Tasty Tuesday

tasty tuesday: pan roasted pork tenderloin, barley and mushroom braise, roasted brussels, spinach, onions

Pork barley

Man, it feels like it has been a minute since I’ve been here. Since my last post, we’ve had lots of great food, from authentic Latin American fair to farm-to-table classics and the best of Charleston. Through all of that, I found some inspiration to make tonight’s dish, combining flavors and techniques I’ve experienced from both Sean Brock’s Husk and Hugh Acheson’s Five and Ten. But really, its not much more that good ingredients, nicely seasoned, and simply prepared. That combination goes a lot further than you make think.

I love pasta dishes. I can’t escape it. And for some reason pairing barley or farro with pork and Brussels just stuck out in my mind. It is very similar to a dish at Five and Ten I had about a year ago and it just popped in my head as a very memorable dish. It goes well with the mushrooms I had at Husk, braised with broth and greens. Fantastic all.

As this blog turns two, we thank you for staying with us and helping us grow. Let us know what else you want to see!

On to the food.

Pan roasted pork with braised barley and mushrooms, spinach and onions, roasted brussels

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of any fat and connective tissue
1 cup pearled barley
1 quart chicken stock
5 portabella mushrooms
1 sweet onion, chopped into thin slices, 1/4 finely chopped
2 tbsb butter
1/4 cup spinach
10 sage leaves
8 brussels sprouts, stems removed and halved.
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
salt, pepper, white pepper
Olive oil to coat pan twice

Start with the barley. In a deep pan, melt butter over medium and add the grains of barley and two pinches of salt. Toast for 2 minutes. Add the fine onions and vinegar. Heat 4 minutes, or until vinegar is absorbed. Add 2 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cover 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chop mushrooms into thin slices. Add to barley and add 1/2 the remaining stock and sage. Simmer additional 20 minutes, until barley is tender.

Season the pork with a heavy coating of salt, pepper and white pepper.

Heat a large pan to medium high and coat with olive oil. Heat oven to 300. Place the sprouts in the hot oil insides down and sear for 3 minutes. Turn and heat for 2 minutes. Place sprouts on a cookie sheet lined with foil and place in oven for 20 minutes.

In same large pan, add more oil to coat. Place the pork in the oil and sear 5 minutes per side (three sides). Reduce heat to low and cover pan for 2 minutes. Remove pork from pan.

In same pan, add more oil and remaining onions. Press garlic and add to onion. Add spinach and stir 1 minute. Add remaining stock and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove mixture from pan.

Cut the pork into very thin pieces. Return to pan with remaining pork and chicken stock mixtures. Baste with jus for 2 minutes, until pieces reach desired doneness.

Plate with spinach and onions in center of plate. Top with barley and mushroom mixture then pork. Place sprouts around the side and top with rogue brussels crispies and sage.


tasty tuesday: braised quick-corned beef hash and cabbage tacos



Irish tacos, y’all.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It was just a scant 3 years ago that on this day I was down in Savannah with some of my best buds for my Bachelor party. It was fun, but I don’t think it is something I need to do again. I survived St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah and no epic tales were spun.

I admit from the outset that I do not make a habit of celebrating this holiday in any big way, as Scotland is the motherland, but I do not begrudge it its culinary traditions. Corned beef (simply salt cured beef) is a wonderful concoction that has filled many a sandwich for me over the years. Its pairing with cabbage is classic. And corned beef hash may truly be the perfect breakfast fuel (if you haven’t had the H&H version you are missing out on a legend in the making).

My love of this food is honored hear with a twist on the classic by turning the dish into tacos, an easy delivery system for the foods. I decided the shells needed to be crunchy for some reason, but in a pinch I think soft shell would be fine. Also, to keep the flavors balanced, I used chuck roast instead of brisket and used a salt and spice crust instead of a cure. You get the flavor without the overwhelming salt throughout. The chuck braises wonderfully and makes for an almost barbacoa like mouthfeel. Incorporating blanched potatoes on the griddle makes a nice hash and steaming with the braising liquid give the potatoes a wonderful flavor without losing texture. The lightly cooked cabbage with vinegar and ginger provides a good contrast and a lemon garlic aioli brings it all together.

This is a fun twist on the tradition St Paddy’s meal that anyone can get behind, even a Scot.

Quick-Corned Beef Braised Tacos

2 lb chuck roast cut into 6 pieces
1 cup salt
1/4 cup garlic
1/8 cup paprika
1 tbsp ground mustard
1/8 cup black pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 bottle Guinness
1 bottle lager
6 whole cloves
4 garlic cloves, quartered
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp whole grain mustard

1 russet potato, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
4 tbsp butter, melted

6 corn tortillas

1/2 head cabbage, cut angel hair
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
salt and pepper

1 egg
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Dijon
1 tbsp lemon juice
Olive oil to thicken
Combine the spices. Roll the meat in the spices coating all sides evenly. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350. Heat a large dutch oven to medium. Melt the butter and saute the onions until the sweet. Remove from pan. Sear the meat cuts on all sides and remove from pan. Deglaze the pan with the Guinness and scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the bits add the clove, garlic, and peppercorns. Boil 5 minutes. Add the meat and onions back to the pan and pour the lager over, leaving the tops of the meat exposed. Cover and place pan in oven for an hour and 45 minutes, flipping halfway.

In the meantime, cube the potato and soak in salt water for 30 minutes. Drain. Heat 4 cups of water in a suacepan to boiling. Add potatoes and boil 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 inch of oil in a saute pan. Heat over medium high heat. Fry the tortillas for 1 minute then flip. When flipped, fold the tortilla into a v shape and continue to fry about 30 seconds, flip to fry the side that was out of the oil. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat. When the meat is ready, reduce temp in oven to warm and place tortillas in the oven.

Heat a large pan and heat the olive oil for the cabbage over medium heat. Add the cabbage, vinegar, ginger, salt a pepper and stir to coat. Cover and reduce heat to low.

In food processor, add garlic, egg, dijon and lemon juice. Blend, slowly adding the olive oil until the mixture thickens. Cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.

When the meat is ready, heat a griddle or saute pan over medium high heat. Spoon 1 tbsp melted butter on griddle and some potatoes. Add a pinch of the spice mix of for the meat.  Heat 4 minutes. Chop the meat and add the meat to the griddle and toss with the potatoes. Ladle a spoonful of the cooking liquid over the hash and cook 2 minutes. Place the mixture into the taco shells. Top with the cabbage and aioli.

Crunch into the tacos!




tasty tuesday: shrimp etoufee

Etoufee Fin

Mardis gras… fat tuesday… tasty tuesday. Same thing.

Welcome to another installment of Alex making food New Orleans style, this time with local whole shrimp and a spicy bowl of goodness. Last time around we had some BBQ shrimp, and now its time for gumbo’s sophisticated brother etoufee. Etoufee is a creole dish (no tomatoes) made with a roux and the trinity of vegetables. Crawfish is a slightly more traditional ingredient, but shrimp is no pour substitute, especially when fresh from the GA coast courtesy of The Dirt Farmers. I might have cheated on the trinity of vegetables here, replacing bell peppers with jalapenos, but hey, I like jalapenos and spiciness and I do not like bell peppers. So there you have it.

Since it is Fat Tuesday, and on Fat Tuesday you tell the truth (usually due to insobriety, but hey), I should say that I really wanted to make etoufee because I’ve never had it before and it is embarrassing given that I was born in Jefferson Parish. Seems like I should have the taste of New Orleans seeped into my skin, but I suppose my moving to Georgia left me with more of a longing than a true appreciation. I like the place, haven’t spent a lot of time there, but like it. I like the food, though the over-reliance on bell peppers can be a turn off. Its a complicated tale filled with half-met expectations and continually growing curiosity.

But, as a dish to warm you up on a cold evening, Fat Tuesday or not, this etoufee is an expectation fully met that will leave you craving for so much more that you won’t mind missing whatever you are giving up for lent.

Shrimp Etoufee

1/2 stick butter
4 tbsp flour
Dash salt
1 large onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded, ribbed, and chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp alt, pepper, paprika, white pepper,
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 qt shrimp stock (vegetable stock simmered with shrimp heads)
1 lb whole shrimp, peeled (leave 4 behind with heads and shells on)
1 tbsp butter
1 cup brown rice, prepared in rice cooker

Head on Shrimp
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 tsp garlic powder
dash canola oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp heavy cream.

Begin by making the shrimp stock. Cut the heads off all but 4 shrimp and add to 1 quart of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes. If you are not using whole shrimp, follow the same procedure using the peels. Strain the stock into a bowl, making sure no peels/heads remain in the stock.

Shrimp Heads

Begin the rice in the rice cooker.

Begin making the roux by melting the butter in a dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk into a thick paste. Lower the heat and cook at least 15 minutes until the roux has browned slightly and has an aroma like browned butter.

Stir in the veggies and cook about five minutes, until the onions begin to wilt. Add the garlic, parsley and spices. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the stock and raise the heat to medium high until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes until veggies are soft and the etoufee has a gravy like texture. Stir in the headless shrimp. Keep on heat for 2 minutes while stirring and kill the heat.

Etoufee Veggies

In a separate pan, add the butter, red pepper, garlic, and vinegar. Heat until butter is melted and add the shrimp. Heat 1 minute then flip and add the cream. Heat 1 more minute and remove from heat.

Plate by placing a small amount of rice in a prep bowl and flip into a pasta bowl. Ladle the etoufee around the rice and top with two of head-one shrimp and spoon some of the spicy sauce. Enjoy and worry not about lent!



tasty tuesday: oxtail fettuccine

Oxtail Fettucine

Happy Tasty Tuesday, food fans. Tonight’s post is a tale in comfort food, if a little out of the box. This is a dish that is sure to warm and fill you up on a cold winter night and its a way to have a nice stew without hours of work. By using a rice cooker and some varied liquids, you can have a bold, savory stew in a fraction of the time.

If you have not had oxtails before, you are missing a treat. They are not scraps, but rather meaty pieces of beef vertebrae that have a similar cooking process and flavor to short ribs. They often have a little bit of marrow that blends with cooking liquid to add flavor to the stew that cannot come from any artificial flavor. It may be a lot of work, but it is worth it.

But it is not without some time to spare, which is why I paired my oxtail stew with homemade whole wheat fettuccine. Oxtail stew is usually served over rice or maybe mashed potatoes, not pasta. But why not? I don’t know. Probably availability of ingredients, but the pairing works well, giving the dish a stroganoff like comfort appeal. You’ll surely enjoy it.

Oxtail stew

2 lb oxtails
Salt and pepper to cover
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
Salt and pepper
6 cloves garlic, 4 diced, 2 whole
1 small can tomato paste
1 12 oz beer
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
4 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flake
Olive oil

In large pan, heat enough olive oil to cover pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot seasoned with salt and pepper and cook until it softens. Add garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes. Remove from pan.

Coat the oxtails in salt and pepper and sear on all sides in pan you cooked the vegetables in. Remove from pan and place in rice cooker.

Pour beer into hot pan with the meat drippings. Add the vegetables back to the pan and stir into the beer. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and seasonings and heat to a simmer. Pour the mixture over the oxtails in the rice cooker, cover and set to cook. This will need to cook for at least 45 minutes, until the tails a able to be pulled from the bone. Remove the meat from the pot and pull the meat and add it back to the pot with the bones and cook five more minutes.


When the pasta is ready, ladle spoon fulls of the stew into the bowls and toss. Top with Parmesan cheese and a whole oxtail if you choose. Oxtails are great for gnawing.

While the stew is cooking, you can make the pasta. Basic flour and egg mixture with salt, olive oil and basil for flavor. If you have a pasta roller, roll until it is almost as thin as it can go and then cut into fettuccine. I think making pasta is a lot of fun and has a great cathartic effect after a days work.

This is a great southern comfort dish with lots of great Italian flavors.Enjoy!

tasty tuesday: steak and scallops, collards, bourbon dijon cream sauce

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Man, it has been a long time since I have graced these pages. Way too long, which is why I had to bring something special this time. Part of my being so sparse has been due to being alarmingly busy, and this night was no different. Attending meetings after work, however short, can put a hamper on a meal’s preparation, so I had to pick foods that didn’t require a lot of effort to bring together in a big way. So, a simple surf and turf is what you get… a sear here, an sear there, and a tasty dish anywhere!

The real star of this dish may well have been the sauce, which is the only thing here that involved more steps than seasoning and searing. The steak received nothing more than salt and pepper on all sides before being seared over high heat with some butter, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare on the tenderloin cuts. The scallops only got salt, pepper and paprika before being seared over medium high heat in olive oil, about 2 minutes per side. The collards were gut into strips and sautéed over medium low in nothing but salt and olive oil. All very quick, very easy, and very pretty.

The sauce was only slightly more complex.

Bourbon Dijon Creme Sauce

1/2 cup bourbon
1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating a deep saucepan over medium high heat. Heat at least 10 minutes (gas) before melting the butter in the pan. Slowly pour in the bourbon, which will catch on fire! Let the flame die and cook the bourbon for about 2 minutes before stirring in the dijon and garlic. Pour in the cream until it simmers and reduce heat. Whisk occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. Sauce should be relatively thick.

As you build your plate, put a little bit of sauce beneath the collards then atop the steak and scallops. This will being the dish together well and provide a little more sauce which is sure to be a hit!

This dish was super delicious and easy. Don’t be afraid to try at home!

tasty tuesday: vichyssoise and steak and tomato flatbread

flatbread and vichy

It was raining. From the time we woke up to time to go home, dreariness was the prevailing mood for the day. This called for a meal of warmth and comfort… soup. Soup, the food hug that seems to be part of the cure to anything, is like taking the lemony raindrops and turning them into savory lemonade. Yeah.

I decided to do Vichyssoise simply because I only found the leeks inspiring at the store. I don’t cook with them often, but they are great ingredients to add an interesting, unique flavor to dishes. It is certainly a way to break away from the usual garlic and onions, even if leeks are basically their lovechild. A wonderful elevation.

The steak flatbread is just a redeployment of a basic pizza crust made with yeast, water, flour, and salt rolled thin instead of pressed out. This worked as a great alternative to the flavors of basic sandwiches or the component of the dish. The steak used here is one of my favorite cuts, the NY strip, spiced and sauteed with butter, cut to be tender. This method made the steak very tender and the flatbread just like eating a pizza with ground beef.

Let’s just say the night feels a good bit sunnier than the day after this meal.


2 leek roots, cut into rings
3/4 sweet onion, diced
8 red potatoes, coarsely peeled
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp marjoram leaves
3 bay leaves
2 tsp italian seasonings
1 tsp herbs de provence
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cream

Rinse the leek rings in warm water in a colander. Heat a large pot/dutch oven to medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add leeks and onion and saute about 10 minutes until color starts to appear.

Chop the potatoes into small pieces. Add them to the leek and onion along with all the herbs and salt and pepper. Stir until potatoes are well coated and cook about 5 fives. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook about 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Pour entire mixture into a blender and return to the pot. Add the cream and stir. Ladle into a bowl and top with garnish of your choice (here, marjoram and parmesan cheese).

Note: to serve chilled, place in refrigerator after blending and add cream after chilling.

Steak and Tomato flatbread
1 Smitten Kitchen quick pizza crust
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp olive oil
1 NY strip steak
Salt, Black and white pepper, paprika to cover steak
Parmesan cheese
4 compari tomatoes

Make the crust.

Coat the steak with each of the seasonings. Using a tenderizing mallet, pound the spices into the meat. Let sit at least 30 minutes to marinate.

Roll 1/2 the crust on a floured surface until very flat perhaps and 1/8 of an inch. Press the garlic and soak in the two oils. Coat the top of the crust/flatbread with the oil and garlic mixture and parmesan. Slice the tomatoes and set aside

Heat a pizza stone to 500. Place the flatbread with oil and parm on the stone and cook 4 mins. Cut the steak into thin strips. Leaving the bread on the stone, layer the tomato and steak on the bread and top with more parm and a garnish of your choice (basil, parsley, rosemary). Return to oven and cook 10 minutes until crust begins to turn golden brown.

Remove bread with peel and cut into quarters to serve.


tasty tuesday: chicken, lentil, and acorn squash soup with rosemary and bacon, plus bourbon apple butter


Fall is a delightful time to be in the kitchen. It’s full of warm, enveloping smells and recipes that take time, but you don’t mind. It’s fall. Braising and roasting doesn’t happen in an instant, and your olfactory senses thank you.

I must confess, however, that I look forward to each changing season and become sad at the end of each season because of the star ingredients we gain and lose. The abundance of tomatoes, peppers, and melons in the summer is so lovely, but the gourds and greens of fall and winter are great, too. The photo above is an interesting study in seasonal transition: an autumnal soup accompanied by a hunk of bread with apple butter and…roasted okra? Okra is decidedly from the summer’s bounty, and it may be the last we get of it from our CSA this year, but it came in the same box as a pumpkin.

This soup, though…this soup should be as ubiquitous as a sorority girl’s pumpkin spice latte. The decadence of the bacon, the heartiness of the acorn squash, and the fragrance of the rosemary marry together in a swirling bowl of fall. The truth about soup is that it’s a great way to remix leftovers. In our refrigerator, I found leftover smoked chicken from Sunday night, some bacon, and some chicken stock that Alex made from the leftover chicken parts from Sunday. I knew we had lentils in the pantry and rosemary in the front yard, so I went to the store, bought an onion, the acorn squash, and some bread. Voila!

Now, a word on the bourbon apple butter. Y’all.

We’re heading out of town tomorrow for my cousin’s wedding in New Hampshire, so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to use all six North Georgia apples we received in our CSA. We’re not big dessert people, so pies, cakes, and muffins were out. I finally settled on apple butter as a way to use the apples, but I could only find recipes that called for apple juice or apple cider as the liquid. Out of laziness and lack of desire to go to the store for one item, I wondered: what could I use instead? Bourbon immediately popped into my head–the flavor profile would certainly work, and it’s something that we always have on hand. I tried it and really liked the result. The flavor from the bourbon is very subtle, but I think it gives the spread a nice depth. The thing I like best about this apple butter is that it’s not sticky sweet. The sweetness is there, but it’s a natural taste that tastes like fruit more than dessert.

Chicken and Acorn Squash Soup with Rosemary and Bacon

Yields 4 large servings, can easily be doubled or tripled

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

1 acorn squash, halved, scooped of seeds, peeled, and diced

5 bacon slices, cut in half

1 sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons

1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup dry green lentils

salt and pepper

In a pot, place bacon slices on the bottom and heat over medium-high heat. You may have to do this in two shifts to avoid crowding the pan. When bacon is done, place on a paper towel and reserve to use as a topping. Turn the heat to medium low and add the onions. Stir onion slices in the bacon fat, then add the garlic, rosemary, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Next, add the acorn squash and stir to combine. After that, add the chicken stock and lentils and bring the liquid to a boil. When the liquid is boiling, place the lid on the pot and turn the heat down to low; cook for 20 minutes. Add the chicken to the soup about five minutes before serving.  Serve in individual bowls with the crumbled bacon on the top.

Bourbon Apple Butter

6 large apples, any variety

1/3 cup bourbon

1/4 cup honey

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cloves

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cardamom

Core and dice the apples, leaving the skin on. Place all of the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot, give them a stir, and heat over medium-low. Let this cook for about two hours, stirring occasionally. After two hours, blend the mixture either with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Makes about 6 cups and keeps for about 1 week.

tasty tuesday: bbq seared tuna with beer and smoked cheddar grits, #pintsandpairings

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Welcome to another edition of a Pints and Pairings Tasty Tuesday for the Peach State Ale Trail, wherein we find a classic southern dish with a little twist. Fish and grits is the slightly less omnipresent brother of Shrimp’N’Grits, but it is a great dish on its own. And since fish is not just a single thing, you can really play with the flavors more than with the new Southern staple. A staple that is on display is the beer that is doubly featured here: Sweetwater’s Georgia Brown Ale. This beer is familiar to Georgians by now, finding its way to many bars and groceries. Like Terrapin, they have put Georgia on the national beer map and make many great beers, even if the first one I heard of was Blue…

Here, I decided to feature the beer in the grits. It makes sense that beer and grits would mesh well together, adding a nice layer of flavor to the sometimes monotone corn dish. Also, the beer flavor is completed by the use of a smoked cheddar cheese that makes a bold statement along with the sweet notes of the brown ale. I highly recommend this method for your evening grits dishes. 

Tuna was my fish of choice for this dish because I am not sure it gets its due as a versatile fish. Sushi or sesame are how you usually find tuna in these parts, which is great, but it also makes a great supplier of bbq flavors as well. Going with the bbq theme, I also made a sauce of roasted serranos and plums to top the fish. You always need a sauce to top the fish. Why not make a spicy sweet one. 

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BBQ Seared Tuna

Canola oil to lightly coat
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
dash cayenne pepper
1 3/4 pound tuna steak

Cut the tuna steak in half, hopefully into strips depending on the shape of the steak. Coat the strips with the canola oil. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Rub liberally on all sides of the tuna steak. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. 

When ready, heat a pan to medium high heat. Coat the pan with oil and sear on all sides, about 3 minutes for the broad sides, and 20 seconds each for the narrow sides. Let rest for five minutes and then slice into thin strips to serve. 

Ga Brown and Cheese Grits

2 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup GA brown ale
1 cup real grits
1 cup smoked cheddar
additional 1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp butter
salt, pepper, onion powder to taste

Bring milk and beer to a simmer over medium low heat. Add the grits and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the grits become tender, add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Allow to cook another five minutes. Leave on low heat until serving. 

Plum and Serrano Chile Sauce

2 Serrano chiles, roasted on a grill pan
2 plums, pits removed
1/4 cup honey
1 dash vinegar

Seed the peppers and put in a blender. Add the plums, honey and vinegar and blend until fine. Pour into a saucepan and simmer about 20 minutes until it is well married. Add honey if it is too spicy for you. (you can do only one pepper if you like as well) Sauce will be thick. 

Plate the dish with grits in the bottom of a pasta bowl and top with tuna strips. Drizzle the sauce over the tuna lightly. 

I served the dish with a basic pear spinach salad with a lemon-mustard dressing. It was a good light complement to the spicy and rich main. 

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Happy eating and drinking friends!

tasty tuesday: carnitas with rice, jalapeno lime agave jam, jicama salad paired with Terrapin Guano Loco

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Today we get to debut a new feature that will occur monthly on the blog. We are happy to announce that we are partnering with Peach State Ale Trail to feature a beer pairing on the blog. This month, the beer pairing is from Terrapin, one of the State’s flagship craft breweries and hailing from the place that should not be– Athens, GA. The beer is this:


I am proud to say it was not in fact bat poop and it was delicious. 

Not having had the beer, I had to trust the advice of Chris Tsavatewa and the internet. Playing off the chili pepper and sweetness, I decided to do a nice bright and somewhat light (in flavor if not calories) Mexican dish with some twists. I hope you enjoy!


4 country style ribs (Pork Butt Strips)
Rub of cumin, black pepper, salt, red pepper, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bottle beer
1 cup water
4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 bay leaves
1/4 onion

Carnitas are a classic Mexican dish similar to slow cooked bbq pork. The dish is braised in a combination of spice and a liquid that allows the pork to stew in its own fat. In other works, it is pork on pork and amazing. 

Begin by heating a deep pan to medium high and adding the oil. Rub the pork in the spice rub (each flavor to taste. I went heavy on black pepper) and sear on each side about 3 minutes per side. Remove the meat and then add the remaining ingredients and stir.

Preheat oven to 325. Bring the liquid to a simmer and add the meat to the liquid, making sure the top of the meat is exposed. Cover the pan and place in the oven. Flip at 30 minutes, cook at least an hour or until the meat pulls easily with a fork.

Jalapeno Lime Agave Jam:

2 red jalapenos, seeded and ribbed
1 green jalapeno, seeded and ribbed
1 tomatillo, peeled
4 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
Juice of 2 1/2 limes
1/2 lime zest
1 tsp black pepper
1tsp salt
1/4 cup agave nectar

Heat a grill pan to medium high. Grill the peppers, tomatillo, and garlic until browned on each side. Squeeze the lime juice into the bowl of a food processor. Add the peppers, tomatillo, garlic, zest, onion and spices. Process until finely chopped. 

Pour mixture into sauce pan over medium heat. Add agave and stir until simmering. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. 

Serve over mexican rice (1 packagege vigo saffron rice cooked to the instructions on the package)

Jicama Tomato salad. 

Jicama is a potato-like tuber with the texture of a carrot. It is fine to eat raw or in a slaw, unlike a potato. It has a sweet flavor which makes it perfect for salad and slaws and has a nice crunch. 

1/2 Jicama root
5 campari tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp cumin

1/8 cup olive oil
1 tbsp blood orange olive oil
1/2 tsp cilantro leaves
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp agave
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1/2 lime

Peel the tough outer layer of the jicama and grate with a large cheese grater. Add the tomatoes and toss with the cumin. 

Mix the dressing ingredients in a deep container with a lid and shake. Pour over the jicama mix and toss. 

These flavors are many layered, classic mexican flavors. The dish maintains a great brightness throughout and has great sweet a spicy notes. This made it a great compliment to the Gauno Loco which, as an ale that has the appearance and texture of a sweet stout, has a nice balance similar to a Mole sauce. You can really taste the sweet notes of the beer combined with the bright lime and hot peppers in the dish. The heat of the dish melts away in the chocolate milk like beer with a kick. The beer certainly makes up for the lightness of the dish, which is why I recommend this paired with food instead of as a stand alone. It is not for day drinking for sure!

I highly recommend both. 

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tasty tuesday: smothered pork chop with shiitakes, quick-fry okra, cauliflower and potato mash, and pickled cucumber

photo(9)This Tasty Tuesday, I took a challenge: pork chops.  I cannot tell a lie–I typically avoid pork chops on menus as I look at them with a skeptical eye.  Will the kitchen overcook them?  Will they taste like chewy tires?  Put simply, they’re usually not that appealing to me.  In recent years, however, I’ve stolen bites of Alex’s pork chops at Downtown Grill, and I have been impressed with every one.  I think my new appreciation for pork chops stems from a simple difference in preparation: the avoidance of cooking them well done.

My friend Steven Fulbright, a fellow Hugh Acheson acolyte, asked me yesterday if I’d ever made Hugh’s recipe for smothered pork chops with chanterelles from A New Turn in the South.  When I told him I hadn’t, he raved about how great they were, so I knew that I had to try them out.  What I ended up with was a take on Hugh’s simple, yet elegant dish, both out of creativity and necessity–I couldn’t find chanterelles at the Fresh Market, so I selected shiitakes instead.  I changed up a few other things, but the simple cooking directions for the meat in Hugh’s recipe made these pork chops, in my humble opinion, pretty darn great.  Seared on the outside and cooked through to medium on the inside, these bone-in chops are simple to make and saved by the accuracy of a meat thermometer.  If you don’t have one, you can buy an inexpensive one at the grocery store or at your local kitchen store–Maconites, go to Robinson Home, of course!

The simple olive oil, salt, and pepper combination on the pork chop allows the meat to shine on its own merit.  The addition of the thin mushroom gravy adds an earthiness to the dish.  The pork chop is set upon a half-and-half mash of baked cauliflower, yukon gold potatoes, and garlic, and some quick-fry okra adds a crispiness to the smooth mash.  The pickled cucumber adds just a touch of sour to cut the creaminess of the mash and stands up nicely to the smooth flavor of the gravy.

Moral of the story: if you think you don’t like pork chops, try, try, again.

Smothered Pork Chop with Shiitakes, Quick-Fry Okra, Cauliflower and Potato Mash, and Pickled Cucumber

Serves 2

2 bone-in, thick cut pork chops (about 6-8 oz. each)

1/2 head cauliflower

2 small yukon gold potatoes

5 garlic cloves

3 Tbsp. olive oil (2 Tbsp. for chops, 1 Tbsp. for cauliflower and potatoes)

2 cups fresh okra, sliced lengthwise

1/3 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese

3 green onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. butter (1 Tbsp. for gravy, 1 Tbsp. for mash)

2 Tbsp. half and half, separated

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup chicken stock

1 Tbsp. flour

1 tsp. fresh thyme

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

handful of pickled cucumbers slices, cut into 1/4 inch vertical slices (I thinly sliced up one cucumber on Sunday and threw the slices in a pickle jar with leftover pickle juice–easiest thing ever.  The crispness of the cucumber is still intact!)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Rough chop the cauliflower and potatoes into golf ball-sized pieces.  In a small bowl, add the cauliflower, potatoes, unpeeled garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and mix to combine.  Wrap the veggie mixture in a makeshift aluminum foil pouch, place the pouch on a cookie sheet, and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.  In a food processor, add the baked potato and cauliflower pieces.  Also add the garlic, but be sure to squeeze the cloves out of the garlic paper before adding them to the bowl of the food processor.  Next, add 1 Tbsp. butter, the pecorino cheese, 1 Tbsp. half and half, green onions, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the bowl.  Pulse until desired consistency is reached; set aside.

Raise the heat in the oven to 400 F.  Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  While the oil is heating, lightly salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops.  Sear the pork chops on both sides (about 4 minutes each), then place the pork chops on a raised roasting pan and let finish in the oven for about 7-10 minutes.  To check to see if they’re done, place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thicker pork chop, right near the bone.  When the temperature reaches 150 F, you know that they’re at medium.  Take the out of the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes.

While the chops are in the oven, add the sliced okra to the remaining olive oil you seared the pork chops in.  Stirring occasionally, let the okra cook up for about 10 minutes, browning on the edges.

During this time, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium pan over medium-high heat.  When the butter starts to bubble, add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Next, add the flour and stir to combine, then slowly whisk in the chicken stock.  Turn the heat down to low and let reduce for about 4 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the thyme, 1 Tbsp. half and half, and lemon juice.

To assemble: add about 1 cup of cauliflower potato mash to the plate.  Lean the pork chop on the mash, then arrange some okra around the pork chop.  Add your desired amount of mushroom gravy to the top of the chop, then sprinkle some of the picked cucumber on the top.  Enjoy!