One of America’s Favorites – Gravy

December 2, 2013 at 7:35 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Gravy can be served in a pitcher or gravy boat.

Gravy can be served in a pitcher or gravy boat.

Gravy is a sauce, made often from the juices that run naturally from meat or vegetables during cooking. In North America 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 colouring) 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 gravies are also available. Gravy is commonly served with roasts, meatloaf, rice, and mashed potatoes.

 

 

 

Types of gravy;

Chocolate gravy is a variety of gravy made with fat, flour, cocoa powder and sometimes a small amount of sugar.
* Egg gravy is a breakfast gravy that is served over biscuits. Meat drippings (usually from bacon) and flour are used to make a thick roux. The roux is salted and peppered to taste. Water and milk (even parts) are added, and the liquid is brought back up to a boil. 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.
* 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.
* 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. This gravy is a staple of Southern U.S. 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.
* White gravy (sawmill gravy in Southern U.S. cuisine) is the gravy typically used in biscuits and gravy and chicken fried steak. It is essentially a Béchamel sauce, with the roux being made of meat drippings and flour. Milk or cream is added and thickened by the roux; once prepared, black pepper and bits of mild sausage or chicken liver are sometimes added. Besides white and sawmill gravy, common names include country gravy, milk gravy, and sausage gravy.

 

 

 

In the UK, a Sunday roast is usually served with gravy. It is also popular in different parts of the UK, to have gravy with just chips (mostly from a fish’n’chip shop). It is commonly eaten with pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, Yorkshire pudding, and stuffing.
In British cuisine, as well as in the cuisines of Commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zealand, the word gravy refers only to the meat based sauce (and vegetarian/vegan alternatives) 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. Gravy is very popular in the North of England; often, it is served with chips.

 

 

 

Biscuits covered in sausage gravy

Biscuits covered in sausage gravy

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.
In many parts of Asia, particularly India, Malaysia, and Singapore, the word “gravy” is used to refer to 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 Minorca, it has been used since the British colonisation during the 17th century in typical Minorquian and Catalan dishes, as for example macarrons amb grevi (pasta).

 

 

 

One of America’s Favorites – Buttermilk

April 15, 2013 at 8:25 AM | Posted in Food | Leave a comment
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Buttermilk refers to a number of dairy drinks. Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cream. This

Buttermilk (right) compared to fresh milk (left). The thicker buttermilk leaves a more visible residue on the glass

Buttermilk (right) compared to fresh milk (left). The thicker buttermilk leaves a more visible residue on the glass

type of buttermilk is known as traditional buttermilk.
The term buttermilk also refers to a range of fermented milk drinks, common in warm climates (e.g., the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and the Southern United States) where unrefrigerated fresh milk sours quickly, as well as in colder climates, such as Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and the Netherlands. This fermented dairy product known as cultured buttermilk is produced from cow’s milk and has a characteristically sour taste caused by lactic acid bacteria. This variant is made using one of two species of bacteria—either Streptococcus lactis or Lactobacillus bulgaricus, which creates more tartness.
The tartness of buttermilk is due to acid in the milk. The increased acidity is primarily due to lactic acid produced by lactic acid bacteria while fermenting lactose, the primary sugar in milk. As the bacteria produce lactic acid, the pH of the milk decreases and casein, the primary milk protein, precipitates, causing the curdling or clabbering of milk. This process makes buttermilk thicker than plain milk. While both traditional and cultured buttermilk contain lactic acid, traditional buttermilk tends to be less viscous, whereas cultured buttermilk is more viscous.
Buttermilk can be drunk straight, and it can also be used in cooking. Soda bread is a bread in which buttermilk reacts with the rising agent, sodium bicarbonate, to produce carbon dioxide.

 

 

Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left over from churning butter from cultured or fermented cream. Traditionally, before cream could be skimmed from whole milk, the milk was left to sit for a period of time to allow the cream and milk to separate. During this time, naturally occurring lactic acid-producing bacteria in the milk fermented it. This facilitates the butter churning process, since fat from cream with a lower pH coalesces more readily than that of fresh cream. The acidic environment also helps prevent potentially harmful microorganisms from growing, increasing shelf-life. However, in establishments that used cream separators, the cream was hardly acidic at all.
On the Indian subcontinent, the term “buttermilk” refers to the liquid left over after extracting butter from churned yogurt. Today, this is called traditional buttermilk. Traditional buttermilk is still common in many Indo-Pakistani households but rarely found in western countries. In Southern India and most areas of the Punjab, Saurashtra (Gujarat), buttermilk with added water, sugar and/or salt, asafoetida, and curry leaves is a must-have in daily food while also given at stalls in festival times.

 

 

Commercially available cultured buttermilk is milk that has been pasteurized and homogenized (if 1% or 2% fat), and then inoculated with a culture of Streptococcus lactis plus Leuconostoc citrovorum to simulate the naturally occurring bacteria in the old-fashioned product. Some dairies add colored flecks of butter to cultured buttermilk to simulate residual flecks of butter that can be left over from the churning process of traditional buttermilk.
Condensed buttermilk and dried buttermilk have increased in importance in the food industry. Buttermilk solids are used in ice cream manufacture, as well as being added to pancake mixes. Adding specific strains of bacteria to pasteurized milk allows more consistent production.
In the early 1900s, cultured buttermilk was labeled artificial buttermilk, to differentiate it from traditional buttermilk, which was known as natural or ordinary buttermilk.

 

 

Acidified buttermilk is a related product made by adding a food-grade acid (such as lemon juice) to milk. It can be produced by mixing 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk and letting it sit until it curdles, about 10 minutes. Any level of fat content for the milk ingredient may be used, but whole milk is usually used for baking. In the process which is used to produce paneer such acidification is done in the presence of heat.

 

 

Like powdered milk, buttermilk is available in a dried powder form. This stores well at room temperature and is usually used in baked goods.

One of America’s Favorites – Hush Puppies

January 21, 2013 at 11:02 AM | Posted in cooking | 1 Comment
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A hushpuppy (or cornbread ball) is a savory, starch-based food made from cornmeal batter that is deep fried or baked in small ball or

Hushpuppy

Hushpuppy

sphere shapes, or occasionally oblong shapes. Hushpuppies are frequently served as a side dish, usually at fish restaurants.
Native Americans were using ground corn for cooking long before European explorers arrived in the New World. Southern Native American culture (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek) is the “cornerstone” of Southern cuisine. From their culture came one of the main staples of the Southern diet: corn (maize), either ground into meal or limed with an alkaline salt to make hominy, also called masa, in a Native American technology known as nixtamalization. Corn was used to make all kinds of dishes from the familiar cornbread and grits to liquors such as whiskey and moonshine, which were important trade items. Cornbread was popular during the American Civil War because it was very cheap and could be made in many different sizes and forms. It could be fashioned into high-rising, fluffy loaves or simply fried for a fast meal.
To a far greater degree than anyone realizes, several of the most important food dishes that the Southeastern Indians live on today is the “soul food” eaten by both black and white Southerners. Hominy, for example, is still eaten … Sofkee live on as grits … cornbread [is] used by Southern cooks … Indian fritters … variously known as “hoe cake”, … or “Johnny cake.” … Indian boiled cornbread is present in Southern cuisine as “corn meal dumplings”, … and as “hush puppies”, … Southerners cook their beans and field peas by boiling them, as did the Indians … like the Indians they cure their meat and smoke it over hickory coals.
The first recorded reference to the word “hush-puppy” dates to 1899.
Hushpuppies are a food with strong ties to the Southern United States, although they are available in many areas of the United States on the menus of deep fried fish restaurants. The name “hushpuppies” is often attributed to hunters, fishermen or other cooks who would fry some basic cornmeal mixture (possibly that they had been bread-coating or battering their own food with) and feed it to their dogs to “hush the puppies” during cook-outs or fish-fries.
Other hush puppy legends purport to date the etymology of the term “hushpuppies” to the Civil War, in which soldiers are claimed to have tossed fried cornbread to quell the barks of Confederate dogs.
Typical hushpuppy ingredients include cornmeal, wheat flour, eggs, salt, baking soda, milk or buttermilk, and water, and may include

A basket of hushpuppies at a restaurant

A basket of hushpuppies at a restaurant

onion, spring onion (scallion), garlic, whole kernel corn, and peppers. Sometimes pancake batter is used. The batter is mixed well, adjusting ingredients until thick, and dropped a spoonful at a time into hot oil. The small breads are fried until crispy golden brown, and cooled. Hushpuppies are served with seafood or barbecued foods. They are commonly made at home or served in restaurants advertising home-style food.
In Jamaica such fried breads are known as “festivals”, and are prepared with cornmeal, salt, and sugar then fried in the form of a hot dog roll. They are sweeter than the hushpuppies that often contain onion or garlic instead of sugar. They are served with jerked meats such as pork or chicken. Mostly, it is served with fried or escoveitch (see also escabeche and ceviche) fish.
In Puerto Rico, hushpuppies take the form of a short sausage and are called “sorullos” or “sorullitos.” Their sweetness makes them popular among children and adults alike.

Lucky Foods for the New Year

December 28, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Posted in Food | Leave a comment
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Lucky Foods for the New Year
Our guide to feasting for future fortune
By Lauren Salkeld
F or many, January 1 offers an opportunity to forget the past and make a clean start. But instead of leaving everything up to fate, why not enjoy a meal to increase your good fortune? There are a variety of foods that are believed to be lucky and to improve the odds that next year will be a great one. Traditions vary from culture to culture, but there are striking similarities in what’s consumed in different pockets of the world: The six major categories of auspicious foods are grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes, and cakes. Whether you want to create a full menu of lucky foods or just supplement your meal, we have an assortment of recipes, guaranteed to make for a happy new year, or at the very least a happy belly.

Grapes
New Year’s revelers in Spain consume twelve grapes at midnight—one grape for each stroke of the clock. This dates back to 1909, when grape growers in the Alicante region of Spain initiated the practice to take care of a grape surplus. The idea stuck, spreading to Portugal as well as former Spanish and Portuguese colonies such as Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Each grape represents a different month, so if for instance the third grape is a bit sour, March might be a rocky month. For most, the goal is to swallow all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight, but Peruvians insist on taking in a 13th grape for good measure.

Cooked Greens
Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune. The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, the Germans consume sauerkraut (cabbage) while in the southern United States, collards are the green of choice. It’s widely believed that the more greens one eats the larger one’s fortune next year.

Legumes
Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, seedlike appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind. In Italy, it’s customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie or sausages and green lentils, just after midnight—a particularly propitious meal because pork has its own lucky associations. Germans also partner legumes and pork, usually lentil or split pea soup with sausage. In Brazil, the first meal of the New Year is usually lentil soup or lentils and rice, and in Japan, the osechi-ryori, a group of symbolic dishes eaten during the first three days of the new year, includes sweet black beans called kuro-mame.

In the Southern United States, it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin’ john. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the new year. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.

Pork
The custom of eating pork on New Year’s is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. Roast suckling pig is served for New Year’s in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria—Austrians are also known to decorate the table with miniature pigs made of marzipan. Different pork dishes such as pig’s feet are enjoyed in Sweden while Germans feast on roast pork and sausages. Pork is also consumed in Italy and the United States, where thanks to its rich fat content, it signifies wealth and prosperity.

Fish
Fish is a very logical choice for the New Year’s table. According to Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, cod has been a popular feast food since the Middle Ages. He compares it to turkey on Thanksgiving. The reason? Long before refrigeration and modern transportation, cod could be preserved and transported allowing it to reach the Mediterranean and even as far as North Africa and the Caribbean. Kurlansky also believes the Catholic Church’s policy against red meat consumption on religious holidays helped make cod, as well as other fish, commonplace at feasts. The Danish eat boiled cod, while in Italy, baccalà, or dried salt cod, is enjoyed from Christmas through New Year’s. Herring, another frequently preserved fish, is consumed at midnight in Poland and Germany—Germans also enjoy carp and have been known to place a few fish scales in their wallets for good luck. The Swedish New Year feast is usually a smorgasbord with a variety of fish dishes such as seafood salad. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life, and dried sardines for a good harvest (sardines were once used to fertilize rice fields).

Cakes, Etc.
Cakes and other baked goods are commonly served from Christmas to New Year’s around the world, with a special emphasis placed on round or ring-shaped items. Italy has chiacchiere, which are honey-drenched balls of pasta dough fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands also eat donuts, and Holland has ollie bollen, puffy, donut-like pastries filled with apples, raisins, and currants.
In certain cultures, it’s customary to hide a special trinket or coin inside the cake—the recipient will be lucky in the new year. Mexico’s rosca de reyes is a ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruit and baked with one or more surprises inside. In Greece, a special round cake called vasilopita is baked with a coin hidden inside. At midnight or after the New Year’s Day meal, the cake is cut, with the first piece going to St. Basil and the rest being distributed to guests in order of age. Sweden and Norway have similar rituals in which they hide a whole almond in rice pudding—whoever gets the nut is guaranteed great fortune in the new year.
Cakes aren’t always round. In Scotland, where New Year’s is called Hogmanay, there is a tradition called “first footing,” in which the first person to enter a home after the new year determines what kind of year the residents will have. The “first footer” often brings symbolic gifts like coal to keep the house warm or baked goods such as shortbread, oat cakes, and a fruit caked called black bun, to make sure the household always has food.

What Not to Eat
In addition to the aforementioned lucky foods, there are also a few to avoid. Lobster, for instance, is a bad idea because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chicken is also discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.
Now that you know what to eat, there’s one more superstition—that is, guideline—to keep in mind. In Germany, it’s customary to leave a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year. Likewise in the Philippines, it’s important to have food on the table at midnight. The conclusion? Eat as much lucky food as you can, just don’t get too greedy—or the first place you’ll be going in the new year is the gym.
Read More http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/newyearsday/luckyfoods#ixzz2GMRzRsCi

New Year’s Day Tradition – Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

December 28, 2012 at 10:40 AM | Posted in beans, cooking, Food | 6 Comments
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New Year’s Day Tradition – Black-Eyed Peas and Greens
On New Year’s Day, you’ll find people throughout the South eating black-eyed peas and greens. Many former Southerners have spread this tradition to other parts of the country. If this tradition is new to you, you probably have lots of questions – how did the tradition start? What do the foods symbolize? How do I cook them? Here are some answers to get you started.

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s has been considered good luck for at least 1,500 years. According to a portion of the Talmud BlackEyedPeaswritten around 500 A.D., it was Jewish custom at the time to eat black-eyed peas in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It’s possible that the tradition arrived in America with Sephardic Jews, who first arrived in Georgia in the 1730s. Common folklore tells that the tradition spread after the Civil War. The Northern Army considered the black-eyed peas to be suitable only for animals, so they didn’t carry away or destroy the crops.

There are a variety of explanations for the symbolism of black-eyed peas. One is that eating these simple legumes demonstrates humility and a lack of vanity. The humble nature of the black-eyed pea is echoed by the old expression, “Eat poor on New Year’s, and eat fat the rest of the year.” Another explanation is that dried beans loosely resemble coins. Yet another is that because dried beans greatly expand in volume, they symbolize expanding wealth.

Clearly, a lot of people closely associate good luck with monetary gain. That’s where the greens come in (in case I need to spell it out, green is the color of U.S. currency). Any green will do, but the most common choices are collard, turnip, or mustard greens. Golden cornbread is often added to the Southern New Year’s meal, and a well-known phrase is, “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.” Pork is a staple of just about every Southern meal, so it’s usually cooked with the black-eyed peas. The pork seems to be there for flavor as opposed to symbolism, but some theorize that because pigs root forward when foraging, the pork represents positive motion.

There’s no single official way to prepare your black-eyed peas on January 1. One popular dish is Hoppin’ John, which is a mixture of black-eyed peas, rice, and bacon or ham hock. Some people throw a dime into the pot and believe that whoever winds up with the dime in their serving gets extra good luck for the coming year.

http://americanfood.about.com/od/resourcesadditionalinfo/a/New-Years-Day-Tradition-Black-Eyed-Peas.htm

3 Bean Turkey Chili w/ Johnny Cakes!

November 19, 2012 at 6:20 PM | Posted in chili | 2 Comments
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Today’s Menu: 3 Bean Turkey Chili w/ Johnny Cakes!

 

 

Comfort food Heaven for dinner tonight, 3 Bean Turkey Chili w/ Johnny Cakes! I took my last container of 3 Bean Turkey Chili out of the freezer and let it thaw. * Note to self MAKE MORE CHILI! * Then for dinner all I had to was put the Chili in a small sauce pan and heat it up. As it was being heated I added 4 good shakes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.

As the Chili was heating I made some Johnny Cakes. It’s been way too long since I made any of these. To prepare these all you’ll need is: Pam w/ Olive Oil Non – Stick Spray, 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 3/4 cups Buttermilk, and 2 cups Martha White Self Rising Enriched White Corn Meal Mix. Just mix all your ingredients in a large bowl. Spray your Pam on a Flat Griddle or large Skillet and preheat on medium low, I use the Flat Griddle. When the Griddle is heated add your batter. You can make the Cakes any size you want from half-dollar size to regular pancake size cakes. After the bottom side turns golden brown flip over and let the other side get golden brown. To serve I placed mine on a plate and topped it with my 3 Bean Turkey Chili. As I said before Comfort Food Heaven! The Chili is a perfect pairing with Cornbread no matter how you prepare it. At the bottom of the post I left a little history on the “Johnny Cakes”. There are various ways to fix Johnny Cakes, I make mine using Martha White Corn Meal Mix. For dessert much later a slice of Pillsbury Nut Quick Bread topped with a scoop of Breyer’s Carb Smart Vanilla Ice Cream.

Johnnycakes – Pouring a batter similar to that of skillet-fried cornbread, but slightly thinner, into hot grease atop a griddle or a skillet produces a pancake-like bread called a johnnycake. This type of cornbread is prevalent in New England, particularly in Rhode Island, and also in the American Midwest and the American South. It is reminiscent of the term hoecake, used in the American South for fried cornbread pancakes, which may date back to stories about some people on the frontier making cornbread patties on the blade of a hoe.

 
Johnny Cakes (My way)

Ingredients:

Pam w/ Olive Oil Non – Stick Spray
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 3/4 cups Buttermilk
2 cups Martha White Self Rising Enriched White Corn Meal Mix

Directions:

Just mix all your ingredients in a large bowl.
Spray your Pam on a Flat Griddle or large Skillet and preheat on medium low, I use the Flat Griddle.
When the Griddle is heated add your batter. You can make the Cakes any size you want from half dollar size to regular pancake size cakes. After the bottom side turns golden brown flip over and let the other side get golden brown. Serve while warm and enjoy!

One of America’s Favorites – Cornbread

November 19, 2012 at 11:13 AM | Posted in cooking, Food | 3 Comments
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Cornbread is a generic name for any number of quick breads containing cornmeal and leavened by baking powder.

Cornbread baked in an iron skillet

Native Americans were using ground corn (maize) for food thousands of years before European explorers arrived in the New World. European settlers, especially those who resided in the southern English colonies, learned the original recipes and processes for corn dishes from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek, and soon they devised recipes for using cornmeal in breads similar to those made of grains available in Europe. Cornbread has been called a “cornerstone” of Southern United States cuisine. Cornmeal is produced by grinding dry raw corn grains. A coarser meal (compare flour) made from corn is grits. Grits are produced by soaking raw corn grains in hot water containing calcium hydroxide (the alkaline salt), which loosens the grain hulls (bran) and increases the nutritional value of the product (by increasing available niacin and available amino acids). These are separated by washing and flotation in water, and the now softened slightly swelled grains are called hominy. Hominy, posole in Spanish, also is ground into masa harina for tamales and tortillas). This ancient Native American technology has been named nixtamalization. Besides cornbread, Native Americans used corn to make numerous other dishes from the familiar hominy grits to alcoholic beverages (such as Andean chicha). Cornbread was popular during the American Civil War because it was very cheap and could be made in many different forms—high-rising, fluffy loaves or simply fried (as unleavened pone, corn fritters, hoecakes, etc.)
“ To a far greater degree than anyone realizes, several of the most important food dishes that the Southeastern Indians live on today is the “soul food” eaten by both black and white Southerners. Hominy, for example, is still eaten … Sofkee live on as grits … cornbread [is] used by Southern cooks … Indian fritters … variously known as “hoe cake”, … or “Johnny cake“. … Indian boiled cornbread is present in Southern cuisine as “corn meal dumplings”, … and as “hush puppies”, … Southerners cook their beans and field peas by boiling them, as did the Indians … like the Indians they cure their meat and smoke it over hickory coals. ”
—- Charles Hudson, The Southeastern Indians.

Types of cornbread

Home baked cornbread made with blue cornmeal

Cornbread is a popular item in soul food enjoyed by many people for its texture and aroma. Cornbread can be baked, fried or, rarely, steamed. Steamed cornbread is mushy, chewier and more like cornmeal pudding than what most consider to be traditional cornbread. Cornbread can also be baked into corn cakes.

* Baked cornbread – Cornbread is a common bread in United States cuisine, particularly associated with the South and Southwest, as

well as being a traditional staple for populations where wheat flour was more expensive. In some parts of the South it is crumbled into a glass of cold milk or buttermilk and eaten with a spoon, and it is also widely eaten with barbecue and chili con carne. In rural areas of the southern United States in the mid 20th century cornbread, accompanied by pinto beans (often called soup beans in this context) or honey, was a common lunch for poor children. It is still a common side dish, often served with homemade butter, chunks of onion or scallions. Cornbread crumbs are also used in some poultry stuffings; cornbread stuffing is particularly associated with Thanksgiving turkeys.
In the United States, Northern and Southern cornbread are different because they generally use different types of corn meal and varying degrees of sugar and eggs. A preference for sweetness and adding sugar or molasses can be found in both regions, but salty or savory tastes are sometimes more common in the South, and thus favor using buttermilk in the batter or such additions as cracklins. Cornbread is occasionally crumbled and served with cold milk similar to cold cereal. In Texas, the Mexican influence has spawned a hearty cornbread made with fresh or creamed corn kernels, jalapeño peppers and topped with shredded cheese.

 

* Skillet-fried or skillet-baked cornbread (often simply called skillet bread or hoecake depending on the container in which it is cooked) is a traditional staple in the rural United States, especially in the South. This involves heating bacon drippings, lard or other oil in a heavy, well-seasoned cast iron skillet in an oven, and then pouring a batter made from cornmeal, egg, and milk directly into the hot grease. The mixture is returned to the oven to bake into a large, crumbly and sometimes very moist cake with a crunchy crust. This bread tends to be dense and usually served as an accompaniment rather than as a bread served as a regular course. In addition to the skillet method, such cornbread also may be made in sticks, muffins, or loaves.
A slightly different variety, cooked in a simple baking dish, is associated with northern US cuisine; it tends to be sweeter and lighter than southern-style cornbread; the batter for northern-style cornbread is very similar to and sometimes interchangeable with that of a corn muffin. A typical contemporary northern U.S. cornbread recipe contains half wheat flour, half cornmeal, milk or buttermilk, eggs, leavening agent, salt, and usually sugar, resulting in a bread that is somewhat lighter and sweeter than the traditional southern version. In the border states and parts of the Upper South, a cross between the two traditions is known as “light cornbread.”
Unlike fried variants of cornbread, baked cornbread is a quick bread that is dependent on an egg-based protein matrix for its structure (though the addition of wheat flour adds gluten to increase its cohesiveness). The baking process gelatinizes the starch in the cornmeal, but still often leaves some hard starch to give the finished product a distinctive sandiness not typical of breads made from other grains.

* Corn pone – Corn pone (sometimes referred to as “Indian pone“) is a type of cornbread made from a thick, malleable cornmeal dough (which is usually egg-less and milk-less) and baked in a specific type of iron pan over an open fire (such as a frontiersman would use), using butter, margarine, or cooking oil. Corn pones have been a staple of Southern U.S. cuisine, and have been discussed by many American writers, including Mark Twain.
In the Appalachian Mountains, cornbread baked in a round iron skillet or in a cake pan of any shape is still referred to as a “pone” of cornbread (as opposed to “hoe cakes,” the term for cornbread fried in pancake style), and when biscuit dough (i.e., “biscuits” in the American sense of the word) is occasionally baked in one large cake rather than as separate biscuits this is called a “biscuit pone.”
The term “corn pone” is sometimes used derogatively to refer to one who possesses certain rural, unsophisticated peculiarities (“he’s a corn pone”), or as an adjective to describe particular rural, folksy or “hick” characteristics (e.g., “corn pone” humor). This pejorative term often is directed at persons from rural areas of the southern and midwestern U.S. President John F. Kennedy‘s staffers, who despised Texan Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson, used to refer to him behind his back as ‘Uncle Cornpone’ or ‘Rufus Cornpone’.

* Hot water cornbread – Cooked on a rangetop, one frying method involves pouring a small amount of liquid batter made with boiling water and self-rising cornmeal (cornmeal with soda or some other chemical leavener added) into a skillet of hot oil, and allowing the crust to turn golden and crunchy while the center of the batter cooks into a crumbly, mushy bread. These small (3-4″ diameter) fried breads are soft and very rich. Sometimes, to ensure the consistency of the bread, a small amount of wheat flour is added to the batter. This type of cornbread is often known as “hot water” or “scald meal” cornbread and is unique to the American South.

* Johnnycakes – Pouring a batter similar to that of skillet-fried cornbread, but slightly thinner, into hot grease atop a griddle or a skillet produces a pancake-like bread called a johnnycake. This type of cornbread is prevalent in New England, particularly in Rhode Island, and also in the American Midwest and the American South. It is reminiscent of the term hoecake, used in the American South for fried cornbread pancakes, which may date back to stories about some people on the frontier making cornbread patties on the blade of a hoe.

* Hushpuppies – A thicker buttermilk-based batter which is deep-fried rather than pan-fried, forms the hushpuppy, a common accompaniment to fried fish and other seafood in the South. Hushpuppy recipes vary from state to state, some including onion seasoning, chopped onions, beer, or jalapeños. Fried properly, the hushpuppy will be moist and yellow or white on the inside, while crunchy and light to medium-dark golden brown on the outside.

One of America’s Favorite – Fried Chicken

April 3, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Posted in chicken, diabetes, diabetes friendly, Food, grilling | 3 Comments
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Fried chicken (also referred to as Southern fried chicken) is a dish consisting of chicken pieces usually from broiler chickens which

Pieces of fried chicken

have been floured or battered and then pan fried, deep fried, or pressure fried. The breading adds a crisp coating or crust to the exterior. What separates fried chicken from other fried forms of chicken is that generally the chicken is cut at the joints and the bones and skin are left intact. Crisp well-seasoned skin, rendered of excess fat, is a hallmark of well made fried chicken.

Generally, chickens are not fried whole; instead, the chicken is divided into its four main constituent pieces: the two white meat sections are the breast and the wing from the front of the chicken, while the dark meat sections are from the rear of the chicken. To prepare the chicken pieces for frying, they are dredged in flour or a similar dry substance (possibly following marination or dipping in milk or buttermilk) to coat the meat and to develop a crust. Seasonings such as salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, or ranch dressing mix can be mixed in with the flour. As the pieces of chicken cook, some of the moisture that exudes from the chicken is absorbed by the coating of flour and browns along with the flour, creating a flavorful crust. Traditionally, lard is used to fry the chicken, but corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil are also frequently used. The flavor of olive oil is generally considered too strong to be used for traditional fried chicken, and its low smoke point makes it unsuitable for use.

There are three main techniques for frying chickens: pan frying, deep frying and broasting. Pan frying (or shallow frying) requires a frying pan of sturdy construction and a source of fat that does not fully immerse the chicken. The chicken pieces are prepared as above, then fried. Generally the fat is heated to a temperature hot enough to seal (without browning, at this point) the outside of the chicken pieces. Once the pieces have been added to the hot fat and sealed, the temperature is reduced. There is debate as to how often to turn the chicken pieces, with one camp arguing for often turning and even browning, and the other camp pushing for letting the pieces render skin side down and only turning when absolutely necessary. Once the chicken pieces are close to being done the temperature is raised and the pieces are browned to the desired color (some cooks add small amounts of butter at this point to enhance browning). The moisture from the chicken that sticks and browns on the bottom of the pan become the fonds required to make gravy. Chicken Maryland is made when the pan of chicken pieces, and fat, is placed in the oven to cook, for a majority of the overall cooking time, basically “fried in the oven”.

Deep frying requires a deep fryer or other device in which the chicken pieces can be completely submerged in hot fat. The pieces are floured as above or battered using a batter of flour and liquid (and seasonings) mixed together. The batter can/may contain ingredients like eggs, milk, and leavening. The fat is heated in the deep fryer to the desired temperature. The pieces are added to the fat and a constant temperature is maintained throughout the cooking process.

Broasting uses a pressure cooker to accelerate the process. The moisture inside the chicken becomes steam and increases the pressure in the cooker, lowering the cooking temperature needed. The steam also cooks the chicken through, but still allows the pieces to be moist and tender while maintaining a crisp coating. Fat is heated in a pressure cooker. Chicken pieces are then floured or battered and then placed in the hot fat. The lid is placed on the pressure cooker, and the chicken pieces are thus fried under pressure.

Fritters have existed in Europe since the middle ages. The Scots, and later Scottish immigrants to the southern United States, had a tradition of deep frying chicken in fat, unlike their English counterparts who baked or boiled chicken.

Independent of this, a number of West African cuisines featured dishes where chicken was fried, typically in palm oil, sometimes having been battered before. These would be served on special occasions in some areas, or sometimes sold in the streets as snacks in others. This provided some means of independent economy for enslaved and segregated African American women, who became noted sellers of poultry (live or cooked) as early as the 1730s. Because of this and the expensive nature of the ingredients, it was, despite popular perception, a rare and special dish in the African-American community.

After the development of larger and faster-growing hogs (due to crosses between European and Asian breeds) in the 18th and 19th century, in the United States, backyard and small-scale hog production provided an inexpensive means of converting waste food, crop waste, and garbage into calories (in a relatively small space and in a relatively short period of time). Many of those calories came in the form of fat and rendered lard. Lard was used for almost all cooking and was a fundamental component in many common homestead foods (many that today are still regarded as holiday and comfort foods) like biscuits and pies. The economic/caloric necessity of consuming lard and other saved fats may have led to the popularity of fried foods, not only in the US, but worldwide. In the 19th century cast iron became widely available for use in cooking. The combination of flour, lard, a chicken and a heavy pan placed over a relatively controllable flame became the beginning of today’s fried chicken.

When it was introduced to the American South, fried chicken became a common staple. Later, as the slave trade led to Africans being brought to work on southern plantations, the slaves who became cooks incorporated seasonings and spices that were absent in traditional Scottish cuisine, enriching the flavor. Since most slaves were unable to raise expensive meats, but generally allowed to keep chickens, frying chicken on special occasions continued in the African American communities of the South. It endured the fall of slavery and gradually passed into common use as a general Southern dish. Since fried chicken traveled well in hot weather before refrigeration was commonplace, it gained further favor in the periods of American history when segregation closed off most restaurants to the black population. Fried chicken continues to be among this region’s top choices for “Sunday dinner” among both blacks and whites. Holidays such as Independence Day and other gatherings often feature this dish.

Since the American Civil War, traditional slave foods like fried chicken, watermelon, and chitterlings have suffered a strong association with African American stereotypes and blackface minstrelsy. This was commercialized for the first half of the 20th century by restaurants like Sambo’s and Coon Chicken Inn, which selected exaggerated depictions of blacks as mascots, implying quality by their association with the stereotype. Although also being acknowledged positively as “soul food” today, the affinity that African American culture has for fried chicken has been considered a delicate, often pejorative issue. While the perception of fried chicken as an ethnic dish has been fading for several decades, what with the ubiquity of fried chicken dishes in the US, it persists as a racial stereotype.

Before the industrialization of chicken production, and the creation of broiler breeds of chicken, only young spring chickens (pullets or cockerels) would be suitable for the higher heat and relatively fast cooking time of frying, making fried chicken a luxury of spring and summer. Older, tougher birds require longer cooking times at lower temperatures. To compensate for this, sometimes tougher birds are simmered till tender, allowed to cool and dry, and then fried. (This method is common in Australia.) Another method is to fry the chicken pieces using a pan fried method. The chicken pieces are then simmered in liquid, usually, a gravy made in the pan that the chicken pieces were cooked in. This process (of flouring, frying and simmering in gravy) is known as “smothering” and can be used for other tough cuts of meat, such as swiss steak. Smothered chicken is still consumed today, though with the exception of people who raise their own chickens, or who seek out stewing hens, it is primarily made using commercial broiler chickens.

The derivative phrases “country fried” and “chicken fried” often refer to other foods prepared in the manner of fried chicken. Usually, this means a boneless, tenderized piece of meat that has been floured or battered and cooked in any of the methods described above or simply chicken which is cooked outdoors. Chicken fried steak and “country fried” boneless chicken breast are two common examples.

Throughout the world, different seasoning and spices are used to augment the flavor of fried chicken. Because of the versatility of fried chicken, it is not uncommon to flavor the chicken’s crisp exterior with a variety of spices ranging from spicy to savory. Depending on regional market ubiquity, local spice variations may be labeled as distinct from traditional Southern U.S. flavors, or may appear on menus without notation. With access to chickens suitable for frying broadening on a global scale with the advent of industrialized poultry farming, many localities have added their own mark on fried chicken, tweaking recipes to suit local preferences.

North America

* Buffalo wings: Named for their place of origin, Buffalo, New York, this is one of the few kinds of fried chicken that is not traditionally battered before frying.

*Buffalo strips, fingers, crisp wings and boneless wings: using the same cayenne-pepper sauce as Buffalo Wings, these chicken products are battered before frying. See also: chicken fingers and chicken nuggets.

*Chicken fingers: also known as chicken tenders or chicken strips, this is one of the most common forms of fried chicken, generally

Nashville-style hot chicken with traditional accompaniments

Nashville-style hot chicken with traditional accompaniments

pieces of chicken breast (sometimes with rib meat) cut into long strips, breaded or battered dipped, and deep fried.

*Chicken fries: chicken nuggets in the shape of French fries, popularized by the fast-food chains Burger King and KFC. These may also be referred to as chicken sticks.

*Chicken nuggets: an industrially reconstituted boneless chicken product invented by Cornell poultry science professor Robert C. Baker in the 1950s.

*Popcorn chicken: occasionally known as chicken bites or other similar terms, small morsels of boneless chicken, battered and fried, resulting in little nuggets that resemble popcorn.

*Chicken patties: breaded, fried patties of chicken meat used in sandwiches.

*Country Fried Chicken: chicken meat that has been coated with flour or breaded,fried and served topped with country cream gravy. Related tangentially to Chicken fried steak.

*Chicken and waffles, a combination platter of foods traditionally served at breakfast and dinner in one meal, common to soul food restaurants in the American South and beyond.

*Hot chicken: common in the Nashville, Tennessee area, a pan-fried variant of fried chicken coated with lard and cayenne pepper paste.

Asia

*Crispy fried chicken: a dish from the regional Cantonese cuisine of China.

*Chicken karaage- a Japanese marinated and fried method of preparing fried chicken.

Tori no Karaage, Japanese fried chicken

*Chicken katsu     a Japanese panko-breaded, deep fried chicken cutlet, adapted from tonkatsu, a pork chop variant.

* Korean fried chicken: fried chicken pieces flavored with Korean ganjang sauce with garlic.

*Buldak: fried chicken with Korean seasonings like gochujang.

*Prawn paste chicken or “shrimp paste chicken”: popular in Hong Kong-style restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia. Incorporates puréed shrimp and ginger juice into its breading mixture.

*Sweet and sour chicken: deep-fried balls of chicken breast in batter.

*Toriten: Japanese tempura style fried chicken

*Chicken Inasal: a popular Filipino fried and grilled chicken in the Philippines.

Australasia

*Chicken chipees: chicken meat chopped and shaped into chips coated with potato crumbs.

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