Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blacked Eyed Peas and Hamhocks

If you do not already have a deep and passionate love affair with Black Eyed Peas, then you are truly missing out. Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husbands too because if you whip up this recipe you will cheat on all of them.

I swear before the Living God himself.

Lawd Jesus!

Not only are black eyed peas good for you, they bring you luck (in both Black and white Southern traditions but for extremely different reasons), but you will discover that on their own with nothing but a touch of salt added they make their own delicious broth that is lovely....add a few extra ingredients and you will have a lover that will always leave you satisfied and begging for more.

Black Eyed Peas and Hamhocks

1lb bag of black eyed peas
2-3 hamhocks
1 jalapeno
1/2 medium red onion diced
2 cloves of garlic diced
1/3 cup cilantro diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Adobo seasoning
1/2 cup minced basil
1 tbsp dried/fresh rosemary

In a large pot combine all ingredients and fill the pot with water until ingredients covered and just shy of a 1/2 inch to inch below the rim. Bring the contents to the a boil and reduce heat to medium high. Watch the pot and stir occasionally and add water to make sure that the ingredients stay covered. Cook for about three to four hours, covering occasionally as well to help speed the process.  Once the beans are soft to the fork and the fat has been rendered from the ham hocks serve with rice. Black eyed peas are one of the only beans that you do not have to soak overnight, which makes them oh so lovely.

A single pot of black eyed peas with hamhocks over jasmine rice will feed a family of four, for several servings, for less than $8. Add your favorite extra to it (fried pork chops, smothered chicken, etc.) and you have a feast fit for a Southern belle.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Southern Fried Chicken a la Fierce!

Now my Mama makes some of the best fried chicken that I have ever tasted. To be specific her fried chicken wings have been known to cause small riots as folks stampede to grab the last one at the end of a meal. Mama learned years ago that when she was in the mood to make chicken wings, she might as well go on ahead and make the entire bag of 50 frozen wings so as to avoid bloodshed at the kitchen table.

That is some damn good chicken. And though I wish my mother another 50 years of life, when she goes on to make chicken wings for the Lord, the first thing I am claiming is her cast iron skillet. She's had that thing for most of my life, and if you know anything about frying chicken, you know that the only way to get it perfect is to deep fry it in Crisco in a cast iron skillet that has been heated to a temperature somewhere around the surface of the sun. If you are really old school, and you want to do it the Southern way, you heat up a cast iron cauldron and you fry that shiz out back of your house over a grate laid across the top of an outdoor fire.

Unfortunately, I live in heart of Manhattan, and the city frowns on bubbling hot grease snapping and popping on your fire escape above the heads of the residents of Hell's Kitchen. Plus, our building is 100+ years old and has very little wall between us and the outside, and, for example, I am tempted to pour boiling hot Crisco on the heads of the folks being loud down below my windows as we speak. Also, there are two schools next door to my apartment building and across the street. Those way too grown and often too sassy children would work my last gay nerve one day and there would be a mighty tragedy. Southern Fried Elementary School Children is just plain wrong.

But back to the chicken. I have a good friend by the name of Jason Chan that has an unnatural love for the yard bird. He scalps a piece down until ain't nothing left on that bone but teeth marks. Last week, I found an excuse to make fried chicken for my friend Snehal, where I experimented with a new recipe that was inspired by an episode of the television show "Chopped," and I perfected it with Jason two days later. This is the first time that my chicken would go toe to toe with my Mamas, and if I had that cast iron skillet, I might even beat the old yard bird at her own soul food game!

So here it is, my new fried chicken recipe.

Southern Fried Chicken a la Fierce!

Batter Mixture

6 cups white flour
3 cups Corn Meal
4  packets Goya Sazon con Azafran
4 tsps cumin
2 tsps Cayenne Pepper
2 tsps Chili Powder
3 tbsp Lowry's Seasoning Salt
2 tsps salt
2 tsps pepper
 2 large eggs

In a large, deep, and preferably resealable container, mix all the ingredients together except the eggs, which are the basis of the batter. The powder mixture can be saved nearly indefinitely and be reused. In a separate large bowl, crack the eggs and whip and set aside.

Chicken and Oil

1 whole fryer chicken cut up
1 medium sized bottle of vegetable oil (I recommend Crisco)
4 cloves of garlic
1 whole red onion chopped up
1 large tablespoon of Jeow Bong (this is an optional ingredient and is a traditional sweet-spicy chili paste, also, though I have not seen Jeow Bong in US food stores, I have seen other similar pastes, if not you can experiment perhaps with some chopped up tamarind and red pepper flakes or perhaps some garlic pepper hot sauce that is easy to find in the Asian food island at your local market).

The first order of business is to combine to heat your oil over high heat. You want the oil to get as hot as it possible can get without burning.  The hotter the oil the crispier the chicken. Also, a cast iron skillet maximizes the heat level if you happen to have one, otherwise a big soup pot will work as well. One the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, and Jeow Bong or tamarind/garlic pepper sauce and cook until the garlic starts to brown and the onions become transparent. You will have to stir the oil to make sure that the paste breaks down.

While you are working on the oil, you will also want to dip each piece of chicken in the egg, make sure it is evenly covered and then drop several pieces at once into the batter mixture. Close the lid and shake vigorously until all pieces are completely covered. Once the oil is ready and spitfire hot, drop your chicken in.

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THIS! The chicken needs space to crisp. Do not overload the oil with too much chicken at once. The pieces need to be able to bob around a little bit to cook up the best. Once the chicken is tender to the fork and the skin is crispy and it has started to float towards the top of the oil, pull it out and set it on a plate that have a layer of napkins across them to soak up excess oil. The frying shouldn't take anymore than 12-15 minutes for the larger pieces and a little shorter for legs and wings. If you buy a whole fryer, drop the neck, gizzard, heart and liver into the oil as these make an awesome and tasty amuse bouche!

I promise you that this chicken will change your life.

If you have access to a butcher this dish will cost you less than $10 to make if you have the more common ingredients lying around at home and perhaps $17 if you have to purchase the chicken from the grocer and some of the other ingredients. This should feed a family of four, but if Jason is around, it's just enough for two.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pho dac Brandon

Now anyone and everyone who has ever had pho and loved it will know that it is a magical dish that only an ancient Vietnamese woman can conjure. I learned from my Vietnamese friends that they don't even make the stuff at home, they go to the pho shop. Well....I tried to make pho once and the three day process resulted in a tragedy.

So, I decided to make my own "not really but imma call it pho" recipe.

Here it is.

Pho dac Brandon

1lb thinly sliced beef steak cubed
1 whole onion diced
2 jalapenos diced
1 bunch cilantro diced
3 potatoes diced
3 carrots sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
6 cups water
1 packet Goya Sazon con Azafran
2 cans Goya black beans

Put the onions, jalapenos, cilantro, and garlic and sautee in oil until the onions are transparent.  Add in all other ingredients except carrots, potatoes and water. Sautee together for about 10 minute. Add water, potatoes, and carrots. Let simmer over medium heat for one hour.

This recipe will serve 8-10 people for roughly $15.