Archive | August, 2008

Chicken Bog a Delicious SC Treat

31 Aug

What is a Chicken Bog? “While anecdotal evidence exists that the name ‘chicken bog’ was related to the “boggy” nature of its home, the Pee Dee, in his book Stews, Bogs and Burgoos, southern writer, James Villas claims that a ‘bog’ (unlike a pilau) is any stew that includes wet, soggy rice. ‘Pilau’ more commonly know as pilaf is a dish consisting of sautéed and seasoned or steamed rice often prepared with meat, shellfish or vegetables.
 
Karen Hess, author of the benchmark work, The Carolina Rice Kitchen, describes chicken bog as “a pilau made in large batches, which would always cause it to end up wet.” Culinary historian Damon Lee Fowler defines chicken bog as “a highly localized form of pilau, probably of African provenance, in the U.S. found only in South Carolina.” Traditionally, the only ingredients are chicken, rice, sausage, and onions, seasoned with salt and plenty of black pepper.
 
Whether a bog is a bog or a soggy pilau, this one-course dish remains the stuff of South Carolina legends. The bog even has its own festival, the annual Loris Bog-Off Festival, which pits bog chefs against each other in an annual chicken bog cooking contest. Started in 1979 and held every October, the festival features a parade, arts, crafts, games, local bands and gospel singing.  
 
See our Festivals & Events listings for great SC food festivals held year round. Don’t forget to look at other famous tastes of South Carolina.
 
CHICKEN BOG RECIPE
A coastal South Carolina delicacy with chicken, sausage, and rice – This authentic recipe was contributed by the Loris Chamber of Commerce.
INGREDIENTS:
 
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (3 pound) whole chicken
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 pound smoked sausage of your choice, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Italian-style seasonings
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon 
PREPARATION:
  • Place water, salt and onion in a large pot. Add chicken and bring all to a boil; cook until chicken is tender, about 1 hour.
  • Remove chicken from pot and let cool. Remove skin and bones and chop remaining meat into bite size pieces. 
Skim off fat from cooking liquid and measure 3 1/2 cups of this chicken broth into a 6-quart saucepan. Add rice, chicken pieces, sausage, herb seasoning and bouillon to this saucepan. Cook all together for 30 minutes; let come to a boil, then reduce heat to low, keeping pan covered the whole time. If mixture is too watery or juicy, cook over medium low heat, uncovered, until it reaches the desired consistency. Stir often while cooking. 

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Alton Brown is Feasting Once Again

31 Aug

Alton Brown goes in search of America’s culinary roots and Caribbean flavors in Feasting on Waves. He starts his journey on St. Kitts (aka St. Christopher), named by and for Christopher Columbus on his second journey to the new world. Alton, like Christopher, is traveling North and West through the Leeward Islands and on to the British Virgin Islands. Alton maintains the spirit of Feasting on Asphalt and seeks out the most authentic and traditional foods of the regions and meets the people who created them. Restaurants are the most obvious targets but Feasting is about the unexpected, so Alton also ventures to find roadside stands, street vendors, farmer’s markets, farms, spice houses and homes of local cooks who make specialties of the region. The show premieres on September 7th, but you can get a sneak peek by visiting  http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_ab?nl=FN_082908_28

Emeril’s Kicked Up Meat Loaf

31 Aug

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup ketchup, plus 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Heavy cream
2/3 cup Breadcrumbs
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound
pork sausage (such as breakfast sausage)
1/2 pound ground veal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices bacon, cut in half
2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup canned tomatoes, chopped or crushed

In a large skillet heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add all but 1/4 cup of the onions, the celery and all but 2 tablespoons of the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of the garlic, the thyme, rosemary, and parsley and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the vegetable mixture is cooled, transfer to a mixing bowl and add the eggs, mustard, 1/4 cup of the ketchup, 1 teaspoon of the Worcestershire sauce, and heavy cream and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the breadcrumbs, ground chuck, pork sausage, ground veal, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Transfer meat mixture to a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan and using your hands, form mixture into a loaf shape. Arrange the slices of bacon on the top of the meatloaf and set aside.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped onion, remaining 2 tablespoons of green pepper, remaining teaspoon of garlic, remaining 1/2 cup of ketchup, remaining 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, remaining 2 teaspoons of pepper, vinegar, and canned tomatoes and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the uncooked meatloaf and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the bacon and sauce are slightly caramelized on the top of the meatloaf. Remove from the oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Slice and serve along with the Macaroni with 4 Cheeses.

Dixie Dining Adds Flickr.com Feature

30 Aug

The pictures seen above are just a sampling of the 200 photos available for viewing at our new Flickr.com page. The shots were taken during our extensive travels throughout the South over the past 10 years. The images are available for licensing or sale, so please feel free to inquire via email to gary@dixiedining.com.

For a slideshow of all the images, go to http://www.flickr.com/dixiedining

Photos from SFA’s Boudin and Gumbo Trail

28 Aug

This is a link of good old spicy Louisiana Boudin — good eating!

The Southern Foodways Alliance has been on the road tracking down the finest boudin and gumbo that the great state of Louisiana has to offer. This field study has resulted in some wonderful photographs which are right down our alley. Take a long look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/southernfoodwaysalliance/

Bama BBQ Taking Over the World?

28 Aug

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama’s best export might be slathered with sauce. ‘Bama-based barbecue restaurants _ known for their variety of styles _ are spreading throughout the South and beyond, slowly gaining an out-of-state foothold in a highly regionalized business where diners can be pretty picky about what’s on their plate.

Any fan of Southeastern Conference football knows about Tuscaloosa’s Dreamland BBQ Ribs, which started in a smoky, dark building in 1958 a few miles from the University of Alabama. It now has six restaurants, including two in upscale parts of metro Atlanta, and each has the same motto: “Ain’t nothing like’ em nowhere.”

Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, which opened in 1891 near Birmingham, has 20 locations in Alabama and has expanded to one each in Georgia and Tennessee with plans to move into more states by the end of the year. And Jim N’ Nicks Bar-B-Q has grown beyond its Alabama roots into Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee.

With projected sales of $79 million this year, Jim N’ Nicks has plans to grow to two dozen locally owned restaurants by early next year, with one as far away as Denver.

The trick, according to Jim N’ Nicks marketing director Sam Burn, is translating the tradition, food and fun of a backyard cookout into a restaurant experience that sells across state lines.

“Barbecue is something people are really passionate about,” said Burn. “Barbecue is very personal and communal and local.”

Other Southern barbecue restaurants have spread _ the Florida-based Sonny’s Bar-B-Q calls itself the nation’s largest barbecue chain with more than 150 restaurants in nine Southeastern states. But the spread of so many restaurants from a single state is unusual in the barbecue world, according to Scott Jones, executive food editor at Southern Living magazine.

Areas like the Carolinas, Memphis, Tenn., Texas or Kansas City are known for certain styles of meat, he said. People who are used to a certain type of barbecue _ chopped pork covered with a watery, vinegar-based sauce, for example _ may turn up their noses at a spare rib coated in thick, tomato-based sauce.

But, Jones said, Alabama barbecue restaurants are hard to pigeonhole, serving everything from saucy chopped pork to spare ribs rubbed with dry spices to chicken coated in white sauce. Some even serve Texas-style beef, for heaven’s sake. That just doesn’t happen in most parts of the Deep South.

That gastronomic diversity might make it easier than normal for Alabama-based companies to cross geographic boundaries and catch on elsewhere, Jones said.

“They only requirement for them is to turn the rest of the country on to barbecue,” said Jones. “They’re not locked down to any particular style.”

Another food expert, John T. Edge, said the migration of barbecue restaurants has quickened in recent years. He called it a “curious phenomenon,” one that goes against generations of tradition of old Southern men, black and white, cooking meat by a pit for neighbors.

“Barbecue was once the most hyper-localized food in the South,” said Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, part of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. “You built a tradition, you built a style that was honed by an old-line pit master. They didn’t move. They stayed in one place.”

At Jim N’ Nicks, Burn said managers have tried to craft a menu that both attracts everyday diners and recalls the roots of old-fashioned barbecue.

“Authentic Southern barbecue is the foundation of our business,” he said. “Ribs and white bread are the inspiration, but it’s evolved through the years.”

The family-owned Jim N’ Nicks has grown by finding local owners to open new restaurants. At Golden Rule, vice president Todd Becker said all the growth has been by franchising.

“We’re going to try to grow 30 percent a year for the next five years,” he said. “Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, the Carolinas: We’ve got plans to expand to all those areas, plus Mississippi and Florida.” They aren’t alone.

Full Moon Bar-B-Que started in metro Birmingham and has expanded to locations including Baltimore, where Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis operates a restaurant. And in the Tennessee Valley of north Alabama, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q is planning to branch out.

Gibson’s, which has won numerous barbecue competitions and claims to have the world’s best sauce, already sells its sauces in eight states and more than 2,000 stores. It, too, is planning to fire up the smoker outside of Alabama.

“We’re working on a location up in North Carolina with a franchise there,” said Paul Collins, manager of one of the company’s two restaurants in Decatur.

Edge said he expects the growth to continue as people all over America look for down-home dining experiences.

“At the same time the country is discovering local foods, companies are learning how to export,” he said. “I think it can work. Hell, the South sold the world Coca-Cola.”

Hot Dogs and Cancer Link

27 Aug
   

This story appeared on the Fox News web site recently:

Everyone knows hot dogs aren’t exactly healthy for you, but in a new study chemists have found they contain DNA-mutating compounds that might boost one’s risk for cancer. Scientists note there is an up to 240-fold variation in levels of these chemicals across different brands.

“One could try and find out what the difference in manufacturing techniques are between the brands, and if it’s decided these things are a hazard, one could change the manufacturing methods,” researcher Sidney Mirvish, a chemist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, told LiveScience.

Mirvish and his colleagues examined hot dogs because past research had linked them with colon cancer. Hot dogs are preserved with sodium nitrite, which can help form chemicals known as N-nitroso compounds, most of which cause cancer in lab animals. Extracts from hot dogs bought from the supermarket, when mixed with nitrites, resulted in what appeared to be these carcinogenic compounds.

When added to Salmonella bacteria that were fed hot dog extracts treated with nitrites increased their DNA-mutation rates by 100 to 300 percent. Triggering DNA mutations in the gut might boost the risk for colon cancer, the researchers explained. “I won’t say you shouldn’t eat hot dogs,” Mirvish said. Future research will feed hot dog meat to lab mice to see if they develop colon cancer or precancerous conditions, he explained.

James Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation in Washington, noted this study is “a preliminary report that the author concedes requires further investigation. The carcinogenic risk to humans of the compounds studied has not been determined.”

The possible hazard presented here is not just limited to hot dogs. Salted dried fish and seasonings such as soy sauce may contain similar levels of these chemicals, Mirvish said. Mirvish and his colleagues reported their findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

 

 

 

 

“Savage Barbecue” Makes for Interesting Reading

26 Aug

Savage Barbecue
“Race, Culture, and the Invention of America’s First Food”
by Andrew Warnes

America’s first food as an invented tradition Barbecue is a word that means different things to different people. It can be a verb or a noun. It can be pulled pork or beef ribs. And, especially in the American South, it can cause intense debate and stir regional pride. Perhaps then, it is no surprise that the roots of this food tradition are often misunderstood.

In Savage Barbecue, Andrew Warnes traces what he calls America’s first food through early transatlantic literature and culture. Building on the work of scholar Eric Hobsbawm, Warnes argues that barbecue is an invented tradition, much like Thanksgiving-one long associated with frontier mythologies of ruggedness and relaxation.

Starting with Columbus’s journals in 1492, Warnes shows how the perception of barbecue evolved from Spanish colonists’ first fateful encounter with natives roasting iguanas and fish over fires on the beaches of Cuba. European colonists linked the new food to a savagery they perceived in American Indians, ensnaring barbecue in a growing web of racist attitudes about the New World. Warnes also unearths the etymological origins of the word barbecue, including the early form barbacoa; its coincidental similarity to barbaric reinforced emerging stereotypes.

Barbecue, as it arose in early transatlantic culture, had less to do with actual native practices than with a European desire to define those practices as barbaric. Warnes argues that the word barbecue retains an element of violence that can be seen in our culture to this day. Savage Barbecue offers an original and highly rigorous perspective on one of America’s most popular food traditions.

Purchase your copy today at: http://ugapress.org/0820328960.html

Cilantro Tamales in Naples, FL

25 Aug

We had dinner this past Saturday night at Cilantro Tamales in Naples

The tamale platter features two big fat tamales

The chatter on the web looked pretty promising. Several Naples area blogs recommended this small, unassuming cantina on the north end of Highway 41. Cilantro Tamales was started by a former chef at the Ritz-Carlton. The story goes something like this: The chef wasn’t totally satisfied with his ability to create authentic homesyle Mexican cuisine, so he ran a newspaper ad and recruited several local Mexican homemakers to share their best family recipes. He picked the best of the best recipes, hired those ladies to work in his kitchen, and opened the restaurant. That was several years ago and by all indications we were in for a memorable meal. However, I must report that our dinner was far from perfect.

The complimentary tortilla chips were thick and chunky. The salsa was really tasty and had a nice citrus edge to it. My tamales were mostly masa (corn meal) and somewhat dry. The fillings (chicken and pork) were flavorful, but not exactly piping hot. The accompanying Mexican rice was obviously warmed with a microwave oven and the refried beans, topped with some chopped and flavorless cilantro, were most likely out of the can. Not what I was expecting given the unique story behind this restaurant’s opening. Cilantro Tamales’ slogan is something like “The Best Mexican Food You’ve Ever Eaten or It’s Free.”  I could have called them on this bold claim, but decided to be nice and let them slide. Maybe they just had an off day. The best I’ve ever had??? Not even close. I have made better tamales in my home kitchen and I have zero Mexican ancestry in my bloodline.

We finished our meal by sharing a plate of flan (caramel egg custard) dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup. The custard was just a bit on the rubbery side, but otherwise not too shabby. It failed to achieve the lofty heights of my gold standard, which is the wonderful flan served up at Danny’s in Laredo, TX. Wish I could have that stuff shipped in on a monthly basis — it’s that amazing. Light and airy custard topped with a crackling caramel crust. Mui bueno!

www.cilantrotamales.com

Michelbob’s BBQ Ribs in Naples, FL

25 Aug

“Best Ribs in America???” — What is with these people?

I don’t understand all the hyperbole that exists in the Naples dining scene. Why not just say “Our Ribs are Awesome?” Or maybe “The Best Ribs in Town?” Or perhaps “Florida’s Finest Ribs?” Best in America is an incredibly bold claim — and one that is virtually impossible to live up to.

Michelbob’s — Where catfish take a backseat to their baby back ribs

This tangle of homemade onion rings didn’t last long

We started off with a Onion Ring basket. The hand dipped rings were good if a little greasy. But hey, I guess they are supposed to be! The baby back ribs (said to be imported from Denmark) and the thinly sliced pork were no doubt enjoyable. The ribs were mega-tender and you could see the smoke rings on the edges of the sliced pork. The ribs were not as good as those we have gnawed in Memphis or the Texas Hill Country. I like a little char on the outside and maybe even a little crispiness. These babies were soft to the bite with just a hint of deep dark smokiness. But let’s not dwell on the negative. The meal was really good and the BBQ experience pretty decent when you compare it to the overall bleak BBQ scene that exists here in the Sunshine State. I’ll add that the best ribs I have had since arriving in Florida are served up by our old pal Perry’s BBQ right here on Siesta Key. Boy, we are lucky little devils, huh? Perry’s aren’t baby back ribs, but they are surely dee-lish, baby.   

The portions at Michelbob’s are generous – you won’t leave hungry

The sides at Michelbob’s — especially the cole slaw and baked beans — were indeed world class. In fact, the beans were tremendous … sweet and quite smoky. I loved them and could have easily devoured another helping or two. We are pretty picky about our cole slaw, but we found the slaw here to be cool and creamy. Good job, people. The Texas toast was a nice touch too, although it could have been taken to another level with a little smear of garlic butter. My meal even came with a baked potato and sour cream. That was the proverbial belly buster. No dessert was necessary — we left with full guts and smiles all around.

www.michelbobs.com — It’s pronounced “Mickle-Bob’s” in case you’re wondering