Sunday, December 03, 2006

Collard Greens

I'm Happier Than A Pig In Mud

It's truely amazing the things that life will throw at you when you least expect it.

Take what happened to me at the theater last Friday as an example. Out of the blue, Rob, one of the Ritz Theater employees, walked up to me with two grocery bags full of fresh home grown collard and spinach greens and just GAVE them to me.

One of the other theater employees had grown them and everyone in the building was either crazy else they didn't cook so by default I inherited the sacks of green treasure.

I acted like Wyle E. Coyote, "Super Genius", and ran away with them as fast as I could, but Pat made me wait until tonight to cook them. After lovingly being hand washed in cold water to remove any bugs and most of the sand that was present, they're now sitting comfortably in some 212 degree F water simmering away with the Pork Ham Bone left over from Thanksgiving.

It's not rocket science...just water, salt, pepper, and a few hours of cooking slow.

Enjoy Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Prosciutto Wrapped Rosemary Grilled Shrimp & Sea Scallops

It Makes My Mouth Water Just Writing About Them

I did something a little different last evening for dinner, and you can thank my friend Brad for giving me a big bag of fresh Rosemary last week in order to supply me with the inspiration.

I had already bought four GIANT Sea Scallops on Friday and I had a few pounds of frozen shrimp in the Freezer, and with the addition of the Rosemary and some Proscuitto Ham, here’s what I did to make a hearty meal for two.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

Four to Eight Sea Scallops (you decide based on their size)
A dozen or so medium headless pealed shrimp
Thinly sliced, cured Prosciutto Ham
A couple of Fresh Lemons, or bottled lemon juice
Fresh sprigs of Rosemary (the number based on your scallops and shrimp quantity)
Salt and pepper to taste (be careful with the salt, because the Prosciutto is generally salty)

Now as to the preparation:

This meal is really easy. Peal your shrimp (leaving the tails on if you want) and place them and the scallops in a bowl and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and a few tablespoons of lemon juice.

Now go watch TV for a while or take a walk--give your seafood at least a half hour to swim around in the marinade, and take the time to dump some charcoal into your grill and get yourself a nice fire started.

Once you get tired of waiting on your briny friends, pull them out of your bowl and wrap a piece of prosciutto around each scallop, and slice a few pieces of the ham up to wrap around the pealed shrimp.

Redneck tip: Use your judgment on the size of the Prosciutto pieces based on what you want to eat and how you want them to look when you get done. Make at least one and one half passes around each piece so they won’t come unwrapped on the grill.

Next, take a few spears of rosemary, peal the leaves off of two or three inches of the woody stems, and insert one stem through each wrapped scallop in order to pin your Prosciutto wrapper in place.

Do the same thing with the shrimp, except you can put four to six wrapped shrimp on each Rosemary skewer.

By now your grill should be nice and hot, so brush the grate off real good, brush on a light coat of olive oil on everything, and lay a sheet of aluminum foil over on one side to deflect the flames away from your Rosemary leaves.

Grill everything for three to five minutes on each side, then when you think it’s done, pour yourself a club soda or a nice cocktail, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

Regards Y’all

The Redneck Gourmet

Friday, July 28, 2006

Fried Dill Pickles

More Weird Stuff From My Life

Pat and I have become friends with many of our neighbors that have been coming down here to St. simons Island on vacation for most of the past thirty years or so. Many are the children or other relatives of the original owners of the condos we live in, so many people that we end up hanging out with at the pool basically grew up here in the summers and holidays.

We’re only spending our third summer here, but we're fortunate that we’ve been adopted into the “Sea Palms Colony Clan” and now they’re starting to make demands of me and my cooking talents.

I’ve already hosted a couple of what I call my “Drive By, Pool Side BBQ’s” over the past couple of years, and now some of the wives are starting to challenge me with specific recipes and dishes that they like, that they eat in the local restaurants, or that they otherwise enjoy.

Most recently, the topic at the pool has been something called “Fried Dill Pickles.”

Well, you know me and my big mouth…I said that it had to be easy, and when the dust settled I was forced to spend this evening figuring out how to fry a dill pickle—because I’ll be serving them poolside tomorrow afternoon.

It turns out that it really is easy, and after surfing the internet to look at some examples, here’s what I came up with to fry me some dill pickles this evening:

1 egg
½ cup of milk
1 tbsp Crystal hot sauce
½ tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp black pepper
½ tbsp flour

1 cup of flour

1 quart of dill pickle wedges

Enough oil (peanut, canola, or Crisco) to make a puddle ¾” deep

First things first…toss your oil into a deep skillet or a shallow boiler and crank up the heat on the stovetop so that you can get somewhere near 350 degrees F. Temperature is your friend here, so use a candy thermometer or whatever other appliance you have to check your oil temperature else you’ll have greasy, floppy, limp dill pickles.

As I understand it, women hate limp pickles…fried or otherwise…but I digress…

Next, beat your egg up real good in a medium mixing bowl, then add the milk and spices and stir it all up.

In a separate bowl, dump in your flour, and add a little salt and pepper if you want to. I actually added a little cayenne pepper just to add a little Emeril style “bam” to the mixture.

Once your oil has heated, dredge your pickle wedges in the flour, then into the egg/milk mixture, then back into the flour, then do it all over again. Build yourself a nice thick coating of batter on the outside of your pickles.

Now toss them into the oil a half dozen at the time, and watch them sizzle away, turning them once or twice until they are golden brown. Lay them in groups on a stack of paper towels on a plate on the side to drain and cool.

Sprinkle a little salt and cayenne pepper over them, maybe make a horseradish sauce or mustard sauce for dipping, and step out of the way of the stampede because THESE THINGS ARE TASTY.

I can hardly wait to put my cooking where my mouth is tomorrow afternoon.

Regards y’all

The Redneck Gourmet

Monday, June 19, 2006

Moroccan Chicken With Apricot Couscous and Olive Tapenade

Live From Cassablanca...

I’ve always been fascinated with the Northern African country of Morocco. Forget places like London, Paris, and Rome; if I had the time and money I’d head straight to Portugal, and then when I was through drinking all of the Port wine I could consume I would catch a commuter plane or ship and head down to Casablanca.

Then I’d hang out with all the other Bogart and Bergman fans at “Ricks” sipping Sherry & Cognac while listening to Sam’s replacement pianist “playing it again.”

Unfortunately, since Morocco is something like 97% Muslim, I think it best to keep my white Redneck butt here stateside for the time being.

Not to worry, however, because I can always cook Moroccan food here at home and pretend that I’m looking out at the Mediterranean or far side of the Atlantic. I’ve done it three times recently, and I think that I have the process down to an art now.

Take a look at this recipe for Moroccan Chicken with Apricot Couscous and Green Olive Sauce in Flatbread.

I cooked my own version again last week, and let me tell you—I ate more at one sitting that I have in months if not years. The whole condo smells like a Moroccan Bazzar (without the camel dung) from the unique aroma of the spices involved.

Here's what you need to do to make dinner for two. First I made up a big batch of the spice blend which includes:

2 tsp Cinnamon
24 Whole Cloves
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
6 tsp Cumin seed
3 tsp Fennel seed
3 tsp Coriander
3 tbsp Sweet paprika
4 tsp Kosher salt
3 tsp Brown sugar

Two boneless chicken breasts (or one breast per person if you’re having friends over)

A couple cloves of garlic, diced fine
1 lemon, quartered
A hand full of fresh cilantro, stemmed
Kosher salt and black pepper
Olive oil

1 cup of couscous
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
½ cup diced dried apricots
¼ cup toasted almond slices
2 hands full of fresh mint leaves
2 hands full of fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 green onions—green parts only, diced
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

For the Olive Tepenade you need:

1 small can of green olives
1 small can of black olives
½ shallot, diced fine
1 handfull fresh parsley
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
olive oil

A Bag of Pita Bread

First things first…put all of your spices (everything but the salt and brown sugar) in a skillet and heat it up to bring out the oils. Next add the salt and brown sugar and run everything through a spice mill or food processor to grind it up.

Instead of a whole chicken, I took some boneless chicken breasts and coated them with the spice mixture, then wrapped them up around lemon wedges, diced garlic, and cilantro; then pinned them together with toothpicks and baked them in a 350 degree oven for about twenty minutes (until the inside temperature was 155 degrees F.)

While you’re waiting on the chicken to cook, make the couscous by bringing your chicken stock to a boil, then turn off the heat and add your couscous. Let it sit about 15 minutes, then dice up your apricots, almonds, mint, cilantro, and green onions, and stir them into your couscous with a fork.

Make the Olive Tapenade by dicing your Shallots and parsley, then add them along with the sherry, rice vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil to your food processor. Now puree it until it is smooth, smooth, smooth, adding your olive oil to assist the process.

Now put your chicken on a plate, toss a helping of couscous on the side, spoon some Olive Tapenade on your pita bread, sit down at the table, and EAT.

Regards Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cinco de Mayo—Phase II

Breaking The Silence…

Hello…It’s me, your lovely and talented blog proprietor, breathlessly jumping back onto the keyboard here after nearly a month of absence from the Redneck Gourmet.

Don’t worry, nothing’s been wrong—I’ve just been busy taking care of some family business, participating in some non-cooking artistic endeavors, and cooking reruns…

most recently--MEXICAN Reruns…

About 60 hours from now I have to have 7 pounds of pork roast, 10 pounds of chicken breasts, 5 pounds of beef roast, and 5 pounds of flounder and Tilapia cooked and transformed into Beef, Pork, and Chicken Tamales; fancy Baja Style chicken and fish soft tacos; not to mention the Mexican rice and black beans and guacamole and four Key lime pies and salsa and the presentation details that have yet to be worked out.

All I have to say is…


There are at least thirty people that are going to be standing around on Saturday night with nothing to eat unless I can manage to pull all of this stuff together. Space in the Fridge and on the stovetop is at a premium for the next two days.

Wish me luck.

Regards Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin—Phase II

Here…Try This…

I love stuffing myself with different kinds of “stuffed” food.

Things like Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells, Spicy Stuffed Blue Cheese Burgers, and Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts, are already in the archives here at The Redneck Gourmet.

Back in January when I first wrote about Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, I thought that I had a good recipe.

I was wrong, because this recipe, produced last evening out of our pantry and new refrigerator, is MUCH better.

Take a look at what I did…

The ingredients:

1 large chunk of pork tenderloin (about 2/3 to 3/4 pound) triple butterflyed

a splash of olive oil
½ granny smith apple, pealed and cut into ¼” cubes
¼ cup rasins
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
¾ cup plain bread crumbs
2 strips bacon

¼ cup of chicken stock

And now, the procedure:

Marinade your pork tenderloin in your favorite combination of fluids for at least a half hour. I used orange juice, balsamic vinegar, and a little olive oil.

Toss your olive oil, raisins, apricots, and apple cubes into a heavy skillet over medium low heat. Once things start simmering, push the fruit to the side and add your two bacon strips.

Meanwhile, while your bacon is cooking, pull your tenderloin out of the marinade onto the cutting board and butterfly it—slice it out into a ½” to ¾” thick continuous slab of meat. The Butterfly process isn’t rocket science, but a good sharp knife and practice makes things easier.

Cook the bacon until it is done, but not crispy, then turn off the heat to the skillet, pull the bacon out onto a plate on the side to drain, and add your bread crumbs to the remaining contents of the skillet.

By the way, you can adjust the amount of bread crumbs that you use to get a moist mixture that will clump together, and you can spoon out some of the grease from the skillet before you add the bread crumbs if you are watching your health and waistline. (Since I have a death wish am a good southerner, I left ALL of my grease in the skillet.)

Lay your bacon strips out parallel to each other along the top of the tenderloin, and after your skillet miixture has cooled a little so you don’t burn yourself, spoon it out on top of the bacon onto the tenderloin in a nice even layer.

Now carefully roll up the tenderloin around the stuffing mixture into a spiral, sort of like a cinnamon roll. Secure your stuffed tenderloin with bamboo skewers or tie it up with butchers twine, and pack any of the stuffing that tries to leak out and get away from you back into the sides of the rolled up package.

Pour yourself a nice glass of wine while your oven preheats to 375 degrees F.

Don't get impatient, because you’re in the home stretch now—place your tenderloin in a shallow, greased, casserole dish, pop it into the oven, and cook it until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F (about 30 minutes in my oven.)

Heat up some frozen vegetables on the stovetop while you’re waiting, or toss some cut up red potatoes in the casserole dish beside the tenderloin like I did.

Once your pork is at 160 degrees, pull it out of the oven and place it on your cutting board to rest for five or ten minutes. Put your plates into the oven to warm.

When your pork is done resting, slice it into ¾” to 1” thick slices, toss it onto your warmed plates on chargers, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

Regards Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Friday, March 31, 2006

Scallop Piccata

An Improvised Dish of Celebration

I'm pleased to report that, after a month in refrigerator induced "Appliance Hell," our lives are back to normal again.

Actually, things are better than normal, because we now have a shiny new 28 cubic foot side-by-side fridge sitting where the old piece of crap old one formerly resided.

I stood by here as long as I could today waiting on the old fridge to be removed, but I had to leave to run errands late this afternoon, and when I returned it was gone.


Praise Allah

Amen Brothers & Sisters

Even though there are only two people in our household, our fridge is a VERY important part of our kitchen. I cook dinner five or six nights each week, prepare breakfast one or two days, and do a hot lunch two or three days each week.

I mean real cooking--not Hamburger Helper.

I was extremely concerned that we were going to lose $800 worth of frozen food and ingredients/condiments if we didn't get things straightened out, not to mention the added cost of eating out in the mean time.

Don’t get me wrong here—I love eating out, but the quality of MY food cooked at home generally exceeds that of all but the best restaurants here on the island.

In a restaurant, an equivalent dinner to that served at my house would cost you $15 to $20 each, without drinks, almost every single night.

Any way, it all worked out when it was all said and done.

I celebrated the arrival of our new appliance by stopping by the grocery store to buy some giant Sea Scallops and a big bag of baby Spinach, and when I got home I improvised a dish that I call Scallops Piccata. (It was based on my Chicken and Veal Piccata recipe.)

Try it out when you have the time (the quantities are for dinner for two):

Six Sea Scallops
2 tbsp lemon juice
Six strips of thick cut bacon
1 large bag of baby Spinach

8 oz (1/2 pack) Angle Hair pasta

1 cup white wine
¼ cup of Capers
1 clove of garlic, diced fine
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup of Chicken stock
¼ stick of unsalted butter

First things first…

Since Scallops spend their time lying around on the bottom of the ocean in the sand, they are understandably…SANDY.

I don’t know about you, but since I don’t like gritty food, I recommend that you rinse those suckers, then rinse them again, and Again, and AGAIN, and when you’re done rinsing—toss them into a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.

Now let your Scallops swim around in the lemon juice in the fridge for a couple of hours if you have the time, thirty minutes as a minimum.

When you’re ready to start cooking, fire up your charcoal grill. (If you are a gas grill weenie, you can wait a few minutes and save your precious propane if you want to)

Next, heat up a large, heavy skillet on the stove top and cook your bacon strips until they are at least half way done. I like my bacon crispy, so I cooked it pretty well. (Save a little juicy fat on each strip for cooking on the grill.)

After you pull your bacon strips out, let them drain and cool on some paper towels on the side. Spoon any extra grease that you don’t want to eat out of the skillet. Being a good southerner, I left my bacon grease in the skillet.

Deglaze the skillet by pouring in the white wine and chicken stock, scraping the bottom with a spatula to remove any juicy bits.

Now add your capers and lemon juice and turn things down to a slow simmer.

Take your bacon strips and wrap one around each scallop, securing it with a couple of toothpicks.

Is your grill hot now?


Well, then heat that sucker up…

then toss your bacon wrapped scallops on the grill and cook them on each side for eight or so minutes, being careful not to burn them.

Put your Angel Hair pasta in a boiler of lightly salted water with a little butter or olive oil. Be careful not to overcook it, it only needs about three or four minutes because it’s so fine.

Put your plates in the oven to warm.

Meanwhile, back at the skillet, when your scallops are almost done, open your bag of baby Spinach and dump it in on top of your sauce.

Stir, stir, stir…you want the spinach to wilt.

Now comes the fun part…plating it all up.

Put your warm plates on chargers, pile half your drained pasta on each plate, spoon out the wilted spinach on the pasta, and top with three grilled bacon wrapped scallops.

Pour your wine/caper sauce over the top of everything. Doesn't that look nice?

Well then, sit down at the table, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

Try not to pass out before you push back from the table…

Enjoy Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Strawberry Key Lime Pie

Don’t Anyone Get Between Me And My Key Lime Juice

Did you know that you can make a WHOLE Key Lime Pie in less than 30 minutes?

Did you know that you can make a WHOLE Key Lime Pie for about $6.00?

Further, if you are a cheep-skate like me and you don't mind making your own pie crust, did you know that you can cut the cost down to about $4.50.

That said, does anyone but me wonder why the heck a slice of Key Lime Pie costs you $5.00 in most restaurants?

Maybe they have to send someone to fly each day down to Key West and pick their own little Key limes and escort them back to their kitchen or something. That could explain the cost.

And why are these expensive pie slices colored GREEN?

The natural color of a Key Lime Pie comes out pale yellow when I make one.

Is the green color the result of radioactivity, or possibly food coloring?

Then again, maybe the high cost is due to labor.

I know from personal experience that juicing those little suckers (key limes) requires the patience of Job. The seeds are tiny and almost impossible to pick out of the juice without a fine mesh strainer, and it takes over a dozen of the little suckers to get an entire pie’s worth of juice.

I gave up juicing little limes last year once I found out that I could drive over to the grocery store and buy a bottle of Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice.

This stuff is WONDERFUL.

One 16 fluid ounce bottle is said to contain the juice of at least 26 key limes. Based on my experience, it seems more like about 4 dozen of the tiny, tart citrus fruits.

Any way, I got bored last week and started thinking about doing something a little different with Key Lime Juice, and as usual—a trip to the grocery store was the answer.

What I found was that they are practically giving away Florida strawberries right now, so I bought two big packages of berries along with some other stuff, and a new form of Key Lime Pie resulted.

This recipe is EXTREMELY simple, so don’t blink your eyes or you’ll miss it.

All you need are these Ingrediants:

½ cup of Key Lime Juice
(1) 14 oz can Eaglebrand Sweetened Condensed Milk
(3) egg yolks
(1) cup pureed strawberries (drained well)

Sliced strawberrys and/or sliced kiwi fruit for garnish
A few leafs of fresh mint for garnish

(1) 8” or 9” pie crust (I used a Nabisco “Nilla” Pie crust)

You ready to make a pie now?

Fire up your oven and set the temperature at 350 degrees F. Stir everything together, dump it into the pie crust, and bake for 20 minutes.

How simple is that?

Chill your pie for a few hours, slice it up, put it on chilled plates, and garnish it with the sliced strawberries, kiwi, and mint sprigs. Now grab yourself a fork and EAT!

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Almost Better Than Sex…

Well folks, I pleased to announce that I developed two new dishes for this year’s Valentine’s Day extravaganza at our house—and my efforts included a true “Redneck Gourmet” dinner last night consisting of Baked Eggplant Parmesan and a dessert called Tiramisu. Unfortunately I got so busy cooking the Eggplant dish that I completely forgot the Balsamic Vinegar dressed salad, but who noticed…??

I’m taking the liberty of cross posting the Tiramisu recipe that I improvised on my other blog, What I'd Liked To Have Said. The results were awesome, if I do say so myself. My only problem will be reproducing my results again with any consistency, but I’m gonna give it my best shot in the future.

And now…as to the ingredients:

For the coffee sauce:

1-1/2 to 2 cups strong, Strong, STRONG Coffee (make it double what you drink)
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp Kahlua liqueur
2 tbsp Grand Mariner liqueur

For the Zabaglione filling (it’s basically a custard):

4 egg yolks
½ cup of sugar
½ cup Marsala Wine
(2) 8 OZ containers of room temperature Mascarpone Cheese
(1) cup heavy whipping crème

And Finally:

About 4 dozen ladyfingers
Bittersweet coco powder
Small block of semi-sweet dark chocolate

This looks tougher than it really is, just be patient, stay organized, and get ready to dirty up virtually every mixing bowl in your kitchen.

First you make your coffee. As I said in the recipe listing—STRONG coffee—even Espresso if you have a machine. Make the coffee ahead of time, stir in the sugar, and then let it cool off to room temperature. Now add your Kahlua and Grand Mariner. Dump the cooled mixture in a medium saucer or appropriately sized mixing bowl for later use.

Meanwhile your Mascarpone Cheese and your eggs should be sitting around on the countertop coming up to room temperature.

Crack your eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Some Tiramisu recipes call for whipping up the whites and including them in the Zabaglione filling, but being the wasteful bastard that I am I just tossed my egg whites down the drain. I’m such a pig…

The egg yolks end up on the stovetop in a double boiler over medium heat. Ideally the water in the lower boiler doesn’t touch the bottom of the upper boiler. The idea is to whisk the egg yolks until they are nice and frothy, then add the ½ cup of sugar and the Marsela wine and keep whisking and cooking the mixture over the steam until it thickens, about 10 minutes on my stove.

When you have a minute you can take a spatula and mush up your Mascarpone Cheese in a large mixing bowl, and you need to beat your whipping cream with an electric mixer in YET ANOTHER MIXING BOWL until it forms stiff peaks.

Don’t worry too much, because you are NOW through dirtying up bowls and pots by now (I actually still had a dozen or so clean ones waiting in the wings if I needed them…), except for the 9” x 13” Pyrex dish that you are going to use to put the desert together in.

By now you should have one bowl of room temperature coffee, one bowl of well whipped “whipping crème”, and one bowl of Zabaglione filling.

Is that what you have? If not, step back from the stove and figure out where you went wrong.

After the Zabaglione filling has cooled off a bit, dump it into the bowl with the mascarpone cheese and mix it all up with the electric mixer.

Now “fold” your whipped crème into the mixture. By folding I mean not beating it with the mixer, just stir it up enough to combine it and get a uniform consistency. Don’t beat it to death or you will cause the crème to collapse.

Now comes the fun part—putting it all together.

One at a time, lightly dip both sides of your lady fingers into the coffee mixture, then neatly position ½ of them in the 9” x 13” pyrex dish to form a uniform single layer. Next you spoon ½ of your filling over the layer of ladyfingers and smooth it out. Now repeat the process with another full layer of ladyfingers, and top it all off with the rest of your filling mixture.

Smooth it out real nice and pretty.

Cover it with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours (mine sat overnight.)

When you are ready to serve your Tiramisu, pull it out of the fridge, sprinkle the coco powder evenly over the top, and shave some of the bittersweet chocolate into “curls” with a vegetable peeler (it helps if you refrigerate the chocolate block for a half hour before cutting your “curls.”)

Now cut out a couple of generous portions for yourself and your significant other, grab yourself a fork, and eat!

Regards Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Moussaka -- Re-cooked

(Without the Moose or the Mouse)

This was the very first recipe posting I made to The Redneck Gourmet back in November of 2004. I have cooked this Greek eggplant standard—Moussaka—a half dozen times since and through experimentation I’ve learned what to do, and by default—what not to do. I believe that I have it figgured out.

I cooked another 9x13 casserole dish full for dinner last night, and it was excellent, if I do say so myself. I will reiterate my opinion that the key to this dish, in addition to good basic ingredients, is that you must get the spice mixture right to make it taste like “Greek” Moussaka.

You don’t want to end up cooking a dish of something that tastes like Italian eggplant lasagna, YOU WANT TO COOK GREEK MOUSSAKA!

So without further fanfare, on to the ingredients:

3 small eggplants
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 cup button mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, diced fine
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ pint sherry

3/4 LB Chopped Lamb
1/2 LB lean ground beef

1 can (8 oz) pureed tomatoes
1 can (8oz) diced tomatoes

½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp red pepper
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt

1 cup un-seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup crumbled Feta Cheese

For the Béchamel Sauce Topping:

4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp flour
1-1/4 cup scalded milk
2 eggs
1/8 tsp red pepper
¼ tsp salt

It looks like a lot of ingredients, doesn’t it?

Well...don’t get all nervous and scared, here is what you need to do—just take it one step at a time:

First, peal and slice the eggplant into 1/8” pieces. Now soak the eggplant in cold salted ice water for at least one hour--Mine soaked for about three, and you can change the water once if you want to.

Redneck Tip: Weight the eggplant slices with a couple of saucers or plates (whatever will fit in your water bowl) to ensure that all of the slices stay submerged under the water.

Peal and cut your carrot into thin slices.

For the meat sauce, in a large deep skillet or sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and add the diced onion. Cook your onion until it is clear, then add your garlic and cook, stirring regularly.

Redneck Tip: Don’t burn your garlic or you’ll have to start over.

Add the chopped lamb and ground beef and cook it all until it is browned. Tilt your skillet over and spoon out as much grease as you want. I use a turkey baster for this task.

Next add the tomato puree and diced tomatoes, carrots, and mushrooms, along with the allspice, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, salt and red pepper.

Add the ¼ pint of sherry and enough water or beef stock to thin it out a little (I used about a cup of water this time.)

Redneck Tip: Don’t attempt to do the rest of the ½ pint bottle of Sherry as a shot. You’ll end up burning up your Moussaka and dancing by yourself while watching TV and eating a bag of corn chips for dinner.

Bring your meat sauce to a nice simmer, and cook for 20 minutes or so until it is reduced to a nice consistency. You want it to still be juicy, but not really runny.

Meanwhile, back to that delicious eggplant. Pour off the water through a colander.

Redneck tip: Remove the weights first, duuh…

Turn all of the eggplant pieces up on edge in the colander and separate them as you can so that all of the water drains out. You don’t want soggy eggplant for the next step.

Redneck Tip: Guys, you might want to put on a shirt when you start frying the eggplant, particularly if it is wet, because it will pop a good deal and you risk burning your beer belly if you stand too close to the skillet (Ladies, I assume you were already wearing a shirt.)

Fry the eggplant slices in a skillet in about ¼” of vegetable oil over medium heat until tender. Drain the slices, once they are cooked, on lots of paper towels. Don’t skimp on the paper towels, you want to get as much grease out of the eggplant as is possible.

The Bechamel sauce is made as follows. Pay attention…

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium low heat. Now add your flour, a tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly. In another small pot, scald your milk, then turn down the heat and keep warm.

Redneck tip: For all of you Cajuns out there, we’re making a roux.

Keep adding the flour a little bit at a time until the roux is thick, but don’t cook it until it is brown. Add the warm milk a little at a time, again stirring constantly with a whisk. After the milk is added, bring the whole thing to a low boil and cook until it thickens to the consistency of a medium gravy. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

In a separate bowl (or a coffee cup), beat the eggs until smooth. Slowly add a little of the cooled sauce to the eggs so as to not “scramble them.” Add the warmed egg/sauce mixture to the balance of the sauce, add the red pepper, cinnamon, and salt to taste. Turn off heat and continue to stir to blend.

Putting it all together:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle a few tablespoons of bread crumbs into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 Pyrex dish.

Layer one half of the eggplant on the bottom of the dish. Pour half of the meat sauce mixture on top of the eggplant and smooth it out evenly.

Layer the rest of the eggplant slices and sprinkle with another couple of tablespoons of bread crumbs, half of the grated parmesan cheese and all of the Feta cheese. Add the balance of the meat sauce mixture and smooth out evenly. Sprinkle with the rest of the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

Pour the Bechamel sauce over the top of the dish and smooth it out nice and evenly.

Be're on the home stretch now…place your finished dish of Moussaka into the 350 degree oven and cook it for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

After it's done like you like, you'll have to wait to allow the Moussaka to cool and rest for 15 minutes, then slice it into squares, and serve with your favorite red wine and bread.

Now grab yourself a fork and napkin, sit down at your dinner table or in the floor at the coffee table in front of the TV and EAT!

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Yeeeeeeeeeeee Haaaaaaaaaaaa

I guess almost everyone has their own favorite recipe for Chili.


If you don’t have your personal favorite recipe (because you don’t cook), then I suspect that at least you know SOMEONE that does have one—a favorite Chili Recipe, that is.

Well, I have a confession…

I haven’t cooked Chili before (gasp…)

Never Ever…


I had some ground beef that I bought on sale at the grocer yesterday, and as a result, Pat suggested that I make Chili for dinner.

So I did.

I pulled some Chili together this afternoon and after about three hours of simmering it came out GREAT, so I decided to do something that I rarely do—I’m writing it up after my first time cooking it.

Here is what you will need to make my Chili:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced fine
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tbsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp ground red pepper
¼ tbsp black pepper
¼ tbsp white pepper

1-1/4 pound lean ground beef

(1) 12 oz can beer
(1) 14 oz can beef stock

(1) 28 oz can of Pureed Tomatoes
(1) 28 oz can of Diced Tomatoes
(2) 15 oz cans tomato sauce
(2) 15.5 oz cans dark red kidney beans, drained
(1) 15.5 oz cans Navy beans, drained

Ninety Nine percent of your work is done in the first twenty minutes, so pay attention here to what I say, get your prep work done, get it all cooking together, then grab yourself a beer or a Coke Cola and laze around while your Chili finishes making itself.

Put your olive oil into the bottom of a large, heavy boiler over medium heat. Add your diced onion, and cook it for five minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Next add your diced garlic and your spices (cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, etc.) and keep stirring for another couple of minutes.

Now add your ground beef and break it up so that it cooks well.

When your ground beef is nicely browned, tilt your boiler over and spoon out some of the fat and oil if you want to. You can even pour your beef/onion/garlic mixture through a colander if you want to or, if you love fat like I do, you can just leave it in and keep cooking.

Now turn the heat down a little and add your beer. Watch it foam.

Once the mixture stops foaming up, add the beef stock, the pureed tomatoes, the diced tomatoes, and the tomato sauce.

Stir, stir, stir.

Doesn’t that look yummy?

Just wait until you add your can of navy beans and your two cans of dark red kidney beans.

Still looks yummy?

Taste it, being careful to not burn your tongue or the roof of your mouth.

Does it need anything?

Well, then add it silly…it’s your chili.

Now turn your heat down to medium low, prop a lid on the boiler slightly open, and stop back by every fifteen minutes to give it all a good stir and supervise its progress.

When you a satisfied with your chili (give it at least a couple of hours--or until you can’t wait any longer), grab yourself a bowl, a piece of cornbread, a big old spoon, and sit down at the table and EAT.

Regards Y’all

The Redneck Gourmet

Monday, January 09, 2006

Baked Ziti

Dinner For Eight

Happy New Year everybody!

It’s your lovely and talented cooking blogger, The Redneck Gourmet, back here on the keyboard with my first recipe of 2006—Baked Ziti.

We had five family guests and our 85 year old neighbor, Mr. Harlan “Bucky” Strader (Dartmouth class of 1942), up here in the Condo last Friday night for dinner, and at Pat’s suggestion I tossed together a simple buffet style meal consisting of some fresh Sundried Tomato Basil bread from our local grocer’s Deli, an organic mixed green salad, and, of course, the baked Ziti.

Don’t be afraid, because Ziti, simply put, is just a big fat tubular shaped pasta noodle, about 2” long and 3/8” in diameter. Baked Ziti, therefore, is almost like baked lasagna (the familiar flat form of pasta.)

Here’s what you will need to make dinner for eight, with leftovers if everyone doesn't eat like a pig:

(2) pounds of dry Ziti noodles
(2) 8 oz containers of Ricotta cheese
(2) 12 oz packages of shredded Mozzarella cheese

For the Sauce:

(4) tbsp good olive oil
½ large onion, diced fine (or as much as you like, it’s your sauce)
(2) cloves of garlic, diced fine

1 tbsp dried Oregano
1 tbsp dried Parsley
1 tbsp dried Thyme
1 tbsp dried Basil (or fresh if you have it)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper

(1) 14 oz can beef broth
(1) 14 oz can chicken broth
(3) 28 oz cans pureed tomatoes
(2) 7 oz cans tomato paste
(3) 6 oz cans portabella mushroom pieces

½ pound ground pork

Here we go…

Dump the olive oil into the bottom of a large, heavy boiler over medium heat, then toss in your diced onion and let it cook for a couple of five or six minutes before you add your garlic.

Keep cooking for ten minutes or so, being careful not to burn anything.

Now add your spices—Oregano, Parsley, Thyme, and Basil. Stir the mixture up and let the oil and juices activate the flavor in the spices.

Doesn’t that smell good?

Now dump in your can of beef stock and scrape the bottom of the boiler to get all of the bits suspended in your liquid. Add the pureed tomatoes and tomato paste, and reduce your heat to medium low.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, brown your ground pork and spoon off any extra fat that cooks out of your meat. (My pork was surprisingly lean, so I just ignored this step.)

Once the pork is browned, add it to your sauce mixture along with half the can of Chicken broth and the Portabella Mushrooms, toss a lid on the boiler, and let everything simmer for a couple of hours.

Watch your temperature and stop by to stir your sauce every fifteen minutes or so. Try not to enjoy the aroma too much…and if things get too thick too fast, add the other half can of chicken broth.

My sauce cooked for almost three hours by the time I was ready to finally put the dish together, then I cooked my Ziti in some lightly salted water according to the package directions (about 10 minutes.)

Drain your Ziti through a colander, then coat two 9”x13” casserole dish with Pam cooking spray or olive oil.

Now comes the fun part, putting it all together…preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Spoon a thin layer of your tomato sauce into the bottom of your casserole dishes, and then spread ½ of your ziti noodles on top. Now divide your Ricotta cheese in half and spread it over the noodles. Sprinkle half of your Mozzarella cheese on top of the Ricotta.

Add another layer of Ziti noodles, another layer of tomato sauce, and top everything off with the rest of the Mozzarella cheese.

Step back from the counter and admire your work.

Doesn’t that look nice?

Mine did…

Pop the dishes into the oven for 30 minutes until it’s all nice and bubbly, then put your plates on the table, grab yourself a fork and EAT.

Regards Y’all

The Redneck Gourmet