The most recent cookbook I have been perusing is The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook which is stock full of down home goodness with the twists of the nouveau while remaining loyal to generations of Southern delicacies. Dishes range from novel takes on the humble peanut in the form of Boiled Peanut Soup and Boiled Peanut and Sorghum Swirl Ice Cream to a paean of Dixie classics like red velvet cake, gumbo, fried chicken, and cornbread. This is an excellent offering from Low-country innovators well worth your time. And an added bonus I picked it up at the library, so you might give that a shot.
Reading some of the descriptions and recipes brought me to an adaptation of Carolina Mustard Barbecue Chicken (not barbecued, instead oven braised) and an Airy Jalapeno Cornbread. In the mood for another Southern twist I concocted a Crispy Chickpea Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing.
Faux Carolina Mustard Barbecue Chicken
Sometimes grilling is not an option, but why give up barbecue.
3 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 C white wine (dry riesling would be good)
2 T olive oil
sel gris salt to taste
1 C yellow mustard
3 T Roses Lime Juice
1/4 C light brown sugar
2 T ketchup
1 T olive oil (or lard would make a fantastic supplement)
1 T black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
a small pinch of cayenne pepper (or a dash of hot sauce would suffice)
Mix barbecue sauce thoroughly and cook on the stovetop until thickened to your taste. If you are pressed for time the sauce can be heated in the microwave to thicken.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle a fine mist of salt over chicken thighs and place in a heated cast iron skillet with oil skin side down. Baste chicken thoroughly on under side and cook for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Flip chicken and baste thoroughly on skin side and cook until a nice gold-yellow color. Transfer skillet to oven, add wine and cook about 35 minutes, or until you can press on the thighs and they are tender. Serve with a good side of the leftover mustard sauce.
Airy Jalapeno Cornbread
The real fruitiness of the jalapeno pepper shines in this dish wrapped in an airy down home cornbread.
1 T lard (or vegetable shortening)
3/4 C yellow cornmeal (stone ground is good but not essential)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 tsp sel gris salt
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 large egg (free-range preferably)
3/4 C whole or lowfat buttermilk
2 T unsalted butter
1 jalapeno, seeded
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl to remove any clumps. Soften butter, and while it is softening place cast iron skillet on stovetop with lard or shortening to melt for lubrication. Meanwhile add jalapeno, softened butter, egg, buttermilk to food processor and pulse until pureed. Continue until egg is pretty frothy to promote an even lighter cornbread. Fold pureed ingredients into dry ingredients and pour into your 9 inch cast iron skillet that heated lard or shortening has been swiped around with silicon brush. Transfer skillet to oven and bake approximately 28 minutes. (Using a larger skillet, even up to 12 inch, produces a crisper crust while frothing the eggs well still keeps the cornbread light.)
Crispy Chickpea Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing
Texture here really surprises for the best here in the form of nutty crunchy chickpeas complimented by the light crunch of cabbage and sweet tangy dressing.
1- 15 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained
2 T English mustard (or dijon will work in a pinch)
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. guajillo chili powder
1 3/4 cup shredded green cabbage (Savoy)
2 T maple syrup
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
a good dash of salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine first six ingredients and place in one layer in large non stick skillet in the oven to cook for about 35 minutes. Check periodically and shake to give a nice golden crust. They will be crunchy on the outside and almost nutty on the inside.
Toss cabbage with bottom four ingredients for dressing and top with chickpeas. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with an ice cold hefeweisen.