Day Two with Kevin and Vanessa: Southern Cooking
Our Sunday evening was no less epic. We headed back to the Farmers Market to get the fixins' for Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk-lime dressing, Braised Oxtail over grits, and homemade buttermilk biscuits.
Our Fried Green Tomatoes were not so much green as they were red, but using unripened red tomatoes for this dish works just as well. This comes straight out of the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. The only difference is that I dredged and fried them twice to get them more crispy and to allow the dredge to stick more evenly to the tomatoes.
Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing:
For the Tomatoes:
- 3 lbs. green tomatoes (about 6-8 medium tomatoes)
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3 cups peanut oil (We used a mixture of canola and peanut oil)
- Lee Bros. All-Purpose Fry Dredge
- Kosher salt, if needed
- Lemon juice, if needed
1. Cut out the stem ends from the tomatoes and slice them 1/4-inch-thick with a serrated tomato or bread knife; reserve. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a broad, shallow bowl.
2. Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 365 degrees. (If using a different size skillet or pan, fill with oil to a depth of 1/3 inch.)
3. Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Set a baker's rack on a cookie sheet on the top rack.
4. Spread the dredge on a large plate or pie pan or in a small, shallow baking pan. Taste the tomatoes. They should have a bright tartness like citrus fruit. If they don't, sprinkle the slices with salt and lemon juice. Then press 1 tomato slice into the dredge, once on each side, shaking any excess loose. Dunk in the egg mixture, then dredge the slice on both sides again. Shake off any excess and place the slice on a clean plate. Repeat with more slices until you've dredged enough for a batch (3 or 4 slices). With a spatula, transfer the first batch of slices to the oil.
5. As the first batch cooks, dredge the second batch of tomatoes, but keep a watchful eye on the first. Once the slices have fried to a rich golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes, flip them carefully and fry for 2 minutes more, or until golden brown. Transfer the fried tomatoes to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels and leave them to drain for 1 minute.
6. If they need it, dredge the fried tomatoes once more and fry again until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon.
7. Transfer the slices to the baker's rack in the oven, arranging them in a single layer, so they remain warm and crisp. Repeat with the remaining slices until all the green tomatoes have been fried. Serve right away with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing.
Lee Bros Fry Dredge:
Ingredients: (I doubled this recipe in order to dredge and fry twice)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- A sprinkling of bread crumbs for quick browning, if dredging fish or oysters (didn't use)
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper together twice. Stir and turn out onto a flat surface. Press fish or green tomatoes or oysters or chicken or dams into the mixture on all sides and shake the excess loose. Milled grains should be treated as perishable products, so if you're not using this dredge immediately, transfer it to a quart-sized plastic bag with a zipper lock and store in the freezer not longer than 4 weeks. Remove the dredge 1 hour before using so it can come to room temperature.
3/4 cups whole or lowfat buttermilk (preferably whole)
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from 3-4 limes)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil
1/4 cup finely minced green onions
1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
In a small bowl, whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator not more than 2 days.
Kevin labored over the Oxtail until it was rich and deeply-flavored. Braised for 3+ hours with onions, carrots, red wine, chicken broth and spices, it is delicious shredded and smothered over simple grits. This also was inspired by the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, although Kevin introduced a roux to finish the shredded oxtail to make it especially creamy and luxurious.
- 3 1/2 lbs. oxtails, sliced into disks (we used 2.5 lbs. and adjusted the amounts accordingly)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions (about 3 medium onions)
- 2 cups finely diced carrots (about 6 medium carrots)
- 1 1/2 cups robust red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or a Bordeaux blend
- Chicken Broth
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries, ground in a mortar or coffee grinder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
- flour and butter for the roux
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, stemmed, washed, and dried, for garnish
1. Season the oxtails all over with the salt and black pepper. Heat the oil in a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven or enameled cast~iron pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Sear the oxtails in batches, turning them with tongs as each surface becomes golden brown, until they are browned all over, about 6 to 8 minutes per batch. When each batch is browned, remove them with tongs and reserve in a medium bowl.
2. Add the onions and carrots to the Dutch oven. and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Add the wine, broth, chile, thyme, and allspice and bring to a simmer. Return the oxtails and any juices in the bowl to the Dutch oven, cover, and simmer gently until the meat is falling from the bone and the braising liquid has thickened, about 3 hours.
3. With tongs, transfer the oxtails to a medium bowl. When they are cool enough to handle, pick the meat from the bones and discard the bones and any cartilage. Chop the meat into pieces of roughly the same size. Skim some fat from the braising liquid.
4. Return the chopped oxtails to the Dutch oven and simmer over low heat, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, lemon juice and salt and black pepper to taste and heat through. stirring occasionally, about another 3 minutes.
5. Introduce 3-4 T of butter and 1 heaping T of flour to the chopped oxtail meat to make a roux. Stir constantly so it does not burn.
6. Serve over grits. white rice. or a baked potato, and garnish with the parsley.
2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 cup stone-ground grits
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Pour the milk and water into a 2-quart saucepan, cover, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the milk mixture boils (about 5 minutes), uncover the pot, add the grits and salt, and reduce the heat to medium. Stir constantly until the grits are the consistency of thick soup and release a fragrant sweet-corn perfume, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, for about 20 minutes, until the grits thicken and fall lazily from the end of the spoon. Cook about 15 minutes more, stirring constantly to prevent the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
2. When the grits are creamy and fluffy and soft, turn off the heat, add the pepper and butter, and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.
These are straight out of Cook's Illustrated Baking Cookbook. The trick is to plop the unshaped dough on the cookie sheet instead of using the cookie-cutter approach. I highly recommend the yogurt step. The more rustic-looking, the better.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup plain cake flour (If you don't have, use 2 cups AP flour)
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 8 T cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 3/4 cup cold buttermilk
- 2-3 T plain yogurt (optional)
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
3. Using a stand-mixer, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
4. Stir in the buttermilk and yogurt and mix for about 10 seconds until the dough comes together into a slightly sticky ball. DO NOT overmix to avoid the batter getting tough. If it seems to dry, add more yogurt or buttermilk.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and quickly form into a rough ball. DO NOT over-handle the dough. Divide the dough using your hands or a knife into quarters, and then divide the quarters into thirds.
6. Shape into rough balls and place on a cookie sheet.
7. Bake until the biscuit tops are light brown 9-10 minutes. Serve immediately.