Dishes as American as grits and corn salad

I spent five months housesitting in Tennessee a few years back and grew to love food. I learned to cook with collard greens and okra and attended more than a few church potlucks. This is the American Independence Day weekend so I am featuring southern favourites, comfort food at its best.

Shoepeg corn salad: The term, shoepeg corn dates back to before the American Civil War and is de-rived from a shoemaking term used during the 1800s.

The kernels resemble the wooden pegs used to attach soles to the upper part of shoes. The corn is characterized by small, narrow kernels tightly and unevenly packed on the cob. This corn has a sweet, mild flavour.

Shoepeg corn is a common ingredient throughout the southern United States, but is relatively unknown in other areas of the country. It is most often canned.

This salad tastes like a fresh, crisp relish and keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator. Substitute with sweet baby corn.

Shoepeg Corn Salad

  • 2 11 oz. cans shoepeg or sweet baby corn 620 mL
  • 1 8 oz. can French style green beans peas 250 mL
  • 1 c. chopped celery 250 mL
  • 1 c. chopped onion 250 mL
  • 1/2 small jar pimientos
  • 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
  • 3/4 c. vinegar 185 mL
  • 1/4 c. salad oil 60 mL

Drain vegetables and discard liquid. Heat sugar, vinegar and salad oil until sugar is dissolved. Cool and pour over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate until served.

Shrimp and cheese grits: Grits truly are American. They are made from dried yellow or white corn that is ground and then boiled. They can be purchased in long cooking or quick cooking varieties.

This dish was considered a basic fisherman’s breakfast during shrimp season but now is served as a side dish or the main course. Polenta or cornmeal can be substituted for grits.

Grits

  • 2 c. water 500 mL
  • 2 c. half and half cream 500 mL
  • 2 tbsp. chopped red pepper 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1 c. stoneground grits 250 mL
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
  • pepper to taste

Bring water, cream, butter, red pepper and salt to a boil in a three quart (4 L) saucepan. Whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook stirring often, about 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Season with pepper to taste.

Shrimp

  • 2 bacon slices
  • 1 lb. peeled, medium-sized raw shrimp 500 g
  • 1/8 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper 2 mL
  • 1/4 c. all purpose flour 60 mL
  • 2 tsp. oil 10 mL
  • 1/2 c. chopped green onions 125 mL
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 30 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. hot sauce 2 mL

Cook bacon in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until crisp, remove and drain on paper towels, reserving one teaspoon (5 mL) of drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.
Season shrimp with salt and pepper, dredge in flour. Saute green onions for two minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and saute two minutes or until shrimp are lightly browned. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice and hot sauce and cook two more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Spoon shrimp mixture over the hot grits. Garnish with crumbled bacon and serve with a hot sauce such as sriachi. Serves four. – Adapted from Southern Living.

One Crust Peach Custard Pie

Georgia has the U.S.’s finest peaches. They are much larger and firmer than Canadian varieties.

  • pastry for single 9” pie 23 cm
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 large egg or 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 c. sugar 185 mL
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 90 mL
  • 1/3 c. flour 85 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 3–4 fresh peaches, 
peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
Whisk together egg, sugar, butter, flour, vanilla and salt until well blended. Arrange peach slices in unbaked pastry shell that has been brushed with lightly beaten egg yolk. Pour egg mixture over peaches and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F (150 C) and bake until the custard is brown and crusty on top and appears firmly set in the centre when the pie is shaken, about one hour longer. Let cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. The pie can be refrigerated for up to one day. – Source: Joy of Cooking.

Southern Style Stinging Nettle Greens

This is typically made with collard greens. The cooking time is the same as nettles. Kale is a good substitute.

  • 2 tbsp. bacon fat, lard or vegetable oil 30 mL
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced from root to tip
  • 1 ham hock
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 5 c. chicken broth 1.25 L
  • 1-2 c. water 250–500 mL
  • 8-10 c. chopped greens, about 2 lb. 1 kg
  • vinegar and hot sauce to taste

Heat bacon fat in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion in the bacon fat, stirring often, until the edges begin to brown, about five minutes. Add ham hock, smashed garlic, chicken stock and water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for one hour.
Add greens to the pot and cook until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.
To serve, remove ham hock, pull the meat off the bones and chop. Discard bone. Mix the meat back with the greens and serve with vinegar and hot sauce at the table. – Adapted from Southern Living.

Easy Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 1 c. flour 250 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 10 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda 1 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 3 mL
  • 1/4 c. shortening 60 mL
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk 125 mL

Combine first four ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly four or five times. Roll dough to one inch (2.5 cm) thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2 inch (12 cm) biscuit cutter. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 F (220 C) for 12 to 14 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned. Makes six biscuits. – Source: Southern Living.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.