Archive for southern food

Percy Street Barbecue, Smokin’ Great!

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If you’re in the neighborhood of South Street and hunger strikes, fear not.  Percy Street Barbecue will come to the rescue.  My husband and I were at a loose end on Saturday evening, and he had a hankering for barbecue.  Being a southern boy, that happens from time to time.  We hadn’t been to Percy Street for awhile, so we strolled over, and we’re happy to report that it is going strong.

Bon Appetit Darling Erin O’Shea is still at the helm as both chef and owner, and her reputation for great barbecue and soulful cooking is well earned.

In lieu of bread and butter, we were offered saltine crackers and homemade pimento cheese, which was authentic and delicious.percystappy

We opted for the “Lockhart” menu choice, which is basically a feast.  For $19.00 per person (the entire table has to commit), we enjoyed generous slabs of ribs, brisket and chicken, as well as all of the sides on the menu.percystmeats

The toasted corn bread with onion jam was a delightful accompaniment to the meats.

The sides included cole slaw, homemade sauerkraut, German potato salad, collard greens, and baked beans.

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Given the generosity of this menu option, we steered clear of appetizers, which was a good move, despite the tempting options. And when it came time for dessert we were simply stuffed. But, the pecan pie and the key lime pie did look good.

The beer selection is excellent; a wide array of local craft brews as well as plenty of imports.  And my husband, whose mixology standards are notoriously high, deemed Percy Street’s Manhattan as excellent.  High praise indeed.

Best part:  our entire bill came to $53.00 before tip.

Thanks, Percy Street.  We’ll be back soon.

Southern Corn Bread with Jalapenos and Cheddar Cheese

My husband is a pretty open minded chap in many ways.  But his southern roots run deep and they most certainly extend to his views on corn bread. He derisively refers to any corn bread with a hint of sweetness as “Yankee Corn Bread” and deems it “cake”, which, he asserts. has no business near chili, pulled pork, short ribs, scrambled eggs, or any other place a southerner would place his corn bread.   Me, I like a little sweetness, but then again, I grew up in New Jersey.

Strict traditionalists would eschew any ingredients beyond the basic batter; Matt’s not that hidebound.  He”ll add select savory items to his batter, as he did last Sunday…..

Matt’s Sunday Corn Bread

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup corn meal

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 Tbsp butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2-4 jalapeno peppers, chopped and seeded

Heat Oven to 375.  Grease an 8 inch square pan.  Combine all ingredients in medium bowl.  Mix well, and pour into prepared pan.  Bake 25 minutes until lightly browned.

We enjoyed this warm, cut in squares and served along side chili-braised short ribs for Sunday dinner. The leftovers were great toasted for breakfast Monday morning.

How to Make Biscuits (After 20 years of trying)

Biscuits were a seemingly simple food that I never managed to make well.   Having married a southerner, this was particularly problematic.  He was raised on light, fluffy, perfect biscuits and my hockey pucks were a source of dread to us both.   In his defense, he, too, tried to duplicate the heavenly orbs of his youth without success, so he sympathized with me and recognized that biscuits were complicated.

This problem came to a bit of a head recently; husband invited a group of colleagues for a real southern meal (he’s frying chicken–stay tuned for future post on that).  To round out the meal with full authenticity, biscuits were required.   We considered ordering a tray from Jack McDavid of the Down Home Diner (whose biscuits are stellar),  but it just felt wrong.  I agreed to make that our plan B, but was determined to produce a bona fide biscuit in a dry-run batch the week before the party.

I searched several of my go-to sources for this type of cooking and found solid advice from Lauren Chattman’s Mom’s Big Book of Baking and Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.

I learned the following strategies:

1.  Use 1/2 cake flour and 1/2 all-purpose flour for lighter biscuits.
2.  Use buttermilk instead of milk for best flavor.
3.  For Drop Biscuits (I abhor rolling dough) increase the buttermilk or milk in recipe by 25%.
4.  Cut butter into dry ingredients quickly, either with a mixer, pastry cutter, or 2 knives–do not over work.  Dough should be crumbly chunks about the size of lentils, not a smooth gooey mass.
5.  When adding milk, stir in by hand.  After mixing, dough will have a more formed texture but will still be lumpy and a bit crumbly.
6.  Bake biscuits when butter is still in small, cold bits; this produces air pockets and makes for lightness and fluffiness.

I integrated several different recipes, followed that six pack of tips and came up with the following formula–which, I am delighted to say, was a success!

Finally Successful Drop Biscuits

6 TBS chilled butter cut in pieces
1 c all purpose flour
1 c cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 425.  Line cookie sheet w/ parchment.  Mix everything but buttermilk til small crumbs form.  Mix in buttermilk with spoon.  Drop by large spoonfuls on cookie sheet; each biscuit should contain about 1/3 cup dough.   Bake about 18 minutes til they are just beginning to brown.