SAYING WELCOME Y’ALL IT’S TIME TO EAT
WITH RIB EYES, BEAN TAMALES AND HONEY BISCUITS
Spring is running head on into Summer where we have temperatures in the high 80s and midnight thunder storms. Even before we finish emptying that last bag of Rebel rye and fescue grass the trucker tan hits and we all have funny half red arms. This is the time for attacking mosquito breeding waters and carpenter bees in the rafters. Time to fertilize the tomato and pepper plants. Singing Sound Of Music “getting to know you” to the cashiers at Cofers and Home Depot. This is the time to clean out the grills and back yard smokers like Weber Kettle, Brinkman Capsules and best of all, the Big Green Egg.
Marinade the rib eye steaks, make a steak sauce, soak the corn husks, simmer the corn meal and chicken for tamales, and lastly, make the best biscuits in all of World Cuisine. Today we stand here in our South and say hello to the borders on all sides, reach out an open hand say “yes, share my peace, enjoy the day.”
We will prepare inside and finish the meal outside. Any grill will do but
only two will bring out the best of your hickory, apple or cherry wood. Like the dirt our produce is grown in, the wood smoke matters for that perfect taste of our terra terroir. If not for the wild soil then where would our Vidalia onions be?
Georgia dirt has flavor. The smoke we use to cook has flavor. The grass our cows eat add flavor. The soil is central to how flavor evolves in a dish. And the Sun, that beautiful burning star, it is everything to our farms and ranches whether full on in the Dog Days or hidden behind the welcome rains, it is everything to our harvest.
Keep in mind that food goes beyond ‘you are what you eat’ in that it becomes ‘you are what you eat eats.’ Prejudice is the greatest enemy to the evolution of cuisine. Cooks enhance and build, manipulate heat and cold, structure salt and oil so that we taste what is best about a protein and what is best about that day. Eating a melon, tomato or jalapeno raw right beside the plant is about as good as it gets. After that it is up the cook in the kitchen to find what is best and bring it forth.
Practice this mantra when friends ask how you are doing: “How’s it going?” “Great, except I don’t have a Big Green Egg.” “You cooking out tonight?” “Yeah, I guess so. It would better if I had a Weber Kettle or a Big Green Egg.” I am not paid to name names, not paid at all actually, but I sure love pointing out products and places that are sure things and have good people. Recently I was out on my back deck at 1 a.m. finishing up a hickory-apple wood smoked hen and flax seed enhanced biscuits. My neighbor, Randy, came home from his job as Sous Chef at the University Center for Continuing Education. They do a lot for our NE Georgia farms there with an all sustainable Friday every week. We talked deck to deck over the honeysuckle fence. Dogs barking across back yards like dominoes falling, kinda funny as the barks change from hound to beagle to distant Labrador to silence and then they start all over again. We shared hellos and how fun it is to stay up late when the food is so perfect, so delicious. Just relaxation, the stars and unhurried preparation.
I move the tamales to center heat, adjust the bread stone to bring the biscuits home. Close it and open the baffles to increase the heat to 500~. 10 minute biscuits. A little bit more to cook the tamales through and through. The steaks are on the shy side of 5 minutes in this heat. Then the apple wood smoke curls and waves bye-bye as I lift the steaks off the grill. That’s all it takes, just a few minutes. But what a wonderful few minutes. Prepare in the kitchen during the dusk hours, set it all aside and wait for night to grow a bit cooler. Light the wood and wait for the smoke. That’s all it takes. Just a grill and your love.
APPLE WOOD RIB EYE WITH DR PEPPER STEAK SAUCE
Check the butcher section of your favorite market. Ask the guys behind the counter which rib eyes they recommend for grilling. Grass fed gives a leaner, omega 3 rich and hormone clean steak, which I have grown to prefer. Corn fed will be more marbled and juicier. It all depends on what you are in the mood for in your beef. We build up the flavor with the smoke and sauce. You can always melt a slice of Irish or Plugra butter to bring that delicious fat flavor up in the grass fed. Our New Classic American is the Black Angus whereas Hereford are generally the ones for grass fed. There are some amazing farms promoting true all natural Black Angus grass fed and hormone free that is from right here in Georgia off of the Will Harris Ranch. Grass fed has higher Omega 3 than wild salmon. How about that for good tasting and good for you? This is the South, Georgia style.
Soak two pounds of apple wood chunks in water overnight. Use hickory as the base wood for your grill and the apple wood for the extra heat and flavor. The tamales will take the longest to cook at 30 minutes with the temperature no more than 200 degrees. After 30 minutes adjust so that the temperature goes up to 500 degrees. When it is time to cook the steaks and biscuits the biscuits go on first. Remove the biscuits and the bread stone and brush the grill with corn or peanut oil. Add the steaks and close the lid. Two minutes. Turn the steaks and baste with the sauce. Close the lid. Two minutes later check for temperature and let it go to your desired doneness. For me a good grass fed steak is done at 115 degrees or rare. Well done will be at 150 degrees.
2, 12 ounce rib eye steaks, look for good fat content in the tail
4 ounces cranberry-pomegranate juice
3 ounces Dale’s steak marinade
1 two inch stalk rosemary, pull leaves off the stem, put all in marinade
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tablespoon black pepper, crushed
1 ounce extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together and pour into glass or plastic container. Submerge the steaks and cover with plastic wrap pressed down on the liquid. Wrap top of container again in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for only two hours.
DR PEPPER STEAK SAUCE
4 ounce Dr. Pepper
1.5 ounce Worcestershire
1 ounce Soy sauce
3 ounce Apple juice
1 ounce Balsamic vinegar
1 ounce Raisins
3 ounces Peaches, fresh, peeled (2 oz if dried)
Soak raisins and peaches overnight in Balsamic. Don’t worry when the fruits will soak up the vinegar.
1 teaspoon Heinz Ketchup, HFCS free
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Onion, powder
1 teaspoon Chipotle in adobe sauce
1 teaspoon Brown mustard
1 ounce Light brown sugar
2 ounce Honey
1 ounce Molasses
Combine and heat on medium. Frequently stir. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn down to low. Stir and cook for 5 more minutes. Transfer to blender and blend on “puree” setting until smooth. Transfer to deep container and let cool uncovered in an ice bath. When it is 40 degrees put it in your refrigerator, uncovered. When it reaches 38 degrees you can cover it. This prevents any kind of bacteria from forming. The home cook must be as careful as the professional when it comes to sauces and dairy products.
When it is time to cook you will glaze the rib eyes after you turn them over. For rare steak on a very hot grill you only need to cook it for two minutes per side. Glaze on the last turn. The smoke will penetrate the meat fairly well when you close the lid.
OAXACA CHICKEN ‘N’ BEAN TAMALES
Moving further along on our world loving supper we will prepare chicken and bean tamales reflecting tastes of the Oaxaca region of South Western Mexico.
Using corn husks and banana leaves for this fine dish. If you don’t have the leaves just use aluminum foil, and if you don’t have husks then wait until another day.
Oaxaca is famous for their variations on mole, an amazing sauce, way of cooking that involves chili peppers and pure chocolate. The region has stayed close to it’s own history. There are many hills and valleys that keep it secluded and somewhat isolated from outside influences. The Oaxacan tamale is characterized by the banana leaf and black beans. Sometimes they will use avocado leaves as a wrap for their tamales.
4 corn husks, washed and shaken dry
1 tablespoon butter
3 ounces onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 ounces chicken, thigh, chopped
3 ounces black beans, cooked
2 ounces chicken stock
.5 ounce cilantro, stem and leaves, chopped
.5 ounce guajilla pepper, soaked in warm water and chopped
Sauté the onions and garlic for one minute on high heat, add the chicken and stir. Cook for two minutes. Add the cooked black beans, cilantro and pepper and cook for five minutes on medium low heat. Stir a lot. Add the chicken broth and cook for five more minutes, frequently stir to keep the flavors mixing together and to prevent burning to the pan. Mash the beans and chicken together so that when you have finished it will be a paste. Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes.
Portion the chicken and bean paste between the four corn husks. Roll into cigar shapes. Wrap again with banana leaf, aluminum foil or avocado leaves, whichever you have available.
Refrigerate until time to grill.
You will need granulated honey for these biscuits. You can find it in Korean and Pacific Asian markets, or in gourmet sections of the grocery store. The granulated honey is essential to these biscuits. If you do not have granulated honey you can use fine light brown sugar or grind turbinado sugar in a coffee mill so that it is finely granulated. The honey is the thing though since it cooks into the flour so well.
I have made these with buttermilk and week out of date sweet milk. Sour milk has been used for biscuits since the beginning of biscuit making. I remember mistakenly pouring a glass of milk at my Uncle Joe’s house when I was still a kid and being shocked at the awful sensation! My Aunt Phyllis came running into the kitchen to tell me that was her milk for biscuits. And so my love of sour milk biscuits began….I also use half butter and half Crisco non-transfat vegetable shortening for these perfect fluffs of flour.
If you have never made a biscuit or you were dropped on your head as a child then please pay attention to the directions and do not add baking soda or mush the butter up too much in the dough.
Heat your oven or smoker/grill to 500 degrees. While the oven is heating you can make the biscuit batter.
2 cups +1 tablespoon White Lily Self Rising Flour (only White Lily)
.75 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon granulated honey
2 ounces cold butter cut into pieces the size of oatmeal
2 ounces Crisco cut into small pieces
After you cut the butter and Crisco put it back into the refrigerator so that it remains cold. Combine the White Lily self rising flour and honey granules in a medium sized metal mixing bowl. Chop the butter/Crisco into the flour with a knife or pastry whip so that it is barely mixed. There will be little flat pieces of flour. This is how it is supposed to look. Do not mix it in fine or smooth. This is a biscuit not a pastry.
Move the dough into a circle with a well in the middle. Pour the cold buttermilk into the well. Mix the buttermilk and batter together with your hands. Fold it as you go. If it sticks too much to your fingers then add more flour a teaspoon at a time until the flour pulls away from your hands.
Dust a cutting board with a teaspoon of flour and roll the dough out into a quarter inch thick slab. Fold it over twice and then roll again, but not too hard. At this point you want it to be a half inch thick. Using a pastry circle or metal measuring cup push down on the batter to cut biscuits. Do not twist. Push. Making drop or cathead biscuits is perfectly fine if that is what you like, but you will change the cook time by one minute more. Then place the biscuits on the ceramic bread stone or on a pastry pan and cook for 12 minutes. During the last two minutes brush the top of the biscuits with melted butter. They will be light tan, steamy and slightly sweet with crispy (not burnt) bottoms.
And there you have a hot spring supper of tamales, rib eye and honeyed biscuits. Best served with fresh jalapenos, cold sweet tea and slices of honeydew. Doubt you’ll need dessert after this one, just pour a little maple or cane syrup on the biscuits and live it up.
Tired of being isolated,
Set aside to season in darkness.
Inside, the house is empty,
Just Doc Boggs on the stereo
Singing to his Pretty Polly,
To sweet cornbread and peach whiskey,
And I join in the play of song and food,
Make Krispy Cream bread pudding
With Fruit Loop Almond Milk,
Top it off with Cheerwine sweet sauce
And steaming hot chicory coffee.
Like magic on cue or a promise met,
She walks in the door
As I pull the foil off of the bread pudding.
And she walks in the door right
As I am singing “I love you yeah yeah yeah”.
She smiles and tastes this days
Expression of past and present,
She smiles and tastes this evolution of now,
Yeah, for her this is glory, dreams realized,
For me it is pure, pure love alive,
Happy we found it in sugary donuts,
These silky charms of our childhood,
Happy I found her in my days of becoming,
Glad that this is not trapped in time…
Beautiful moment: you touch forever.