the super southern sampler special in all its glory
David’s welcome back dinner took a swing for the South this time, with a super southern sampler special. After much deliberation, I decided upon deviled eggs three ways, baby back ribs with David’s favorite home-made bourbon brown sugar sauce, black eyed peas with smoked ham hock, white chocolate whopper pudding, buttermilk biscuits, and crunchy buttermilk oven fried chicken.
Much of the thought process was devoted to a debate about how to prepare the chicken. After considering deep frying the chicken, I considered my past and decided against going the full Paula Deen with it. I know that oven fried chicken may seem like a cop out to you, but I have my reasons.
The following is a true story:
The following is a true story:
Sophomore year in college, I was hanging out at my friend Caleb’s Ludlow apartment watching badly dubbed Japanese films and decided I wanted to make donut holes. We bought peanut oil and biscuit dough in a can, sugar and cinnamon, and I was all set to make donut holes, just like I watched my mom do when I was a kid.
I knew nothing about cooking with oil, smoking points, or where the lid to the pot we were using was. These proved to be rather important details.
After heating the oil to a point where I thought I saw “steam” coming off of the oil, I deemed it hot enough to put the biscuit dough into the pot. I took several small pieces, lowered them carefully in, and…ignition. They instantly caught on fire. The pot of oil followed suit, and thick black smoke began filling the kitchen, quickly moving to the rest of the efficiency. Without the lid to the pot, and with the impressive heat the pot was generating, we were unable to get close enough to smother the flames. Through my panic, I realized that we were going to have to do something I had never done before.
We were going to have to call the fire department.
I told Caleb to call the fire department and give them his address. Staring numbly at the potted inferno in the kitchen, he replied. "O.K. What's the number?"
"911! Did I really just have to tell you that?"
The fire department is right down the street on Ludlow. They were fast, and boy were they enthusiastic. Somehow, though, in a game of telephone, a pot of oil on fire had been translated into an entire stove on fire. The firefighters sprinted up the stairs. The leader of the group grabbed the scalding hot pot, smothered the fire with another lid, and threw the lidded pot of hot oil out the open kitchen window, into the parking lot below, an action that still puzzles me to this day.
He turned around and began hooking up a fan to blow out the smoke that was lingering in the apartment. As he was working, another firefighter charged up the stairs, hose in tow, ready to put out the stove that was supposedly about to catch the entire building on fire.
“Nah, man.” Said the first firefighter, waving him off, looking a little annoyed. I watched the firefighter with the hose start dejectedly winding the hose back up to take to the truck. He looked a little disappointed. I was never invited back to Caleb’s apartment after that.
So, because catching the kitchen on fire, or giving myself a nasty hot oil burn would really ruin dinner, I decided not to risk deep frying the chicken, especially without a companion who knew what they were doing in case something went awry. I marinated the chicken overnight in a mix of buttermilk, Frank's red hot sauce, elephant garlic cloves and a little diamond crystal salt.
David loves deviled eggs, and though I've never tried to make them before, they seemed easy enough. I decided to make three different kinds: chipotle, curry, and classic. My favorite was by far the chipotle, which had a little finely chopped chipotle in adobo.
can't go wrong with baby backs
The biscuits were really a product of the buttermilk chicken. I had half a container of left over buttermilk, and really, is there any question about what to do with left over buttermilk? No, there is not.
but mostly lard
I distinctly remember playing rock-paper-scissors with my 1st grade best friend, Jill Vescovo, in the Memphis lunchroom. Loser had to eat the other's black eyed peas, which was an awful fate at the time. So I added them to the menu. They were much better than I remembered, but I doubt the black eyed peas of my youth were simmered with a smoked ham hock for 3 hours.
The white chocolate whopper pudding really came out of nowhere. I wanted to make a malted chocolate pudding and garnish it with whoppers, but despite the fact I am told malted milk is readily available at Kroger, I couldn't find the damn stuff anywhere. So I settled for putting some whoppers in a bag and pulverizing them with the rolling pin, which worked just fine.