Category Archives: Side Dishes

Jerk Chicken with Coconut Saffron Rice and Black Beans

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The best jerk recipe I have ever tasted, delighted the senses, as it was fragrant, fiery hot and smoky all at once.The original recipe was developed by Paul Chung, an adventurous self-taught cook who grew up in Jamaica and has sampled jerk from just about every corner of the island. Making a few adjustments, I added  fresh ginger, dark brown sugar and apple cider vinegar to the marinade. For best results and maximum flavor, let the chicken marinate overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.

As side dishes goes, this saffron rice recipe cooks up pretty quickly, making it a great dish if you are in a hurry. Another added bonus is that is one of those rare dishes that gluten free and vegan. However, if you are allergic to coconut milk, soy milk is a suitable substitute.

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 medium scallions, chopped
2-3 Scotch bonnet chili peppers, stems removed, chopped (or Habaneros)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon allspice berries, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Two 3 1/2- to 4-pound chickens, quartered

For the Saffron Coconut Rice and Beans:
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon plain water,at room temperature
2 cups uncooked white basmati rice (or any long grain rice)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 3/4 cup coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon agave nectar, (or 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
a pinch of ground nutmeg
One 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Lime wedges, for garnish

Special Equipment:
Latex gloves for handling the chilis and massaging the marinade under the chicken skin.

Directions:
For the chicken start preparing it a day or two ahead of actual cooking.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels.In a food processor, combine the onion, scallions, chiles, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, allspice, black pepper, thyme, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar; process to a coarse paste. With the machine on, add the the soy sauce and oil in a steady stream. Put on latex gloves and pour the marinade into a large, shallow dish. Slather the marinade all over chicken, including under skin, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking and lightly sprinkle with more salt and ground allspice, before proceeding.

Prepare a charcoal grill: Clean and oil grates.Light a grill and preheat to medium heat using one chimney of charcoal. The temperature can start as high as 300°F. For best results, coals should be at least 12 inches away from chicken. If necessary, push coals to one side of grill to create indirect heat. Add two large handfuls of soaked pimento (allspice) wood sticks and chips (See Cook’s Notes) or other aromatic wood chips to coals, then close grill. When thick white smoke billows from grill, place chicken on grate, skin side up, and cover. Let cook undisturbed for 35 to 45 minutes.

Uncover the grill. The chicken will be golden and mahogany in some spots. Chicken thighs may already be cooked through. For other cuts, turn chicken over and add more wood chips, and charcoal as needed. Cover and continue cooking, checking and turning every 10 minutes. Jerk chicken is done when skin is burnished brown and chicken juices are completely clear, with no pink near the bone. For large pieces, this can take up to an hour.

While chicken is cooking, begin to prepare the rice.

In a small bowl, soak saffron threads in the water, at room temperature, for 5 minutes and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat peanut oil over a medium heat until it begins to shimmer, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped shallot and garlic, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice, mixing with a wooden spoon until all of the grains are coated with peanut oil. Fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly.Gently stir in the coconut milk, water, saffron mixture, agave or sugar, turmeric, cumin taking care as the oil will splatter. Season with salt, and gently stir, making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom while everything comes to a boil.

Once liquid achieves a boil, reduce heat to low. Place lid on pot, slightly askew to allow some steam to escape. Stir occasionally to make sure rice does not stick to bottom of pan and the sugar in the coconut milk does not burn. Allow to simmer *very* gently for 15-20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Stir in the black beans and cook for a few minutes more until hot. Remove from heat and cover the saucepan. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork when you are ready to serve.

When the chicken is done, transfer to a platter.Garnish with lime wedges and serve with the rice.

Cook’s Notes:
Pimento wood sticks and chips are available at www.pimentowood.com.

Alternatively you bake the chicken in the oven if a grill is not readily available.After marinating and you are ready to cook the chicken, heat oven to 350°F and bake chicken for 45-55 minutes, until done.

Also, if time is of the essence, you can first bake the chicken at 300°F in the oven then finished off on the grill. This will result in crispy skin, with perfect texture and flavor.

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Avocado and Tomato Salad

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Photo Credit: GimmeDeliciousFood.com, 2017

Buy Local and Eat Fresh, with this yummy  Avocado and Tomato Salad. Avocados, tomatoes, red onion and cilantro lightly dressed with fresh lime juice and a drizzle of olive oil makes this quick an easy salad  the perfectly healthy lunch or a side dish to accompany a roasted chicken or a grilled steak.

Life is beautiful and life is simple when you eat fresh….Enjoy!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 cups chopped tomatoes, about ½ inch dice
3 fresh avocados, large dice
¼ cup minced cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Directions:
In a large salad bowl, place the tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro.

Drizzle with olive oil, lime juice, and add the crushed red pepper flakes,salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss.

Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap in fridge for up to 2 hours.

 

Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute the chopped tomatoes, with 2 large diced Heirloom or 5 medium Roma tomatoes. If you prefer a for meatier, tastier tomato, then the Roma tomatoes are for you! Cherry or grape tomatoes work in a pinch as well. Just slice them lengthwise to save time on dicing them.

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

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Mushroom and Fontina Stuffed Roasted Potatoes

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Are you bored with you ordinary loaded baked potatoes. Why not dress them up with an elegant topping of  buttery mushrooms and a wonderful ooey gooey melted cheese? The perfect comfort food for a Meatless Monday!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4  russet baking potatoes
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds mixed mushrooms (i.e. maitake, oyster and enoki), cut into small pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup Italian Fontina cheese, shredded
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Wash or potatoes  thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.

Using a fork, pierce the potatoes several times all over. This will allow the moisture to escape during cooking.

Place  the potatoes in a large  bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake the potatoes for about 1 hour, until tender or until  the skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the olive oil. Cook the mushrooms over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Slice halfway down the length of each potato, then crack  each of the spuds open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. Be very careful; there will be some steam released. Spoon 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of cheese into each one. Season with salt. Top with the mushrooms and the remaining cheese. Bake for 3 minutes, until the cheese melts. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

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Chicken Maryland with Corn and Crab Fritters

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Unraveling the culinary history of Chicken Maryland is like pulling on a loose thread on a fraying sweater that may end up being a ball of yarn, to create a brand new sweater.

The dish goes by a number of aliases in the culinary world, including Maryland Fried Chicken, Chicken Maryland, Maryland Chicken, and Chicken à la Maryland. Some would even say that Chicken Maryland is a French rendition of an American recipe. Even minus the “à la”, the dish’s reversed word order betrays its transatlantic quality.

The first time I ever heard of Chicken Maryland was in the novel Tender is the Night by F. Scot Fitzgerald, first published in 1934.

330px-F_Scott_Fitzgerald_1921.jpgBorn in 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to an upper-middle-class family, Fitzgerald was named after his famous second cousin, three times removed on his father’s side, Francis Scott Key but was always known as plain Scott Fitzgerald. His father was Edward Fitzgerald, of Irish and English ancestry, who had moved to St. Paul from Maryland after the Civil War, and was described as “a quiet gentlemanly man with beautiful Southern manners”. His mother was Mary “Molly” McQuillan Fitzgerald, the daughter of an Irish immigrant who had made his fortune in the wholesale grocery business. Fitzgerald was the first cousin once removed of Mary Surratt, hanged in 1865 for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

Nicole Diver, the anti-heroine of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final novel, Tender is the Night is described as “the18499063226.jpg exact furthermost evolution of a class,” in Fitzgerald’s words,  and in command of the most exquisite manners and taste. She has an excellent ear for foreign languages. However, it is only well into the book the reader discovers that Nicole is not truly in command of anything. She is a schizophrenic, very much like Fitzgerald’s equally glamorous wife Zelda, mentally crippled and hovering constantly on the edge of mania. Throughout the book, she is trying desperately to keep it together, reassuring herself that “everything is all right – if I can finish translating this damn recipe for Chicken à la Maryland into French.”

Nicole is consumed with translating a recipe indicates the circumscription of her life. She is far from the independent woman she first appears, she is in fact utterly dependent on her psychiatrist husband to maintain her fragile sanity. Although she might like to do something “serious” like study archaeology, her “principal interest” as she says at one point, she is confined to the domestic sphere. Her intellectual endeavors are limited to preparing recipes for the family cook. Or at least one specific recipe: Chicken Maryland.

Fitzgerald began working on Tender is the Night during the late 1920s but was sidetracked by financial difficulties that necessitated his writing commercial short stories, and by the schizophrenia that struck Zelda in 1930. Her emotional health remained fragile for the rest of her life. In February 1932, she was hospitalized at the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. During this time, Fitzgerald rented the “La Paix” estate in the suburb of Towson, Maryland to work on his latest book, the story of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychiatrist who falls in love with and marries Nicole Warren, one of his patients. The book went through many versions. Some critics have seen the book as a thinly veiled autobiographical novel recounting Fitzgerald’s problems with his wife, the corrosive effects of wealth and a decadent lifestyle, his own egoism and self-confidence, and his continuing alcoholism. The book was finally published in 1934. Critics who had waited nine years for the follow-up to The Great Gatsby had mixed opinions about the novel. Most were thrown off by its three-part structure and many felt that Fitzgerald had not lived up to their expectations. The novel did not sell well upon publication but, like the earlier Gatsby, the book’s reputation has since risen significantly. Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and financial difficulties, in addition to Zelda’s mental illness, made for difficult years in Baltimore. He was hospitalized nine times at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and his friend H. L. Mencken noted in a 1934 letter that “The case of F. Scott Fitzgerald has become distressing. He is boozing in a wild manner and has become a nuisance.

Given his Southern roots and considering that Fitzgerald’s novel went through seventeen drafts before publication, it is probably fair to conclude that Fitzgerald put thought into his selection of Chicken à la Maryland, or fried chicken with white gravy, as the dish that Nicole believes will hold her fragile world together. He even mentions it twice, having Rosemary notice on her second encounter with the Divers that Nicole, “her brown back hanging from her pearls, was looking through a recipe book for Chicken Maryland.” Like Nicole’s brown back, the golden-brown crust of chicken Maryland symbolizes the good life lived by the expatriate American characters who fill the imagination of the reader.

The second time I ever heard the dish mentioned was in the classic 1945 film “Christmas in Connecticut”, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardiner and S. Z. Sakall . The movie opens with two Navy men awaiting rescue on a raft for 18 days after their ship has been torpedoed, and Jones (Morgan) dreams about food and envisions his first meal: steak and baked potatoes, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, chocolate cake and ice cream. But the hospital food for the shipwrecked survivor is a big disappointment: a bowl of milk with a raw egg floating in the center—even though his shipmate dines on steak and Chicken Maryland.
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While convalescing and still dreaming of that special meal, Jones comes across the menu of the month by Elizabeth Lane (Stanwyck), “America’s Best Cook,” in Smart Housekeeping Magazine. Lane writes a monthly column for the magazine called “Diary of a Housewife” in which she details domestic life on her farm in Connecticut— and in the December issue, a Christmas dinner featuring fresh fruit cup, olives, bouillon, roast goose Bernoise with walnut dressing and giblet gravy, cranberry-orange relish, buttered green beans, candied sweet potatoes, tomatoes, celery soufflé, hot rolls, lettuce with Russian dressing, and for dessert, mince pie, pumpkin pie, ice cream, old-fashioned plum pudding, fresh fruit, mixed nuts, mints, and coffee—an unheard of feast in wartime America.

However, what Jones and the readers do not know, is that Lane lives in a flat in New York City, basing the descriptions of the farmhouse on that of her architect friend, Sloan (Gardiner), that she isn’t married and doesn’t have a baby, and that she doesn’t know how to cook! Yet her dinnertime preparations are mouthwatering to readers who are still enduring rationing: “I took crisp lettuce, romaine, and crinkly endive from my own garden for my husband’s favorite salad. For this I made a rich, creamy blue cheese dressing. Then to prepare roast duck his favorite way, I rub salt and pepper inside, then brown the duck in its own fat….” Her friend, Bassenak (Sakall), who owns a Hungarian restaurant around the corner from her apartment, provides Lane with the menus and recipes.

The plot thickens, and the menu, gets complicated when her magazine’s owner, Yardley (Greenstreet), compels her to entertain the shipwrecked sailor at “her farm” for Christmas: “You can imagine how much it’ll mean to him to have a nice homey Christmas with your wonderful cooking. To solve this dilemma, Lane agrees to marry Sloan, at his farm, on Christmas, and he agrees to entertain Yardley and Jones for the holiday. For those of you who have not seen the movie, the time spent at the farm is a comedy of double meanings and hidden identities, but among the most humorous moments to be enjoyed, but the viewing audience.

In the United States, fried chicken is traditionally considered a Southern dish. Contrary to popular belief, Southerners were not the first people in the world to fry chickens, of course.

People have been frying all sorts of foods, like meats, breads, and vegetables since ancient times and chicken is a global food with recipes varying according to the era, culture and cuisine.

The earliest known recipe for fried chicken is Pullum frontonianum (chicken à la Fronto) a dish from ancient Rome, found in Apicius, a cookbook by Marcus Gavius Apicius 4th or early 5th century. Almost every country has its own version of fried chicken, from Vietnam’s Ga Xao to Italy’s pollo fritto and Austria’s Weiner Backhendl.

This fuel-efficient cooking method had several advantages, one of which was portability. Dredging meat with flour and spices before cooking tenderized the item and enhanced its flavor. Medieval European cooks built on this concept, creating fricassee. Fricassee is not fried, but simmered in butter and served with creamy sauce.

When it comes to food, Maryland has its fair share of unique Mid-Atlantic fare that is not quiet southern, but not so northeastern either. The first settlements in what is present day Maryland were founded by wealthy Englishmen on the eastern shores of the Chesapeake Bay in 1634. They soon established the lavish social life they had been accustomed to in England. Just as lavish was the cuisine that was served by these gentry of the Old World, typical English foods were combined with the cooking skills of African slaves and the natural ingredients available, in the New World (Lee 1992).

Seventeenth century descriptions of colonial fare ignored the humble chicken for the most part. In the earliest manuscripts to enter America there are, of course, chicken recipes for roasts, stews, and pies, and none other than Governor William Byrd II was dining on the iconic southern dish of fried chicken at his Virginia plantation by 1709 (Smith, 2013).

By the mid 1700s, the efficient and simple cooking process of frying food was very well adapted to the plantation life of African-American slaves, who were often allowed to raise their own chickens. The idea of making a sauce or a gravy to go with fried chicken must have occurred early on, at least in Maryland, where such a match came to be known as “Maryland Fried Chicken.

Maryland-style fried chicken is traditionally served with gravy, reminiscent of fricassee. Batter-fried chicken appears to be a gift from northern medieval European cuisine.

Ironically, fried chicken did not become particularly popular in the northern United States until well into the nineteenth century. The Scottish, who enjoyed frying their chickens rather than boiling or baking them as the English did, may have brought the method with them when they settled the South, in particular in the mountain regions of North Carolina and Virginia (Mariani, 2013; Smith 2013).

Before that, the dish  was usually referred to by many different names. The main distinction of Chicken Maryland is that it does not contain the multitude of seasoning and herbs that are found in most fried chicken recipes. The chicken is fried in a shallow pan, most commonly a cast iron skillet, rather deep fried in lard or oil like Southern Fried Chicken. The traditional recipe for Chicken Maryland is very basic and is often suggested to be eaten cold the following day. In its earliest form, fried chicken was seen as a picnic food.

By 1878 a dish by the name of Maryland Fried Chicken was listed on the menu of the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, New York (Mariani, 2013).

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O Railroad) is one of the oldest railroads in the United States and the first common carrier railroad operating from 1828 to 1987. It came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal ,which served New York City. At first, this railroad was located entirely in the state of Maryland with an original line from the port of Baltimore west to Sandy Hook. At this point to continue westward, it had to cross into Virginia (now West Virginia) over the Potomac River, adjacent to the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. From there it passed through Virginia from Harpers Ferry to a point just west of the junction of Patterson Creek and the North Branch Potomac River where it crossed back into Maryland to reach Cumberland. From there it was extended to the Ohio River at Wheeling and a few years later also to Parkersburg, West Virginia. In It’s heyday, the B&O Railroad serviced major cities such as New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Chicago, St. Louis, Missouri along it’s route. B&O’s motto: “Linking 13 Great States with the Nation” became apart of the B&O Railroad’s immortality has come from being one of the four featured railroads on the U.S. version of the board game Monopoly, but it is the only railroad on the board which did not serve Atlantic City, New Jersey, directly. It is now part of the CSX Transportation (CSX) network, and includes the oldest operational railroad bridge in the USA.

Chicken Maryland was listed on B&O Railroad Dinning menu. During its existence from 1881 through 1971, “the B&O Dining Car and Commissary Department rarely turned a profit, but the railroad believed that if it provided superior dining and impeccable courtesy, it would attract passengers, shippers and investors,”(Greco & Spence, ). According to “Dining on the B & O”, many of the railroad’s recipes were originally sourced from Charles Fellows’ 1904 book  “The Culinary Handbook.”

The Handbook’s author had a disdain for the affectation of “a la” and thus the recipe is listed here as “Chicken Maryland.” Ultimately, the recipe is derived from that book as well as multiple versions of the B&O’s culinary references and chefs’ notes. Based on the different B & O “General Notice” manuals, the chicken in this dish may have been fried or baked at various times during the height of its existence. I opted to bake it since I’ve done the whole frying thing on here before. Rather than gravy, a bechamel sauce which called for ¼ cup of “Mushroom Essence or purée” was to be served over the chicken.

Some local taverns in Baltimore also listed dishes similar to Maryland Fried Chicken, and served it with banana and/or corn fritters.

So why bananas? Bananas were once considered a luxury fruit. Despite of the banana’s popularity in the tropics, it remained virtually unknown in the U.S. until the late 1800s. Bananas were formally introduced to the American public at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia which included a 40-acre display of tropical plants. A local grocer sold individual bananas, wrapped neatly in tinfoil, for ten cents— an hours wage at the time. But bananas remained an expensive luxury, available only in port cities, like Baltimore for a number of years after the Exposition. And Baltimore imported a lot of bananas.

4a30328a.preview (1).jpgBaltimore, Maryland, circa 1905. “Unloading banana steamer.” A teeming scene that calls to mind the paintings of Brueghel, if Brueghel ever did bananas. Note the damage from the Great Fire of 1904.

By the end of the century advancements in refrigerated steamship and rail transportation made it possible to ship bananas to all parts of North America and so began the banana QC_Dept (2).jpgboom. Aggressive marketing campaigns taught Americans how to eat the exotic fruit. Newly affordable, the banana became a hit and banana production shifted into high gear in the Caribbean and Latin American Countries.
Fannie Farmer, Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent

The dish first began appearing in American cookbooks during the late nineteenth century. Fannie Farmer included a recipe for “Maryland Chicken” in the “Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” (1896), the most successful American cook book of its age, which has never since gone out of print. Farmer, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts, calls for dredging the chicken in flour, baking it and basting it with butter, then covering it with cream sauce. Most southern recipes called for frying chicken in lard rather than baking it in butter, but Farmer, who struggled with ill health throughout her life, chose a less rich approach. In fact she included her doctored recipe for Chicken Maryland within her well-known 1904 recipe book “Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent“.

Auguste Escoffier, the French “king of chefs” fell in love with the dish when he tried it at Martin’s 330px-Auguste_Escoffier_01restaurant in New York in 1908. By the time Escoffier discovered Chicken à la Maryland, it had become an international hit. He included a recipe for “poulet sauté Maryland in Ma Cuisine, his last cookbook – designed for the home chef, published in 1934, ironically the same year Tender is the Night was published. Escoffier’s sophisticated approach substituted a coating of bread crumbs for flour, Escoffier’s sophisticated approach substituted a coating of bread crumbs for flour, fried the chicken in clarified butter in a pan, not baked in an oven and served the dish alongside fried bananas, sweet corn fritters, and potato croquettes and bacon. He recommended coating the dish with béchamel,  to which a little grated horseradish may be added or tomato sauce. In his recipe, there was no mention of whether to scrape up the pan drippings into the sauce.

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Most famously, Chicken à la Maryland was served at the very last First Class luncheon held aboard the Titanic, on April 14, 1912. By then the dish had come to symbolize the apogee of American international culture. The Titanic seems to hold this place still in popular culture. An original menu for its last luncheon, along with one other menu from the doomed voyage, was auctioned in 2012 for $160,450 – making them the most expensive menus ever sold.

Perhaps the best explanation for the name and the fame is the following one, found in an article in the Maryland newspaper the Frederick News Post  of September 24, 1932.  The article was a review of a published cookery book called Eat Drink and Be Merry in Maryland by Frederick Philip Stieff (1998).

“… but a customer discovered, much to her sorrow, that there is no definition, not even any recognition of chicken a la Maryland. She gave vent to her sorrow and anger in the words “What kind of book is this anyway?” …. After the customer had gone her way, the question was put up to the author of the book. His reply was “As a matter of fact I don’t think that the name chicken a la Maryland is original with Marylanders. I think it more likely that this was a name applied by outsiders who camt to our State, ate our fried chicken, which has always been of a superior quality, and then went away to tell other people about the fried chicken they had in Maryland – chicken the way they fry it in Maryland – chicken in the Maryland style, and hence, chicken a la Maryland.  I don’t pretend to be a cook. All I did was to act as an intermediary. That is, collect the recipes and have them published in a book. The recipes bear the original names under which they came to me. I do not remember that there was any recipes for chicken a la Maryland. There are half a dozen recipes for fried chicken, however, and one of them, no doubt, will answer the demand for chicken a la Maryland.”

James Beard notes in American Cookery (1972), stated that, there is no other American amer-1972cbeard%20rapoport%20style%201_0hicken recipe quite so internationally famous as Chicken à la Maryland.” The recipes vary enormously, according to Beard, but the great American chef’s favorite is clearly that inherited from his father John Beard, who cooked it on Sunday mornings. According to James, his father began preparing his version of the dish by frying side bacon in a cast-iron skillet over a low flame. When the bacon had crisped and the fat had been rendered, he removed the pork and added pieces of chicken dredged in flour, salt, and pepper to the skillet. With frequent turnings to produce an even brown,  the elder Beard fried the chicken in the bacon fat, then placed a lid over the pan to let the meat steam in its own juices. Next the lid was removed, the chicken crisped up and removed, then the pan was degreased, and a gravy made from the pan scrapings, flour, two cups of rich milk, and lots of pepper. Served alongside biscuits or popovers, who wouldn’t spend their life dreaming of such a wonderful dish from their  childhood!

As a dish, Chicken Maryland is served in a variety of ways around the world. In England it is a meal consisting of battered fried chicken, served with banana, pineapple and corn fritters, peas and a slice of bacon. In Australia, it is served with a version of hush puppies and a healthy slice of ham. But the dish in this case, refers to just the chicken leg and thigh portions being served with the accompaniments. In Argentina, a battered boneless chicken breast or cutlet is served with a fried egg on top and creamed corn on the side. Where or how these variations which differ so widely came from or how they developed is unknown.

And with that being said, here is my version of Maryland Chicken served with Corn and Crab Fritters.

Enjoy!

Serves 4 to 6

Chicken Maryland

Ingredients:
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 serving pieces, backbone reserved
4 slices uncooked bacon
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for basting
1 1/2 cups whole milk

Directions:
Add the buttermilk and the chicken to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator. Brine the chicken for several hours or overnight for best results.

Remove the chicken from the brine. In a shallow bowl, season flour with salt and pepper. Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper and dredge each piece in flour, shaking off excess. Reserve seasoned flour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Fry the bacon until crispy and brown. Place the bacon on paper towels to drain the fat and set aside. Pour off grease into a heatproof container and set aside. Return skillet to burner.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over high heat to 350°F. Carefully lay chicken pieces in hot oil, skin side down, and fry until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken and brown lightly on other side. Turn chicken once more so that it’s skin side down again and cover skillet. Cook, covered for 2 minutes. Remove cover and continue frying chicken, turning as necessary, until will browned on both sides and just cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Brush with melted butter. Transfer to oven and bake until internal temperature reaches 180° (about 35 minutes), basting frequently with butter.

Pour off the oil into a heatproof container and return skillet to burner. Add butter and cook until melted and foamy, whisking to scrape up any browned bits. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved seasoned flour, whisking to form a paste. Whisk in milk and cook until a smooth gravy forms that coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Season gravy with salt and a generous amount of black pepper.

Place the chicken onto serving plates and ladle the gravy on top. Serve with corn and crab fritters, collard greens and mashed potatoes, if desired.

Corn and Crab Fritters

Makes about a dozen, 2-inch fritters

Ingredients:
1 can sweet corn, well drained
3.7 ounces fresh crabmeat, picked
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
Cooked bacon, reserved from above, crumbled
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
Finishing salt such as Maldon or Fleur de Sel

Directions:
Add the corn, crab, cheese, basil, parsley, chives, flour, cornmeal,  bacon, egg and black pepper into a bowl and stir well to combine.

Prepare a paper towel lined wire rack.

Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat until shimmering.
Add the fritter mixture 1 heaping tablespoon at a time to the pan and fry until golden brown on one side.

Gently flip the fritter over with a spatula and give it a light press to flatten it out, and then fry until the other side becomes golden brown and crisp.

Drain the fritters on the paper towels, and then sprinkle with finishing salt before serving.

Sources:
Apicus. Roman cookery book: A critical translation of The art of Cooking. New York: British Book Centre, 1959.

Beard, James, and Earl Thollander. James Beard’s American Cookery. Little, Brown and Company, 1972.

Farmer, Fannie Merritt. The 1896 Boston Cooking-School cook book. New York, NY: Gramercy , Reprinted 1997.

Farmer, Fannie Merritt. Food and cookery for the sick and convalescent. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company, 1904.

Fellows, Charles, Anne M. Cranston, and Elanne C. Callahan. The culinary handbook: The most complete and serviceable reference book to things culinary ever published. Chicago, IL: Published by The Hotel Monthly, 325 Dearborn Street, Chicago, 1904.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Tender is the Night. New York: Charles Scribner, 1934.

Greco, Thomas J., and Karl D. Spence. Dining on the B&O: Recipes and Sidelights from a Bygone Age. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

Howells, Marion, Vyvyan Beresford Holland, and Andre L. Simon (eds). Ma Cuisine: Auguste Escoffier. London: Paul Hamlyn, 1965.

Lee, Hilde Gabriel. Taste of the States: A food history of America. Charlottesville, VA: Howell Press, 1992.

Mariani, John. The encyclopedia of American food and drink. New York, NY: Ticknor & Fields, 2013.

Smith, Andrew F. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Stieff, Frederick Philip. Eat, Drink & Be Merry in Maryland. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

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Pommes de Terre Sarladaise (Sarlat Potatoes)

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Duck fat, which is something of a well-kept (and wildly delicious) secret to French chefs. This dish originated in the city of Sarlat in the Dordogne region in southern France, an area where duck and goose farming is so common, and the fat from those birds so ubiquitous in cookery, this preparation of potatoes comes as naturally as breathing. The original dish featured porcini mushrooms (cèpes). In this version of the recipe, the duck fat is used to enhance the earthy flavor of skillet-fried potatoes and gives them a gorgeous silkiness and golden-crisp edges. Showered with garlic and parsley, this is the type of rustic French potato side dish that everyone loves alone or as an ideal accompaniment for duck confit, roast chickens, dense and flavorful stews.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons  duck fat*
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes,
8 medium cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch slices. Add 3/4 cup water and salt to potatoes to a medium saucepan  and bring to boil. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender.

Transfer the potatoes to a large colander and shake vigorously to remove excess water. Using paper towels, pat the potatoes dry.

Add fat to cast iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook stirring occasionally, until potatoes are deep golden brown.

Add parsley, season to taste with additional salt and black pepper, stir gently to combine, and serve immediately.

*Cook’s Notes:
The fat used in this dish is usually duck or goose fat, and they both can be  hard to find in most local grocery stores . Clarified butter, or ghee  that can be found in markets Indian is a great substitute .

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Creamy Polenta

Polenta, in short, is a cornmeal porridge that is a common dish in Northern Italy. It’s frequently eaten with meats and ragù, cheese like gorgonzola, or condiments like mostarda d’uva, a grape-and-nut jam from Piedmont. It can either be eaten freshly cooked, much like a thick porridge, or it can be cooled and then sliced and fried, grilled, or baked.

Long before corn was brought from the Americas to Europe, polenta was already a staple food—it just wasn’t made from corn, obviously. The name originally comes from the Latin word for pearled grain (like barley), and the dish, a gruel that could be made with all sorts of grains and legumes, dates back to Roman times.

Today, it’s no longer associated with those other grains, just corn (or, in the case of polenta taragna, cornmeal mixed with buckwheat). While there are certain heirloom varieties of corn, like otto file and biancoperla, that some prefer over the more generic stuff, for all practical purposes any medium- or coarsely ground cornmeal will do. Even grits, which often have a coarser grind than polenta and are sometimes made with a different variety of corn , are a perfectly acceptable substitute in just about any situation requiring polenta.

The first thing that’s helpful to know is that polenta doesn’t have to be made with a product that says “polenta” on the package. There’s nothing wrong with using a product designed exclusively for polenta, but you can just as easily use any medium or coarse-ground cornmeal.

There are a lot of old wives tales people say you need to follow to make polenta, like using a wooden spoon, stirring in only one direction, adding the polenta to boiling water, and stirring constantly. Forget those rules, because none of them could be further from the truth. What’s really important is using the right ratio of liquid to cornmeal and cooking the polenta long enough for the cornmeal to properly hydrate and cook. Pre-soaking helps hydrate the cornmeal and cuts down on actual cooking time.This recipe allows you to choose whether to use water, stock, or milk as your liquid (though I’m partial to the light, clean flavor of a water-based polenta), and can either be served right away with braised meats or cheese like gorgonzola dolce, or chilled, cut into pieces, and seared, grilled, or fried.

Adapted From
Daniel Gritzer, Culinary Director
SeriousEats.com
May 2015 

Ingredients:
5 cups water, milk, or chicken or vegetables stock (See Cook’s Notes)
1 cup medium or coarse yellow cornmeal (See Cook’s Notes)
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Pre-soak the  cornmeal, which requires advance planning but cuts cooking time roughly in half, combine water with cornmeal in a large mixing bowl and let stand, covered, at room temperature overnight. When ready to cook, scrape soaked cornmeal and water into a large saucier or saucepan and set over high heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Let boil, stirring frequently, until polenta thickens enough that it starts to  sputter or “spit”. Lower heat immediately to prevent spitting and continue to cook, stirring frequently with a spoon or silicone spatula and scraping bottom to prevent scorching, until polenta becomes thick and pulls away from side of saucepan, for  about 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

Stir in butter or olive oil using either a spoon, silicon spatula, or whisk. If the polenta forms lumps, beat vigorously with a stiff whisk to remove the lumps. If polenta becomes too firm or begins to set, add a small amount of water, stock, or milk, and beat in with a whisk until fully incorporate and no lumps remain.

Serve right away with accompaniment of your choice, or scrape into a vessel and chill until set, then cut into pieces for grilling, searing, or frying.

Cook’s Notes:
Any medium or coarse cornmeal will work here, whether the package says “polenta” or not; avoid instant polenta, which promises a quick cooking time in exchange for sub-par flavor and texture. For the liquid, milk will produce a rich and creamy polenta that is delicious and indulgent, but also very heavy. Chicken or stock vegetable will infuse the polenta with more flavor, but that flavor can also cover up the taste of the cornmeal. Water produces the lightest polenta with a mild corn flavor that pairs well with everything and won’t leave you feeling weighed down after eating it.

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TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

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Truffled Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

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This is the perfect dish for when you want to indulge and eat like royalty! This Truffle Lobster Mac n’ Cheese is filled with succulent chunks of lobster meat, black  truffle butter, and packed with an assortment of cheeses.This is the pinnacle of elevated comfort food. It’s sophisticated, yet  laid back; a grown up mac n’ cheese!

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
1 pound dried macaroni pasta
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 pound  cooked lobster meat, chopped*
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, cubed
½ cup Mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/3 cup Fontina cheese, cubed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup smoked Gouda cheese, cubed
1/2 cup heavy cream
½ cup D’artagnan Black Truffle Butter
All-purpose flour, if needed
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 º F.

Grease a 3-quart baking dish and set aside.

In a large stockpot, bring the water  and chicken broth to a  boil.Add  the  pasta  to the  boiling liquids and cook 12 to 15 minutes, or to desired tenderness.Drain pasta, return to the same pot and set aside.

Meanwhile,  add  the oil to a large skillet and heat on medium heat. Add the  onions,leek, thyme and a pinch salt and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the leeks are tender. Remove from  heat and set aside.

Heat a large  saucepan over medium heat, and add the cook pasta. Stir in the onion and leek  mixture, lobster meat, the cheeses, heavy cream, truffle butter,salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper and parsley into the cooked pasta. If the mixture is loose or too soupy stir in the flour if needed. Stir gently and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Bake, covered, for 20 minutes, or until mixture is heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

*Cook’s Notes:

For 8 ounces cooked lobster meat, start with two 8-ounce fresh or frozen lobster tails. Thaw lobster, if frozen. Preheat broiler. Butterfly the lobster tails by cutting through the center of the hard top shells and meat. Spread the tail halves apart. Place lobster tails, meat sides up, on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 12 to 14 minutes or until lobster meat is opaque. Remove meat from shells.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Sautéed Green Beans and Peppers

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound green beans,washed and trimmed
1 pound  mini sweet bell peppers,  washed and sliced into rounds
1 serrano chile washed seeded and minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 package pine nuts
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and melt the butter. Add the beans and cook until almost al dente.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring often, until heated through and beans are al dente. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

GRATIN DAUPHINOISE (Scalloped Potatoes)

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3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 large)
1 medium leek
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

Special Equipment:
A mandoline or an adjustable blade slicer (optional
A 2 1/2- to 3-quart shallow baking dish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F with a rack in upper third of oven.

Peel potatoes and thinly cut into 1/8 inch thick slices, using a mandoline or  slicer if desired.

Discard dark green part of leek and halve white and light green part lengthwise. Rinse layers under running water to remove any dirt and grit and pat dry. Thinly slice crosswise.
Stir together white pepper and nutmeg with 1   3/4 teaspoons salt in a small bowl. Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat and cook leek and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Spread leek and butter mixture evenly in bottom of baking dish. Arrange one quarter of potatoes in a slightly overlapping layer over leeks, then pour 1/2 cup milk over potatoes, and sprinkle lightly with 1/2 teaspoon salt mixture. Layer potatoes with milk and salt mixture three more times in same manner.

Place dish on a shallow baking pan and cover with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 1 hour.

Remove foil and pour cream over potatoes. Continue to bake, uncovered, until cream has been absorbed by potatoes and top is golden in spots, 30 to 40 minutes.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

 

T-Bone Steak, Seasoned Steak Fries and Creamed Spinach

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This meal was kept real simple with whole and fresh ingredients.

The secret to cooking a great steak is simple gentle seasoning and high searing heat. But most importantly “Don’t touch that steak!” Not until you are ready to flip after 2 to 3 minutes of cooking it on one side and then cook the meat without disturbing it, for another 2 ½ minutes.

On another note, to save on calories, cauliflower was used as substitute for the cream and starch in this version of “Creamed Spinach”. Another calorie cutting tip is that the steak fries were oven baked.

Serves 4
Ingredients:
For the Seasoned Steak Fries:
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 to 6 Russet potatoes, cut into wedges

For the Creamed Spinach:
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 6 to 7 cups)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt,to taste
1 1/4 pound fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup Fontina Cheese, cubed
For the T-Bone Steaks:
2 teaspoons canola oil
Four T-bone steaks, each about 1-inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Directions:
For the Steak Fries:
Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Combine oil, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.Place potato wedges in the bowl with the seasonings and toss to coat the wedges with the spices.

Transfer potato wedges to a large ungreased baking sheet.Bake until the potato wedges are golden and crisp for about 35 to 40 minutes.

For the Creamed Spinach:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and then drain well and transfer cauliflower to a food processor. Add oil and reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and purée until smooth. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the spinach, and cook until slightly wilted. Add salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Stirring occasionally, add the cauliflower mash and stir in the Fontina cheese and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is slightly melted. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve at once, or keep warm in the top of a covered double boiler over barely simmering water for up to 30 minutes.

For the Steaks:
Prepare a grill for high-heat cooking.

Brush the oil on both sides of steaks and sprinkle steaks on all sides with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and black pepper. Place steaks on the grill and cook 3 minutes; rotate each steak about 90 degrees and cook 3 more minutes. Flip steaks and repeat grilling and rotating process, cooking until steaks reach desired doneness, about 5 minutes more for medium-rare (145°F internal temperature). Transfer steaks to plates and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve the steaks with the steak fries and cream spinach on the side.

Cook’s Notes:
If you are pressed for time, here is an alternative recipe for making seasoned steak fries using commercially prepared potatoes.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
One 28-ounce bag frozen steak fries
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

Directions:
Open one 28-ounce bag frozen steak fries. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 to 2 teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoning Salt to potatoes in the bag. Close bag, and shake vigorously to evenly coat potatoes. Spread potatoes evenly on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet Bake at 425°F for 45 minutes, stirring once. Serve immediately.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor