Friday, November 27, 2009

Oysters Rockefeller

Not As Expensive Difficult As They Sound...

So I cooked a couple of quick appetizers for yesterday's Thanksgiving festivities which I don't think I've written up previously here on the Redneck Gourmet(and I'm too lazy to look at my archives), so in lethargy and ineptitude I thought I'd take the risk of posting the formulas again this morning.

They each fall under their own separate heading below, and with that said, here's my method of how to cook "Oysters Rockefeller" ("Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops" follows in a separate posting.)

According to this website called, this dish originated in 1899 in Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. Go over there if you want to and take a peek at the history.

I've personally dined at Commanders' Palace and Brennan's and a number of other famous Nawlin's eateries over the past 30 years but I have to admit that I've never made it over to Antoine's...but I have enjoyed various interpretations of the Recipe produced by kitchens around the country over the years and some have been good and some have been great...but the one thing in common is that MOST have cost an arm and a leg in a restaurant.

For no good reason in my considered Redneck opinion...I might add.

That said, I say there's ways tocook Oysters Rockefeller for less than $0.75 each...closer to $0.50 each if you know what you're doing and can get a good deal on fresh oysters.

And to that end, here's my personal interpretation of...

Oysters Rockefeller (by the dozen)

You're gonna need the following basic ingredients:
(and feel free to experiment if you wish)

12 fresh oysters
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp butter
6 tbsp minced fresh spinach (or a part of a pack of frozen chopped spinach...WELL drained)
2 tbsp finely diced green onions
2 tbsp diced stemmed Italian flat leaf Parsley
breadcrumbs (as much as you need...hang on)
a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I use Crystal)
1/3 tsp Annisette Liquor (or Herbsaint or Pernod)
1/4 tsp salt
Box of Rock salt
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges we go...first crank on the oven to 350 degrees

Meanwhile shuck your Oysters. Cut those suckers out of their shell making sure to keep the sand and crumbs out of things and set aside the better looking deeper halves of each shell to use later in the process.

Redneck Aside:

Let me remind you that real men shuck oysters...but if you aren't a real man or you're female and don't have a real man handy you can buy them (the Oysters) already shucked but then you have to also get those little sanitized store bought shells if you absolutely have to.

I, personally, having grown up in Lower Alabama in a place less than two hours from the best oysters in the world in Apalachicola Bay Florida, refuse to buy anything but fresh oysters.

(I guess that means I'm saying not to cook this recipe unless you can find fresh oysters in the shell, but I digress...)

Meanwhile...back to the preparation of our Oysters...

In a heavy skillet, melt your butter (and add some bacon grease if you have it handy), then add the spinach, onion, parsley, Anisette, hot sauce, and salt.

Now sprinkle a few tablespoons of bread crumbs on top and start stirring as things thicken. As the juice cooks out of the spinach , pay attention and if you need more bread crumbs don't just stand there...put them in the pot and keep stirring...don't look at me...

After about 10 minutes consider turning the heat off and pulling the skillet off the hot eye and then let it cool down (you can even make this stuff as much as a day early and refrigerate until you need it, but let it come up to room temperature or it will effect your cooking time.)

After you've shucked your oysters and picked out and scrubbed off your serving shells, add about a 1/2" deep layer of rock salt to a oven proof platter or cookie sheet and lay out your shells evenly spaced over the surface of the salt. The salt helps evenly transfer heat during the cooking process and also keeps the shells stable while you're filling them.

Now add one oyster back to each shell. It doesn't matter that they go back into their original shells but it helps if you put your bigger oysters in the larger shells and reserve the smaller ones for the little guys.

Place equal amounts of the spinach mixture over each oyster and spread to the rim of the shell if possible.

Slide the whole concoction into the oven and let things go for about ten minutes, then pull them back out and distribute your grated cheese on top and lightly sprinkle with more bread crumbs, return to the oven and kick on the Broiler to 500.

Let things go another five minutes or so, then pull out and serve.

Regards Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops

More Non-Traditional Holiday Food

This is a recipe I've been cooking for several years now.

It's my personal take on a recipe published by Food Network's Cooking Diva Giada de Laurentiis, except I'm made some procedural and serving changes to accommodate a platter presentation with more readily available ingredients.

The Ingredients:

12 medium sea scallops
12 slices of thinly sliced Prosciutto Ham
1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp sliced black olives
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
lemon juice
1/4 stick of butter
fresh ground black pepper
2 cups baby salad greens

And here's how I put things together...

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, and toss a large heavy skillet on the stove top on medium heat and put in your butter to melt.

Rinse your scallops and remove the tough "foot" or "tendon" on the side if it's still present. Put your cleaned scallops in a shallow dish and pour in a little lemon juice and let them swim around while make the other preparations.

Toss your tomatoes, olives, and basil into a food processor and chop things finely as you slowly pour in your olive oil. Don't add all of it at once and stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl. Keep adding oil and processing to you have a thin, chunky paste...not a slurry.

Now back to your scallops. Are they still swimming in lemon juice?

Well dump out the juice, and move them into your melted butter and lightly sear them on the two flat sides. Be careful not to fully cook them now, they'll have plenty of time in the oven later to get to a medium or medium well temperature.

Turn off your heat and take them out and lightly sprinkle them on all sides with salt and pepper.

Now lay out two strips of Prosciutto and fold them in half long ways, spoon a little of your tomato/olive mixture out in the middle of each slice and top each with a scallop.

Stay with me here now, we're on the home stretch...grab some toothpicks, fold the prosciutto up around the scallops and pin the two flaps together with the toothpick vertically.

Do the same procedure with each scallop and place them in a buttered pyrex dish and pop them into the oven for about 15 minutes.

Now go pour yourself a mixed drink or a glass of wine, but stop back by and check their progress at the ten minute point. If you like your scallops well done just be careful to not dry out the prosciutto too much.

Spread your salad greens out on a large plate or platter and arrange your hot wrapped scallops around the greens, garnish with some lemon wedges, and try to not get trampled when you bring them out of the kitchen to your guests.

Regards Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Green Chili

I'm Back Out of Hibernation...

I hate to admit how much I hate how I've neglected this Cooking Blog after having such an enthusiastic start going on nearly FIVE YEARS AGO.

November 9th, 2004 to be exact.

That was the date of my first posting.

In celebration of five years of cooking blogging I thought I'd add my latest recipe to the page...a white chili I call my "Green Butt Chili"...

except this batch was made with pork tenderloin because I was lazy and didn't feel like brining and cooking a whole Boston Butt yesterday afternoon.

Maybe this batch was just "Green Chili" or even "White Chili", but's MY Chili and I'll call it whatever I want to, dang it.

So any way, I'm cooking chili for two reasons right now.

1.Because the weather has cooled off and...

2. I have to get started with a new recipe for next year's Chili Cookoff on St. Simons with my buddy and fellow Georgia Tech Alumni, John Howton, owner of Blackwater Grill there on the island.

Our last season's chili based on top round steak (see recipe in the next older posting) won second place "People's Choice" but didn't place with the so called "official judges," so as a result I'm wanting to change directions and try something different in anticipation of getting equal or greater attention at this coming year's event.

To that end, yesterday I put together a batch of "white" i.e. non beef based chili that was made up of the following ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1" thick steaks (you could use boneless chicken breasts also if you like)

(2) mild Hungarian or banana peppers, diced into 1/4" cubes
(3) large green tomatillos, diced into 1/4" cubes

(2) 14 ounce cans chicken stock
(2) 14 ounce cans beef stock
(1) 14 ounce can white Hominy Corn
(2) 14 ounce can cannelloni beans
1/2 14 ounce can tomato sauce
(1) 12 ounce can Goya Reciato Cilantro sauce

1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp green bell pepper powder
1/2 tbsp red chili powder
1/4 tbsp black pepper

Now as the's not rocket science...

Sprinkle your pork tenderloins lightly with Cumin on both sides and toss them into the bottom of a 4 quart boiler with a little olive oil to sear and brown on both sides.

Meanwhile, over in a large heavy skillet heat up about a cup of peanut oil over medium heat and make yourself a blond Roux. I'm not going to go into the details other than to say you add flour until everything gets real thick and you STAND THERE AND CONTINUOUSLY STIR your mixture until it least fifteen minutes did it for me.

Now turn down the heat on your Roux and pull your seared pork out of the big boiler onto a platter.

Toss your diced peppers and tomatillos into the roux and cook for ten or so minutes.

Stir, stir, stir.

Don't that look good?

When your green chunks are cooked and softened, dump one can each of chicken stock and beef stock into the skillet.

Stir some more.

When everything is combined good dump the contents of your skillet over into your 4 quart boiler (the one you seared your pork in) and scrape the bottom of the pot to get the tasty bits off.

Add the chili powders, cumin, and the pepper.


Add one can of Cannelloni White beans and the can of Hominy and the tomato sauce.


Now return your pork to the pot, add more stock if you need to, cover, and cook it for about an hour on medium low heat...until it is tender and starting to fall apart.

Is your pork falling apart?

Then pull the pieces out onto a platter and slice and tear it up with a knife and fork. Shred it as finely as you want to. I like a bunch of fine with a few larger junks just for the variety in my mouth.

Now add your pork back to the pot, dump in more chicken and beef stock if you need the liquid volume, and add the second can of Cannelloni Beans and the jar of Goya Recaito.

Finish your Chili by cooking it down another thirty to forty five minutes--until it's as thick as you like your Chili, then grab yourself a spoon and napkin and...


Regards Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

World Class Chili

Recipe By Request

Looking back, I find it to be somewhat amazing the circumstances which have produced some of my best recipes and cooking experiences over the past fifteen years since I began cooking on something other than a charcoal grill and moved into my kitchen almost full time for good portions of the week each week.

After my ten year apprenticeship spent learning which end of the spoon and ladle to put in a boiler or pot, and the difference between the spices Nutmeg and Cumin, the past five years have found me cooking larger and larger quantities of food for ever increasing crowds of people in a variety of venues--most recently...

PUBLIC venues.

With the assistance of Pat and my good buddy Rusty I've done a killer Mexican menu for over thirty people at our 2006 celebration of "Sies de Mayo" (actually an unintended insult to the illegal immigrants' Cinco de Mayo national holiday because the fifth of May that year fell on Friday.)

I've almost single handedly done Christmas dinner for seventeen during a recent holiday season including main courses and appetizers like Oysters Rockefeller.

Then this past holiday season I handled the main Chef duties for my soon to be defunct former employer's company Christmas party including about 24 guests and featuring Chateau Brianne, pan seared Salmon, and my signature Chicken picatta over angle hair pasta.

Now, on April fools day, I find my head spinning as we continue to move forward into 2009 and, looking back across the month of March, I seem to vaguely recall figuring out how to cook Chili for something like what...a THOUSAND people?

In preparation I cooked half gallon quantities of Chili three times in February to fine tune the recipe, then on March 7th my team man -handled 10 gallons of beef stock, 5 gallons of chicken stock, 40 pounds of top round roast cut into 1/2" steaks, and THIRTY pounds of ground beef and when put it was all installed into a giant pot, embellished with a ton of spices, and well stirred with a boat paddle; the concoction yielded what ended up being about THIRTEEN GALLONS of "Peoples Choice" award winning chili.

I don't care if I ever see another bowl of Chili for about two more months now, but I want to publish the recipe before I forget it and as a warning if you don't care about how to make my Chili you can stop reading right now, because "Virgil's World Class Competition Chili" recipe ensues:

To do about a half gallon batch of my "World Class" Chili in your home kitchen...You'll need...

1-1/4 pound top round steak (about 1/2" thick)
1-1/4 pound ground beef or ground chuck

Other Stuff:
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
2 (14) oz cans beef stock
1 (14) oz cans chicken stock
1 (12) oz can tomato paste
2 (12) oz cans red beans (pureed in blender and reserved on the side until needed later)

Spice Blast #1

1 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 tsp flaked onions
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp Wyler's Instant Beef Bouillon Granules
2 tsp Wyler's Instant Chicken Bouillon Granules

Spice Blast #2

3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp white pepper
3 tbsp Goya Reciato (look for the green Cilantro sauce in the "ethnic food" isle at your local grocer) to the process of making the Chili...

Toss your top round steak in a big boiler pot or dutch oven with the cup of wine and the cup of water.

Cook it covered for 1-1/2 to 2 hours over medium heat until it falls apart when you poke it with a fork..checking it often after about 75 minutes so you don't boil it dry.

Dump the cooked round steak out into a colander to drain, then break up your ground beef and render it in the same boiler/pot/dutch oven until it's cooked through.

Now dump it in a colander to drain (removing your round steak so you don't get it all greasy again.

Go through the round steak pulling out any "chewy" bits and break it up into 1/2" to 3/4" chunks or smaller so it will assimilate into the pot with the ground beef when the time comes.

Is your drained/degreased meat now sitting back in your boiler/pot/dutch oven?

Well then...put it back in there and set your burner heat on medium and dump in your beef and chicken stock.

Stir, stir, stir, stir...

Add the Tomato Paste.


Now...While you're standing around drinking some wine or a beer and bragging about your favorite NASCAR driver or the College basketball final four, dump your red beans into your blender or a food processor and grind those suckers up until they look like baby food.

Now hold them (the pureed beans) on the side until you see how things work out in the next couple of hours.

Once everything is starting to simmer nicely on the stove top, dump in what I call "Spice blast #1."

Smell that?

Don't get too close or you'll hurt yourself...

Stir, Stir, stir and turn the heat down a little and put the lid on the pot.

Now go watch Fox News or CNN while your eyes roll back in your head for fifteen minutes.

Smell that?

Stop by and check on your chili every fifteen minutes and make sure there isn't any unexpected flames coming out of your pot.

Got a fire extinguisher handy?

Back to reality, cook things slowly for somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour, then add "Spice Blast #2."

If things start to thicken too much you can always add some more beef stock or chicken stock or if you're really cheep..WATER.

Now I have to leave things up to you from here on out.

Cook my Chili recipe down as thick or thin as you like and you can dump any or all of the pureed red beans in at any time to thicken the whole pot out and to increase the volume of the mixture--I use the beans as a filler rather than a basic ingredient, but be prepared to stay on top of things for the last half hour of the cooking process lest you screw things up and have to start over again.

in the mean time...

Bon Appetite...!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why "The Redneck Gourmet"

My Original Posting from November 2004...Slightly Revised & Republished As An Intro

OK...I've basically neglected this space on the internet on and off now for slightly over four years ...BUT

People keep stopping by reading, and every once in a while someone likes what I write, so I'm in the slow process of cleaning it up and making it presentable even if I don't have anything new to say or I'm cooking instead of writing.

That's the words that started it all back on November 9, 2004:

I’m from southern Alabama. Some people like to call it “lower Alabama,” or LA for short. Call it what you will, it was home for me growing up. The older I get, the more attractive it becomes as a place to live, but it hasn’t always been that way.

You see, when you grow up living in LA, you tend to sort of take it for granted. The people, the lifestyle, the land, the food; by the time you are eighteen years old, you have had enough of the “simple life” and Atlanta, Georgia (or “anywhere else” in the USA) seems to beat the heck out of Ozark, Alabama.

The problem is, when you get to college in Atlanta and you’ve spent your first seventeen years in Ozark, you generally don’t have a clue about fine dining. There weren’t exactly a bunch of French, Italian, Greek, Japanese, or Thai restaurants in LA, and where I come from, Sushi is what we call fish bait. We could, however, fix you up with some deluxe fried chicken, country fried cube steak, fresh vegetables, biscuits & gravy, and we did a mean sirloin steak on the grill (charcoal, not gas…thank you very much.)

Fine dining just takes awhile to learn, and the one thing I learned very quickly was that throwing money at the problem definitely did not guarantee results. There was nothing more disappointing in 1979 than having the opportunity to dine with a member of the fairer sex, throwing $40 of hard earned summer job cash at food and wine, and going home hungry and disappointed (about the food, we’re not discussing women here, guys—get your minds out of the gutter.)

Fortunately, over the past twenty-five years I have learned a thing or two about fine dining and how to use raw fish as something other than fish bait. I’ve had the opportunity to dine in many of the well known restaurants in the major cities of the US. The Redneck Gourmet is not a restaurant review blog, however.

The Redneck Gourmet is about good home cooking, but not necessarily grits and cubed steak. Just like finding that throwing money at dining out doesn’t guarantee results, I have found that having just any old recipe for a given dish doesn’t ensure your home cooking efforts will yield the desired results—a perfect home cooked meal with authentic seasoning and flavors.

To this end, I’d like to share my interest and ability in cooking high quality food in my own kitchen, and telling you, my (soon to be) devoted reader, how to do the same. I realize that the internet is loaded with good cooking sites, places like
Food Network, Epicurious, and others that I have to compete with, but competition is not my intention. I just love to cook and I love to write and The Redneck Gourmet allows me to combine both of these passions into one exercise…and on, it’s free.

I really hope that you enjoy my efforts.

Virgil R. Rogers, III