Category: bacon & belly

Creamy Fall (or anytime) Clam Chowder

Don’t wait until fall to cook up a pot of this flavorful creamy clam chowder. And be sure to fry up a batch of Sweet Potato Hushpuppies to enjoy alongside it too.

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ahhh Collard Sandwiches… North Carolina culinary Heritage at its finest!

Collard Sandwiches have a long history here in North Carolina. They are so tasty, feature some of our finest foods… and you will be the belle of the ball when you take to potlucks or serve at your own gatherings. Just MAKE SOME. It doesn’t get much easier. Sit some out and watch ’em disappear

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Cheery Grilled Corn with Hoop Cheese & Bacon Dust

I know, I got you with BACON dust, right?  Well then let’s add Cheerwine to the party too!

Cheery Grilled Corn with Hoop Cheese & Bacon Dust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bacon doth make everything more better, and on my “Cheer”y grilled corn is no exception.  We’ve all seen the “same old same old” grilled corn recipes…. usually Mexican in nature.  Well y’all know this southern gal is an evangelical when it comes to preaching that we should all cook and eat local.  And around here, it’s North Carolina goodies, but the same applies wherever your “local” might be.  Local and nekkid…. the way God gave it to us! 

So when it was decided I’d do something featuring sweet North Carolina corn for the July issue of Carolina Country magazine, my little brain went to spinning…. because I do love some grilled roasted toasty corn.  But I wanted to give it some good old North Carolina pizzazz, and when I opened my fridge and pantry to find my inspiration…. there it was, glistening in my face…. CHEERWINE!

We are the proud birthplace of Cheerwine here in North Carolina and all celebrating their 100th birthday this year with them. So a basting glaze with that was “it!”  

So then, I needed cheese.  I grew up loving hoop cheese. My mama, rest her soul, was no cook and made no bones about it. I can count on both hands (actually more like one) the cooking memories I have of her. But one of those that I vividly remember was the nights she would take out her well seasoned 10″ cast iron skillet (I’m sure my grandma gave her to be a 60’s housewife!) and melt hoop cheese daddy had brought home from the little family-owned downtown Zebulon grocery store up the street from First Federal Savings and Loan where he worked.  

That hunk of bright orange cheese, with its cherry red rind, would be wrapped in “freezer locker” paper. While mama’s canned biscuits were burning in the oven (she cooked everything on HIGH or 500…. no other settings were needed on our appliances!), she was melting that greasy gooey hoop cheese in that skillet.

I really don’t even recall having anything “on the side” with those cheese biscuits… and adding a side dish might have sent mama into culinary panic and running for the hills!  So cheese biscuits it was. A “Menia supper” in all its glory.

OK…. let’s hop off memory lane and get back to this corn thing!

I know hoop cheese crumbles nicely, so keeping with my local and southern recipe and ingredients, Ashe County Hoop Cheese would be the perfect cheese to crumble and throw on the hot corn off the grill.  I can pick that up at the Raleigh State Farmers’ Market, but if that’s not convenient for you, many grocery stores carry hoop cheese, and you’ll likely find it sold down the road in your local country store with saltine crackers…. if you are fortunate enough to live out in the country!  

But my corn needed one little something else.  And naturally, I concluded that should and must be…. B.A.C.O.N.!  Bacon Dust!  

So once I had all of this new concoction in my head, I could hardly wait to make it. With plans at the beach with the family that coming weekend for a mess of steamed crab legs, I knew testing my new recipe with that crowd that would be perfect, one of my gaggles of guinea pigs… and what’s better alongside crab legs than corn?

Well turns out my first trial run was perfect and didn’t need any tweaking. (A recipe developer loves it when that happens!)  Lips were smack’n and fingers were being licked…. and nothing was left but a big old pile of gnawed off corn cobs and demolished crab shells…. 

Remnants of happy time and happy bellies!

 So I’ll leave you at that… and wish you and yours a fun and safe and most blessed July 4th!  I do hope this week or sometime soon while corn is plentiful you will give this recipe a try. And if you do, come back and tell me what your crowd thunk about it!  I’m pretty darn sure you will be the hostess with the mostess and be crowned “best corn” winner. 
And while here, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss more local goodie recipes to come!

 

And God Bless America!   Land that I love…

 

5 from 1 vote
Cheery Grilled Corn with Hoop Cheese & Bacon Dust
To celebrate Cheerwine’s 100th Birthday in 2017, fire up the grill and cook your crowd this Southern version of roasted summer corn on the cob! It’s so good you’ll want to plan at least two ears per guest.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Grilling, North Carolina Goodies, Southern, Summer Food
Servings: 6
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Cheerwine® soft drink
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 dozen ears of fresh corn shucked and cleaned
  • 1/2 pound hoop cheese crumbled
  • 12 ounce package bacon cooked and crumbled into "dust"
Instructions
  1. Heat gas or charcoal grill to high heat. While grill is getting hot, combine Cheerwine, molasses, mustard and butter in heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to low boil and cook until sauce has reduced to about half, making a thickened glaze. Remove from heat and whisk in sage.
  2. Put corn onto hot grill, baste with glaze and cover. Turn every 1–2 minutes, basting as you turn, until charred in spots (about 8–10 minutes). Remove to platter and while hot, scatter with cheese crumbles and bacon dust. Drizzle with any remaining glaze. Serve immediately.

Bacon Kissed NC Apples, Cabbage and Onions

Bacon Kissed NC Apples, Cabbage and Onions en Skillet!

Bacon Kissed NC Apples, Cabbage and Onions en Skillet!

 

Bacon Kissed NC Apples, Cabbage and Onions

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Bacon Kissed NC Apples, Cabbage and Onions

What to throw together...

  • bacon drippings
  • thinly sliced cabbage ribbons
  • thinly sliced onion, any kind will do
  • thinly sliced apple, any kind of cooking apple will do
  • couple pinches of brown sugar, optional
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • generous crushed black pepper

How to throw together...

  1. Heat drippings to Medium High. Add in cabbage, onion and apple. Cook, tossing about frequently, until wilted and soft and cabbage and onion start caramelizing (turning a little brown, but not burned). Scatter with brown sugar, salt and pepper. Toss and serve!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tis that time of year when we start hunkering down inside on chilly fall eves… and for some of us, what amounts to the start of “cooking season”!  I threw together some stuffed pork chops yesterday and just dug around in my fridge to find the perfect side dish to go along with them.  What I found was half a small cabbage, a NC apple (from a bowl full I’m using to create a recipe entry at the State Fair next week) and part of a red onion.  One of my cast iron skillets happened to be sitting on top of the stove from earlier in the day… with a light coating of…. BACON DRIP’ns!  Well that was just the perfect canvas for me to use for this quick and tasty side dish.  This is true “throw cooking” using “nekkid food” at its finest… I do practic what I preach…. my friend Pam came over for supper, and she couldn’t stop eating this stuff…. so here you go!  Throw some together for yourself.  The caramelization of these veggies is just wondermous and is a scrumptious side dish for all sorts of stuff, or just crumble some bacon into this for a simple meal.

 

 

 

 

collards + cabbage + frost = “cabbards” time…. with Crispy Cornbread Cookies, Molasses Bacon Butter & Pot Likker

The time has just about come for the annual “cooking of the cabbards” to fill the freezer!  Like a squirrel stowing away acorns for the winter, I too, “get my cook’n on” once our local collards have had a good kissing o’ the frost.  Some think that’s just an old tale, but not this gal, lovingly called THE “Collard Queen” by those lucky enough to have had some bestowed uponst them by said ‘queen’ or have rubbed their full bellies after a sit’n at her table… served up with a side of Crispy Cornbread Cookies, some Molasses Butter, a warm cup of Pot Likker or cold buttermilk.  And don’t forget the farmers’ market treasures… including a menagerie of homemade chow chows destined to crown a heap’n helping of fall’s green ‘gold!’

So I’m in my kitchen a few days ago cooking cornbread cookies for this here post… setting up my photo shot, and about to savor the very last tidbit of my 2010 stash of cabbards I lucked up and found tucked into a back corner of the freezer when…”ding dong”… my doorbell rings.  My kitchen sidekick and 7YO nephew hollers…“Dee Dee, who is THAT?” (seeing as how it is mid-afternoon and we’re still in our loungy clothes  watching movies, blogging and eat’n).  I looked at him and said… “I have NO idea!” But I surely am hoping it’s somebody that won’t mind my receiving them in my ‘old lady house dress,’ (probably something akin to what my grandmas were wearing when they cooked collards) and Wyatt, running around in his ‘underdraws.’  I swing the door open, and there stands my cousin Mark… who I see fairly rarely, but usually when he drops by (less often than the proverbial blue moon), he has some sort of vegetable(s) gleaned from a nearby garden.  He leads me out to the back of his pick up truck (the preferred method of transportation for most of us country folk)… and what do I see…. THESE!  *C.O.L.L.A.R.D.S*

I’m not believing this… as mere seconds ago I’m in my kitchen, cooking up, photographing and in the middle of writing this very blog post about collards… when a big ole’ mess of them land on my front porch…  the weirdness of this timing is CRAYzee! And as delighted as I am about all this, I’m trying to factor in my head…  when in the world can I squeeze cabbard cook’n into this particular week’s schedule... with a TV show taping (see show video at My Carolina Today!) and a ginormous exciting photo shoot for Our State Magazine (where I’m so blessed to be food stylist and recipe developer…so subscribe if you don’t already, and buy holiday gift certificates too).  But never one to let a little thing like ‘limited hours in the day’ get in my way… a cabbard cook’n will commence!  I decided to just throw ’em in my big chest freezer till that can happen…something I have had to do before, and equates to that sweet kiss of frost… a BIG deep freeze kiss!

So without further ado, here is my much requested method for cooking collards (or in my case, “cabbards”).  These are sooo good, and worth every minute of effort it takes to get from the back end of a truck to your supper (and sometimes breakfast) plate.

Wendy’s Locally Famous Cabbards (Cabbage + Collards)

Wendy’s Cabbards

As THE “throw cooker” that I am (come see my Throw Cooking web page and recipes), I’m going to tell YOU how to throw these together… exactness is not important here!  These are the necessary ingredients and process.  I have, on occasion, cooked these in MASS to fill my freezer for the winter, but you can do any amounts that work for you.  A couple of years ago, I cooked 40 lbs. bacon and forget how many birds to have broth and bacon grease for 100 lbs. cabbage and 50 lbs. collards!  It took me quite some time to figure all this out, but because the collards ‘evaporate’ and disappear in the pot, I decided to see what happened if I added in some cabbage… and it makes the collards even better… sweeter… AND, the cabbage doesn’t disappear as much as the collards… so you end up with a whole lot more “cabbards” to store away and nobody but you knows this little secret, till NOW!

  • Chicken(s) or Hen(s)
  • Bacon (lots!)… more that you think… you need a goodly amount of rendered bacon grease
  • Collards… about 1/2 as much collards as cabbage (washed real good)
  • Cabbage… about twice as much cabbage as collards (washed real good)

EQUIPMENT:

  • BIG pot
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Time

Put some water in a big old pot and throw your chicken(s) or hen(s) in there.  Bring to rolling boil, then reduce heat and keep cook’n till you have some tender bird and a big ole’ pot of chicken stock.  Take that bird out and make yourself a mess ‘o chicken salad or freeze for cooking in other stuff, like Chicken Pot Pies or Brunswick Stew.

Get that big old cast iron skillet out and fry up a LOT of bacon.  Sometimes on cabbard cooking day I’m outside doing all that AND cooking up a ginormous amount of my “Almost Famous Brunswick Stew”-will post that soon if you ask!… so I invite folks to drop by and eat bacon sandwiches.  Put this bacon grease into a big can (coffee can works great).

Rough slice the cabbage.  Throw some in the pot of broth, alternating with handfuls of torn collard leaves.  As it wilts, keep adding more to the pot.  Let this cabbard mix boil and boil… the more ‘tenderer’ the better.

On a burner beside this pot, put your big iron skillet on med-hi and add (generously) some bacon grease.  With tongs, grab some of the cabbards and plop into the hot skillet, including some of the wondermous Pot Likker they produced.  Start chopping with long-handled veggie chopper… as they cook down and shrink as you chop, continue grabbing more cabbards with your tongs and continue this process, stirring around to incorporate the bacon grease.  Once these are really tender and chopped real good, dump into big bowl to cool before putting into containers and continue doing this until you’ve cooked all your cabbards.

Cool’n Cabbards

When packing into containers, I try to leave good head space and top off with some of the broth so when heating, that is there to give a little moisture while warming.

Serve with Cornbread Cookies with Molasses Butter and mug of Pot Likker or Cold Buttermilk.

Cornbread Cookies with Molasses Bacon Butter

Wendy’s Crispy Cornbread Cookies

It’s really easy to throw together these crispy crunchy Cornbread Cookies and they are the perfect sidekick for your Cabbards.

  • your favorite hushpuppy mix
  • finely diced onions (any kind…sweet, green, scallion, chive, etc.)
  • sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • lard

Mix hushpuppy mix according to package directions.  Add in onions and sugar to taste (you want these to be lightly sweetened and the sugar helps make them crispy too).  Grind in some pepper.  If your mix is really thick, add a little more water or milk/buttermilk, whatever you are using until thinner and pourable/spoonable.  I like to let my mixture sit about 10 minutes before cooking to adjust this consistency as it will thicken as it sits (but also, the flavors will marry a bit).

Heat thin amount of lard in cast iron skillet on med-high heat.  With a tablespoon, spoon into hot skillet and spread thin with back of spoon.  Fry until golden brown and flip; repeat on the other side.  Drain well on brown paper bag or paper towels.

Serve with Molasses Butter alongside Cabbards with mug of Pot Likker or Buttermillk.

MOLASSES BUTTER

  • Softened Butter
  • Molasses
  • Bacon Grease, optional
  • Cinnamon or Apple Pie Spice, optional

Drizzle some molasses over butter and swirl to blend.

VARIATIONS: To make Molasses Bacon Butter, stir in a bit of bacon grease.  A bit of cinnamon or apple pie spice is also tasty in Molasses Butter, depending on what you will be serving it with (especially great with pancakes, waffles or French Toast too)!

Enjoy y’all… and please throw me your comments below AND ‘share’ with all your friends!