Catch me at the Green City market this Saturday at 10:30 AM, where I will be demonstrating a few favorite Southern recipes you can prepare from market ingredients. I’m often accused of being the ambitious type and here’s another reason why – rather than demonstrate one or two recipes, I thought I’d cook a meal together with you in the hour we have allotted. I thought that it would be a good thing to use the whole hour to demonstrate that you can cook an entire vegetable-centric meal of Southern roots with 100% of ingredients coming from my favorite green market anywhere! OK – I did just stretch it a bit – we will be using 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon of baking soda that you cannot find at the Green City Market. In spirit of the market’s fantastic Chef Demonstration series, I will forgo the optional hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a couple of the recipes so that all vegetables, grains, and meats come from the market.
It will be the most action-packed chef demo you’ve seen in a long, long time, I promise. And, when have you ever had cornbread made from all Green City Market ingredients, straight out of the skillet?
Twin Oak Meats has great uncured pork belly you can use in the crowder peas, and see TJ from TJ’s poultry about chickens for the stock. Nichols Orchard will have crowder peas and okra as well as different kinds of shell beans if you prefer. Green Acres will have okra soon as well, but I’m not sure if they will this Saturday. Three Sisters Garden of course has cornmeal and the whole kernel corn you can use to make hominy if you want to try making your own grits (and why not, they are better than anything you can buy.) If you’re not ambitious enough to make your own grits, I recommend Anson Mills or Carolina Plantation because they both use old heirloom corn to make their grits and they are truly special. I’ll give you a pass for going out of state to buy them because you are helping to preserve important heritage crops and plant genetics when you buy from them. Take my word for one more thing – after trying all of the dismal corn meal options in Chicago before being introduced to Tracey Vowell, I will tell you, please do not even try using another cornmeal. Three Sisters has no equal in these parts. You should pretty much have choice of vendors for the other items. I am partial to Green Acres, Genesis Growers, and Leaning Shed Farm for vegetables.
For two 7-8 inch skillets
- 3 cups finely ground white corn meal
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup clarified butter
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Beat eggs, then stir in buttermilk and cornmeal mixture. Place half the butter in each skillet and heat on medium until oil is hot and just beginning to smoke. Pour about half the hot butter into the batter and stir. Leave the other half of batter in skillet. Pour batter into skillet. Cover and turn flame to low, the lowest flame you can get. Lower heat is better. Cook for about 30 minutes, until a pick inserted comes out clean. The edges of the bottom should be very crispy, the center should be very creamy, almost custard-like. Remove from heat and cool, uncovered, about 10-15 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving hot from the pan.
Crowder Peas with Bacon and Onion
- 4 ounces bacon or fresh pork belly, cut into thin strips
- 2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 cups shelled crowder peas, or other fresh field pea or bean
- 2 or more cups chicken or vegetable stock, just to cover peas
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, to taste
- 2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
In a 2 quart saucepan, place the bacon or fresh belly over low heat and slowly render, stirring often, being careful not to scorch. Cook until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Increase heat to medium, and add onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute 6-8 minutes, to sweat and just begin browning. Add peas, stock, and bay leaves and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer until peas are creamy and not starchy, 10-20 minutes depending on how late the peas are in the season. Add thyme, salt, reserved bacon, and Worcestershire if desired. Correct seasoning. Serve hot as a side. Great with rice or grits.
- 2 Tablespoons butter or bacon fat
- 1 cup sweet onions, very thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced very thin
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 quart young okra pods, sliced very thin
- 2-3 cups fresh tomato puree, seedless if possible
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- Chiffonade of fresh basil, to taste (Thai basil is best here)
- additional hot pepper or hot sauce, to taste
Place the fat in a two-quart non-reactive saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, jalapeno, and garlic and saute 6-8 minutes, to sweat thoroughly but not brown. Add the okra and saute another 4-6 minutes, to sweat. Smother with the tomato puree, using enough to cover the okra thoroughly and bring to a boil, stirring often. Cook down until the tomato puree is reduced and coats the okra like a thick ragu. Season with salt, basil, and more hot pepper to taste.
Creamy grits with cheese
- 2 quarts skim milk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 small hot red chile, seeded and minced
- 2 cups coarse ground hominy grits (instructions for making your own hominy grits follow)
- 4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
- 2 ounces butter
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat milk over medium-high heat just to a boil, stirring often. Add salt and chili pepper, then add the grits in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens. Continue to stir often as grits cook, 20-40 minutes depending on the thickness of the grind. The grits are done when the largest pieces are al dente but with a creamy center, not hard and starchy. Stir in the cheese and then the butter. Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve at once.
In a non-reactive stock pot:
- 5 pounds whole kernel corn
- Enough water to cover by 4”
- ½ cup culinary lime
Wash corn to remove any kernels that float, and bits of stalk and debris. Cover with clean cold water and add lime. BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET LIME IN YOUR EYES OR TO INHALE IT. Place the mixture on the stove and gently bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low boil and simmer for one hour. Check to see if the hull slips off under cold water. If not, return and continue simmering, checking every ten minutes, until the hulls can slip off.
Immediately transfer to a sink and run under cold water and remove hulls by rubbing between your hands. Continue until all hulls have washed off and water runs clear.
Your next objective is to dry the hominy for storage. If you have a dehydrator, dry at 120 degrees for about 6 hours. You can also dry it in the oven, laid out in a thin layer on a sheet pan. Set the oven on it’s lowest possible setting, less than 175 degrees. It should be dry enough to store after 6-8 hours.
Store dried hominy in an airtight container in a cool dry place. To grind into grits, use a home grain mill or the pulse setting on your blender. Quick-cooking grits should look like very coarse cornmeal. Coarse grits should just be ground slightly and be the size of uncooked wheatberries or slightly larger. Once ground, you should cook grits soon, or store in an airtight container in the freezer.