One of America’s Favorites – Gravy

February 18, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Mushroom gravy atop French fries.

Gravy is a sauce often made from the juices of meats that run naturally during cooking and thickened with wheat flour or corn starch for added texture. In the United States and Singapore, the term can refer to a wider variety of sauces. The gravy may be further colored and flavored with gravy salt (a simple mix of salt and caramel food coloring) or gravy browning (gravy salt dissolved in water) or ready-made cubes and powders can be used as a substitute for natural meat or vegetable extracts. Canned and instant gravies are also available. Gravy is commonly served with roasts, meatloaf, rice, and mashed potatoes.

* Brown gravy in is the name for a gravy made from the drippings from roasted meat or fowl. The drippings are cooked on the stove top at high heat with onions and/or other vegetables, then thickened with a thin mixture of water and either wheat flour or cornstarch.

* Chocolate gravy is a variety of gravy made with fat, flour, cocoa powder and sometimes a small amount of sugar.

* Cream gravy is the gravy typically used in biscuits and gravy and chicken fried steak. It is a variety of gravy that starts with the roux being made of meat and or meat drippings and flour. Milk is added and thickened by the roux; once prepared, black pepper and bits of mild sausage or chicken liver are sometimes added. Besides cream and sawmill gravy, common names include country gravy, white gravy, milk gravy, and sausage gravy.

* Egg gravy is a variety of gravy made starting with meat drippings (usually from bacon) followed by flour being used to make a thick roux. Water, broth, or milk is added and the liquid is brought back up to a boil, then salt and peppered to taste. A well-beaten egg is then slowly added while the gravy is stirred or whisked swiftly, cooking the egg immediately and separating it into small fragments in the gravy. Called rich man’s gravy in some areas of the southern US.

* Giblet gravy has the giblets of turkey or chicken added when it is to be served with those types of poultry, or uses stock made from the giblets.

Sausage gravy served atop a biscuits and gravy dish

* Mushroom gravy is a variety of gravy made with mushrooms.

* Onion gravy is made from large quantities of slowly sweated, chopped onions mixed with stock or wine. Commonly served with bangers and mash, eggs, chops, or other grilled or fried meat which by way of the cooking method would not produce their own gravy.

* Red-eye gravy is a gravy made from the drippings of ham fried in a skillet/frying pan. The pan is deglazed with coffee, giving the gravy its name, and uses no thickening agent. This gravy is a staple of Southern United States cuisine and is usually served over ham, grits or biscuits.

* Vegetable gravy or vegetarian gravy is gravy made with boiled or roasted vegetables. A quick and flavorful vegetable gravy can be made from any combination of vegetable broth or vegetable stock, flour, and one of either butter, oil, or margarine. One recipe uses vegetarian bouillon cubes with cornstarch (corn flour) as a thickener (cowboy roux), which is whisked into boiling water. Sometimes vegetable juices are added to enrich the flavor, which may give the gravy a dark green color. Wine could be added. Brown vegetarian gravy can also be made with savory yeast extract like Marmite or Vegemite. There are also commercially produced instant gravy granules which are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

In United Kingdom and Ireland, a Sunday roast is usually served with gravy. It is commonly eaten with pork, chicken, lamb, or beef. It is also popular in different parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to have gravy with just chips (mostly from a fish and chip shop).

In United Kingdom and Irish cuisine, as well as in the cuisines of Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand, and some areas in Canada, the word gravy refers only to the meat based sauce derived from meat juices, stock cubes or gravy granules. Use of the word “gravy” does not include other thickened sauces. One of the most popular forms is onion gravy, which is eaten with sausages, Yorkshire pudding and roast meat.

Throughout the United States, gravy is commonly eaten with Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. One Southern United States variation is sausage gravy eaten with American biscuits. Another Southern US dish that has white gravy is chicken fried steak. Rice and gravy is a staple of Cajun and Creole cuisine in the southern US state of Louisiana.

Gravy is an integral part of the Canadian dish poutine. It uses a mix of beef and chicken stock as well as vinegar.

In many parts of Asia, particularly India, Malaysia, and Singapore, gravy is any thickened liquid part of a dish. For example, the liquid part of a thick curry may be referred to as gravy.

In the Mediterranean, Maghreb cuisine is dominated with gravy and bread-based dishes. Tajine and most Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) dishes are derivatives of oil, meat and vegetable gravies. The dish is usually served with a loaf of bread. The bread is then dipped into the gravy and then used to gather or scoop the meat and vegetables between the index, middle finger and thumb, and consumed.

In gastronomy of Menorca, it has been used since the English influence during the 17th century in typical Menorcan and Catalan dishes, as for example macarrons amb grevi (pasta).

In Italian-American communities, particularly on the East Coast and around the Chicago area, the term “gravy”, “tomato gravy”, or “Sunday gravy” is used, but this refers to a tomato sauce rather than meat drippings mixed with a thickener. Used in this context, “gravy” is meant to be an English translation from the Italian sugo, which means sauce, as in sugo per pastasciutta. Whether certain sauces are referred to as “gravy” or “sauce” in Italian-American cuisine continues to be a source of debate and varies according to different family and community traditions.

 

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One of America’s Favorites – Ranch Dressing

February 11, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Homemade ranch dressing

Ranch dressing is a type of salad dressing made of some combination of buttermilk, salt, garlic, onion, mustard, herbs (commonly chives, parsley, and dill), and spices (commonly black pepper, paprika, and ground mustard seed), mixed into a sauce based on mayonnaise, or another oil emulsion. Sour cream and yogurt are sometimes used in addition to or as a substitute for buttermilk and mayonnaise. Ranch dressing has been the best-selling salad dressing in the United States since 1992, when it overtook Italian dressing. It is also popular in the US as a dip and flavoring for chips and other foods. In 2017, forty percent of Americans named ranch as their favorite dressing.

In the early 1950s, Steve Henson developed what is now known as ranch dressing while working as a plumbing contractor for three years in the remote Alaskan bush. In 1954, he and his wife Gayle opened Hidden Valley Ranch, a dude ranch at the former Sweetwater Ranch on San Marcos Pass in Santa Barbara County, California, where they served it to customers. It became popular, and they began selling it in packages for customers to take home, both as a finished product and as packets of seasoning to be mixed with mayonnaise and buttermilk. As demand grew, they incorporated Hidden Valley Ranch Food Products, Inc., and opened a factory to manufacture it in larger volumes, which they first distributed to supermarkets in the Southwest, and eventually, nationwide. In October 1972, the Hidden Valley Ranch brand was bought by Clorox for $8 million.

Kraft Foods and General Foods responded with similar dry seasoning packets labeled as “ranch style”. As a result, they were both sued for trademark infringement by the Waples-Platter Companies, the Texas-based manufacturer of Ranch Style Beans (now part of ConAgra Foods), even though Waples-Platter had declined to enter the salad dressing market itself out of fear that the tendency of such products to spoil rapidly would damage its brand. The case was tried before federal judge Eldon Brooks Mahon in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1976. Judge Mahon ruled in favor of Waples-Platter in a lengthy opinion which described the various “ranch style” and “ranch” products then available, of which many had been created to compete against Hidden Valley Ranch. Judge Mahon specifically noted that Hidden Valley Ranch and Waples-Platter had no dispute with each other (though he also noted that Hidden Valley Ranch was simultaneously suing General Foods in a separate federal case in California). The only issue before the Texas federal district court was that Waples-Platter was disputing the right of other manufacturers to compete against Hidden Valley Ranch by using the label “ranch style”.

Meanwhile, Clorox reformulated the Hidden Valley Ranch dressing several times to make it more convenient for consumers. The first change was to include buttermilk flavoring in the seasoning, meaning much less expensive regular milk could be used to mix the dressing instead. In 1983, Clorox developed a more popular non-refrigerated bottled formulation. As of 2002, Clorox subsidiary Hidden Valley Ranch Manufacturing LLC produces ranch packets and bottled dressings at two large factories, in Reno, Nevada, and Wheeling, Illinois.

During the 1980s, ranch became a common snack food flavor, starting with Cool Ranch Doritos in 1987, and Hidden Valley Ranch Wavy Lay’s in 1994.

During the 1990s, Hidden Valley had three kid-oriented variations of ranch dressing: pizza, nacho cheese, and taco flavors.

A mixed salad with German “Würziges Ranch-Dressing”

Ranch dressing is common in the United States as a dipping sauce for broccoli, carrots and celery as well as a dip for chips and “bar foods” such as french fries and chicken wings. It is also a common dipping sauce for fried foods such as fried mushrooms, fried zucchini, fried pickles, jalapeno poppers, onion rings, chicken fingers, and hushpuppies. In addition, ranch dressing is used on pizza, pickles, baked potatoes, wraps, tacos, pretzels, and hamburgers.

In Germany, Kühne produces a product labeled as Würziges Ranch-Dressing (literally “spicy ranch dressing”). It is based on the common recipe but contains additional tomatoes, red bell peppers, and red pepper. Its color is not white but looks like cocktail sauce.

Ranch dressing is produced by many manufacturers, including Hidden Valley, Ken’s, Kraft, Litehouse, Marie’s, Newman’s Own, and Wish-Bone.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Mashed Potatoes

February 4, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Mashed Potato

Mashed potato (British English) or mashed potatoes (American English and Canadian English), colloquially known as mash, is a dish prepared by mashing boiled, peeled potatoes. Milk and butter are frequently used in preparation and it is frequently whipped at the end. The dish is usually a side dish to meat and/or vegetables. The closely related smashed potatoes dish is made with unskinned potatoes and it is hand mashed and not whipped.

Recipes for making the dish started appearing in 1747 with an entry in The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse. Dehydrated and frozen mashed potatoes are available in many supermarkets.

Mashed potato may be used as an intermediary ingredient for other dishes such as dumplings and gnocchi, in which case the potatoes may be baked or boiled, and may or may not have dairy or seasoning added.

The use of “floury” types of potatoes is recommended, although “waxy” potatoes are sometimes used for a different texture. There are a multitude of “floury” types, but the most commonly known include russet, golden wonder, and red rascal potatoes. Butter, vegetable oil, milk and/or cream are usually added to improve flavor and texture, and the potatoes are seasoned with salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs and spices. Popular ingredients and seasonings include: garlic, cheese, bacon bits, sour cream, crisp onion or spring onion, caramelised onion, mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, spices such as nutmeg, and chopped herbs such as parsley.

One French variation adds egg yolk for pommes duchesse or Duchess potatoes; piped through a pastry tube into wavy ribbons and rosettes, brushed with butter and lightly browned. Pomme purée (potato puree) uses considerably more butter than normal mashed potato – up to one part butter for every two parts potato. In low-calorie or non-dairy variations, milk, cream and butter may be replaced by soup stock or broth. Aloo Bharta, an Indian sub-continent variation, uses chopped onions, mustard (oil, paste or seeds), chili pepper, coriander leaves and other spices.

Mashed potato served with Frankfurter Rippchen, sauerkraut and mustard

Mashed potato can be served as a side dish, and is often served with sausages in the British Isles, where they are known as bangers and mash. Mashed potato can be an ingredient of various other dishes, including shepherd’s and cottage pie, pierogi, colcannon, dumplings, potato pancakes, potato croquettes and gnocchi. Particularly runny mashed potatoes are called mousseline potatoes.

In the United Kingdom, the cold mashed potato is mixed with fresh eggs and then fried until crisp to produce the potato cake. This dish is thought to have originated in Cornwall and is a popular breakfast item. When instead combined with meat and other leftover vegetables, the fried dish is known as bubble and squeak.

A popular accompaniment to mashed potatoes in the United States is gravy. The most common forms of gravy paired with mashed potatoes are beef gravy or turkey gravy, though vegetable gravy is becoming more common as the vegetarian and vegan trends see a rise in popularity.

A potato masher is a utensil which can be used to prepare the potatoes, as is a potato ricer. They may also be whipped with an electric hand mixer, or with sufficient boiling, can be mashed effectively with a durable wooden spoon and brute force.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Michigan Hot Dog

January 28, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 4 Comments
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Michigan Hot Dog

A Michigan hot dog, or simply “Michigan”, is a steamed hot dog on a steamed bun topped with a meaty sauce, generally referred to as “Michigan sauce”. The sauce may be tomato-based, depending on where the Michigan is purchased. Michigans can be served with chopped onions. If served with onions, the onions can either be buried under the sauce, under the hot dog itself, or sprinkled on top of the sauce.

Michigans are particularly popular in the North Country of New York State, and have been so for many decades. Their popularity soon spread to New York City where they remain a fast food staple. One of the earliest known advertisements for Michigans appeared in the Friday, May 27, 1927, Plattsburgh Daily Republican.

Michigans are also very popular in Montreal and other parts of Quebec, where the sauce is often tomato-based. Lafleur Restaurants, a Quebec fast food chain, is known for its Michigans and poutine.

Oddly enough, “Michigan hot dogs” are never referred to by that name in Michigan itself, nor anywhere else in the Midwest. A similar food item, the Coney Island hot dog or “Coney dog”, is natural-casing beef or beef and pork European-style Frankfurter Würstel (Vienna sausage) of German origin having a natural lamb or sheep casing, and topped with a beef heart-based Coney sauce. Conversely, the “Coney Island” is not referred to as such on Coney Island, or anywhere else in New York State, instead called either a “Michigan” or a “Red Hot.”

There is no consensus on the origin of the Michigan. Although there are many different varieties of Michigan sauce available today, the original Michigan sauce was possibly created by George Todoroff in Jackson, Michigan. The sauce was originally created to be used as a topping on Coney Island hot dogs. In 1914, Mr. Todoroff founded the Jackson Coney Island restaurant and created his Coney Island chili sauce recipe. He retired in 1945.

How and when Michigan sauce arrived in upstate New York is somewhat of a mystery. The earliest known advertisement for Michigans appeared in the Friday, May 27, 1927, Plattsburgh Daily Republican. The ad announced the opening of “the Michigan Hot-Dog Stand Tuesday May 24, located between the two dance halls”. That hot dog stand may be the same one mentioned in the Plattsburgh Sentinel on Sept. 16, 1927, as being owned by a Mr. Garth C. Otis:

“Garth C. Otis has leased the quarters in the Plattsburgh Theatre building formerly occupied as the Locomobile salesroom in which place he will conduct an eating place under the name of the Michigan Hot Dog and Sandwich Shop opening Saturday. Mexican chili con carne will be one of the specialties. Mr. Otis promises a first class place for those who desire short order lunches.”

The origin of the “Michigan” name may have come from Plattsburgh residents Jack Rabin and his wife, who fell in love with the Jackson Coney Island hot dog while vacationing in Coney Island and subsequently recreated the sauce at Nitzi’s, their Michigan hot dog stand on Route 9 just outside Plattsburgh. However, a 1984 Sentinel article indicates that Nitzi’s was established in 1935, and says Jack Rabin indicated “his sauce came from Mrs. Eula Otis, who first coined the name ‘Michigans’ for her hot dog and sauce.” Otis was originally from Nashville and met her husband in Detroit, Michigan, where she learned to make meat sauce. They moved to Plattsburgh in the 1920s.

The Nitzi/Otis recipe is currently in use at Michigans Plus, located in the former IHOP building on Route 3.

In Vermont, the Michigan dog is almost always split and cooked on a grill before the meat sauce onions and mustard are added. Often, the bun (or a slice of bread) is also grilled. The first ones sold around the Burlington area were called Charlie’s Red Hots and the small shop was started during World War II by a well-known and respected restaurateur. The family closely guarded the sauce recipe. The originals are no longer sold, but there are many Michigan copies around and many local families claim to have the “Charlie’s” sauce recipe.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Coney Island Hot Dog

January 21, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A Coney Dog

A Coney Island Hot Dog (or Coney Dog or Coney) is a hot dog in a bun topped with a savory meat sauce and sometimes other toppings. It is often offered as part of a menu of dishes of Greek origin and classic American ‘diner’ dishes and often at Coney Island restaurants. It is largely a phenomenon related to immigration from Greece and Macedonia to the United States in the early 20th century.

“Virtually all” Coney Island variations were developed, apparently independently, by Greek or Macedonian immigrants in the early 1900s, many fleeing the Balkan Wars, who entered the US through Ellis Island in New York City. Family stories of the development of the dishes often included anecdotes about visits to Coney Island.

In 1913 the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce in New York had banned the use of the term “hot dog” on restaurant signs on Coney Island, an action prompted by concerns about visitors taking the term literally and assuming there was dog meat in the sausage. Because of this action by the Chamber of Commerce, immigrants passing through the area didn’t know the sausage in a bun by the American moniker “hot dog.” Instead, the handheld food would have been known to immigrants as a “coney island.”

The name coney can be traced back over a hundred years as a 48 acre peninsula in County Down, Northern Ireland inhabited by small rabbits called conies. The hamlet was later called Coney Island albeit was not really an island. It eventually became a park and offered many amenities for entertainment and food. As Irish immigrants moved to the United States some entrepreneurs wanted to copy the same type of park. As the original Coney Island started in New York other unrelated Coney Islands opened in Michigan and Ohio.

As the legend goes, one particular vender of Vienna sausage sandwiches, later called Weiners then hot dogs decided to dress up the hand held sandwiches with chili, onions and several other items. They came to be know as coney islands. While chili dogs are known throughout the country, it seems the original name has stuck in the Cincinnati, Ohio area as several hundred chili parlors sells what is simply called a coney today.

 

Regional and local varieties
Indiana

Coney Islands at Ft. Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Wiener Stand
Ft. Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Wiener Stand was opened in 1914 by three now-unknown Macedonian immigrants. Vasil Eschoff, another Macedonian immigrant, purchased an interest from one of the original owners in 1916. Eschoff’s descendants have operated the restaurant since. The Coney Island in Fort Wayne is described as a small, fatty pink hot dog with a “peppery-sweet” coney sauce on a soft bun. However, the ground beef-based coney sauce at Ft. Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Wiener Stand has the flavor and consistency of a mild peppered savory pork sausage, reflecting its Macedonian heritage. The small hot dog is grilled on a flattop, placed in a steamed bun, yellow mustard applied, then a few teaspoonfuls of the savory chili sauce are added which is then topped with chopped yellow onion.

A Flint-style coney (with dry coney sauce) at Rio’s Coney Island in Flint

Michigan
Jane and Michael Stern, writing in 500 Things to Eat Before it’s Too Late, note that “there’s only one place to start [to pinpoint the top Coney Islands], and that is Detroit. Nowhere is the passion for them more intense.”: James Schmidt, in a debate at the 2018 National Fair Food Summit, noted that “Detroit is synonymous with the Coney Dog: you simply cannot have one without the other.”

The Coney Island developed in Michigan is a natural-casing beef or beef and pork European-style Wiener Würstchen (Vienna sausage) of German origin, topped with a beef heart-based sauce, one or two stripes of yellow mustard and diced or chopped onions. The variety is a fixture in Flint, Detroit, Jackson, Kalamazoo, and southeastern Michigan. The style originated in the early 20th century, with competing claims from American and Lafayette Coney Islands (1917) in Detroit, and Todoroff’s Original Coney Island (1914) in Jackson. The longest continuously operated Coney Island (in the same location) is in Kalamazoo (1915).

Detroit style

Competing neighboring Coney restaurants in Detroit
In Detroit historically many Greek and Macedonian immigrants operated Coney islands, or restaurants serving Detroit Coney dogs. By 2012 many Albanians began operating them as well. The Greeks established Onassis Coney Island, which has closed. Greek immigrants established the Coney chains Kerby’s Koney Island, Leo’s Coney Island, and National Coney Island during the 1960s and early 1970s. All three chains sell some Greek food items with Coney dogs. Detroit style sauce is a bean-less chili sauce, differing from the chili dogs they offer only in the lack of beans. National has most of its restaurants on the east side of the city, and Kerby’s and Leo’s have the bulk of their restaurants on the west side of the Detroit area.

Flint style

A Flint-style coney (with dry coney sauce) at Rio’s Coney Island in Flint
Flint style is characterized by a dry hot dog topping made with a base of ground beef heart, which is ground to a consistency of fine-ground beef. Some assert that in order to be an “authentic” Flint coney, the hot dog must be a Koegel coney and the sauce by Angelo’s, which opened in 1949. However, the sauce was originally developed by a Macedonian in 1924, Simion P. (Sam) Brayan, for his Flint’s Original Coney Island restaurant. Brayan was the one who contracted with Koegel Meat Company to make the coney they still make today, also contracting with Abbott’s Meat to provide the fine-grind beef heart sauce base. Abbott’s still makes Brayan’s 1924 sauce base available to restaurants and the public through the Koegel Meat Company and Abbott’s Meats. Restaurants then add chopped onions sautéed in beef tallow, along with their own spice mix and other ingredients, to Abbott’s sauce base to make their sauce.

Popular folklore perpetuates a myth that a Flint coney sauce recipe containing ground beef and ground hot dogs is the “original” Flint Coney sauce recipe. Variations on this story include either that a relative of the storyteller knew or worked with the former owner of Flint’s Original and received the recipe from them, or that the wife of the owner of Flint’s Original allowed the publication of the recipe in the Flint Journal after his death. Ron Krueger, longtime food writer of the Flint Journal, included it in a collection of recipes from the newspaper but without a cited source, unlike the rest of the recipes in the collection. When asked about this Mr. Krueger replied, “That recipe appeared in The Journal several times over the years. [I don’t] think I ever saw it in the context of a story or ever saw any attribution. It always included the word ‘original’ in the title, but anybody who knows anything knows otherwise.” As to the second myth of Brayan’s wife later allowing the publication of the recipe, Velicia Brayan died in 1976, while Simion Brayan lived until the age of 100 and died in 1990. The actual source of this recipe appears to be an earlier Flint Journal Food Editor, Joy Gallagher, who included the recipe in her column of May 23, 1978. In that column she stated she had included the recipe in an even earlier column. Her apparent source was “a woman who said she was the wife of a chef at the original Coney Island, and that she copied the recipe from his personal recipe book.” Gallagher stated “I believe her”. However, Gallagher also wrote, “I’m not making any claims”. In the same column she also included a second recipe that used beef heart, which she wrote “came to me recently from a reader who swears it is the sauce served at Angelo’s.” The folklore has mixed the supposed sources of the two recipes in this column from Gallagher, with people claiming the ground hot dog recipe is reportedly from Angelo’s. In his column published in the Flint Journal on April 18, 1995, Food Editor Ron Krueger reported taking Gallagher’s ground hot dog recipe directly to Angelo’s co-owner Tom V. Branoff, who refuted the recipe line-by-line. Gallagher’s pre-1978 column is still being researched.

Jackson style
Jackson style uses a topping of either ground beef or ground beef heart, onions and spices. The sauce is traditionally a thick hearty one whether ground beef or ground beef heart is used. This meat sauce is applied on a quality hotdog in a steamed bun and then topped with diced or chopped onions and a stripe of mustard. The Todoroffs’ restaurants were some of the earlier locations for Jackson coneys beginning in 1914. However, those locations are now closed. The company currently manufactures and distribute their coney sauce for retail purchase at supermarkets or other restaurants. There are several other coney restaurants in the area, most notably Jackson Coney Island and Virginia Coney Island, both of which are located on East Michigan Avenue in front of the train station near where the original Todoroff’s restaurant was located. These restaurants all use a blend of onion and spices similar to Todoroff’s but use ground beef heart instead of ground beef for the coney sauce. The Jackson style was late to the usage of beef heart in the sauce, using ground beef prior to converting to ground beef heart in the early 1940s. Jackson takes their coneys very seriously. Each year Jackson Magazine or the Jackson Citizen Patriot have a best coney contest voted on by residents for all the restaurants in the area.

Kalamazoo style

Hot dogs from the Original Coney Island Restaurant and Bar in St. Paul, Minnesota

Coney Island Kalamazoo was founded in 1915, and is the longest continuously operated Coney Island in the state. Their coney island is made up of a topping made from their own recipe served on a Koegel’s Skinless Frankfurter. Koegel’s wasn’t founded until 1916, and it’s unknown which hot dog Coney Island Kalamazoo used prior to the Skinless Frankfurter’s development.

Minnesota

Hot dogs from the Original Coney Island Restaurant and Bar in St. Paul, Minnesota
Greek immigrant Gus Saites opened his Original Coney Island in Duluth in 1921. The hot dog used is the Vienna Beef from Chicago, which is topped with the restaurant’s own coney sauce, with options of mustard, onion, and for a small fee, cheese. The Superior Street location also offers sport peppers as a topping. The decor includes a copy of their 1959 menu showing coney islands were 25 cents each.

The Original Coney Island Restaurant and Bar, operated by the Arvanitis Family since 1923 in a former Civil War armory, is the oldest remaining business in St. Paul, though now open only on special occasions.

North Dakota
In Grand Forks, North Dakota the three location Red Pepper taco chain (including one in Fargo, North Dakota) offer their Coney Dogg (spelled with two ‘g’s). The hot dog is relatively large at 4.0 ounces (110 g). It’s topped with a ground beef-based topping known as a “mexi meat” which, unlike most coney island toppings, is a thick and mildly sweet Mexican chili. It’s then finished with a pile of finely-shredded Colby cheese.

Ohio

Cheese coneys Cincinnati

In Cincinnati, a “coney” is a hot dog topped with Cincinnati chili, usually with mustard and chopped onions. A “cheese coney” adds a final topping of shredded cheddar cheese. The dish was developed by Macedonian immigrants Tom and John Kardjieff, founders of Empress Chili, in 1922. The coney topping is also used as a topping for spaghetti, a dish called a “two-way” or chili spaghetti. As of 2013 there were over 250 “chili parlors” in Cincinnati serving coneys. The two largest chains today are Skyline Chili and Gold Star Chili. Arguably the most famous is Camp Washington Chili, which is called out by Jane and Michael Stern as their top pick in Cincinnati.

Tony Packo’s Cafe in Toledo, OH serves their own style of coney dog, the “Hungarian dog.” This was made famous on the television show MASH. It is actually not made with a hot dog, but half of a Hungarian sausage.

Oklahoma
Coneys are on restaurant menus throughout Tulsa and were originally created there by Greek immigrants. Jane and Michael Stern write that “Oklahoma is especially rich in classic coneys” and call out the Coney I-Lander, writing they “perfectly deliver the cheap-eats ecstasy that is the Coney’s soul.”Oklahoma coneys are small hot dogs on steamed buns with a spicy-sweet dark brown chili sauce, onions, and optional cheese and hot sauce.

Texas
James Coney Island operates a number of locations in the area of Houston, Texas. The company was founded in 1923 by two Greek immigrant brothers, James and Tom Papadakis; the former being the company’s namesake. The town of Grand Prairie in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex also has a Michigan-style Coney Island restaurant, D-Town Coney Island, which serves both the Detroit and Flint-style coneys.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Sautéed Mushrooms

January 14, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Baby bella (portobello) mushrooms being sautéed

Sautéed mushrooms (French: Champignons sautés au beurre) is a flavorful dish prepared by sautéing edible mushrooms. It is served as a side dish, used as an ingredient in dishes such as coq au vin and beef bourguignon, in foods such as duxelles, as a topping for steaks and toast, and also as a garnish.

Sautéed mushrooms is a common dish prepared by the sautéing of sliced or whole edible mushrooms. Butter is typically used when sautéing the dish, and margarine and cooking oils such as olive oil and canola oil are also used. Clarified butter can be used, as can a mixture of oil and butter. The dish is typically cooked for over a high heat until the mushrooms are browned, with the oil or butter being very hot in a pan before the mushrooms are added. Overcooking may create an inferior dish by the causing the mushrooms to lose moisture and becoming shriveled.

During the cooking process, the dish can be deglazed with the use of wine, and wine can be used as an ingredient in and of itself without deglazing. The dish can be flavored with lemon juice, various herbs and seasonings, salt and pepper. Additional ingredients such as minced green onions and shallots can also be used. The dish is vegetarian, and may have a meat-like texture.

A steak topped with sautéed shiitake mushrooms

Sautéed mushrooms is sometimes served as a side dish, and is also used as an ingredient in the preparation of dishes and foods such as beef bourguignon, coq au vin, poulet en cocotte, Poulet Saute Chasseur, soups and stews, sauces, and duxelles, a paste prepared by sautéing mushrooms, onions, shallots, and herbs in butter. Sautéed mushrooms is also used as a topping for cooked steaks and toast, as a side dish meant to specifically accompany steaks, and as a garnish. The dish can serve to add significant flavor to various dishes, in part per the glutamic acid present in the cells of edible mushrooms.

 

One of America’s Favorites – California-Style Pizza

January 7, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Pizza topped with egg from the Chez Panisse cafe

California-style pizza (also known as California pizza or Gourmet pizza) is a style of single-serving pizza that combines New York and Italian thin crust with toppings from the California cuisine cooking style. Its invention is generally attributed to chef Ed LaDou, and Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California. Wolfgang Puck, after meeting LaDou, popularized the style of pizza in the rest of the country. It is served in a number of California Cuisine restaurants. Such restaurant chains as California Pizza Kitchen, Extreme Pizza, and Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza are three major pizza franchises associated with California-style pizza.

California-style pizza was invented more or less simultaneously in 1980 by Ed LaDou (the “Prince of Pizza”), then working as pizza chef for Spectrum Foods’ Prego Restaurant in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood, and by pizza chefs working for Alice Waters at the Chez Panisse cafe in Berkeley, California.

LaDou had learned pizza-making in the 1970s as a teenager at Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too, a traditional New York-style pizzeria in Mountain View, California. He made pizzas briefly at Ecco, an upscale restaurant at the Hyatt Hotel in Palo Alto, California, before starting at Prego. Although Prego specialized in classic, Italian-style thin crust pizzas, its chefs encouraged LaDou to experiment with prosciutto, goat cheese, and truffles in their wood-burning oven, and send his results to guests. At one table, to whom he served an off-menu invention involving mustard, ricotta, pâté and red pepper turned out to be chef Wolfgang Puck.

California-style pizza with greens, egg, bacon, and garden vegetables

By 1980, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse and its head chef, Jeremiah Tower, had already invented California cuisine, a combination of French and Italian techniques and presentation with fresh local ingredient-focused flavors. Waters was a long-time fan of Tommasso’s Italian restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach, which had installed the West Coast’s first wood-fired pizza oven when it opened in 1935. After traveling to Italy, Waters decided to make an open kitchen featuring a Tomasso’s-style pizza oven the focus of the new cafe she was opening above her main dining room. Although prepared in classic fashion, her chefs added exotic fine ingredients to their single-serving pizzas and calzones, such as goat cheese and duck sausage. Her cafe, and its pizzas in particular, were an instant success, attracting wide attention among food critics.

Wolfgang Puck, in 1980 and 1981, was preparing to open the restaurant that would make him famous, Spago, in West Hollywood, California. Initially conceived as a pizzeria, Spago’s was modeled after the upstairs cafe at Chez Panisse. He was so impressed with the pizza LaDou had made for him at Prego, he hired LaDou as head pizza chef. Under Puck’s guidance, LaDou developed more than 250 pizza concepts using ingredients such as scallops, roe, and baby zucchini flowers. Among their most famous invention was “Jewish pizza”, a pizza dough first cooked then topped with smoked salmon, crème fraîche, capers, and dill. Another innovation was using infused olive oil, baby vegetables, chili oil, and flavored dough.

In 1985 LaDou helped two inexperienced lawyer-restaurateurs, Richard L. Rosenfeld and Larry S. Flax, start a new restaurant concept, California Pizza Kitchen (also known as “CPK”). He brought them many of Spago’s recipes, which he had carefully saved. The new restaurant borrowed the concept of open kitchens centered around wood-burning pizza ovens from Spago, but instead of exotic gourmet ingredients it used innovative but simpler comfort food toppings. When the new restaurant’s chef quit less than a month before opening, LaDou quickly designed and cooked an entire menu, inventing the now-ubiquitous barbecue chicken pizza on the spot. LaDou also helped develop pizza menus for Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and the Hard Rock Cafe.

Both Wolfgang Puck and California Pizza Kitchen were instrumental in turning California-style pizza from a gourmet food trend to a mass consumer food product. Based on the success of his pizzas and his status as a celebrity chef, Puck opened a series of restaurants, ranging from high end clones of Spago, to convenience chains for airports and mall food courts. California Pizza Kitchen grew to 200 outlets. Both introduced frozen pizzas, but after an early success Puck’s supermarket lines were overtaken by CPK’s, which are backed by Kraft foods.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Sauerkraut

December 31, 2018 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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German sauerkraut

Sauerkraut (/ˈsaʊ.ərkraʊt/; German: [ˈzaʊɐˌkʁaʊt] is finely cut raw cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. It has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid formed when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage leaves.

Fermented foods have a long history in many cultures, with sauerkraut being one of the most well-known instances of traditional fermented moist cabbage side dishes. The Roman writers Cato (in his De Agri Cultura) and Columella (in his De re Rustica) mentioned preserving cabbages and turnips with salt.

Sauerkraut originally came from China, from where it was brought over to Europe by the Tatars. The Tatars improved upon the original Chinese recipe by fermenting it with salt instead of rice wine. Another claim is that the dish was brought over by the Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan. It then took root mostly in Central and Eastern European cuisines, but also in other countries including the Netherlands, where it is known as zuurkool, and France, where the name became choucroute. The English name is borrowed from German where it means literally “sour herb” or “sour cabbage”. The names in Slavic and other Central and Eastern European languages have similar meanings with the German word: “fermented cabbage” (Albanian: lakër turshi, Belarusian: квашаная капуста, Czech: kysané zelí, Polish: kiszona kapusta or kwaszona kapusta, Lithuanian: rauginti kopūstai, Russian: квашеная капуста, tr. kvashenaya kapusta, Ukrainian: квашена капуста) or “sour cabbage” (Bulgarian: кисело зеле, Croatian: kiselo zelje, Czech: kyselé zelí, Estonian: hapukapsas, Finnish: hapankaali, Hungarian: savanyúkáposzta, Latvian: skābēti kāposti, Romanian: varză murată, Russian: кислая капуста, tr. kislaya kapusta, Serbian: kiseli kupus, Slovak: kyslá kapusta, Slovene: kislo zelje, Ukrainian: кисла капуста, kisla kapusta).

Before frozen foods, refrigeration, and cheap transport from warmer areas became readily available in northern, central and eastern Europe, sauerkraut – like other preserved foods – provided a source of nutrients during the winter. James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him it prevented scurvy.

The word “Kraut”, derived from this food, is a derogatory term for the German people. During World War I, due to concerns the American public would reject a product with a German name, American sauerkraut makers relabeled their product as “Liberty Cabbage” for the duration of the war.

Homemade sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is made by a process of pickling called lactic acid fermentation that is analogous to how traditional (not heat-treated) pickled cucumbers and kimchi are made. The cabbage is finely shredded, layered with salt, and left to ferment. Fully cured sauerkraut keeps for several months in an airtight container stored at 15 °C (60 °F) or below. Neither refrigeration nor pasteurization is required, although these treatments prolong storage life.

Fermentation by lactobacilli is introduced naturally, as these air-borne bacteria culture on raw cabbage leaves where they grow. Yeasts also are present, and may yield soft sauerkraut of poor flavor when the fermentation temperature is too high. The fermentation process has three phases, collectively sometimes referred to as population dynamics. In the first phase, anaerobic bacteria such as Klebsiella and Enterobacter lead the fermentation, and begin producing an acidic environment that favors later bacteria. The second phase starts as the acid levels become too high for many bacteria, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides and other Leuconostoc spp. take dominance. In the third phase, various Lactobacillus species, including L. brevis and L. plantarum, ferment any remaining sugars, further lowering the pH. Properly cured sauerkraut is sufficiently acidic to prevent a favorable environment for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the toxins of which cause botulism.

A 2004 genomic study found an unexpectedly large diversity of lactic acid bacteria in sauerkraut, and that previous studies had oversimplified this diversity. Weissella was found to be a major organism in the initial, heterofermentative stage, up to day 7. It was also found that Lactobacillus brevis and Pediococcus pentosaceus had smaller population numbers in the first 14 days than previous studies had reported.

The Dutch sauerkraut industry found that inoculating a new batch of sauerkraut with an old batch resulted in an excessively sour product. This sourdough process is known as “backslopping” or “inoculum enrichment”; when used in making sauerkraut, first- and second-stage population dynamics, important to developing flavor, are bypassed. This is due primarily to the greater initial activity of species L. plantarum.

Regional varieties

Eastern European style sauerkraut pickled with carrots and served as a salad

In Belarusian, Polish, Russian, Baltic country and Ukrainian cuisine, chopped cabbage is often pickled together with shredded carrots. Other ingredients may include whole or quartered apples for additional flavor or cranberry for flavor and better keeping (the benzoic acid in cranberries is a common preservative). Bell peppers and beets are added in some recipes for color. The resulting sauerkraut salad is typically served cold, as a zakuski or a side dish. There is also a home made type of very mild sauerkraut where white cabbage is pickled with salt in a refrigerator for only between three and seven days. This results in very little lactic acid being produced. Sometimes in Russia the double fermentation is used, with the initial step producing an exceptionally sour product, which is then “corrected” by adding 30-50% more fresh cabbage and fermenting the mix again. The flavor additives like apples, beets, cranberries and sometimes even watermelons are usually introduced at this step.

Many health benefits have been claimed for sauerkraut:

* It is a source of vitamins B, C, and K; the fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering sauerkraut even more nutritious than the original cabbage. It is also low in calories and high in calcium and magnesium, and it is a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese.
* If unpasteurized and uncooked, sauerkraut also contains live lactobacilli and beneficial microbes and is rich in enzymes. Fiber and probiotics improve digestion and promote the growth of healthy bowel flora, protecting against many diseases of the digestive tract.
* During the American Civil War, the physician John Jay Terrell (1829–1922) was able to successfully reduce the death rate from disease among prisoners of war; he attributed this to feeding his patients raw sauerkraut.
* Sauerkraut and its juice is a time-honored folk remedy for canker sores. The treatment is to rinse the mouth with sauerkraut juice for about 30 seconds several times a day, or place a wad of sauerkraut against the affected area for a minute or so before chewing and swallowing the sauerkraut.
* In 2002, the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported that Finnish researchers found the isothiocyanates produced in sauerkraut fermentation inhibit the growth of cancer cells in test tube and animal studies. A Polish study in 2010 concluded that “induction of the key detoxifying enzymes by cabbage juices, particularly sauerkraut, may be responsible for their chemopreventive activity demonstrated by epidemiological studies and in animal models”.
* Sauerkraut is high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, both associated with preserving ocular health.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Country Captain

December 24, 2018 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Country Captain is a curried chicken and rice dish, which is popular in the Southern United States. It was introduced to the U.S. through Charleston, Savannah, New York and Philadelphia, but has origins in India. The dish was once included in the United States military Meal, Ready-to-Eat packs, in honor of it being a favorite dish of George S. Patton.

It has also appeared on television shows in both the United States and in the United Kingdom, with chefs Bobby Flay, Atul Kochhar and Cyrus Todiwala all cooking the dish. Todiwala served his

Country Captain

version to Queen Elizabeth II as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

In its basic form, country captain is a mild stew made with browned chicken pieces, onions, and curry powder. Almonds and golden raisins or zante currants are usually added. Many versions also call for tomatoes, garlic, and bell peppers. The dish is served over white rice. With the exception of the rice, it is meant to be cooked all in the same pot. Chef Mamrej Khan has referred to the dish as one of the first fusion dishes to be developed, making it part of the Anglo-Indian cuisine.

Country captain originated in India as a simple spatchcock poultry or game recipe involving onions and curry and possibly enjoyed by British officers. One theory is that an early 19th-century British sea captain, possibly from the East India Company, working in the spice trade introduced it to the American South via the port of Savannah. The dish remains popular amongst the communities in Mumbai, India. The “country” part of the dish’s name dates from when the term referred to things of Indian origin instead of British, and so the term “country captain” would have meant a captain of Indian origin, a trader along the coasts of India. Others claim that the word “captain” in the title is simply a corruption of the word “capon”.

In 1991, New York Times columnist Molly O’Neill researched the origin of the dish known as country captain, which had been a steady feature in southern cookbooks since the 1950s. Working with Cecily Brownstone, they discovered that the dish originally published in the United States in the pages of Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book published in Philadelphia in 1857.[8] The recipe required a “fine full-grown fowl”. It also appeared in the kitchens of Alessandro Filippini, who was a chef with a restaurant on Wall Street in the 18th century.

Fans of the dish have included Franklin D. Roosevelt, who introduced it to George S. Patton. It was Patton’s love for the dish which subsequently resulted in it being added in his honor to the U.S. Army’s Meal, Ready-to-Eat field rations in 2000. A variety of Southern chefs have recipes for the dish, including Paul Prudhomme, Paula Deen and Emeril Lagasse. The dish was featured on an episode of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay in season 6 guest-starring Matt and Ted Lee. It also appeared on the BBC One cooking show, Saturday Kitchen, with chef Atul Kochhar cooking the regular chicken and rice version of the dish.

Chef Cyrus Todiwala cooked a variation of country captain on Saturday Kitchen. His version was similar to Shepherd’s Pie, in that the meat was baked under a layer of potato. He had previously cooked the dish for Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at Kirishna Avanti school in Harrow as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. That version of the dish used rare breed lamb from the Orkney Islands which had been fed on seaweed. The dish is also now on the menu of Todiwala’s London restaurant, Café Spice Namasté.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Barbecue in Texas

December 17, 2018 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Texas Barbecue is a traditional style of preparing meat unique to the cuisine of Texas. It is one of the many different varieties of barbecue found around the world.

Texas barbecue traditions can be divided into four general styles: East Texas, Central Texas, South Texas, and West Texas. The Central and East Texas varieties are generally the most well-known. In a 1973 Texas Monthly article, Author Griffin Smith, Jr., described the dividing line between the two styles as “a line running from Columbus and Hearne northward between Dallas and Fort Worth”.

Additionally, in deep South Texas and along the Rio Grande valley, a Mexican style of meat preparation known as barbacoa can be found. In Spanish, the word barbacoa means “barbecue”, though in English it is often used specifically to refer to Mexican varieties of preparation.

Generally speaking, the different Texas barbecue styles are distinguished as follows:

East Texas style: The meat is slowly cooked to the point that it is “falling off the bone.” It is typically cooked over hickory wood and marinated in a sweet, tomato-based sauce.

A plate of South Texas Style BBQ. Potato salad is common in Texas barbecue as a side dish.

Central Texas style: The meat is rubbed with only salt and black pepper or in some restaurants with spices and cooked over indirect heat from pecan or oak wood or mesquite wood or a combination of woods. Sauce is typically considered unneeded but may be served on the side.
West Texas style: The meat is cooked over direct heat from mesquite wood.
South Texas style: Features thick, molasses-like sauces that keep the meat very moist.
The barbacoa tradition is somewhat different from all of these. Though beef may be used, goat or sheep meat are common as well (sometimes the entire animal may be used). In its most traditional form, barbacoa is prepared in a hole dug in the ground and covered with maguey leaves.

European meat-smoking traditions were brought by German and Czech settlers in Central Texas during the mid-19th century. The original tradition was that butchers would smoke leftover meat that had not been sold so that it could be stored and saved. As these smoked leftovers became popular among the migrants in the area, many of these former meat markets evolved to specialize in smoked meats. Many butcher shops also evolved into well-known barbecue establishments.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson hosted a state dinner featuring barbecue for the Mexican president-elect in Johnson City, Texas. It is generally considered the first barbecue state dinner in the history of the United States.

Central Texas
Central Texas pit-style barbecue was established in the 19th century along the Chisholm Trail in the towns of Lockhart, Luling, and Taylor. The German and other European immigrants who owned meat packing plants opened retail meat markets serving cooked meats wrapped in red butcher’s paper– this tradition continues to this day in many central Texas towns. Also, this barbecue style’s popularity has spread considerably around the world, especially to Southern California, New York City, and in Britain and Australia.

Today, many barbecue restaurants open around 11:00am and serve until “they are out of meat”, most barbecue establishments are closed on Sundays.

At a typical Central Texas pit barbecue restaurant, the customer takes a tray cafeteria style and is served by a butcher who carves the meat by weight, side dishes and desserts are then picked up along the line with sliced white bread, pickles, sliced onion, and jalapeno. Barbecue meats are commonly sold by the pound. The emphasis of Central Texas pit barbecue is on the meat, if sauce is available, it is usually considered a side dip for wetting purposes. Calvin Trillin, writing in The New Yorker, said that discussions of Central Texas pit barbecue do not concern the piquancy of the sauces, or on the common side dishes and desserts– main consideration is of the quality of the cooking of the meats.

Smith posits this theory on why sauces are not a focus of Central Texas pit style: in the early days, the noon meat markets were dominated by the upper class purchasers, who could choose among the highest-quality cuts of meat with little interest in sauces. Smith describes many sauces in Central Texas pit barbecue as intentionally made “bland”, as compared to the flavor of the meats themselves. The sauce is typically thinner and unsweetened, different than the Kansas City and Memphis styles (which rely heavily on molasses, sugar, and corn syrup to provide thickness and sweetness).

Jayne Clark of the USA Today said in 2010 that the “Texas Barbecue Trail” is an east of Austin “semi-loop” including Elgin, Lockhart, Luling, and Taylor. Barbecue eateries in this semi-loop, like Louie Mueller Barbecue, are within one hour’s drive from Austin, in a direction of northeast to the southeast.

East Texas
East Texas barbecue is usually chopped and not sliced. It may be made of either beef or pork, and it is usually served on a bun. Griffin Smith, Jr. of Texas Monthly described East Texas barbecue as an “extension” of barbecue served in the Southern United States and said that beef and pork appear equally in the cuisine.

Smith further described East Texas barbecue as “still basically a sandwich product heavy on hot sauce.”

Other styles
West Texas barbecue, sometimes also called “cowboy style,” traditionally used a more direct heat method than other styles. It is generally cooked over mesquite, with goat and mutton in addition to beef.

Barbecue in the border area between the South Texas Plains and Northern Mexico is mostly influenced by Mexican cuisine. Historically, this area was the birthplace of the Texas ranching tradition. Often, Mexican farmhands were partially paid for their work in less desirable cuts of meat, such as the diaphragm and the cow’s head. It is the cow’s head which defines South Texas barbecue (called barbacoa). The head would be wrapped in wet maguey leaves and buried in a pit with hot coals for several hours, after which the meat would be pulled off for barbacoa tacos. The tongue would also be used to make lengua tacos. Today, barbacoa is mostly cooked in an oven in a bain-marie.

 

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