Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

new charleston chefs table

Roasted Chicken – The Feast That Keeps on Giving

Make the Most of  Your Roast with This Adaptable Method

Saturday mornings in my house are spent cooking, especially foods that need to be cooked (lest they expire) and will provide delicious, nutritious meals throughout the week.  It’s a relaxing time to enjoy cooking and put together odds and ends in savory, cohesive dishes. This challenges my practical and creative muscles while eliminating food waste,  something that’s very important in a world that’s far too wasteful.

This Saturday, I was dealing with an acorn squash that was getting a little tired and a whole, uncooked chicken waiting in the refrigerator wings. I decided to cook the squash my favorite childhood way, halved and filled with butter, cinnamon, stock, and a little maple syrup. Normally, I would roast this in a roasting pan and cover it with foil, but I realized I was out of foil. My small Le Creuset Dutch oven happened to be out from a post-soup washing, so I used it as a great, hassle-free roasting vessel (complete with top cover) alternative. Meanwhile, aromas of butter and cinnamon wafting  seductively through the air, I decided to put my larger 5.5 Le Creuset to use for roasting the chicken. The enamel coated cast iron is such a great conduit for even cooking and is easier than dealing with a hard-to-clean rack.

Instead of placing the vegetable aromatics underneath the rack, I scattered them on the bottom of the Dutch oven along with some halved lemon and fresh rosemary sprigs. In the center, I arranged an upside down oven-proof ramekin as a throne for the bird that would encourage air flow for even cooking and browning.  I left the onion, garlic, and well-scrubbed carrot skins on, since they add to both nutrients, color, and flavor both for the chicken and the stock that will eventually make a soup. Rosemary is prolific in my garden this time of year and pairs well with chicken. In summer months,  or according to preference, tarragon, thyme, parsley, sage, oregano, basil, mustard, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, ancho chile, and many other herbs and seasonings work fabulously with the culinary juggernaut, multiple meal-maker otherwise known as a whole roasted chicken.

An upside-down, oven-proof ramekin in the center of a Dutch Oven is the perfect perch for an evenly and beautifully roasted whole chicken.

Getting the Chicken Oven-Ready

  • Remove the neck, gizzard, liver, wing tips and add to the aromatics at the bottom of the Dutch oven (or traditional roasting pan)
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels
  • Truss the chicken to facilitate a better appearance and more even cooking. The easiest way is to cut two feet of kitchen string. Place the chicken backside-down on your cutting board. Place the string, length evenly distributed between your two hands, underneath the rear of the back, just above the backbone tip. Bring it around to the front and around the legs. Make an “X” and cross the string here (as pictured below!) and guide it through the space on either side of the breasts. Stop near the wrings and wrap the string around them as you flip the bird to secure the string in a knot on the top of the back of the wing near the neck cavity. Cut off any excess.
  • Season the chicken liberally, both the cavity and all of the breast and bottom with salt and pepper and any additional desired seasonings.  Rub down with a few tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Start it in a hot oven (I begin at 475F) to form a gentle crust of the salt (this encourages tenderness and flavor), and after twenty minutes begin with a series of bastes using chicken stock.

Here’s what you’ll end up with!

Perfectly Golden Roasted Whole Chicken the Dutch oven way.

To Prepare:

One whole six pound chicken

Kosher or sea salt and ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion quartered, skin on

6 large cloves garlic, whole with skin on

1 lemon, rinsed and quartered

2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into 2″-lengths

2 stalks celery, scrubbed and cut into 2″-lengths

5 branches fresh rosemary

Wing tips, chicken neck, gizzard, liver if provided with chicken

2 cups chicken stock for basting

Prep the chicken as described in “Getting the Chicken Oven-Ready,” above. Preheat oven to 475F. Place the chicken on top of the ramekin. Place the Dutch oven in the center rack of the oven. Cook for twenty minutes. Pour 1/2-cup of the stock evenly over the top of the chicken. Reduce heat t0 400F. Pour another 1/2-cup of the stock over the chicken. Cook another 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325F. Continue cooking another 1 1/4 hours (count on roughly 20 minutes per pound), basting with 1/2-cup increments of the stock every 30 minutes. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of  165F. Allow to rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Serve warm and enjoy the flavors and aromas!

To make a stock for next week’s soup, remove the rosemary and ramekin from the roasting pan. Chop the carved carcass into four or five large chunks, add to the roasting pan with roasting vegetables and lemon. Cover with water up to 1-inch of the top of the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for an hour, skimming and removing any fat or foam from the top. Cool and refrigerate.

Next week – We’ll turn this chicken into a week-long feast of soup, sandwiches, and hearty casseroles. Talk about the meal that keeps on giving. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to look over the details of this fabulous cooking and cookbook writing retreat I’m hosting with my friend and colleague Beckie Carrico Hemmerling in March. Come join the learning and delicious fun! And, please share the details with interested friends who may want to come along, too.

Cracking the Cookbook Code. Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat

Bon appetit!

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Cookbook Writing, Marketing, and Photography Retreat with Holly Herrick and Beckie Carrico Hemmerling

Cracking the Cookbook Code – Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography  + Wellness Retreat with a Generous Dose of Fun

Personal chef and blogger extraordinaire, Beckie Carrico Hemmerling and I, award-winning author of nine cookbooks,  will be hosting a food/cookbook writing, marketing, and photography retreat at Folly Beach on March 29 – April 1, 2019.

Our small group (up to eight attendees) will indulge in  a few days of enlightened fun on the beach edges of Charleston, SC, eating delicious food and learning new skills. Beckie and I will teach our guests how to become better food writers, stylists, photographers, and published cookbook authors drawing from our collective reservoir of knowledge and professional experience.  One-on-one consultations,  signed copies of The New Charleston Chef’s Table, a guided tour downtown, wellness walks, and sumptuous lodging at a private beach house are just some of what our guests can expect. Non-writing friends and family are welcome to join at modified prices. Read all about it on the link below.

We hope you can join us! It’s going to be educational, fun, and delicious. And, it’s typically a beautiful time of year in Charleston.

Cracking the Cookbook Code. Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat

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Dip Into Some Delicious To Kick Off The New Year

Two Recipes That Will Start 2019 Just Right

Rita’s Warm Blue Crab Dip and Lucky Prosperity Soup

My grandfather used to say nothing good ever happens after midnight and my parents generally subscribed to the same ideology. So, for the most part, my sister and I especially (not so much my brothers) were required to be home by 11 p.m. starting in 10th grade until college. The one year my parents did make an exception was New Year’s Eve of  11th-grade in high school.  I remember that because of the onslaught of a drunken boy’s midnight “kiss” and the unpleasant aftermath of a cheap Andre’s Cold Duck hangover the next morning – both firsts unfortunately not easily forgotten.

Ever since, I’ve been one to mostly stay home on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. A day of end-of-the year feasting and quiet reflection with friends takes top billing in my book, and so do both of these recipes. Rita’s Warm Blue Crab Dip, from my latest,  The New Southern Chef’s Table Cookbook (Globe Pequot Press, May 2018), offers just the right blend of ooey-gooey, sweet, buttery, warm blue crab dip for a decadent start and the Lucky Prosperity Soup (from Mashed – Beyond the Potato, Gibbs Smith) a smooth, gilded finish.

Rita’s Warm Blue Crab Dip

(Makes 4 – 6 Appetizer Portions)

Situated literally on the edge of what is alternatively deemed “The Edge of America” (or simply Folly Beach), Rita’s Seaside Grille is just a stone’s throw from the frothy, popular surfing waters of the Atlantic. Its breezy, beachy locale lends itself both to the mood and look of the place, as well as the hefty, gutsy menu options, which include lunch, and dinner and a very popular brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Though casual, Rita’s also retains a kind of muted elegance that comes through its captain chairs, high , glossy wood bars and tables. Beyond beach chic, it’s a great stop before or after the beach, or anytime your belly is aching and in search of a good time. And, your canine pal(s) are welcome on the covered outdoor patio, which also houses some great live bands.

Executive chef Billy Spencer has been at the helm here since Hall Management (of Slightly North of Broad, High Cotton, Halls Chophouse, and Old Village Post House Inn fame), bought it a few years ago. The Johnson & Wales grad describes Rita’s crab dip, which was originally inspired by a restaurant where he worked in Florida, as “creamy, but not too heavy.” It’s rife with crab meat that he sources from a fisherman in North Carolina and as he points out, each portion is roughly 50 percent chock-full of crab. It’s lovely that it can be made ahead and re-heated just before serving.

Rita’s Warm Blue Crab Dip with Warm Pita Chips from The New Charleston Chef’s Table Cookbook (Globe Pequot Press, May, 2018) by Holly Herrick

For the dip:

1 1/2 cups cream cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into strips or a chiffonade

2 cups claw crabmeat

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup roasted, drained and finely diced red peppers

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese for garnish

Serve with tortilla chips or these dipping chips:

Two 6-inch pitas, each cut into eight wedges

1 tablespoon olive oil

Generous sprinkling kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Melt the cream cheese and heavy cream together in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl and set aside to cool. Fold the remaining ingredients into the cream mixture, stirring gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Portion out into six microwave-proof ramekins or small bowls. (Note: The dip can be prepared ahead, covered and refrigerated up to a day in advance).

Meanwhile, prepare the chips. Preheat oven to 4ooF. Toss together the pita wedges with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer, and toast until golden brown (tossing once or twice) about 12-15 minutes. Reserve warm.

To warm the dip “cups,” microwave, uncovered, on high for one minute. Sprinkle each bowl with the cheddar cheese garnish and broil under a hot broiler until melted, just before serving. Serve warm with the freshly prepared, warm chips.

 

Lucky Prosperity Soup 

(Yields 8 to 10 servings)

New Year’s Day in the South ushers in a call to wealth and prosperity, which are symbolized by black-eyed peas (representing coins) and collard greens (representing greenbacks). Often, they’re cooked separately, usually with some ham hock for flavor, and put together on the same plate with rice. This delicious soup takes the best of the bunch and puts them all in one pot, with the exclusion of rice. If you can’t find collard greens, substitute kale or another sturdy green. This soup is finished with a traditional sweet and onion splash from a southern garnish known as chow-chow. If you cannot find it, substitute a traditional relish, but modify the results as suggested in the recipe.

Recipe

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed and diced

3 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

4 cups (1 1/4 pounds/ 565g) re-hydrated black-eyed peas, rinsed

3/4 pound (340g) smoked ham hock

8 cups (1.9l) water

1 large bunch collard greens, rinsed, tough stems removed and discarded, and cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) strips

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or Tabasco

1/3 cup (80g) chow-chow or 2 tablespoons traditional relish

Directions/Method

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to coat. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with the vinegar and reduce quickly to a glaze.

Add the peas, ham, water, collard greens, and remaining salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high and reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour, until thickened and the greens have cooked down and the peas are soft, but holding their shape. Remove the ham hock from the pot and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, using an immersion blender, briefly mash the soup in the cooking pot to help incorporate the beans and the greens. When cool enough to handle, cut off and remove outer fat and skin layers from the hock. Cut off any visible meat, finely chop, and return to the pot; discard the rest. Just before serving, stir in the hot sauce and chow-chow. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve steaming hot and sit back and count your lucky stars.

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Wishing you and all you love all things wonderful and delicious as you transition into a new year and a happy, healthy 2019!

Love,

Holly and Rocky (principal taste tester and best friend!)

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Hatch A New Side Dish Star This Thanksgiving

Lewis Barbecue’s Hatch Green Corn Pudding Makes Perfect Thanksgiving Fare

Everyone has favorite side dish traditions at Thanksgiving. In my house, it’s cornbread sausage stuffing, smashed rutabagas with parsley and butter, mashed potatoes, and shaved,  butter braised Brussels sprouts. They’ll appear again this year, but I think it’s always a good plan to give the annual side traditions a little kick in the pan and try something new.  Lewis Barbecue‘s John Lewis’s Hatch Green Chile Corn Pudding is as natural as barbecue is to his native Texas. This pudding is a top-selling side as his popular, big-as-Texas restaurant located on the upper peninsula in Charleston, SC, is utterly delicious and easy to prepare. It would shine as a side star with beef, ham, or turkey.  It is featured in The New Charleston Chef’s Table Cookbook (Globe Pequot Press, May 2018).  Here’s an excerpt from the book and the recipe:

…”They come in droves for his prime brisket (Lewis calls it the highest quality and so well marbled it practically bastes itself), beef short ribs, beef back ribs, and more, all cut to order and served on butcher paper. Lewis serves sauce on the side if desired. “Typically the Texas barbecue sauce is a red, ketchup-based sauce with a lot of black pepper and some chiles,”says Lewis.

Sauce or no, it’s not barbecue without the sides. Because Lewis wasn’t willing to share his smoking, rub, or sauce recipes, we decided to use this sweet, creamy, crusty on the bottom corn pudding (in this book). Lewis grew up in El Paso near his great grandparent’s chile farm in Hatch, New Mexico, where the chile in the pudding is grown. “It’s similar to an Anaheim, but it’s a bit spicier with a grassy flavor. It picks up the flavor of the terroir in Hatch,” says Lewis. If you can’t find one, substitute Anaheim peppers, or used canned Hatch peppers already roasted and peeled. Lewis prefers a top quality, high-end cast iron pan, because the iron is denser and less porous so stuff doesn’t stick to it too much. Get the cast iron hot in the oven first, before putting in the pudding mixture. It will ensure a super crispy bottom, “almost like a Detroit style pizza,” says Lewis.

People come in droves to sample Lewis Barbecue’s brisket, cowboy beans, and this star Hatch Green Chile Corn Pudding – the perfect Thanksgiving side.

Hatch Green Chile Corn Pudding

(Serves 4 – 6)

2-3 Hatch green chiles

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

3 large eggs

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from one ear of fresh corn)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

Roast the Hatch green chiles over a hot, open flame until the skins blacken and separate (about 4-5 minutes on each side). Place the roasted chiles in a plastic bag and allow them to steam (in their own heat) for 1 hour. Peel the skins and remove the seeds, discarding both the seeds and the charred skins. In a food processor, roughly chop the chiles. This should yield about 1/4 cup roasted chiles. Defrost the frozen corn kernels and chop in a food processor until pureed.

Combine the flour, yellow cornmeal, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, and granulated garlic in a mixing bowl and blend together until homogenous. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the heavy cream. Add the frozen corn puree, chopped and roasted Hatch green chiles, cubed mild cheddar cheese, and fresh corn kernels. Pour the dry ingredients in the wet ingredients. Whisk together until homogenous.

Preheat the oven to 375F with a medium cast iron pan. When hot, take the heated cast iron pan out of the oven and add the butter. Allow butter to heat until foaming and milk solids are lightly toasted. Be sure to allow the butter to fully coat the bottom. Pour the corn pudding batter into the hot cast iron pan with foaming butter. Sprinkle the shredded mild cheddar cheese on the batter and return to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes at 375F. The cheese should be nicely browned and the pudding should be set, but not firm in the center. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and serve warm.

(Note: prep the base puree for this recipe ahead and finish/bake while the turkey is resting/sliced. It can wait up to 30 minutes before slicing).

Wishing everyone a beautiful, truly delicious, safe, and peaceful Thanksgiving! This is one of 80 delicious recipes in this beautiful cookbook/coffee table/travel book,  which makes the perfect holiday gift for the cook and Charleston-lover in your life. It’s available at all major bookstores, many Indie bookstores, and Amazon.

Bon appetit!

Holly

New Charleston Chefs Table book cover

The New Charleston Chef’s Table (Globe Pequot Press, May 2018) by Holly Herrick

 

 

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Maple Acorn Squash Soup Makes an Elegant Start to Thanksgiving

Warm Up Thanksgiving with This Exceptional Soup Recipe

In the cooler months, my kitchen counter is permanently decorated with an array of winter squashes. Hubbard, acorn, butternut, pumpkin, turban – whatever I can find at the grocery store or farmers’ market. They serve the dual purpose of appealing to my aesthetic senses as well as fueling my appetite for seasonal cooking. All winter squashes shine especially brightly in soups, which magnify their flavor and color intensity and smooth texture beautifully.  Thankfully, the heirloom varieties (my current favorite is Hubbard) are increasingly available. Lately, I’ve been roasting Hubbard squash, halved and skin-side down in a hot oven (425F) until very soft. Once cool, I mash the flesh with a splash of salt and pepper, cinnamon, perhaps a bit of maple syrup and a pat of butter. It has an exquisite bright orange color and possesses deep, rich winter squash flavor.  With a sauteed filet of salmon or cod, it makes a complete and very satisfying meal.

The acorn squash in this soup is treated similarly and finished with minimalist ingredients so the clean, earthy squash flavor takes center stage.  The maple syrup is cooked into the soup with just a few more ingredients and the elegance of shallots and a tiny bit of cream. It is pureed to a velvety finish with an immersion blender or a food processor. Because it is so elegant, delicious, seasonal, and just the right, light weight, it is the perfect way to kick off any special meal, especially Thanksgiving. The reverence and gratitude associated with Thanksgiving make soup the perfect starter – a slow and easy debut that gives you and your guests time to sink their hearts and minds into the occasion, pausing for reflection and slow sipping as they go. It also gives the turkey and the cook a little much needed time to rest before the gigantic feast begins.

This Maple Acorn Squash Soup from  Mashed – Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith) was inspired by the maple syrup and butter-filled acorn squash halves my mother made often for my brothers and sisters when we were children. Do use real maple syrup. It makes a huge difference in the authenticity of the soup’s flavor.

Maple Acorn Squash Soup – Photograph by Alexandra DeFurio from Mashed by Holly Herrick. Reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Maple Acorn Squash Soup

(Yields 6 to 8 Servings)

2 large acorn squash, halved horizontally and seeded

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and halved vertically

Generous pinch of kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons bourbon (optional but delicious!)

4 cups low sodium vegetable stock

1 cup water

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons real maple syrup

2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons heavy cream

3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Preheat oven to 425F (22oC). Place the acorn squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the flesh is very tender. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle,  scoop the flesh from the interior of the squash, discarding the shells. You should have about 4 cups.

In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until just softened. Add the ginger, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and bourbon; stir to combine. Cook until the bourbon has reduced to a glaze, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, water, squash, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high and reduce to a simmer, cooking, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove ginger pieces and discard.

In the same pot, puree the soup with an immersion blender until very smooth. Finish with the cream, heating through. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot in individual soup bowls garnished with a flutter of fresh chives. (Note: The soup can be prepared ahead a day or 2 and refrigerated, but remember to add the cream and the chives when reheating, not prior).

 

Wishing everyone a beautiful, happy and delicious Thanksgiving!

Holly

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Cracking the Cookbook Code Retreat

Join me and blogger, chef and author Beckie Carrico Hemmerling March 29 – April 1, 2019 for Cracking the Cookbook Code, Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat. Limited to only 8 people, we will have a blissful few days in a beautiful, relaxing setting with like-minded souls, eating delicious food and having a wonderful time. Click for details.

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