courtbouillon, but I know many who do. Which one is right or definitive? It's the same as asking which is the definitive gumbo. My friend, you are treading murky waters here!” Of course, outside of South Louisiana (that is, the traditional South that for us lies more or less north of I-10), smothered dishes take on a whole new meaning and

complexity. A cursory search of the web, for example, produces a recipe for Smothered Chicken: A Soul Food. In this elaborate concoction (which includes milk!), clearly the smothering comes from not just the slow cooking, medium-low-heat technique, but also from the rich café-au-lait colored gravy that literally smothers the chicken. (It looks delicious—you can see it here: https://www. On the SoulFoodandSouthernCooking. com website, the smothering technique comes with a declaration that—while chicken, pork chops, and steaks are the favorites outside of Louisiana—you can pretty much smother anything if you understand the technique. It sounds simple: “First, you must brown the meat. Second, you saute the vegetables. Third, you make the gravy. Fourth, slow-cook.” You can divine a few major differences between Cajun-Creole smothering techniques and traditional Southern ones. Some of our dishes start with a roux, but in others, onions predominate. We smother our



ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT STEW TOO THIN OR WATERY? Simply let the excess liquid boil off. (This works better with the lid off.) This will thicken the sauce and concentrate the flavor. Or you can add a slurry. Just whisk a tablespoon of flour into a cup of the hot cooking liquid until fully combined, then stir it into the stew.

chicken, but also favor seafood and vegetables. The Southerners have their thick gravies, often made with milk, and tend to favor not just chicken but pork chops and steaks. As for the stew versus fricassee debate, some people do offer a distinction. I found a blog by a food columnist named Miranda Trahan, who described herself as a South Louisiana native who was living on the outskirts of Baltimore. She had at the time of writing her blog recently visited her Louisiana father, determined to learn the difference between a chicken stew and a chicken fricassee. This is what her daddy told her: He began both dishes with a roux, then said, “It's all in the way you cook the chicken, you see. In a stew, it's boiled. In a fricassee, it's smothered or pan-fried first, then boiled." In Miranda’s view, this was an epiphany. “This was it! This explained the slight difference in taste. When the chicken is smothered or pan-fried first, as in the fricassee, it creates little fried chicken bits in the gravy. These fried bits, in my opinion, overwhelm the gravy with an almost burnt taste. In a stew, however, the chicken is cooked more evenly as it is boiled, giving the dish a more consistent texture and flavor.” I think that simply proves what Chef Randy and Chef Pat alluded to—that what these dishes are called pretty much depends on what your family called them when they made them and passed on the recipes and techniques. I recall my mother browning her chicken before making her chicken stew, so in Miranda Trahan’s eyes, my mom was making a fricassee. I believe, in retrospect, this would have pleased Bonnie since she was proud of the fact that she spoke Louisiana French and, anyway, fricassee sounds like such a sophisticated dish compared to a simple stew. As for the difference between crawfish stew and crawfish etouffee, that also makes for a good bar argument. One iteration is 18

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that a crawfish stew is made with a dark roux, while an etouffee is made with a roux made lighter by the addition of cream. Some people say crawfish stew is the Cajun interpretation of the dish, while etouffee is the Creole version. Yet, except for the variations in the roux, they are cooked pretty much the same—and often identically. My personal god of Cajun-Creole cooking, Chef John Folse, offers clarity in two recipes. One is for a dish he calls Louisiana Crawfish Etouffee. It contains no cream, but starts with a “white roux” made by browning flour in butter. Chef also has a recipe for River Road Crawfish Stew. It starts with a dark roux, and has neither butter nor cream. Both contain tomatoes. Tomatoes? I found a crawfish etouffee recipe in “Southern Living” magazine by a Cajun named Hebert who would never on earth put tomatoes in her etouffee.

We can save that argument for next time. But as for stews, fricassees, etouffees and smothered dishes? I’d say call them what you want. A rose by any other name, and all that. You simply know that if a South Louisiana home cook or chef rustles one of them up, you’re in for a tasty treat.

Ken Wells grew up on the banks of Bayou Black deep in South Louisiana’s Cajun belt. He got his first newspaper job as a 19-year-old college dropout, covering car wrecks and gator sightings for The Courier, a Houma, Louisiana weekly, while still helping out in his family’s snake-collecting business. Wells’ journalism career includes positions as senior writer and features editor for The Wall Street Journal’s Page One. His latest book, Gumbo Life: Tales from the Roux Bayou, is in stores now.

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MIX INSTEAD OF SHORTENING? Wait to take it out of the fridge until right before you cut it. You want it cold, cold, cold. You can also use frozen butter.

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DOUGH SI DOUGH By Marcelle Bienvenu


hicken and dumplings was not in my mother’s recipe repertoire. Her home-cooking consisted mainly of rice and gravy, meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas, spaghetti (several versions depending what kind of meat was on hand), paneed veal with creamy mac and cheese, fried seafood on Fridays or special occasions, pork roast and rice dressing, or roasted chicken on Sundays—but never chicken and dumplings. It’s popular in the South, but not necessarily so in Southern Louisiana. I daresay it would be hard to find a chicken and dumplings recipe in cookbooks devoted to Cajun or Creole cuisine. However, I did find a recipe titled “Creole Chicken and Dumplings” in “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen.” Prudhomme’s version includes his special seasoning mix, which is used to season the chicken pieces that are then coated with flour and fried before being combined with chicken stock, onions and bell peppers. The dumplings are cooked separately in a steamer, and the chicken mixture is thickened with flour, butter and cream. The ingredients in Chef Prudhomme’s dumplings include eggs, onions, dry mustard, cayenne, thyme, nutmeg, rubbed sage, milk, butter and flour. Chef Paul’s ingredients and preparation are a major departure from most traditional or classic chicken and dumplings you’ll find in other Southern states. As with other such local dishes, the recipes vary from region to region. Much like our gumbo in Louisiana, it seems everyone has their own chicken and dumplings recipe. Chicken and dumplings are also found in the Midwestern United States and the dish might have come from the French Canadians during the Great Depression. Culinary history also claims that the dish may have originated in the South during hard times when cooks had to make do with the ingredients available. Basically, the dish is prepared by boiling a whole chicken in water with carrots, celery and onions to make a broth. Once the chicken has cooked through, it is removed

from the broth and deboned. The meat is then returned to the broth and simmered for an hour or so while the dumplings are made. There are two kinds of dumplings in traditional chicken and dumplings, but this drop-biscuit style is more popular in most places. More on the rolled, or “noodlestyle,” dumplings in a bit. Drop dumplings are usually made with all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, butter (or lard or Crisco shortening) and buttermilk. Some cooks season their dumpling mixture with poultry seasoning, chopped fresh parsley and perhaps a sprinkling of black pepper. The dumpling mixture is usually sticky and quite soft, and is cooked in the pot after the broth and shredded meat have simmered for some time. Friends in Mississippi tell me it is a favorite for Sunday dinner. Other say that it’s great on a cold, rainy evening. At church and other large gatherings across the South, chicken and dumplings is a staple potluck dish because it can be made in large batches (like gumbo and jambalaya) to serve a crowd. My introduction to chicken and dumplings was a bit disappointing. In Louisiana, good food is brown because many of our local dishes begin with a roux—which is brown. Gumbo is brown. Jambalaya is brown. Rice and gravy is brown. Red beans are reddish brown. Chicken and dumplings is mostly white. The pale, soupy concoction of chicken and dumplings was just not appealing to my South Louisiana eye. Also, the somewhat goopy dumplings were not very appealing. Later, I did have a version in South Carolina that used “dumpling noodles,” which are wide, old-fashioned noodles. These are a firmer dough, made from a few pantry staples and then rolled out and hand-cut into strips that resemble a thicker, wider fettuccini or egg noodle. (The primary difference between a dumpling and a noodle other than its shape is that dumplings usually have either egg or baking powder to make them lighter.) Typically, like biscuit dumplings, noodle dumplings are dropped into the boiling soup at the end of cooking. This is where good chicken and dumplings and regrettable chicken and dumplings depart: the interior of the dumplings needs to cook completely to avoid the doughiness that made my first experience underwhelming. A friend from Mississippi told me that his family’s chicken and dumplings are delicious because the

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT The easiest way to make dumplings is to use canned refrigerated biscuits like Pillsbury Grands! You can roll out the uncooked biscuits and cut them into strips, or simply pinch off small pieces and add them to the pot one at a time.


cook adds the dumplings to the pot, reduces the heat (or sometimes turns it off), then puts a lid on the pot, which allows the dumplings to steam to prevent them from being goopy. This trick works equally well for both styles of dumpling, and is a common variation on the cooking process in homes across the South, Midwest and Great Plains. Innovative southern cooks have no shortage of dumpling shortcuts, too. A quick method made with Bisquick and milk is so popular that a recipe graced the box for years and is now the go-to dumpling style in many family recipes. Likewise, soft tortillas (cut into strips), canned biscuit dough (cut into bite-sized pieces), and even gnocchi (pillowy soft Italian dumplings traditionally made with potatoes and flour) have found their way into home-cooked chicken and dumpling recipes through the decades. As you can see, the dish is much like our gumbo and jambalaya: there are as many versions as there are households. How can you decide which one is right? Easy. Make it the way that tastes good to you. There are no hard and fast rules, and there are plenty of Sundays to try new versions for dinner.

Marcelle Bienvenu is a cookbook author and food writer. A native of St. Martinville, in the heart of Cajun country, Bienvenu wrote Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic and Can You Make a Roux? and Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine with Eula Mae Dora, and other books and cookbooks. She also co-authored five cookbooks with Emeril Lagasse.

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f the increasingly anxious press releases from the American Heart Association can be believed, there is nothing people enjoy more than dipping foods in hot oil. Fried chicken? You know it. Potatoes: crinkled, curly, wedged and waffled. Fish, shrimp, oysters, beignets— it seems our best foods are awash in a vast sea of Wesson and Mazola. Elsewhere in this issue, I sneaked the recipe for fried Snickers into a story, but I hate half measures. You want to fry, reader? Grab the Crisco and buckle up. That atherosclerosis isn’t going to build itself. Fried chicken is perhaps the cornerstone of le panthéon de la friture. Hungry for a bird’s leg and chest, but don’t feel like getting in the car? I’m here to help. My two-sentence fried chicken recipe is as follows: Season raw chicken with salt, pepper and spices, dunk it in a bowl of beaten eggs, and coat the seasoned, eggy mess with flour. Drop it gently into oil that’s been heated to 350°F and fry for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the poor bird’s parts).

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT If you’re in the mood for some serious down-home comfort, there are few things in life more deliciously reassuring than a nice hot plate of classic fried chicken, sometimes referred to as Southern fried chicken. True devotees know great fried chicken is all in the details and the technique: turning the pieces over at just the right time for crisp browning on both sides if you’re pan frying, or getting the perfect blend and ratio of spices—maybe including a little heat—into the seasoned flour.


If beasts of the land aren’t your thing, but you still long for crispy, breaded animal protein, consider the catfish. Though they are horrible to look at and worse to touch, just about any of God’s fin-bearing creatures is improved with a coating of carbs and spices and a bath in hot canola. This recipe is a little different from chicken, because the secret to fried catfish is to make it taste like anything but catfish. (Incidentally, you can make any other fish this way and it, too, will achieve its peak deliciousness.) For the wet part, beat some buttermilk in with the eggs. For the dry part, use three parts cornmeal to one part flour, and add your seasonings to the mix (salt, pepper, Old Bay, Tony’s—whatever makes you happy). Let your fish soak for a few minutes in the egg and buttermilk, and then drag it through the cornmeal mix. Some people like to let it rest afterward in the fridge for 15 minutes, which is fine. But who’s got time for that? Fry it at 350°F for 7 to 10 minutes, and then let it cool and drain on a rack. If you want a side with that, why not French fries? Peel, rinse and cut your potatoes into the shape of French fries. Let them soak overnight in water. The next day, pat dry your fry-shaped potatoes, and fry them at 300°F for 5 minutes. YOU ARE NOT FINISHED YET. While your post-hot-oil-bathed potato sticks

are resting on a paper towel, crank up the oil to 400°F. It’s about to get real. Once the oil is hot, surprise the potatoes by frying them yet again for 5 more minutes. They will never see it coming. Sprinkle with salt and eat your newly made French fries. (If you want to do this the right way, don’t ever let your lovingly prepared potatoes meet ketchup. Malt vinegar is a good option if salt alone doesn’t satisfy.) By now you’re in the frying spirit. It should feel a lot like the Christmas spirit, but with a much greater chance of third-degree burns. Chicken. Fish. Fries. Let’s up the ante. What about a hamburger? No, I’m not talking about frying hamburger meat. That’s just chicken fried hamburger steak (the poor man’s chicken fried steak). What if we fry the whole hamburger, bun and all? It can be done. No. It must be done. To make a deep-fried hamburger—this is an actual recipe—first, go ahead and make a regular hamburger. Ground beef on the stovetop, buns dressed as you like (lettuce, onion, tomatoes, cheese), assemble burger. If you don’t know how to do that part, you really shouldn’t be frying anything. Meanwhile, you’re going to make your batter. For this, you’ll need a half-cup of milk, a half-cup of water, a cup of flour, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of baking powder, and whatever other spices make you smile. No one cares how you season your food in the privacy of your home. First mix the dry, then add the wet until you get a batter. (Don’t overmix!) Done. LEVEL TWO: Are you ready for this, reader? I mean, look. Your heart has two arteries. Do you really want to take both of them to the grave? Heat your oil to 350°F. Squish up that burger until it feels solid (skewer it if you’d like, though use bamboo and not plastic). Dunk your burger in batter. Add your battered burger to the deep fryer. Five minutes later, extract, let rest on a rack (the poor burger has been through a lot), and eat. Ready for more? The day is young, after all, and you have a mighty hunger that can only be sated with hot oil. Do you ever get annoyed at foods that are “good” for you? Like the soft-boiled egg, for example. Have you ever met a smugger food, with its integrated wrapper and perfect calorie-toprotein ratio? Maybe it’s time to take the egg down to our level.

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Step one is to soft boil the egg. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add your eggs. Lid and simmer four minutes, tops. After, submerge them in ice water for 20 minutes. Peel, but very gently— the yolk should still be runny inside, and we are trying to do something special here. Meanwhile, beat two eggs. That’s right: We are going to coat our soft-boiled eggs in other, rawer eggs. (A gruesome recipe this is, dear reader.) Roll the traumatized eggs in flour, and then roll them in breadcrumbs. Submerge the egg in oil and let it cook for about one minute. When you see a color you like, you’re done, but don’t go too long or you’ll overcook the egg yolk. If you like this recipe but wish it had more ground pork, wrap that soft-boiled egg in your favorite breakfast sausage before giving it the breading treatment. Fry at 350°F for 3 to 5 minutes, transfer to a heated 375°F oven for another 10 to 12 minutes, and you’ve got the classic Scotch egg. If you like this recipe but wish it had more knives and were somehow less healthy, after hard boiling eggs but before frying, slice the egg in half, extract the yellow, and deep fry only the white halves using the same

method as above. Then take the yolks and mix them with mayo and relish. Add them to the fried egg whites, and you have just made deep fried deviled eggs. Is there nothing oil can’t do? How about dessert? You’ve probably had fried ice cream before, so there’s no sense in retreading that boring terrain. But have you ever had a fried ice cream sandwich? Fear not: I am here to give your life meaning. Step one is to buy a box of ice cream sandwiches. (You didn’t think we were going to

make them from scratch, did you? This is a free magazine— you have to pay for that kind of content!) Once you get home, eat half of the ice cream sandwiches in the box. That is how I usually do it. Like, I eat one, and then I think, “You know I burned a lot of calories shopping today so the first one was free, which makes the second one my ‘normal’ daily ice cream sandwich.” And then after I eat that one, I say: “Well, if I were going to have a ‘cheat’ ice cream sandwich on a typical day, this would be that one.” And so,

a legendary mistake By Sarah Baird


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you’ve probably had fried ice cream before, so there’s no sense in retreading that boring terrain. but have you ever had a fried ice cream sandwich ? What difference will a fourth make at this point?” and eat it while weeping quietly and alone. When you’ve completed the weeping portion of this show, set your frying oil to 350°F yet again, and while it heats, get going on the batter. For that you’ll need a cup each of flour and milk, one egg, a flat teaspoon of baking soda, a half teaspoon of baking powder, an eighth cup of sugar, and a dash of salt. Whisk until it looks like something you’d dip an ice cream sandwich in before deep frying it. I eat a third but tell myself it was my second. And then, once the ice cream sandwich seratonin high fades, I look in the freezer and say: “I just ate three ice cream sandwiches.

Because the next step is to dip your ice cream sandwich into it, and then, dunk the whole thing in the oil. (Note that you want your ice cream sandwiches very frozen before doing any of this.) You are putting a


ometimes called country-fried steak, chicken-fried steak gets its—admittedly, somewhat confusing—name because it’s a type of beefsteak that’s been crisped up in a way that’s typically reserved for fried chicken. And while there’s sometimes quibbling that country-fried steak is technically pan-fried and chicken-fried steak is technically deep-fried, the two terms are pretty much used interchangeably.

Made using inexpensive cuts of beef like cube steak and round steak, the meat is pounded out into a thin, flat cutlet, dunked in an egg batter, then dredged in simply seasoned flour. The dish bears a strong resemblance to Wiener schnitzel, and is thought to have been introduced to the United States via German and Austrian immigrants who made their homes in Texas—a state where the dish remains extremely popular to this day. Texas officially recognizes the town of Lamesa as the “legendary” home of chicken fried steak, where, the story goes, the dish was whipped up for the first time by a quick-on-his-feet short order cook in 1911.

freezing thing into a hot thing, and the hot is going to win if you aren’t careful, so the key here is to stay on it. The moment that batter looks crispy and golden, extract and plate. Eat immediately, because it’s still ice cream and we’re making delicious fried frozen heart attacks, not performing magic. At this point in our day of frying, you should hate yourself plenty and be ready to cool down your oil. But your adventure isn’t ended. There is an entire grocery store of things that would be terrible ideas to fry! If you doubt me, google “fried” and the least fry-worthy foods you can think of. You will find a recipe for it. Deep fried frozen waffles? Yes. Deep fried salad? Yes, though it looks more like a battered green ball, and not whatever you are picturing. Deep fried stick butter? Yes, but come on. Deep fried Skittles? Skittles are the catfish of the candy world, and as such, are suitable candidates for the almost-complete disguise afforded through batter and heat. The point is: Reader, do not limit yourself. We are all going to die eventually. When I clutch my chest and fall to the floor, I don’t want my last thoughts to be, “I knew I should have tried the deepfried hamburger.” No. At my funeral, I want someone behind a wrinkled program to stage-whisper, “With the way he ate, I’m surprised he lasted so long.” Happy frying, and see you in the ICU.

“At a cafe here called Ethel's Home Cooking, [a] waitress had two customers come in. One of them ordered fried chicken. The other person ordered steak. She wrote it down as chicken, fried steak,” Lamesa city secretary Maria Hatchett told the Midland ReporterTelegram in 2011. “Jimmy Don [the short order cook] didn't want the waitress to think he didn't know what she was talking about (really he didn't notice the comma), so he decided to batter up a piece of round steak with flour and milk, just like you would fried chicken, and dropped it into a frying pan filled with hot grease. That's kind of how it got started.” Not so much a side show as a necessary part of the main attraction, gravy is as important to the experience of chicken-fried steak as the meat itself. Typically, peppered white gravy made from the drippings is served with chicken-fried steak, but feel free to take whatever kind of gravy artistic license you want. Truly, there is no wrong answer..

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rowse any cooking gear website or flip on the television during a 2:30 a.m. infomercial block and you’ll immediately be shown a range of the newest, shiniest, latest-and-greatest kitchen tools that the modern dinner-maker must have. There’s a knife specifically designed for spreading butter and a special brush made to clean mushrooms. There’s an electric breakfast sandwich maker and a griddle exclusively for whipping up quesadillas. When it comes to kitchen gadgets, it seems, the parade of newfangled stuff is endless.

And then there’s the tried-and-true devices that have stuck with us for years: the cast iron skillets that have been passed down through generations, or the salad spinner that’s moved with you from apartment to apartment since you were 19. These are the kind of allies in the kitchen trenches we tend to turn to in a pinch and that have never let us down—something most of us can’t say about the likes of a mushroom-cleaning brush. With its squat, unassuming body, easygoing attitude and—if you’ve had one for a couple of decades—funky color, the Crock Pot (known more generically as a slow cooker) is chief among these old-guard cooking contraptions that are as reliable as the sunrise. Sometimes unfairly maligned as a device built only for suburban moms and potluck dinners, a closer look reveals that Crock Pots are the kind of egalitarian gadget that appeals to people at practically every level of cooking confidence and allows skeptical individuals to try out recipes in the kitchen with relative ease. The Crock Pot—originally named the Naxon Beanery—was patented in 1940 by Irving Nachumsohn, the same man who brought us the electric frying pan, the lava lamp and even a prototype version of the scrolling stock ticker (known as “the zipper”) that flashes bright in Times Square. His signature culinary invention, though, had somewhat slow-cooking sales until the early 1970s, when a major rebrand turned up the heat. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT A bit of brown sugar balances out the acidity in tomato-based stews, and bolsters the flavor of savory dishes like pot roast.


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“At Chicago’s 1971 National Housewares Show…the newly rebranded version of the Naxon Beanery [was unveiled]. Dubbed the Crock Pot, the appliance received a new name, refreshed appearance and a booklet of professionally tested recipes,” writes Michelle Delgado in a 2019 Smithsonian

Magazine article about Crock Pots. “Home cooks eagerly brought their Crock Pots home, in distinctly ‘70s hues like Harvest Gold and Avocado. Advertising campaigns, along with word of mouth, drove sales from $2 million in 1971 to an astounding $93 million four years later.” Today, you can purchase a Crock Pot with your favorite football team’s logo on it or one specifically branded with a shabbychic floral pattern by Food Network star Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman). You can buy them in a variety of sizes and with plenty of accessories like thermal travel bags, silicon roasting racks and “meat claws” for shredding proteins as the slowly baste away. A 1974 avocado green Crock Pot is even on display in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. “It’s a simple device,” Paul Johnson, curator for the Division of Work & Industry at the National Museum of American History, says in the same Smithsonian article. “It’s hard to go wrong. People who don't have a lot of culinary training can figure it out.” In recent years, Crock Pot sales have held steady in the tens of millions—$12.8 million in 2018 alone—and the easy-to-use, time-is-on-your-side tool is a mainstay for a large swath of Americans, thanks in no small part to its unique adaptability. Sure, you can make a loaded baked potato soup or warm up nacho cheese in your slow cooker, but you can also make vegetables fresh from your summer garden into ratatouille, or create pennies-on-the-dollar,

taco-night-ready ropa vieja with half the effort. It’s the kind of secret weapon that’s, well, not so secret. It’s also a way to get creative with mealtime for those who don’t have the energy to chop, sous vide, and deglaze a dish to get dinner on the table seven nights a week. (Read: pretty much everyone.) Sometimes, feeling this artistically emboldened with a Crock Pot can lead to disaster, like the time I attempted to make Dr. Pepper-glazed pork chops in my slow cooker, decided to leave the setting on high all day instead of low to speed things up, and ended up with a goopy, burnt mess. (Whoops!) Other times, though, a novel Crock Pot recipe resonates so deeply with the tastebuds of everyone who sinks their teeth into it that the dish enters new classic territory. And that’s exactly what happened to Robin Chapman of Ripley, Mississippi, when she introduced her Mississippi Roast to the world over a decade ago.

mississippi roast is a now-timeless example of “In today’s how home cooks more often overscheduled gravitate toward cozy, easy- world, we crave, but lack the to-please creations than time, to cook the aspirational recipes from comforting meals we grew up eating. fine dining chefs. It’s usually a miracle

A dish with an ingredient list that might seem somewhat curious to the uninitiated—beef chuck roast, a package of ranch dressing mix, a package of turkey gravy mix, butter, and (yes) those neon-yellow pepperoncini—Mississippi Roast belongs to a category of meals known among Crock Pot aficionados as “dump dinners.” The term refers to the ease with which the meals are assembled, as in, “dump all the ingredients you’re using in the slow cooker, leave it alone and—voila!—in 6 to 8 hours you’ll have a delicious meal.” Beloved by busy moms everywhere and those who want to come home in the evening to a prepared meal, dump dinner by way of the Crock Pot would seem futuristic if it weren’t so retro. There’s no browning of the meat or whisking anything together ahead of time; you’re truly letting the machine do every bit of the heavy culinary lifting. “Dump dinners—the concept doesn't sound very appetizing, does it? Well, don't be deceived, for if it's not already, it's about to become your favorite type of cooking,” explains the 2015 book, Dump Dinners: The Absolute Best Dump Dinners Cookbook.

just getting the family around the table at the same time! With dump dinners, you can make those delicious meals, have them on the table with very little fuss, and continue the dinnertime memory-making tradition.” Dump dinners, technically, can be “dumped” into a single pot, skillet or casserole dish; even the increasingly popular sheet pan dinner could be considered a dump dish of sorts. But it’s the Crock Pot that real devotees know is the easiest dump dinner vehicle of all. “The slow cooker has to be one of the most valuable kitchen appliances in the known universe. You just add ingredients, set the heat and time, and go about your business. When you’re ready, dinner is, too," the authors of Dump Dinners proclaim. And while there’s a slow-cooker dump dinner for pretty much every occasion— smothered pork chops, Hawaiian chicken, even cakes that are baked in the slow cooker, dump-dinner style—it takes a really special recipe to go viral in such a crowded, easy-to-make field. That’s why the blogosphere omnipresence of Mississippi Roast

is a remarkable testament to a recipe truly done right. Like so many great recipes, Mississippi Roast, which Chapman simply refers to as “roast” according to a 2016 feature by the New York Times’ Sam Sifton, began with tweaking something tried-and-true. Chapman, while making a roast recipe she learned from her aunt, swapped out the called-for packet of Italian seasoning for a Ranch version, resulting in a dinnertime favorite that was a little less traditionally zesty, and a whole lot more crowd-pleasing. “When Ms. Chapman prepared the roast for Karen Farese … [she] loved her dinner, and eventually contributed a recipe for it to a cookbook put together by her congregation, the Beech Hill Church of Christ,” writes Sifton. “Ms. Farese did not call the dish Mississippi Roast either. She called it ‘roast beef.’” From humble church cookbook beginnings, Mississippi Roast soon began its journey from almost-a-fluke Crock Pot favorite to online set-it-and-forget-it recipe darling. Just like any juicy piece of news (or gossip) inside a church community, word about Chapman’s delicious roast began to spread. It made its way to the niece of a congregant who had eaten it during a visit to Mississippi from Arkansas. The woman in question, Laurie Ormon, wrote about devouring her aunt’s version of Chapman’s dish on her blog, Laurie’s Life—knocking over the first

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domino in the viral, virtual chain reaction that launched the Mississippi Roast to slow cooker recipe stardom. “Ever since Steve and I started dating, when we would go to Mississippi, his aunt would make the BEST ROAST IN THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!” Orman wrote—caps, exclamation points and all—on her blog in November 2010. “I have always taken a liking to his Aunt Judy’s roast. It really is the best roast I have ever had. When we were there on Labor Day weekend, my sister-inlaw asked Aunt Judy for the recipe. Aunt Judy began naming all the ingredients. She said ranch dressing mix, and I bugged my eyes out and nearly choked. I HATE RANCH DRESSING. I don’t even like to be in the room with it. The recipe sounded awful as she rattled off the ingredients, but I promise, you have to make this if you like a good roast. Trust me on this.” And trust her, the Internet did. In a game of culinary blogosphere telephone, the recipe was passed and recreated from websiteto-website, with a blogger named Candis Berge finally coining Chapman’s recipe “Mississippi Roast.”

“I got this wonderful Crock Pot roast recipe from a blogger named Laurie. She got it from her husband’s aunt and lots of her blog followers are now sold on this roast. So am I. So is hubby. That’s the important test in this house ... the hubby test,” Berge wrote in January 2011. From there—thanks to not only digital word-of-mouth, but to a little tool called Pinterest, as well—Mississippi Roast has become a new classic in the world of Crock Pot recipes, and has also evolved thanks to various bloggers to do a little tweaking of their own to the dish. Sifton’s recipe in The New York Times bumped up the number of pepperoncini considerably, while a recipe from Tasty omits the packet of ranch dressing in favor of a blend of mayonnaise, paprika, dried dill, and apple cider vinegar. A blog known as The Country Kitchen uses onion soup mix in lieu of turkey gravy mix, and over on Recipes that Crock, there’s a spin on the dish that uses cream cheese to make the dish velvety. Mississippi Roast is a now-timeless example of how home cooks more often gravitate toward cozy, easy-to-please

creations than aspirational recipes from fine dining chefs, or elaborately decorated, Instagram-worthy desserts from professionals—despite what the perception might be. And while the Crock Pot has already proven itself to be a kitchen tool that’s both hand-me-down and museum-worthy, it’s not hard to imagine that, if there were ever a Museum of Comforting Recipes created, Mississippi Roast would be a shoo-in for entry.

Sarah Baird is the author of multiple books including New Orleans Cocktails and Flask, which was released in summer 2019. A 2019 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, her work has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Saveur, Eater, Food & Wine and The Guardian, among others. Previously, she served as restaurant critic for the New Orleans alt-weekly, Gambit Weekly, where she won Critic of the Year in 2015 for her dining reviews.

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A FAN OF THE CAN By David W. Brown


y grandmother lived in Convent, Louisiana, in a small house with tree out front. She hated that tree. It was (and remains) giant and ancient, and she was ever certain that it was one gust of wind away from falling, and not just anywhere, but directly on her house. It would probably happen during a hurricane or tornado, but that wasn’t strictly a requirement. She died when I was 27, which means I heard about that tree for 27 years. It would definitely be her undoing. Fifteen years after her death, the tree remains standing tall, as does the little shotgun house. I am fully convinced that the tree will survive the heat death of the universe.

Memories are hazy, mutable things. I remember the smell of her house with uncanny precision. I remember the way the floor felt beneath my feet when walking. It was an elevated shotgun, like every house in the area because of possible floods, and when you walked, you could feel the lack of concrete beneath your feet. A stomp could resonate from front door to back. I remember at night her locking the door so that the “looloo” wouldn’t get us. (Accent on the second “loo,” and in retrospect she had to be saying the French le loup, “the wolf”—though I prefer to remember it as the dreaded phantom looloo.)


BEANS? Make sure you taste the dish before you add any salt. Canned veggies have a higher sodium level than fresh.



She really was a great cook. I feel like that needs emphasis because, despite her extraordinary culinary talents, the foods I remember most from childhood days spent at the house with the dreaded tree—those I most closely relate with her memory—are cans of mixed vegetables, jars of pickles and frozen chocolate eclairs. (All store-bought.) I cannot overstate here how excellent a cook she was. She made the most extraordinary lemon meringue pie from scratch. You could hand the woman a live hen at noon and have fried chicken by dinner. But for whatever reason, the first food my mind goes to are those mixed vegetables. They were cooked in a pot on an old gas stove that I sometimes got to help with the pilot light (I got to strike the matches), and after being heated, were transferred onto a white ceramic plate. Then—and I suspect this was the true motivation for my love of this particular cuisine—I would pour onto it absurd amounts—yea, a veritable sea—of Wish-Bone Italian Dressing. (I believe at

some point there might have been a brief infatuation with French dressing, perhaps during a rebellious period in my youth.) These days, I most often encounter canned vegetables—mixed or otherwise—at holidays and family gatherings. Green bean casserole was likely invented on a dare to see how many different cans of varying foods you could dump into a dish and still have it taste good. (Has anyone ever actually eaten a can of mushroom soup on its own? Even the soup would wonder what you were doing.) Baked beans at outdoor barbecues, canned cranberry sauce at Christmas (note that I couldn’t remember what that jiggly abomination is called and had to google “gross canned purple stuff”—of course it was the first result). You might not think often of canned goods overall, but they shaped the world in which we live. Like many technology breakthroughs, this one started because of war. “An army marches on its stomach,” said Napoleon Bonaparte, and empty battlefield stomachs were a huge problem for him. L’Empereur had a continent to conquer but was limited by the ability to feed his soldiers. During the warm seasons, they could march, hunt and farm uninterrupted, but in the fall and winter, all progress ground to a halt. The French government established a prize to be awarded to the first inventor who could successfully preserve food in bulk. Enter a baker and chef named Nicholas Appert (who, in an unrelated note—one hopes—helped behead Louis VXI during the French Revolution). Appert began toying with ways of preserving massive amounts of food in airtight containers. He knew that bottling food in glass jars stopped with cork, sealed with wax, and then boiled, somehow prevented spoilage. (Louis Pasteur was not yet born, though would later prove that heat kills bacteria.) Appert developed a method to do with in bulk, and when tested, he saw that jam, soups, syrups and vegetables just kept on keeping on so long as that glass jar remained unopened. (Appert wasn’t the first person to notice this phenomenon, but he was the first to figure out how to industrialize the process and bring safe, plentiful, reliably safe food to the masses.) Canned food, though eventually a great enabler of war, didn’t quote roll out in time to help Napoleon conquer all of Europe.

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each hand as you read this. I do, anyway.) Such a nutritional deficiency means more diabetes and heart disease.

here’s a fun fact: if you are regularly eating canned vegetables, they still only account for one percent of your daily sodium intake.

Second, canned vegetables, though less nutritious than freshly harvested vegetables, are still nutritious. Calling them unhealthy is like saying it’s unhealthy to only run four miles when you could have run five. The canning process is surprisingly fast: only hours elapse between a green bean being pulled from the stem to being sealed in a can. They are processed, yes—a little higher in sodium, and sometimes sugar—but you can find low-sodium and no-sugaradded varieties of just about everything.

It wasn’t the process that was the problem, but rather the inability to transport so much food for such vast distances. (Long haul trucking was just over a century away.) Bonaparte can’t pin his eventual defeat entirely on all this, of course; the Battle of Waterloo was fought in June. At some point in the last twenty years, canned vegetables became second class citizens. I get it. In this healthy and enlightened world, we all have organic vegetable gardens in the backyard that we lovingly tend to, naming each individual carrot and Instagramming our favorite bell peppers, but sometimes—bear with me here—sometimes after a long day of yoga, meditation, Peloton riding and matcha lattes, you’re just too tired to harvest your corn and prepare it for dinner. Sometimes the kids won’t know the difference between the fresh stuff and corn from a can. But is it… unhealthy?

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Nope! Here is the deal with canned vegetables. They likely have slightly less nutritional value than frozen vegetables, which in turn have less nutrition than the ones fresh from the farm. But speaking for myself as I emerge from quarantine, look in the mirror and frantically research that surgery where they staple your stomach shut, I realize that too many canned vegetables weren’t my problem—that if only I had put the Del Monte back on the shelf and grabbed the carrots from the produce section I would have washboard abs and zero percent body fat. No, I think in retrospect it was all the wine and ice cream. Herein is a defense of the lowly canned vegetable. First, you’re not eating enough vegetables. I mean, it’s not even close. And you’re not alone: according to the Centers of Disease Control, only one in 10 people do. (The rest of you probably have doughnuts in

And that sodium? That terrifying tree-inthe-front-yard sodium? Here’s a fun fact: If you are regularly eating canned vegetables, they still only account for one percent of your daily sodium intake. Two percent of sugar. Are you really going to pin your body issues on a defenseless can of vegetables? Just to reiterate here, a vegetable with slightly higher levels of sodium is still a vegetable, which, again, you aren’t eating enough of. And those vegetables in a can have identical fiber content to fresh vegetables. It won’t surprise you to learn that you aren’t getting enough fiber, either. Third: Half the fresh vegetables in your fridge or on your counter have already gone bad. (Who are you kidding here?) The stuff in the can, meanwhile, will last years. When the atomic bombs fall and we’re all scouring the countryside, that pile of goo in your house that used to be a tomato won’t do anyone any good. The canned diced tomatoes in the cupboard, though? C’est très gourmet! And though, by condescending to eat the lowly canned vegetable, we will live longer by cutting our rates of heart disease and diabetes, in the end, canned vegetables will outlive everything. Well, not everything. The one thing that will last longer is the tree in my grandmother’s front yard. It’s not going anywhere. Guarded from afar by the looloo.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT WANT A THINNER STEW? Start with a darker roux. The longer a roux is cooked, the less thickening power it has. Just remember, a darker roux has a stronger flavor.


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POTLUCK By Marcelle Bienvenu Photo by Romney Caruso


very day, my mother had a pot of rice on the stove. Sometimes for breakfast, she stir-fried rice with eggs, bacon or bits of ham showered with a handful of green onions or parsley from her garden. It was a meal that stuck with you the better part of the day.

Inevitably, when we asked, “What’s for supper?” Her response was usually “rice and gravy.” Sometimes the gravy began with thinly cut chunks of beef round steak or “7 steaks.” (A 7-bone steak is from the chuck section of the cow, and it includes a crosscut of the shoulder blade. The bone is shaped like the numeral 7, which gives these cuts their name.) The meat was generously seasoned with salt and cayenne (we rarely cooked with black pepper), lightly floured, then put into a hot cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven (depending on the amount to be cooked) to brown in oil— often bacon grease. (Oh, the flavor.) Then the pot was deglazed with water. Yep, plain old water. Then handfuls of coarsely chopped onions and bell peppers were added, the heat was reduced, and the pot was covered with a lid to simmer until the onions caramelized in the brown gravy. (Some cooks in my family add garlic and celery, so feel free to use whatever makes you happy.) But another delicious rice and gravy meal was made by my daddy. He called the dish chicken aux gros oignons (chicken with lots of onions), and he often prepared it in his huge cast-iron pot over a wood fire at our camp near the Atchafalaya Basin. With a cold beer always at his elbow, it took the better part of the day to get it just right. Chicken pieces—on the bone and with skin—were heavily seasoned with salt and cayenne (and sometimes with Tony Chachere’s seasoning mix. Papa and Mr. Tony were friends and Mr. Tony often brought Papa a small brown paper bag with his seasoning mix before he went public) were browned in hot oil, then lots of onions were added along with water to simmer in a covered pot until Papa deemed it to be ready. Sometimes he added lots of canned mushrooms with the

can juice, or petit pois, and in the summer he added maque choux. Bring on a pot of rice. Speaking of rice: In my family, long-grain rice is the most popular. Mama rinsed hers several times before putting it in the pot with enough water to come to the second knuckle of her little finger, plus a shower of salt and a drizzle of oil or butter. The mixture was brought to a boil, then the heat was reduced to a simmer, the pot was covered with a lid, and 15 to 20 minutes later, voila! Perfectly cooked rice. Short-grain rice is used in making boudin and some rice dressings because it becomes quite tender and sticky when cooked. Back to meat and gravy. My baby brother Bruce makes a dish similar to our Papa’s chicken with lots of onions, with just a few changes. He flours the chicken pieces before adding them to the pot so that later, when the water or broth is added, the gravy thickens. In go lots of onions and bell peppers, and all is cooked long and slow until there is a rich, brown gravy. In some parts of Louisiana, I understand this dish is known as “sticky chicken.” When I was a youngster, I often spent the night with my great aunt Belle, who we called Nannan. Her rice and gravy dish? Meatballs in brown gravy. (She called the meatballs boulettes.) Her meatballs were made with a combination of beef, pork, and veal generously seasoned with salt, cayenne, and black pepper. She sometimes added dried oregano and Worcestershire sauce. The mixture was held together with a raw egg and a handful of homemade breadcrumbs. The pièce de résistance was the whole peeled garlic clove she stuffed into the middle of each meatball. They were then rolled in flour and browned in a cast-iron skillet to which water was added. The skillet was covered and shoved into the oven to slowly bake. During the winter months, my father and brothers hunted waterfowl, so we feasted on baked teal, mallard, and specklebelly geese. Papa considered the “specks” the golden geese. Preparation began the night before. The breasts of the geese were stuffed with slivers of garlic, seasoned with salt and cayenne, then marinated overnight in a mixture of dry sherry, chunks of onions and celery, salt, and cayenne. The birds were then removed from the marinade and lightly floured before being browned in bacon grease, then put into

the oven with the marinade mixture to cook long and slow. Toward the end of the baking time, sliced white mushrooms and peeled topinambours (Jerusalem artichokes) were added to the pot, which was then covered and baked for 30 minutes or so to make an incredibly delicious chunky gravy. White rice was combined with wild rice and coarsely chopped toasted pecans to serve with the specks. Every Christmas Mama insisted on having not only turkey but also a 10-to-12-pound fresh ham shank. Minced garlic, onions, and bell peppers seasoned generously with salt and cayenne were stuffed into slits all over the roast. The roast went into the oven when we returned from Midnight Mass. The aroma of the roast that wafted to my bedroom from the kitchen was my wake-up call Christmas morning. Mama made the gravy by adding just a little water and red wine at intervals throughout the cooking time. The result was thick and dark brown that I could drink by the cupful. She always set aside about a pint of the gravy in the freezer “for later use.” That use was a dish that still makes my mouth water. She combined the gravy with cooked rice, finely chopped celery, crumbled fried bacon, mushrooms and green onions. She called it “dressed up rice” because she said it was not a traditional rice dressing. If the men brought home a couple of squirrels or rabbits, they too were cut into serving pieces, seasoned, and sometimes dredged in flour before being “smothered down” with onions and bell peppers (to make what we call a fricassee, but others might call a stew), which is—you guessed it—served with rice. Meat and gravy is more of a technique than a recipe, and the same procedure works beautifully with other meat and game, like venison, pork chops, short ribs, or even sausage. A friend tells me that he often smothers down chicken livers to serve with rice. There are no rules! Use whatever is available, season it however you like, and cook it low and slow until the gravy is thick and the rice is ready. You can’t go wrong.


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KIND OF A BIG DILL By David W. Brown Photos by Romney Caruso

you can pickle just about anything, as anyone who has been to a gas station in the deep south can attest.


here are two kinds of people in this world: those who immediately open their hamburger, pull out the pickles, and say, “Do you want my pickles?” and those who take them.

I belong to the latter. Picking the pickles from your burger (from anything, really) is like ordering a chocolate sundae without the cherry, or nachos without the jalapenos. Look, I am not one to judge, but if you pull the pickles off your hamburger then you have serious issues you need to address, and probably horrible personal hygiene, too. I should add that if you remove your pickles from your hamburger but don’t even have the courtesy to offer them to someone else at the table, you should remove yourself from polite society before polite society removes you. The reason I bring this up is because my editor, while an otherwise kind and clever person, has a sadistic streak and enjoys assigning me foods to eat and describe. It’s never, “This month, write about Neapolitan ice cream” (the only ice cream worth mentioning), or “Could you review tacos for us?” No, dear reader. She once made me write about okra. (Like chewing on a caterpillar.) Ranch dressing on pizza. (If you do this, who hurt you?) Sometimes her plan backfires: she expected me to mock and ridicule Hawaiian pizza, but it is one of my favorite foods in the world. (And it certainly is of the world—everywhere except Hawaii, that is. It was invented in Canada by a Greek Canadian who was inspired by Chinese cuisine. I regret to inform you that everything you’ve ever believed is a lie.) So for this pickle assignment, she covered her bases. “I’ll make him eat pickles… and fried pickles.” I know how much some of you love to fry things that ought not be fried. I see it every Thanksgiving, when I look up at the sky and watch squadrons of medical helicopters soaring overhead, carrying patients who just blew up their houses trying to deep fry a frozen turkey.


Again, the joke is on her. I love pickles. (Fried pickles… well. My feelings on that are complicated, but more on that in a minute.) To the best of my recollection, I first encountered pickles at my grandmother’s house as a child, and upon learning of my love for them, she would keep her refrigerator stocked for when I visited. When I stayed overnight at her house, look out: I would easily eat an

entire jar of those mysterious green spears. (For more on my grandmother, see the story about canned vegetables, also in this issue.) My love of pickles never abated. And once you discover them in your youth, they’re everywhere! When the fates conspired to have me at a sporting event in elementary school, they were one of five snacks every concession stand had. (The others being nachos, popcorn, chips, and candy bars.) From salads to Subway sandwiches, hot dogs to Bloody Marys, there is no cuisine high or low that cannot benefit from the humble improved cucumber. So what are they, these “pickles” that I keep going on about? As stated, they are generally jarred cucumbers in some sort of brine. But they need not be! You can pickle just about anything, as anyone who has been to a gas station in the deep south can attest. But cucumbers are uniquely suited for pickling because 1. they never walked the Earth as living, animate objects (alas, the humble pig), and 2. they’re basically little tubes of water that will soak up whatever you ask them to. There are different types of pickles, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed at Rouses, and the variation depends on the state of the pickle (chopped into relish, sliced longways, cut crossways, quartered into spears, or left whole) and the ingredients in the brine. (There are as many brines, apparently, as there are gumbo recipes, and everyone thinks theirs is right; as with gumbo, one should only trust the recipe used by your mom.) A dill pickle has dill in the brine. That’s pretty much the only requirement. Full sour pickles are generally brined twice as long as regular dill pickles and are not heattreated to become shelf stable. That’s why some pickles are sold in the refrigerated section of the store rather than the shelves. A sweet pickle foregoes the dill, and the brine features instead sugar and sometimes onion and mustard seeds. Bread and butter pickles are a variation on sweet pickles, with the addition of salt, celery seeds, and coriander. You have probably spent your life wondering about the difference between kosher pickles and dill pickles, but not so much that you googled it. Fear not, dear reader—as ever, I will do the heavy lifting for you. A kosher pickle and a dill pickle are basically the same thing, though the kosher variety has a lot of garlic, and uses saltwater W W W. R O U S E S . C O M 3 7

brine rather than vinegar. (Sometimes, a jar is labeled “kosher style,” which means its preparation might not adhere strictly to Jewish dietary law—read the label closely to be sure!) Kosher pickles got their name from the pickling techniques brought by Jewish immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century and made popular at New York City delicatessens where they were first sold. Let’s say you love pickles, but like doing things the hard way. No, the stuff on the shelves and in the coolers won’t do for you. You want to make pickles yourself. I applaud your industriousness! When I was young, my dad had a vegetable garden in the backyard, and one year he grew what felt to a five-year-old like an infinite number of cucumbers. There is a theoretical upper limit to the number of cucumbers one can eat, but the number of pickles? You are limited only by time. So my mom found jars (I do not know where) and—this was like witchcraft to me at the time—she made pickles. Her own. From cucumbers! I recall vaguely the interminable wait until they were sufficiently brined for eating. They were heavenly. As I would learn, pickling itself is pretty easy work, and the “interminable” wait was about two weeks. (Not to diminish my mom’s magic, of course. I know you are reading this, Mom! I love you!) All you need are jars, spices and seasonings, vinegar, cucumbers and patience. Excluding patience, you can find all the required items, even jars, at your local Rouses. This recipe will work equally well regardless of the quantity of pickles you would like to make. I can’t do everything here. How many jars do you have, and how many cucumbers do you want to pickle? Feel free to play with the percentages here and toss in whichever ingredients you think might make for an interesting pickle. Boil three parts water to one part vinegar with a couple of tablespoons of non-iodized salt. Meanwhile, slice your cucumbers as you see fit. Drop three to five sprigs of dill into an empty jar, and two or three cloves of minced garlic. Add the cucumbers. Now fill the jar with your bubbling brine. Seal and let sit for two weeks minimum. Eat. We won’t talk about how to make sweet pickles, which are revolting. (Yes, every variety, and don’t bother sending an email. My decision is firm, my judgmental gaze

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As I would learn, pickling itself is pretty easy work, and the “interminable” wait was about two weeks. fixed and unflinching.) But there are variations on the standard dill pickle that can be made easily and will result in a pickle that meets your discerning palate. Swap the dill with habaneros (cleaned, stemmed, sliced, and seeded unless you’re a real hothead) and a shake of red pepper flakes for a spicy pickle. Toss in a spoonful each of peppercorns, coriander and mustard seeds for a zesty spear without the heat. Skip the cucumbers altogether and pickle a jar of garlic cloves, or a mix of veggies (carrots, bell pepper, jalapeno, onion, celery, olives and cauliflower) for a giardiniera fit for any muffuletta. The world is your pickle jar. I’m not sure what to say about fried pickles. They taste fine, I guess, like everything else that is fried. Indeed, there exists an entire subculture of Americans who love to deep fry everything—and I’m not talking beignets or fried chicken. For those sane humans, praise the Lord and pass the hot oil. (Carefully.) But at some point, the less sane began to look at Snickers bars—a food with precisely zero nutritional value and more calories than thirty pounds of spinach—and said, “You know, if we swaddle that baby in an eggroll wrapper and fry it at 325 until the wrapper is golden brown, we might change the world.” (Yes, that is the recipe. Serve with vanilla ice cream.) Pickles are a food that do not need to be deep fried. I feel like this fact is a self-evident, the way watermelon should not be deep fried, either. Because I know some readers are the sort who drive slow in the left lane, and grumble while staring in the rearview mirror that “No one tells me what to do!” I will concede that yes, fine, you can fry your

pickles. To minimize the damage you are likely to cause pickle-kind, here is a recipe you can use, which I present under protest: While your vegetable oil is heating to 375°F, slice as many whole pickles into thick circles as you would like to defile and dry them as best you can. OK, now do it again, but dryer. In a mixing bowl, toss in an egg, a can of beer, a teaspoon of salt, and a cup and a half of flour. Whisk it good. Dip your pickle slices into the batter and drop them into the oil. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes and drain afterward on paper towels to soak up the grease. Congratulations! You have turned an effortless, 15-calorie snack into a 300-calorie chore. You now know everything I know about pickles, learned over a lifetime. Now that you’ve been properly educated on the whys and wherefores of them, I hope the next time you are at a burger place and you are tempted to peel away the pickles and offer them to your lunch date, your hand will be stayed. You are giving away the hidden gem of the burger, the ingredient that brings it all together. If, however, you bite into said burger and learn the pickle within is sweet, it is permissible to ask for the manager and offer him or her the foul thing. You have just been insulted and should give it back in kind.




© 2021 LIPTON is a registered trademark of the Unilever Group of Companies used under license.


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Shrimp & Potato Stew with Eggs Serves 6

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 cup vegetable oil 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 large bell pepper, finely chopped 2 stalks celery, finely chopped 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 8 cups (2 32-ounce containers) shrimp stock or seafood stock 2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon salt, divided 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces 6 boiled eggs 2 to 3 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 cup chopped green onions, green part only, divided ½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves Warm cooked rice, for serving HOW TO PREP: Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the flour, whisk to combine, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until roux is the color of light milk chocolate, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper and celery and cook until soft, scraping back and forth occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, little by little, and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Add the bay leaves, black pepper, ½ teaspoon of the salt and the cayenne, and reduce the heat so that the sauce just simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is thickened, about 30 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and the sauce is thick and flavorful, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Add the boiled eggs to the pot.

Toss the shrimp with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Stir the shrimp, ½ cup green onions and parsley into the stew and continue to cook until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the bay leaves. Serve the stew in shallow bowls over warm white rice and garnish with green onion tops.

Meatball Stew Serves 4-6

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 cup vegetable oil 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped 1 bunch fresh green onions, chopped 8 cups (2 32-ounce containers) chicken stock 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 bay leaves 2 cups warm cooked rice, for serving Fresh green onion tops or chopped parsley, for serving For the Meatballs: 1 pound ground beef 1 pound green onion sausage, removed from casing 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 cup plain bread crumbs 2 eggs HOW TO PREP: Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavybottomed pot over medium-high heat, then add flour and brown until it reaches the color of cocoa powder, about 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Add bell peppers, yellow onion, celery and green onions, and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock to the roux and simmer on medium-low heat for half an hour. Add the Cajun seasoning, parsley flakes, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 1 hour.

While the gravy is simmering, make the meatballs. Place all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Mix by hand to combine, then loosely form mixture into 2-inch meatballs. Place the meatballs on a large sheet pan lined with foil to catch the drippings. Place in the preheated oven and bake until meatballs are brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the chicken stock-roux mixture. Add the meatballs and pan drippings to the pot, and simmer uncovered for 60 minutes while gravy thickens, stirring occasionally to turn the meatballs over. Serve over rice and garnish with parsley or green onion tops.

Ground Beef with Carrots Serves 4-6

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 pounds ground beef 1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds, or 3 (15-ounce) cans sliced carrots, drained 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning 1 teaspoon garlic powder Pinch salt Pinch freshly ground black pepper 1 (32-ounce) carton chicken stock 2 cups warm cooked rice, for serving HOW TO PREP: Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add ground beef. Cook until just browned, about 10 minutes. Add the onions, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add the carrots and cook until soft (about 20 minutes if using fresh carrots), stirring to prevent sticking. Add one cup of the chicken stock and deglaze the skillet, scraping any sticky fond from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the remaining chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cook an additional 20 minutes or until amount of liquid has been greatly reduced, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice.

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ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Put a damp cloth or paper towel under your cutting board to prevent the board from sliding around while you’re chopping vegetables with a sharp knife.

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Smothered Green Beans with Potatoes Serves 6

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: ½ pound bacon, roughly chopped 2 cups chopped onions 1½ teaspoons salt ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1½ pounds fresh green beans, trimmed 1 large baking potato (about ¾ pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes HOW TO PREP: Start with a large, cold cast-iron skillet. Lay the bacon pieces in the skillet in a single layer so they aren’t touching, and cook over low heat until the bacon buckles and curls and starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Reserve bacon drippings in pan. Add the onions to the skillet and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper and stir. Add the green beans and potatoes and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover skillet with lid and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, fold in reserved bacon, and cook for about 3 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Mississippi Pot Roast Serves 6

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 (3- to 4-pound) chuck roast Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil 1 packet ranch dressing mix 1 packet dry onion soup mix or au jus gravy mix ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter 8 pepperoncini peppers Warm cooked rice or mashed potatoes, for serving HOW TO PREP: Generously season all sides of roast with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Sear the chuck roast on all sides for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until well browned.

Remove roast from the skillet and transfer it to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the ranch and onion soup (or au jus) mix over the top of the roast. Add the butter and pepperoncini peppers. Place the lid on top of the slow cooker, and cook over low heat for 8 hours. Remove roast from cooker and place on a large plate. Use two forks to shred the meat. Discard any fatty pieces. Return to slow cooker for 5 minutes to reheat. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

Pot Roast Serves 6

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 (3- to 3½-pound) boneless beef chuck roast 10 to 12 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 4 cups beef broth 2 whole onions, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces 1 pound baby carrots 1 pound red potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks 2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme 1 cup red wine Warm cooked rice, cooked according to package directions (optional) HOW TO PREP: Preheat oven to 275°F. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make 10 to 12 evenly spaced small slits, about 1½ inches deep, all over the pot roast. Using your fingers, insert the garlic cloves as deeply into the meat as possible. Generously season the roast evenly on all sides with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe Dutch oven or Magnalite pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the meat and sear it for about a minute on all sides, or until it is well browned. Remove the roast from the pot and put it on a plate. With the burner still on high, use 1 cup of the beef broth to deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon

to loosen the browned bits. Place the roast back into the pot and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway. Add the onions, carrots, potatoes and fresh herbs to the pot. Stir in the red wine. Cover pot with oven-safe lid, then place in oven and roast for 3 hours for a 3-pound roast. (For a 4- to 5-pound roast, increase roasting time to 4 hours.) When the roast is very tender, transfer to a serving platter and slice or pull meat apart into serving pieces. Reduce the pan juices slightly, if desired, and serve over rice (if using).

Creamed Peas with Onions Serves 6

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 pound fresh pearl onions, unpeeled 2 cloves garlic, minced ¼ cup butter ¼ cup all-purpose flour 2 cups milk 4 cups frozen petite green peas, thawed Salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste HOW TO PREP: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Slice off the root ends on the pearl onions and drop them into boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Gently squeeze the onions from the root end until they pop out of their skins; discard the skins. Set the onions aside. In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat, about 2 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until mixture is a light golden brown. Slowly whisk in milk and continue whisking until mixture thickens slightly; it will take approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add peas and cook over medium heat until peas are heated through and well coated, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Want sliced pot roast for serving? Use a leaner bottom round or top round roast instead of chuck.

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Classic Fried Chicken Serves 6

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 (3½- to 4-pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces Salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 2 eggs, beaten ½ cup half and half 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon ground thyme ½ teaspoon granulated garlic ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper Peanut oil, for frying

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HOW TO PREP: Drain and rinse the chicken pieces thoroughly, then pat them dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Mix eggs and half and half in a shallow bowl. Mix flour, paprika, more salt and pepper, thyme, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper in a second shallow pan or bowl. Bread the chicken pieces by first dunking them into the egg-half and half mixture, then into the seasoned flour. Shake off excess flour.

To fry the chicken, fill a large, deep-sided cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven with 1 inch of oil. Clip a frying thermometer to the side of the skillet, place over medium-high heat, and heat the oil to 350°F. Fry chicken pieces skin-side down in batches of no more than 4 pieces at a time for 8 minutes per side, or until the meat temperature registers 165°F on an instantread thermometer. Remove the chicken with metal tongs or a spider skimmer to a paper towel-lined platter. Repeat until all the chicken is fried, regulating the burner as needed to maintain a temperature of about 325°F as you fry the chicken. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving to allow the juices to settle.


Crunchy Pickle & Ranch Dip

Butter Beans

Makes 2 cups

Serves 8

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: ½ cup panko bread crumbs 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dips Mix 1 cup sour cream 1 (8-ounce) container whipped cream cheese ¾ cup diced kosher dill pickles 2 tablespoons kosher dill pickle juice 1 teaspoon garlic powder 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 (1-pound) bag dried large lima beans (butter beans), rinsed and sorted 2 tablespoons butter 1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced into ¼-inch rounds 1 small yellow onion, chopped 1 small green bell pepper, chopped 1 large stalk celery, chopped 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning 2 bay leaves 1 pound tasso, salt meat or pickled pork Freshly ground black pepper, to taste Salt, to taste 2 green onions, sliced Warm cooked rice, if serving as an entrée Toasty French bread, for serving

HOW TO PREP: Toast the panko bread crumbs in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until they have a touch of brown color. Set aside. Mix contents of dips packet with sour cream and cream cheese. Add pickles, pickle juice, garlic powder, dill and the reserved toasted panko bread crumbs. Stir well to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Corn Spoon Bread Serves 6

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 (8.5-ounce) package cornbread mix 1 (14.75-ounce) can cream-style sweet corn 1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained ½ cup butter (1 stick), melted 1 cup sour cream 1 large egg 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon salt Butter, for serving HOW TO PREP: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish, or spray it with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (except the butter for serving) and mix well. Pour the mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the spoon bread is golden brown and set at the edges. Serve with additional butter for garnish.

HOW TO PREP: Soak beans overnight in a bowl. Drain and rinse them before cooking. Warm a heavy-bottomed, 12-quart pot over medium heat for 2 minutes, then add butter and heat for 30 seconds. Add sausage and cook, turning as needed until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and onion powder, Creole seasoning and bay leaves; stir to combine. Add beans and tasso (or other pork you’re using), and cover with water. Cover pot with lid and bring to a boil over high heat.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT FORGOT TO PREHEAT? When you suddenly realize you forgot to preheat the oven and your recipe is ready to bake, set the oven to “Broil” for several minutes, then shut it off and set to the temperature your recipe calls for. It will heat more quickly in the “Broil” function so that when you put in the temperature

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Lima beans and butter beans are the same thing. Small lima beans are picked earlier, when they are still green, and sold in both dried and fresh versions. Large lima beans, or butter beans, age on the vine, and are sold dried.

Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pot, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Turn off heat. Remove and discard bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed with salt and pepper. Garnish with green onions. Serve as a side dish, or over rice as an entrée.

Homemade Biscuits Serves 8

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 4 cups self-rising flour ¾ cup shortening or cold butter 1½ cups milk 4 tablespoons sugar HOW TO PREP: Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the shortening or butter into the flour in a large mixing bowl using a pastry blender or fork until the fat is worked in and the mixture is composed of coarse crumbs. Add sugar and stir in milk to form a dough. Let rest for 5 minutes before baking. Lightly grease a baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Use a soup spoon or tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to drop portions of the dough onto the baking sheet. Bake until lightly brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.

you need, the oven will need less heating time overall.

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Corn Riblets & Flowers Serves 4 The key to safely cutting corn is a sharp knife and cut-resistant gloves. Cut corn into ribs or smaller corn flowers. Corn flowers will fry faster than ribs.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 4 ears fresh corn, husked 1 stick butter Freshly ground black pepper, for serving Kosher salt, for serving Cooking oil for frying (if using deep frying method) HOW TO PREP: Place an ear of corn on a cutting board. Wearing cut-resistant gloves and using a very sharp knife cut the corn ear in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half lengthwise. Repeat with remaining ears of corn.

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For air frying: Brush butter on both sides of each rib and place them in the air fryer basket. Air-fry for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through the cook time. Transfer corn ribs to a serving plate. Brush with more butter and season with salt and pepper. For deep frying: To deep fry, pour oil into a large pot to a depth of 2 inches and heat over mediumhigh heat until the temperature reaches 365°F on a candy thermometer. Fry until the corn ribs start to curl and turn lightly golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain corn on paper towel-lined cooking sheet. Brush with butter and season with salt and pepper.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT A TRICK TO SHUCKING CORN Cut off the bottom of the cobs and pop in the microwave for a minute or two, depending on size. Peel away the outer leaves of the husk, and the inner leaves near the tip of the cob, until you can see the first several rows of kernels. Grip the bottom of the ear of corn in one hand; grasp the tops of the leaves and the silk tassel together with the other. Starting at the tip, pull leaves and tassels straight down to the base of the cob. Rip off the husk and use your fingers to remove any remaining silks.

Lemon Icebox Pie Serves 8 Have you ever heard someone refer to a refrigerator or freezer as an icebox? Icebox pies take their name from the coldstorage device chilled by a block of ice that people used to store perishable food before the advent of the first commercially viable electric refrigerators during World War II. Icebox pies are served cold or frozen.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: For the Crust: 14 whole graham crackers or Biscoff Cookies ¼ cup sugar ¼ teaspoon salt 6 teaspoons butter, melted For the Filling: 2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk 1¼ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice Zest of 2 lemons 8 large egg yolks Lemon slices, for garnish For the Cream: 2 cups heavy cream ½ teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar HOW TO PREP: Preheat the oven to 325°F. While oven is heating, lightly grease a 9-inch round springform pan. Place the whole graham crackers or cookies in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the sugar and salt, and pulse until combined. Pour in the melted butter and pulse until butter is blended in and the crumbs are completely moistened. Scrape the crumb mixture into the springform pan. Use the flat bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup to press the mixture into the bottom and ²/₃ of the way up the sides of the pan. Keep pressing until the crumbs are in a compact, even layer across the bottom and sides of the pan. Set aside. Whisk the condensed milk with the lemon juice in a mixing bowl and set aside. Whisk the zest with the egg yolks in another mixing bowl until pale, about 1 minute, and then whisk in the lemon juice-

condensed milk mixture. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, pour the mixture into the crust, and carefully transfer the baking sheet to the preheated oven. Bake until the custard is soft-set but still jiggly, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 1 hour on a cooling rack. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap (be careful not to let the plastic wrap touch the top of the pie) and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. For the Cream: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer) beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and sift in the confectioners’ sugar. Whip on low speed to combine, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip until medium-stiff peaks form, about 1½ minutes.

To serve: Wrap a wet, warm kitchen towel around the edges of the pan to help release the pie from the pan’s sides. Unclasp the springform pan and carefully remove the pie. Dip a butter knife in warm water, then wipe off the blade and slice the pie. Use a spatula or pie server to transfer the slices onto plates. Top each slice with a dollop of cream and decorate with a lemon slice and a sprinkling of zest.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT To maximize the amount of juice that you get out of lemons and limes for recipes, soak them whole in hot water from the tap for a few minutes prior to cutting them in half and juicing them. The hot water softens the fruit and makes it juicier.

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