By Laurie Triplette
Southernism of the Week:
About as useful as a screen door on a submarine: A sarcastic expression implying that something or someone is not useful at all, like those signs that read “Danger Low Flying Aircraft” … or that a situation is dangerously irresponsible (like the timing of the GM ignition-switch recalls). This expression is not to be confused with Don’t let the screen door hitcha on the way out… which implies that the addressee better be departing immediately.
SAVE YOUR STRENGTH FOR THE EASTER SEASON WITH ONE–POT DISHES
It’s that time of year again, when everybody’s schedule becomes a whirlwind of deadlines and obligations. From parents’ tax-filing deadlines and end-of-season committee meetings to children’s standardized testing, recitals and sports tryouts, we all need a stress break. But we need to maintain healthy eating habits. Don’t fall into the quicksand of drive-by fast food.
Nothing fills the bill for family dinner during this busy season like one-pot main dishes. Think chicken pot pie, or tuna noodle casserole, or fancied-up macaroni and cheese, or beef stew. Couple the all-in-one dish with salad, fresh fruit and veggies to have a delicious AND healthful meal.
This week, The Old Bride is serving up several recipes that might not be as familiar to our readers as some of the dishes mentioned above. But try them, and they soon will become part of the household repertoire. Many thanks go to my brother, Pat Daltroff, for whipping up and photographing the Coq au Vin recipe at his Palm Springs restaurant, Twin Palms Bistro & Lounge, during my visit this week.
TEXAS MEATY BEANS
This is a hearty all-in-one dish for a hungry crowd. It is very adaptable to whatever cooking method and time frame the cook chooses. Serve with small boiled potatoes and a salad of mixed greens.
8 oz to 1 lb bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled
1 lb ground beef (85 to 93% lean)
1/4 to 1/2 lb deli ham, chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
3/4 c ketchup
1/4 c light brown sugar
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning
15-oz can of pinto beans with onions
16-oz can of chili or ranch beans in sauce
15.5-oz can of navy beans
16-oz can of red beans
1 c water
Brown the chopped onion in bacon drippings or 4 T olive oil or salted butter. Add the ground beef and continue browning, stirring as needed. Add the bacon and ham and stir to blend. Simmer about 5 minutes and add ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Tony’s.
While the beef mixture is simmering, rinse the navy and red beans and combine with the pintos and chili beans (use can sauce for both).
At this stage, the cooking process can be continued in one of three ways:
Combine the mixed beans, beef mixture, and water in a large Dutch oven or large skillet, and continue simmering on low heat, partially covered, for about 30 to 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Combine mixed beans and beef mixture in a large slow cooker and cook for 3 to 4 hours.
Combine the mixed beans and beef mixture in large skillet, cover, and bake, covered, din oven set to 300˚F for about an hour.
Yields about 8 hearty servings.
COQ AU VIN (Chicken with Wine)
This one-pot dish is as simple as it gets, but it’s tasty. It is so easy that you don’t even need to attempt a slow cooker version, although a short cycle (4 hours) in the slow cooker would work well.
4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 chicken thighs, skinned
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 tsp ground thyme
Large white onion, coarse-chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 small red potatoes, quartered
10 medium mushrooms, quartered
14 to 15 oz Italian-style stewed tomatoes
1-1/2 c of red wine
Fry bacon in Dutch oven over stovetop, just to brown. Sprinkle seasonings over chicken. Add chicken to frying bacon and brown on medium-high heat, both sides. Add onion and garlic, stirring and tossing. Cook 2 minutes. Drain grease. Add veggies and wine. Cook, covered, about 25 minutes, until potatoes are tender and sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally. Pour into serving dish or individual plates and garnish with fresh parsley.
Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian, and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ),Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB). Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ web site: www.tripleheartpress.com and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@LaurieTriplette).