One of America’s Favorites – Country Ham

September 13, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Baked Country Ham

Country ham is a variety of heavily salted ham preserved by curing and smoking, associated with the cuisine of the Southern United States. Used as a method of preservation from before widespread refrigeration, country ham is packed in a mixture of salts, sugar, and spices and allowed to cure for a long period of time, sometimes months, and often smoked afterwards. Most preparations call for a long soak (as long as a day or two) prior to preparation so that much of the salt can be removed and the ham rehydrated. Commercially available country hams may be sold whole as-is (often still wrapped in the net bags used to hang the hams during the smoking process), soaked but uncooked, or cooked and ready to eat. Country ham is often contrasted with wet-cured hams known as city ham in areas of the U.S. where both types of ham are available.

Country ham is a popular breakfast item in the southern U.S. It is often served in diners as a grilled steak, with the cross-cut portion of the leg bone still intact, alongside a portion of red-eye gravy, which is made by deglazing the pan used to cook the ham with black coffee and then reducing the resulting sauce. Country ham is also served as a biscuit sandwich in popular fast-food establishments across the southern U.S. as a convenient breakfast food.

Country hams are salt-cured (with or without nitrites) for one to three months. They are usually hardwood smoked (usually hickory and red oak), but some types of country ham, such as the “salt-and-pepper ham” of North Carolina, are not smoked. Missouri country hams traditionally incorporate brown sugar in their cure mix and are known to be milder and less salty than hams produced in more eastern states such as Kentucky and Virginia. They are then aged for several months to 3 years, depending on the fat content of the meat. Country hams are not fully cooked, but preserved by the cure. They are usually sold in stores unrefrigerated as whole, bone-in hams packaged in rough cotton bags, with identifying markings printed on the bags. Country ham is also sold in presoaked, sliced, ready-to-cook form, usually vacuum-packaged.

There are several methods of cooking a country ham including slicing and pan-frying, baking whole, and simmering for several hours (in several changes of water). Whole hams may need to be scrubbed and soaked for several hours before eating to remove the salt cure and mold. Even when soaked, they are still quite salty. For traditionalists, part of the appeal of country ham is this highly salty taste. Some eaters of country ham scrub, scrape, or pare off the outer crust of curatives, slice it, pan fry it, and eat it as is. Or they may fry the ham with the crust on. Some discard the crust; others consume it along with the meat. Traditionalists, when frying the ham, will typically place it in a pan only long enough to lightly brown it on both sides and to warm the meat. Frying times as short as thirty seconds per side are not uncommon.[citation needed]

Fried country ham is often served as a main course as a whole slice, often with the femur cross-section left in. After the ham slice is fried and taken up, red-eye gravy is often made, by adding water or coffee to the pan drippings and cooking down for a short time. A ham steak is usually sliced about 3⁄8 inch thick.

Baked or boiled country ham is sliced paper thin and served with buttermilk (or similar) biscuits, beaten biscuits, or in yeast rolls, sometimes with butter or a sauce of melted butter and brown sugar. “Ham biscuits” (so-called whether in biscuits or rolls) are often found at church suppers and wedding receptions in the country ham area.

Trimming and scraps, the cooked bones, and the sawn-off hock are used for flavoring in the cooking of greens and pulses

Country ham is in some ways similar to Italian uncooked prosciutto (prosciutto crudo), but prosciutto is not smoked, and is usually moister than a country ham. It is also usually sliced much thinner than the thicker traditional country ham “steaks” or even slices for sandwiches.

In the United States, country ham is frequently used in recipes that call for Jinhua ham, which is not available in the US, due to USDA import restrictions.

One of America’s Favorites – Stromboli

September 6, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Homemade stromboli

Stromboli is a type of turnover filled with various Italian cheeses (typically mozzarella) and usually Italian cold cuts (typically Italian meats such as salami, capocollo and bresaola) or vegetables. The dough used is either Italian bread dough or pizza dough. Stromboli was invented by Italian-Americans in the United States in suburban Philadelphia. The name of the dish is taken from the 1950 film Stromboli, which in turn is named after a volcanic island off the coast of Sicily.

A stromboli is similar to a calzone, and the two are sometimes confused. Unlike calzones, which are always stuffed and folded into a crescent shape, a stromboli is typically rolled or folded into a cylinder, and may sometimes contain a thin layer of tomato sauce on the inside.

Many American pizza shops serve a stromboli using pizza dough that is folded in half with fillings, similar to a half-moon-shaped calzone. At other establishments, a stromboli is made with a square-shaped pizza dough that can be topped with any pizza toppings and is then rolled into a cylindrical jelly roll shape and baked. Other variations include adding pizza sauce or deep-frying, similar to panzerotti.

There are several claims regarding the origin of the usage of the name stromboli for food in the United States.

Romano’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria claims to have first used the name in 1950 in Essington, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia, courtesy of Nazzareno Romano, an Italian immigrant. The pizzeria owner had experimented with “pizza imbottita”, or “stuffed pizza”, and added ham, cotechino sausage, cheese and peppers into a pocket of bread dough. His future brother-in-law suggested he name it after the recently released movie Stromboli, notorious for an off-screen affair between married actress, Ingrid Bergman, and married director, Roberto Rossellini, resulting in a love child.

In 1954, Mike Aquino of Mike’s Burger Royal in Spokane, Washington, says he also named a turnover after the same movie. However, Aquino’s version appears to only share the same name as the commonly accepted version of the stromboli and is significantly different from the Philadelphia turnover version that is usually defined as a “stromboli”. Aquino’s “stromboli” consists of capicola ham and provolone cheese covered in an Italian chili sauce on a French bread roll. Variations also exist in Indiana.

One of America’s Favorites – Chili Con Carne

August 30, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A bowl of chili con carne served with tortilla chips

Chili con carne (also spelled chilli con carne or chile con carne and shortened to chili or chilli; Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtʃili kon ˈkaɾne]), meaning “chili with meat”, is a spicy stew containing chili peppers (sometimes in the form of chili powder), meat (usually beef), tomatoes and optionally kidney beans. Other seasonings may include garlic, onions, and cumin. The dish originated in northern Mexico or southern Texas.

Geographic and personal tastes involve different types of meat and other ingredients. Recipes provoke disputes among aficionados, some of whom insist that the word chili applies only to the basic dish, without beans and tomatoes. Chili con carne is a common dish for cook-offs, and may be used as a side, garnish, or ingredient in other dishes, such as soups or salsas.

In writings from 1529, the Franciscan friar, Bernardino de Sahagún described chili pepper-seasoned stews being consumed in the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, now the location of Mexico City. The use of beef as the primary meat originated with Spanish colonizers. In Spanish, the term “chile con carne”, consisting of the word chile (from the Nahuatl chīlli) and carne, Spanish for ‘meat’, is first recorded in a book from 1857 about the Mexican-American War. A recipe dating back to the 1850s describes dried beef, suet, dried chili peppers and salt, which were pounded together, formed into bricks and left to dry, which could then be boiled in pots in an army encampment in Monterrey, of what is now Nuevo León, Mexico.

Chili became commonly prepared in northern Mexico and southern Texas. Unlike some other Texas foods, such as barbecued brisket, chili largely originated with working-class Tejana and Mexican women. The chili queens of San Antonio, Texas were particularly famous in previous decades for selling their inexpensive chili-flavored beef stew in their casual “chili joints”.

A pot of chili with whole green hot chilis, kidney beans, and tomatoes

 

The San Antonio Chili Stand, in operation at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, helped popularize chili by giving many Americans their first taste of it. San Antonio was a tourist destination and helped Texas-style chili con carne spread throughout the South and West. Chili con carne is the official dish of the U.S. state of Texas as designated by the House Concurrent Resolution Number 18 of the 65th Texas Legislature during its regular session in 1977.

Before World War II, hundreds of small, family-run chili parlors could be found throughout Texas and other states, particularly those in which émigré Texans had made new homes. Each establishment usually had a claim to some kind of secret recipe.

By 1904, chili parlors were opening outside of Texas, in part due to the availability of commercial versions of chili powder, first manufactured in Texas in the late 19th century. After working at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Charles Taylor opened a chili parlor in Carlinville, Illinois, serving Mexican Chili. Varallo’s, the oldest restaurant in Tennessee, opened as a chili parlor in 1907, competing with other chili parlors that had opened in Nashville during the 1890s. In the 1920s and 1930s, chains of diner-style chili parlors began opening in the Midwest.

Cincinnati chili, a dish developed by Macedonian and Greek immigrants deriving from their own culinary traditions, arguably represents the most vibrant continuation of the chili parlor tradition, with dozens of restaurants offering this style throughout the Cincinnati area. It can be traced back to at least 1922, when the original Empress Chili location opened.

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, the chili parlor Chili John’s has existed since 1913. As with Cincinnati chili, it is most commonly served over spaghetti with oyster crackers, but the recipe is less sweet with a higher proportion of fat. The original proprietor’s son opened a second location in Burbank, California in 1946, which is also still in existence.

Until the late 2000s, a chili parlor dating to 1904, O.T. Hodge, continued to operate in St. Louis. It featured a chili-topped dish called a slinger: two cheeseburger patties, hash browns, and two eggs, and smothered in chili. As of 2014 no O.T. Hodge-branded locations remain, though Tully’s Tap, a pub and restaurant in O’Fallon, Missouri, offers what it claims to be the original O.T. Hodge recipe on its menu.

Dispute over ingredients

Ingredients for chili con carne

Beans
Beans, a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine, have been associated with chili as far back as the early 20th century. The question of whether beans belong in chili has long been a matter of contention among chili cooks. While it is generally accepted that the earliest chilis did not include beans, proponents of their inclusion contend that chili with beans has a long enough history to be considered authentic. The Chili Appreciation Society International specified in 1999 that, among other things, cooks are forbidden to include beans in the preparation of chili for official competition—nor are they allowed to marinate any meats. Small red or pink common beans are commonly used for chili, as are black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, pinto beans, great northern beans, or navy beans.

Most commercially prepared canned chili includes beans. Commercial chili prepared without beans is usually called “chili no beans” in the United States. Some U.S. manufacturers, notably Bush Brothers and Company and Eden Organic, also sell canned precooked beans (without meat) that are labeled “chili beans”; these beans are intended for consumers to add to a chili recipe and are often sold with spices added.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are another ingredient on which opinions differ. Wick Fowler, a north Texas newspaperman and inventor of “Two-Alarm Chili” (which he later marketed as a kit of spices), insisted on adding tomato sauce to his chili in the ratio of one 15-ounce can per three pounds of meat. He also believed that chili should never be eaten freshly cooked, but refrigerated overnight to seal in the flavor. Matt Weinstock, a Los Angeles newspaper columnist, once remarked that Fowler’s chili “was reputed to open eighteen sinus cavities unknown to the medical profession”.

Variations

Vegetarian chili

A pot of vegetarian chili

Vegetarian chili (also known as chili sin carne, chili without meat, chili non carne, and chili sans carne) acquired wide popularity in the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s with the rise of vegetarianism. It is also popular with those on a diet restricting the use of red meat. To make the chili vegetarian, the cook leaves out the meat or replaces it with a meat analogue, such as textured vegetable protein or tofu, quinoa, or a starchy vegetable, such as potatoes. These chilis nearly always include beans. Variants may contain corn, squash, sautéed mushrooms, pearl onions, shallots or beets.

Chili verde
Chili verde (‘green chili’) is a moderately to extremely spicy New Mexican stew or sauce usually made from chunks of pork that have been slow-cooked in chicken broth, garlic, green tomatillos, and roasted green chilis.] The spiciness of the chili is adjusted by the use of various peppers: poblano, jalapeño, serrano, and occasionally habanero. Chili verde is a common filling for the Mission burrito.

White chili

A bowl of Texas-style chili without beans

White chili is made using chicken or turkey meat and broth, white beans, and green chili peppers. The resulting dish appears white when cooked and is more of a soup rather than a thickened stew. A white cheese, such as Monterey Jack, or sour cream are often added when served.

The dish may be served with toppings or accompaniments; grated cheese, diced onions, and sour cream are common toppings, as are saltine crackers, tortilla chips or corn chips, cornbread, rolled-up corn or flour tortillas, and pork tamales. Chili can also be served over rice or pasta in dishes such as chili mac.

Pre-made chili
Canned chili
Willie Gebhardt, originally of New Braunfels, Texas, and later of San Antonio, produced the first canned chili in 1908. Rancher Lyman Davis near Corsicana, Texas, developed Wolf Brand Chili in 1895. He owned a meat market and was a particular fan of Texas-style chili. In the 1880s, in partnership with an experienced range cook, he began producing heavily spiced chili based on chunks of lean beef and rendered beef suet, which he sold by the pot to local cafés.

In 1921, Davis began canning his product, naming it for his pet wolf, Kaiser Bill. Wolf Brand canned chili was a favorite of Will Rogers, who always took along a case when traveling and performing in other regions of the world. Ernest Tubb, the country singer, was such a fan that one Texas hotel maintained a supply of Wolf Brand for his visits. Both the Gebhardt and Wolf brands are now owned by ConAgra Foods, Inc. Another major maker of canned chili, Hormel, sells chili available with or without beans, made with turkey or in vegetarian varieties, under their own name and other brands like Stagg.

Brick chili

Chili with garnishes and tortilla chips

Another method of marketing commercial chili in the days before widespread home refrigerators was “brick chili”. It was produced by pressing out nearly all of the moisture, leaving a solid substance roughly the size and shape of a half-brick. Wolf Brand was originally sold in this form. Commonly available in small towns and rural areas of the American Southwest in the first three-quarters of the 20th century, brick chili has largely been surpassed by canned chili, but can still be found in some stores.

Seasoning mix
Home cooks may also purchase seasoning mixes for chili, including packets of dry ingredients such as chili powder, masa flour, salt, and cayenne pepper, to flavor meat and other ingredients.

One of America’s Favorites – Hotdish MONDAY

August 23, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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A tater tot hotdish

Hotdish is a variety of casserole which typically contains a starch, a meat or other protein, and a canned or frozen vegetable, mixed with canned soup. The dish originates from and is popular in the Upper Midwest region of the United States, particularly the states of Minnesota and North Dakota. Hotdish is cooked and served hot in a single baking dish and commonly appears at communal gatherings such as family reunions and church suppers.

The history of the hotdish goes back to when “budget-minded farm wives needed to feed their own families, as well as congregations in the basements of the first Minnesota churches.” According to Howard Mohr, author of How to Talk Minnesotan, “A traditional main course, hotdish is cooked and served hot in a single baking dish and commonly appears at family reunions and church suppers.” The most typical meat for many years has been ground beef, and cream of mushroom remains the favorite canned soup. In past years a pasta was the most frequently used starch, but tater tots and local wild rice have now become very popular as well.

Hotdishes are filling, convenient, and easy to make. They are well-suited for family reunions, funerals, church suppers, and potlucks where they may be paired with potato salad, coleslaw, Jello salads and desserts, and pan-baked desserts known as bars.

Tater Tot Hotdish from the Saint Paul, Minnesota, Winter Carnival

Typical ingredients in hotdish are potatoes or pasta, ground beef, green beans, and corn, with canned soup added as a binder, flavoring and sauce. Potatoes may be in the form of tater tots, hash browns, potato chips, or shoe string potatoes. The dish is usually seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, and it may be eaten with ketchup as a condiment. Another popular hotdish is the tuna hotdish, made with macaroni or egg noodles, canned tuna, peas, and mushroom soup. Also common is a dish known as goulash, though it bears no resemblance to the familiar Hungarian goulash. Minnesota goulash is usually made with ground beef, macaroni, canned tomatoes, and perhaps a can of creamed corn.

Cream of mushroom soup is so ubiquitous in hotdish that it is often referred to in such recipes as “Lutheran Binder,” referring to hotdish’s position as a staple of Lutheran church cookbooks. The soup is considered a defining ingredient by some commentators.

One of America’s Favorites – Country Captain

August 16, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Country Captain

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 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. 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 – Chiffon Pie

August 9, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Lemon chiffon pie, gained popularity from housewives of America, featured in the Ladies’ Home Journal

A chiffon pie is a type of pie that consists of a special type of airy filling in a crust. The filling is typically produced by folding meringue into a mixture resembling fruit curd (most commonly lemon) that has been thickened with unflavored gelatin to provide a light, airy texture; it is thus distinguished from a cream pie or mousse pie, which achieve lightness by folding in whipped cream rather than meringue. To reduce risk of salmonella, it is recommended that a Swiss-meringue (eggs whites and sugar heated in a double boiler to 120–130 °F (49–54 °C) over simmering water, then whipped) be used instead of using raw whipped egg whites. This filling is then put into a pre-baked pie shell of variable composition and chilled. This same technique can also be used with canned pumpkin to produce pumpkin chiffon pie.

The preparation of a mock chiffon pie can be simplified by using flavored gelatin mix and artificial whipped cream substitute.

The chiffon pie was invented in Los Angeles in 1926 by Monroe Boston Strause, who was known as the Pie King. The original recipe called for beaten egg whites to be folded into a cornstarch-thickened liquid. Strause was dissatisfied with existing cream pies and had been made ill by a cornstarch pudding as a child. Strause claimed it was his mother who compared it to chiffon when she first saw it.

Besides the new filling, the pie also introduced dome-shaped filling and graham-cracker crust.

The popularity of the pie was such that Strause traveled as much as 30,000 miles a year teaching the technique to hotels and restaurants.

One of America’s Favorites – Spare Ribs

August 2, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Basted spare ribs on an outdoor grill

Spare ribs (also side ribs or spareribs) are a variety of ribs cut from the lower portion of a pig, specifically the belly and breastbone, behind the shoulder, and include 11 to 13 long bones. There is a covering of meat on top of the bones and also between them. Spare ribs (pork) are distinguished from short ribs, which are beef.

Pork spare ribs are cooked and eaten in various cuisines around the world. They are especially popular in Chinese and American Chinese cuisine; they are generally called paigu, and in the cuisine of the Southern United States.

Southern American
Spare ribs are popular in the American South. They are generally cooked on a barbecue grill or on an open fire, and are served as a slab (bones and all) with a sauce. Due to the extended cooking times required for barbecuing, ribs in restaurants are often prepared first by boiling, parboiling or steaming the rib rack and then finishing it on the grill.

American butchers prepare two cuts:

Pork spare ribs are taken from the belly side of the pig’s rib cage above the sternum (breast bone) and below the back ribs which extend about 6″ down from the spine. Spare ribs are flatter than the curved back ribs and contain more bone than meat. There is also quite a bit of fat which can make the ribs more tender than baby back ribs.
St. Louis Cut ribs are spare ribs in the style of St. Louis-style barbecue, where the sternum bone, cartilage and the surrounding meat known as the rib tips have been removed. St. Louis Cut rib racks are almost rectangular.
Southern-style spare ribs are usually pulled from the whole slab and consumed individually by hand, with the small amount of meat adhering to each bone gnawed off by the eater.

Chinese Style Spare Ribs

Chinese
In Chinese cuisine, pork spare ribs are generally first cut into 7-to-10-centimetre (3 to 4 in) sections, then may be fried, steamed, or braised.

In the Cantonese cuisine of southern China, spare ribs are generally red in color and roasted with a sweet and savory sauce. This variety of spare ribs is grouped as one of the most common items of siu mei, or Cantonese roasted meat dishes. In American Chinese cuisine, pork spare ribs are generally cooked in char siu style, and often feature as a part of the appetizer dish called pu pu platter.

Chinese-style spare ribs are usually consumed by gnawing the meat off of the small bone sections while held aloft with chopsticks.

One of America’s Favorites – Club Sandwich

July 26, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Club Sandwich

A club sandwich, also called a clubhouse sandwich, is a sandwich of bread (occasionally toasted), sliced cooked poultry, or fried bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. It is often cut into quarters or halves and held together by cocktail sticks. Modern versions frequently have two layers which are separated by an additional slice of bread.

The club sandwich may have originated at the Union Club of New York City. The earliest known reference to the sandwich, an article that appeared in The Evening World on November 18, 1889, is also an early recipe; “Have you tried a Union Club sandwich yet? Two toasted pieces of Graham bread, with a layer of turkey or chicken and ham between them, served warm. Several other early references also credit the chef of the Union Club with creating the sandwich.

Other sources, however, find the origin of the club sandwich to be up for debate. Another theory is that the club sandwich was invented in an exclusive Saratoga Springs, New York, gambling club in the late 19th century.

The sandwich is known to have appeared on U.S. restaurant menus as far back as 1899. The earliest reference to the sandwich in published fiction is from Conversations of a Chorus Girl, a 1903 book by Ray Cardell. Historically, club sandwiches featured slices of chicken, but with time, turkey has become increasingly common.

As with a BLT, toasted white bread is standard, along with iceberg lettuce, bacon, and tomatoes. The sandwich is traditionally dressed with mayonnaise. Variations, however, on the traditional club sandwich abound. Some vary the protein, for example, a “breakfast club” that includes eggs or a “roast beef club.” Others include ham (instead of, or in addition to bacon) and/or cheese slices. Vegetarian club sandwiches often include hummus, avocado or spinach, as well as substitute the real bacon with a vegetarian alternative. Mustard and sometimes honey mustard are common condiments. Upscale variations include, for example, the oyster club, the salmon club, and Dungeness crab melt.

The sandwich is commonly served with an accompaniment of either coleslaw, or potato salad, and often garnished with a pickle. The coleslaw or potato salad is often reduced to a “garnish” portion, when the primary accompaniment is an order of french fries or potato chips. Due to high fat and carb content from the bread, bacon and dressing, club sandwiches have sometimes been criticized as unhealthy. In 2000, Burger King came under fire for its chicken club, which contained 700 calories, 44 grams of fat (nine of them saturated), and 1,300 milligrams of sodium, as well as the trans fat from the fryer shortening.

One of America’s Favorites – Chili Burger

July 19, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Chili burger with fries

A chili burger (also known as a chili size, or simply size, stemming from “hamburger size” is a type of hamburger. It consists of a hamburger, with the patty topped with chili con carne. It is often served open-faced, and sometimes the chili is served alongside the burger rather than on top. The chili may be served alone, or with cheese, onions, or occasionally tomatoes as garnishes.

Chili burgers appear to have been invented in the 1920s by Thomas M. “Ptomaine Tommy” DeForest, who founded a sawdust-floored all-night restaurant, “Ptomaine Tommy’s”, located in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Ptomaine Tommy’s was open from around 1919 to 1958, where his chili burger was referred to as “size”, and chopped onions as “flowers” or “violets”.

The term size for a chili burger arguably derives from the portion size of the chili used at Ptomaine Tommy’s. Ptomaine Tommy “had two ladles, a large and a small” with which to serve his chili, whether smothered on top of the burger or in a bowl; originally the ordering lingo used by his patrons was “hamburger size” vs. “steak size”, but later simplified to “size” and “oversize”. The use of the shorthand term “size” for burger-size portion of chili (in a bowl or on a burger) then gained currency throughout Los Angeles. Ptomaine Tommy was forced to close his restaurant August 10, 1958 and sell his property to satisfy creditors, and he died just a week later. His service to the community and his invention was noted by resolution of the California State Senate that same year. Food author John T. Edge considers the invention the milestone that marks the start of “traceable history of burgers in LA”, a first step to what he considers the “baroque” character of the Los Angeles hamburger scene. By interviewing former customers and friends decades after the fact, columnist Jack Smith wrote a definitive article in 1974 about DeForest and the dish that he had invented which became a very important part of the history of Los Angeles. What helped spread the popularity of this is dish was Deforest’s diverse clientel which included doctors coming off the late shift at the local county hospital, fight fans on their way home after attending matches at the Olympic Auditorium, and people associated with the Hollywood film industry.

The Carolina Burger is a regional variant of the chili burger served with coleslaw, mustard and chopped onions. Common in local restaurants in the Carolinas, it is also periodically offered at Wendy’s restaurants as the Carolina Classic.

One of America’s Favorites – Bacon Explosion

July 12, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A Bacon Explosion on a grill

A Bacon Explosion is a pork dish that consists of bacon wrapped around a filling of spiced sausage and crumbled bacon. The American-football-sized dish is then smoked or baked. It became known after being posted on the BBQ Addicts blog, and spread to the mainstream press with numerous stories discussing the dish. In time, the articles began to discuss the Internet “buzz” itself.

The Bacon Explosion is made of bacon, sausage, barbecue sauce, and barbecue seasoning or rub. The bacon is assembled in a weave to hold the sausage, sauce, and crumbled bacon. Once rolled, the Bacon Explosion is cooked (either smoked or baked), basted, cut, and served. The Bacon Explosion’s creators produced a cookbook featuring the recipes which ultimately won the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for “Best Barbecue Book in the World”. The Bacon Explosion also won at the 2013 Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival.

Jason Day and Aaron Chronister posted the dish in December 2008 on their “BBQ Addicts” blog. It quickly became an Internet phenomenon, generating more than 500,000 hits and 16,000 links to the blog, and was even included on political blogs because “Republicans like meat.” There are fan clubs and follow-up videos of various attempts to create the dish.

The inventors are experienced barbecue competition participants from Kansas City, and compete in cook-offs as the Burnt Finger BBQ team. According to the Telegraph, “They came up with the delicacy after being challenged on Twitter to create the ultimate bacon recipe.” They christened their innovation the “Bacon Explosion: The BBQ Sausage Recipe of all Recipes.” The Bacon Explosion is similar to a number of previously published recipes. Day and Chronister do not claim to have invented the concept, but assert the term “Bacon Explosion” as a trademark.

Preparing a Bacon Explosion “requires the minimum of culinary talent” and the ingredient list is short. It is made from 2 pounds of thick cut bacon, 2 pounds of Italian sausage, one jar of barbecue sauce, and one jar of barbecue rub/seasoning. The Bacon Explosion is constructed by weaving the bacon together to serve as a base. The base is seasoned and followed by the layering of sausage meat and crumbled bacon. Barbecue sauce and more seasoning is added before rolling it into a giant “sausage-shaped monster” inside aluminum foil. It takes about an hour per inch of thickness to cook and is then basted with more barbecue sauce, sliced into rounds, and served.

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