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Fall is officially here; the weather is getting cooler and I finally went out and ripped up most of the dead plants in the garden. There were still a ton of green tomatoes though, so I picked them and created a meal around them. As you know, I love fried green tomatoes, but don’t really enjoy frying things that much, and can really only eat so many of them. So, I decided to make a green tomato casserole. This robust side dish needed an entree that wouldn’t be overshadowed by the zing of the tomatoes so I decided to make my grandmother’s “hot Italian roast beef” with some rice. It was a perfect meal for a cool autumn evening, and we’re still eating the roast on sandwiches.
Green Tomato Casserole
5-6 medium sized green tomatoes (or more)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese with some extra for sprinkling
1 tbsp. butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice tomatoes about 1/4″ thick and line the bottom of an 8×8″ casserole dish. Mix salt, sugar, and pepper together in a bowl and sprinkle over tomato slices. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and half of cheese. Place another layer of tomatoes, seasoning, bread crumbs and cheese. End with a layer of tomatoes, seasoning, and bread crumbs. Dot with butter and bake for 1 hour. Once casserole is bubbly and brown around the edges sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until melted.
Hot Italian Roast Beef
1 tbsp. butter
1 5 lb. beef roast (I think I used top round roast)
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1/3 c. water
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. salt
In a Dutch oven melt butter over medium heat. Brown roast on all sides. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until roast is tender (about 3.5 – 4 hours). Remove meat from broth and make gravy by thickening broth slightly. When ready to serve slice meat and reheat in gravy. This makes very good hot roast beef sandwiches.
I found that the roast was pretty charred on the bottom by the end of the braising…next time I’ll turn it occasionally. This could also be made in the slow cooker after the meat has been browned.
Grilled smokey chicken with fried okra and fried green corn
I guess my trip to Atlanta got me in the mood for fried food. I really don’t fry things often, but sometimes it just has to be done. Take okra, for instance. Now I love some okra. Stewed okra and tomatoes is one of my favorite summer dishes; in fact, I plan to make that soon, so stay tuned. But, most people prefer it fried. I have to admit, there’s nothing like fried okra. Okra has a bit of “slime” to it, a characteristic that many would argue is one of its main attributes. It’s because of that “slime” that it works so well stewed, and is often added to soups as a thickening agent. Frying okra “de-slimes” it and makes nice crunchy little nuggets that are wonderfully addictive. This time of year down South the okra is growing tall and prolific. Here in New England it’s difficult to find and expensive. I won’t tell you how much I paid for it, but I was so excited that I bought a pound. I used the recipe in Southern Sideboards, which doesn’t call for using an egg wash, but I think I’ll try that next time. My husband used to work at Ajax restaurant in Oxford, MS and he said they used an egg wash and the breading adhered to the okra really well (I can attest to that; their fried okra is good).
Fried Okra (from Southern Sideboards)
Wash 1 lb. fresh okra and slice into 1/2 inch rounds or thaw 1 10 oz. package cut okra. Toss okra in plastic bag with 1/2 c. white corn meal seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry in hot oil in skillet, turning often and sprinkling with salt and pepper as needed. When lightly browned, remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Fried Green Corn (from Edna Lewis’s The Taste of Country Cooking)
My visit to Watershed prompted me to get out Edna Lewis’s cookbook, which by coincidence I just ordered a month or so ago. There are some great old fashioned recipes in this book. “Green” doesn’t mean that the corn is the color green; it means that it’s fresh (same goes with “green” peanuts, FYI).
6 ears of corn
2 tbs. fresh bacon fat or butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Slice the corn from the cob*. Scrape the cob downward to get any remaining corn left near the cob. Heat a 9 in. skillet and add the fat. When hot, spoon in the corn and cook for 15 to 20 min., stirring often. While cooking, sprinkle in salt, sugar, and pepper. Serve piping hot.
*I use my bundt pan to do this. Put the stalk side down into the opening of the bundt pan and hold the top of the ear. Use a chef’s knife or some kind of large-ish knife to slice down the cob. The corn kernels and juices should just fall right into the pan without much mess.
Grilled smokey chicken
I’m calling this “grilled smokey chicken” because although I cooked it at a pretty low heat, I wasn’t consistent about it and I think if I were to truly smoke chicken I would brine it beforehand and cook it for several hours at a steady low heat. Instead, I skipped the brine and let the temperature fluctuate between 250-350 (controlling heat is sometimes tough on a charcoal grill). Also, as an experiment I decided not to brown the skin this time (as you can also see in the picture), but I think I will next time. It does add a lot of flavor and nice texture. Nevertheless, it turned out good enough to recommend to you. If you have suggestions on improvement I’d love to hear them!
1 cut up chicken
seasoning of your preference: bbq rub, Tony Chachere’s, etc.
vinegar (any kind)
Sprinkle vinegar over chicken and then sprinkle seasoning. Rub into skin on both sides and let sit for a few hours (or however much time you have). Soak some hickory chips in water and let sit for an hour or so. Set up grill for indirect heat. Once the fire is ready brown the chicken over the fire to get a nice crust. Then move it to the other side of the grill (you should have a pan beneath the chicken to catch the drippings) and take the heat down to about 300. Add the hickory chips or chunks (hickory is actually a pretty dry wood and the chunks produce a lot of smoke without having to be soaked, FYI). Cook for 30-45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and/or juices run clear.