Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash!

Tonight we made Chicken Paprikash for dinner.

I randomly ran across this recipe a few weeks ago and tried it out.  (And yes, it’s the same dish made famous in When Harry Met Sally. ) I don’t think this is a super traditional version of the recipe but it looked amazing.  One word for you.  Bacon.  Yes, there is bacon in this Chicken Paprikash and it’s crazy delish.  We always try to cook dinner on the weekends, so we made this again tonight.

(Warning, I kinda tweak recipes as I go, so here is my latest version)

7 slices bacon, diced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 and a half tablespoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken (I like the chicken tenderloins, which I cut in half)

2 cups chicken broth

1 large bag of egg noodles

8 oz. sour cream

ingredients

First, dice the bacon into lardons and sauté 2 minutes.

Add diced peppers and onions.  Sauté 3 more minutes.

bacon:onions:peppers

Mix together flour, paprika and marjoram with about a teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl.

flour

Add chicken, toss to coat thoroughly.

chix

Push the vegetable and bacon mixture to one side of the pan and sear chicken well, along with leftover flour mixture.  Let cook for 6 more minutes.

browning veg

Stir together the chicken, bacon and vegetables and cook 2 more minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until the chicken is almost cooked through, about 10 more minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook egg noodles according to packaging.

sourcream

Uncover the pot with the chicken, turn the burner to high and cook 2 more minutes. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the sour cream and cook 5 more minutes. Season with salt as needed.

final stir

Drain the noodles and ladle a very generous serving of chicken and sauce on top.

Stuff into your face.

paprikash

Yum.

(Thanks to my awesome hubs for all his hard work dicing, chopping and searing!)

 

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A Hellacious Belle’s Guide to Sips and Vittles of the Modern South: H is for Handpie #AtoZChallenge

handpie

OMG, I have to stop writing about food for this challenge.  I’m perpetually hungry and can think of nothing but making and eating all the food that I’m writing about.

Today, we look at the humble handpie, or fried pie, another traditional Southern consumable.

In theory, the handpie can be savory (and is in many cuisines, such as the divine empanadas of Hispanic culinary culture) but in the Southern United States, it’s traditionally sweet.

A single portion: rolled out biscuit dough, an aromatic filling of spices and fresh fruits (plums, peaches, apples), a quick crimp ’round the corners and a fast fry in hot oil – drain and dust with powdered sugar or a cinnamon sugar blend – maybe a drizzle of icing glaze.

A hot, palate-intensive flash of concentrated fruit flavor surrounded by sweet, melt-y, crunchy, flakey, amazing – give me one, NOW.

::sigh::

handpie

I, for one, am ready for a handout.

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
David Mamet, Boston Marriage

 

A Hellacious Belle’s Guide to Sips and Vittles of the Modern South: G is for Gravy #AtoZChallenge

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My Granny made some great gravy.

And when I say gravy, I’m not in particular talking about turkey gravy, or roast beef gravy, although she made both of those very well, as she did everything she cooked.  But her white gravy was beyond perfection.

White gravy is a staple of Southern cuisine.  It’s also called  “milk” or “sawmill” gravy.

White gravy is what you spoon over biscuits, ladle over country-fried steak and mashed potatoes or dollop on fried chicken.  It’s based on pan or bacon drippings, along with a little white flour, cold milk, some butter, salt and a strong dash of black pepper.

Perfection.  Please pass the biscuits.

Some people doll it up with crumbled sausage or bacon or even roasted garlic, but to me that’s just gilding the {White} Lily, since anything more is simply…

gravy.

I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage. – Erma Bombeck

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hellacious Belle’s Guide to Sips and Vittles of the Modern South: B is for BBQ #AtoZChallenge

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B is for BBQ

[bahr-bi-kyoo]

BBQ. Three tiny little letters that represent enormously fierce fightin’ words south of the M/D line.

BBQ, barbecue (barbeque if you’re prissy, a chef or a Yankee) or ‘cue (if you’re likely to be wearing a trucker hat at this moment), is more than grilled meat.  It’s a war between states, religions and generations over what it is exactly, who makes it best and how to get baked bean stains out of a white shirt.

It’s regional divides harking back to the Civil War over sauce (Memphis, North Carolina, North Alabama White. Tomato-based.  Mustard-based.  Vinegar-based. My apologies to you lovely people in the Heartlands, but Kansas City does not have a dog in this hunt), cooking times, ways to cook (dare I even utter, “Big Green Egg, sotto voce?”), coals (hickory, applewood, oak, mesquite) plus the whole whiny dichotomy of noun verses verb.

flames

BBQ can be a simple pork sandwich slopped with Daddy’s sauce.  And again, I say simple: entire families have split asunder over over this gastronomical delicacy.  What kinda meat? Is it pork?  If so, chops, loin, babybacks, butt or the whole hawg? “Inside” meat, moist and juicy or “outside” meat, slightly charred?  Is it beef brisket (Texas style, the way my Mom makes it) or even chicken, smothered in “red” or “white”?

What’s it on?  A hamburger bun, thick-sliced and lightly toasted homemade bread, a Kaiser roll, a split chunk of cornbread or just a piece of Wonderbread straight off the loaf, served on the side to soak up the juice?

sandwich with sauce

Sauce.  Yeah, I mentioned it before in passing but let’s not even touch on what style of sauce.  That’s just a bit too personal, like your walk with the Lord or whether or not you got drawers on under them jeans. I mean how is your meat sauced?  Is it slathered on top?  Marinaded or dry rubbed?  All smoked and chopped and stirred up first in a pot with some extra spicy before loadin’ on the bread?

Pickles?  Go ahead, put ’em on, but be prepared for folks to start mutterin’ about the “slippery slope.”

Coleslaw?  That’s different.  Sure, you can serve it on the side, with the baked beans, corn on the cob and Brunswick stew, but you can also pile it high on top of the sandwich, right under the bun.  It’s so good that way!  And if you do a slaw stack (and your granny’s not flipping in her grave), is it Mayo-based (Duke’s of course, there is no other) or a vinegar-based cabbage salad?

My heavens, as a good Southerner, are you even allowed to eat those divinely yummy (but slightly heretical) pork BBQ Sundays? That’s “nouvelle” cuisine at its most controversial.

sundae

But BBQ doesn’t stop there, oh no, no, no.  We’re just scratchin’ that pig on its ears.

BBQ also means to grill: pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, sticks of veggies, Spanish mackerel…umm tuna steak? Never tofu.  Really.  Otherwise, if you can skewer it up or keep it from slippin’ through the grates, you can set a fire about it.

And a BBQ, “the BBQ” is also the instrument of the flames. The pit. The grill.  The Webber.

“Burton McNeely Hallsworth the third, you and your daddy fire up that there barbecue – we’ve got folks comin’ over and we need to smoke up a mess o’ ribs.”

The mechanism that delivers the meaty manna can range from a $9.99 K-mart Hibachi to a re-purposed oil drum.  Some are built-in brick fire pits that take up half the back yard.  Some of them are so huge you can tow ’em behind the truck on a trailer.

grill

Honestly, in the Deep South, gas grills are considered by many to be a little “sissy,” but that doesn’t stop good ol’ boys (and gals) from investing tens of thousands of dollars in some chrome monstrosity with multiple levels, warming drawers and a steam tray.  Personally, I always feel those fellas are overcompensatin’ a mite but I’ll leave it at that.  In my family, they use a charcoal grill complete with an aluminum chimney to nurse the coals to the proper color and ash before spreading them with a practiced flourish to the exact micro-density required to perfectly cook the protein du jour.

But before I forget, there’s another BBQ entirely.

shrimp

Creole BBQ.  It’s got nothing to do with grills or tomato-based sauces.  Creole BBQ is a heady blend of salt, black pepper and spices (rosemary, thyme, paprika) pan sauteed with fresh shrimp still with the heads, tails and shells, at least a pound of sweet butter, diced green chilies, minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon and a hearty dash of Tabasco, served in a bowl with a hunk of French bread for soppin.’

Despite the galaxy’s vast reaches of technology and ideology imbuing this culinary zeitgiest, in my mind  (arguably) the best inventions to come along in the entire history of barbecue?

wetwipetums

I try to avoid barbecue potato chips. They’re my weakness.

 – Gwyneth Paltrow

A Hellacious Belle’s Guide to the New South: The Valuable Vidalia

It’s the state vegetable of Georgia.

“Vidalia onions aren’t just the most famous onions in the world; I think they may be the only famous onions in the world.”
Chef Bobby Flay

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They are so mild, I’ve seen people eat them like apples.

They come from Vidalia, Georgia, and the sweetness is said to be a by-product of the low sulfur in the soil.

Slice them thick, bread them and fry them and they make the most delicious onion rings ever.

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Vidalia Girl,
won’t you tell me why
Sweet Vidalia
You always gotta make me cry

Sammy Kershaw – Vidalia Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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A Hellacious Belle’s Guide to the New South: Hush, Puppy!

hushpuppies

Hushpuppies, those golden globes of goodness, are high up on the fried-food chain in the Deep South.

A simple batter of cornmeal, flour, baking soda, onions, salt, eggs and buttermilk, dropped by the spoonful into a skillet filled with hot oil, they come out crispy on the outside, mealy soft on the inside and 100% delicious.

180px-BdThere are a lot of stories about how hush puppies got their name.

My Granny told me that in the days before air conditioning, when houses were built up off the ground with an open crawl space underneath so that the breezes could blow under and help cool the house, the family’s dogs would seek relief from the hot sun by burrowing into the soft, cool dirt under the house.

When the women of the house began cooking the evening meal, the dogs, smelling the food, would wake up; and hungry, start to bay and bark.

The women would fry up scoops of cornmeal batter and throw them over the porch rail (or through the cracks in the wood floors) with the admonishment of, “Hush, puppy!”

Other legends have Confederate soldiers throwing balls of fried dough to the scouting dogs of Union soldiers to keep them quiet so their location wouldn’t be revealed, but I prefer to imagine sleepy ol’ hound dogs howlin’ for hushpuppies in the soft swelter of early evening.

cute-wrinkled-bloodhound-face-photo

Of course, in skillets of Chefs of the New South, the humble hushpuppy is frequently duded out with chunks of tasso, crab meat or lobster, spiced with jalapenos or drizzled with honey.

I love them most the way my Granny made them.  Hot and greasy from the fryer, dunked in her homemade remoulade, sidled up to some fresh fried catfish.

“You can say a lot of bad things about Alabama, but you can’t say that Alabamans as a people are duly afraid of deep fryers.” 
― John Green, Looking for Alaska 

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A Hellacious Belle’s Guide to the New South: Kiss My Grits!

Believe it or not, “Kiss my grits!” isn’t a Southern phrase, although I’m sure there were plenty of Southerners eager to claim it the first time it was heard.  Nope, it came straight from Hollywood, bellowed out of TV screens by a loud-mouthed Southern waitress named Flo, in the 70s sitcom, “Alice.”

Coarse_White_Grits_1324

Now, grits themselves are a true Southern tradition.

Grits are made from ground, alkali-treated corn called hominy.  Cooked low and slow with chicken broth, butter and heavy cream, seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper, they are somewhat like polenta, but more closely akin to heaven.

If you like, mix them up at breakfast time with your scrambled or over-easy eggs (I do); or for supper, stir in a white wine beurre blanc, and top with sauteed shrimp low-country style.  Add on some chunks of ham, roasted garlic, fresh scallion, lardons of bacon…

::sigh::That’s puttin’ some South in your mouth.

What you don’t put on grits?

Milk and sugar.

Silly Yankees.  Milk and sugar’s for oatmeal.  Or Cream of Wheat.

If you don’t like them done right, then just you never mind.

It leaves more for us.

“Grits are hot; they are abundant, and they will by-gosh stick to your ribs. Give your farmhands (that is, your children) cold cereal for breakfast and see how many rows they hoe. Make them a pot of grits and butter, and they’ll hoe till dinner and be glad to do it.”
― Janis OwensThe Cracker Kitchen: A Cookbook in Celebration of Cornbread-Fed, Down Home Family Stories and Cuisine
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