Category Archives: Accompaniment

Skillet Cornbread

This Cajun-style cornbread is easily made without wheat flour and so is perfect for those avoiding gluten. I like to use a mixture of yellow cornmeal and masa harina. Some might insist that it be made with solid shortening but I get great results with half lard and half oil. Just oil will work as well. Of course if you happen to have some bacon drippings they would go very well.  This cornbread is perfect for cornbread and Andouille stuffing. I adapted the recipe from Emeril Lagasse’s Louisiana Real and Rustic (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1996).

Ingredients

 

Yellow cornmeal

150 grams

About 1 cup

Masa harina

150 grams

About 1 cup

Salt

5 grams

¾ teaspoon

Sugar

15 grams

1 Tablespoon

Baking powder

4 grams

1 teaspoon

Chili powder

1 milliliter

¼ teaspoon

Milk (I use nonfat)

About 380 grams

About 1½ cups

Egg

1 large

1 large

Finely chopped onion

50 grams

⅓ cup

Frozen corn kernels

50 grams

½ cup

Oil and/or lard

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl lightly beat the egg and milk together. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry and mix well. Add a bit of water or milk if the batter is too thick. Fold in the onion and corn.

Heat the oil in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the fat is just beginning to smoke pour in the batter. Cook on top of the stove for 3 or 4 minutes until the edges are beginning to brown. Place in the hot oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Carolina Slaw

If your idea of coleslaw is coarsely shredded cabbage smothered in mayonnaise, you really must try this sweet-and-sour version typical of the tidewater area of Virginia and North Carolinas. It is the only kind of slaw that belongs on pulled-pork BBQ. Note that the quantities of the ingredients are not very important. Just shred and mix. I use the coarse shredder blade of my food processor to get a fairly fine texture. Also, I like to use a mixture of green and red cabbage; the taste is the same but it is much more visually appealing.

Yield: about 1200 milliliters (5 cups)

Ingredients

 

Cabbage, one small head

350 grams

12 ounces

Bell pepper, one small

50 grams

2 ounces

Onion, one small

50 grams

2 ounces

Carrot, one large

100 grams

4 ounces

Sugar

100 grams

½ cup

Vegetable or olive oil

65 grams

⅓ cup

Cider vinegar

100 milliliters

4 ounces

Dry mustard

3 milliliters

½ teaspoon

Celery seed or Old Bay seasoning

3 milliliters

½ teaspoon

Salt

To taste

To taste

Method

Chop the onion and shred the cabbage and carrots. Mix in a large bowl.

Combine the sugar, oil, vinegar, mustard, and celery seed or Old Bay in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss well. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Gratin Lyonnais

In our house, when I was a child, baked ham was not reserved for Easter (the vaguely anti-Semitic overtones of that tradition did not occur to me until much later) but graced our Sunday dinner table every month or so. The accompaniments were invariable—scalloped potatoes and spinach—which are still my favorites. As much as I like scalloped potatoes though, it is hard to ignore the amount of cream and cheese it takes to make them right. Gratin Lyonnais is a lighter dish that nonetheless is a satisfying foil for ham.

Ingredients

Onion, 1, thinly sliced

Butter, as needed

Potatoes, 1 or 2, I prefer firm chef’s potatoes

Parsley, minced, about 15 ml (1 Tablespoon)

Salt and pepper

Cheese, cheddar or Swiss, shredded, about 125 ml (½ cup)

Breadcrumbs, about 125 ml (½ cup)

Method

Sauté the onions in a bit of butter until soft but not colored. While they are cooking, scrub or peel the potatoes and slice them thinly—I use the 2mm blade in my food processor.

Butter the bottom and sides of a suitable baking dish. Layer half the potatoes on the bottom. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the sautéed onions over the potatoes and sprinkle on the parsley. Layer the remaining potatoes on top of the onions and season with salt and pepper.

In a food processor, combine the cheese, breadcrumbs, and a large pat of butter, pulsing a few times to get crumbles. Spread over the top of the potatoes.

Bake at 190°C (375°F) for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Or, you can put the gratin in oven with the ham at 165°C (325°F) for an hour and half or so.

Pork Rinds

It is a cliché that one can eat all of a pig except squeal. That is certainly true but today most of us live “high off the hog” and generally partake only of the loin, ribs, and ham. Bacon and pork rinds are the notable exceptions. While bacon is popular everywhere, pork rinds are usually associated with the South. More is the shame because they are a delightful snack especially suitable for those on a low-carbohydrate diet. Traditionally pork rinds are deep-fried but in this recipe from the irrepressible Paule Deen they are done in the oven. She uses ham skin but I make mine from the rind I cut from the pork belly I use for bacon. I do not think it makes a great deal of difference which you use. Note, though, that these are a bit chewier than commercial pork rinds. The taste makes a bit of extra chewing well worthwhile.

Ingredients
Pork skin
Salt

Method
Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Cut the pork skin into strips about an inch (2 cm) wide and three inches (75 mm) long. Spread the rinds on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt (I use kosher salt for the irony), and bake until crispy, about three hours. Cool on paper towels or a cooking rack.
Save the rendered fat for cooking but remember that it is a bit salty.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Although they are now available pretty much year round Brussels sprouts at their best picked locally after the first hard frost. Here in the Northeast that means the peak of the season in late November and early to mid-December. While they are great simply steamed with a bit of butter or vinegar, Brussels sprouts really shine when paired with nuts. Chestnuts are probably the most traditional but hazelnuts or pecans also work very well. This simple recipe adds a bit of balsamic vinegar for a bit of sweetness and sourness that brings everything together.

Ingredients

 

Brussels sprouts

½ pound

250 g

Butter

1 tablespoon

15 g

Pecans or other nuts

1 ounce

30 g

Water

about ½ cup

about 125 ml

Balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons

30 ml

Salt and pepper

to taste

to taste

 

Method

Rinse and trim the Brussels sprouts. Halve lengthwise if large. Coarsely chop the nuts. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and when just starting to brown add the sprouts and nuts. Toss for a minute or so to combine and coat with butter. Add the water, cover, turn the heat down to medium-low, and steam for about 5 minutes or until the sprouts are tender. Uncover and raise the heat to drive off the water then add the balsamic vinegar and toss to coat. Let the vinegar evaporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Herbed Nuts

Nuts make a wonderful snack. They are full of nutrition and healthful oils. Sadly, most store-bought nuts mixtures are very salty which makes them unsuitable for many people. This recipe from my friend Rachel replaces most of the salt with herbs giving the nuts great flavor without all the salt. She uses olive oil; I used butter. Whichever you use this is a snack worth making.

Ingredients

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup almonds

1 cup walnut halves

¼ cup maple syrup (or part brown sugar)

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons finely minced herbs: sage, rosemary, savory, etc.

¼ teaspoon cayenne

Salt and pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss the nuts with the syrup, butter, herbs, and cayenne. Spread on a baking sheet and place in the hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and add salt and pepper to taste. Move around on the baking sheet with a spatula until cooled.

Bubble, Squeak, and Oink

Potatoes and cabbage are a natural combination and a staple throughout the British. Each country has its own version: Colcannon in Ireland, Cawl Cennin a Thatws in Wales, Rumbledethumps in Scotland, and the onomatopoeic Bubble and Squeak in England. Traditionally breakfast food made from dinner leftovers, including meat or fish, Bubble and Squeak today it is generally purpose-made without meat.  But it still is an important part of a full English breakfast. In this whimsically named version I have put the meat back into the dish and made it into a one-dish dinner entrée. Clarissa Dickson Wright, co-star of the BBC’s Two Fat Ladies, has three admonitions for making bubble and squeak (from Cooking with the Two Fat Ladies (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1996) 97):

“1) There is no substitute for lard or beef drippings – if you object, eat something else.

“2) You need a really heavy frying pan.

“3) The potatoes must be cold before you start.”

Ingredients

 

Potatoes, peeled and diced

1 pound

450 grams

Lard

2 tablespoons

30 grams

Ham or English bacon, diced

4 ounces

100 grams

Onion, sliced ¼-inch (6mm) thick

4 ounces

100 grams

Cabbage, coarsely shredded

4 ounces

100 grams

Salt and pepper

to taste

to taste

Method

Put the potatoes in salted water and boil until soft, about 12 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.

When the potatoes are cold, melt ½ of the lard in a 10-inch (25 cm) cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Sauté the ham or bacon until it begins to crisp then add the onions. Continue cooking until they soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir to coat with the fat then turn the heat to medium, cover, and steam for about 3 minutes or until bright green. Turn the heat back to medium-high and put the potatoes into the skillet. Using a heavy spatula press the potatoes into the fat, mashing them coarsely and mixing them with the meat and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Distribute the remaining lard over the top and turn the potatoes over to crisp the other side. Serve immediately.

Serves two as an entrée.

New England Brown Bread

This yeast-free quick bread is popular in New England, hence its name. It is similar to Irish soda bread but the addition of cornmeal and the fact that it is steamed rather than baked suggests a native American influence. Traditionally it is made with whole wheat flour, rye flour, and cornmeal; a mixture known in New England as simply brown bread flour. I replaced the whole wheat with another New England favorite, white buckwheat flour, making it suitable for most people who avoid wheat. Note, though, that it is not gluten-free because the rye flour does contain a small amount of gluten. It is sweetened with molasses or sometimes maple syrup and usually contains raisins, dried currants, or dried cranberries. Most recipes call for milk or buttermilk but I had neither on hand so I substituted watered-down yoghurt.

The hardest part of this recipe is finding a suitable metal coffee can because so many are now plastic and the metal ones tend to be only 10 ounces. Chock-Full-O-Nuts still comes in 12-ounce metal cans. It comes with a peel-off foil inner lid so use a can opener to remove the rim.

Ingredients

 

Butter for greasing

As needed

 

Rye flour

3 ounces (½ cup)

85 grams

White buckwheat flour

3 ounces (½ cup)

85 grams

Cornmeal, white or yellow

3 ounces (½ cup)

85 grams

Baking soda

1 teaspoon

5 grams (5 ml)

Baking powder

½ teaspoon

2 grams (2 ml)

Plain yoghurt

2 tablespoons

30 ml

Cold water

About 1 cup

About 250 ml

Dark molasses

4 ounces (⅓ cup)

115 grams

Dried cranberries or raisins

½ cup, approx.

50 grams

Method

Place a trivet into the bottom of stock pot and add water to come about half way up the can. Bring to a boil as you prepare the batter.

Grease the inside of the can with butter. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Put the yoghurt into a measuring cup and add water to make 1 cup (250 ml). Add the molasses to the liquid and mix well. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, beating gently. Fold in the dried fruit then turn the batter into the can. Cover with a square of aluminum foil and secure with a rubber band.

Place the can of batter onto the trivet in the boiling water in the stock pot. Cover and either steam over heat just high enough to maintain a gentle boil or place into a 250°F (120°C) oven. (The latter is especially good if you are making baked beans with which to serve the brown bread.) Cook for about 1 hour and 15 minutes then check for doneness with a toothpick. Allow to stand for a few minutes before inverting the can and gently tapping out the bread. Serve hot with butter.

A Beer Tip

For me, nothing is better with Indian food that a cold Indian lager. Unfortunately Indian beers can be difficult to find in the US. My local Wegman’s had nary a one. I was about to give up when it occurred to me that Jamaica has a large Indian population. Sure enough, Jamaican Red Stripe lager, which is easy to find, was perfect with the Indian dinner I made. Try it.

Sarson Saag

Greens are a popular dish in many, if not most, cultures. In the Indian and Pakistani Punjab they are called saag and usually are made with mustard greens, sarson, or spinach, palak, and often include potatoes, saag aloo, or yoghurt cheese, saag paneer. In the Punjab, Saag is usually eaten with bread such as na’an or a Pakistani corn bread called makki ki roti however in other part of India and in the West it is often served as a side dish. For the uninitiated American, palak saag will probably be more familiar but do try sarson saag. Its slightly bitter taste, reminiscent of its relative horseradish, makes a nice foil for any of a variety of curries.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch fresh mustard greens
  • 1 large tomato
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 medium lime

Method

Strip off and discard the tough stems from the mustard greens the wash the leaves well. Shake off excess water but do not over-dry. Chop or tear into small pieces. Set aside.

Put the tomato into boiling water for about 10 seconds. Cool under running cold water and remove the peel. Cut in half equatorially and squeeze out the seed. Chop the tomato flesh finely and set aside.

Chop the garlic in a food processor then add the onion and ginger paste. Pulse a few times to make a smooth puree.

Heat the oil in a large pot (I find that a wok works best) over medium-high heat. Fry the asafetida for a few seconds then add the onion mixture. Stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown.

Stir in the turmeric then add the mustard greens and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the greens wilt and almost all the liquid has evaporated

Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the garam masala, salt, and lime juice. Cook for a minute or so to allow the flavors to blend.