Super easy and impressive meal you can make on a week day, no problem. This was actually inspired by several meals I’ve eaten at restaurants. The bacon wrapped pork came from Soby’s and I’ve blogged before (Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin). The pimento cheese grits I had at Distilled at Gratz Park Inn. The seared okra I had at High Cotton Greenville. I made these a little more approachable for me at home but the combination is amazing.
This is as southern a meal as it gets. Bacon, pork, grits and okra. I made this for the in-laws from Indiana, they loved it. Other than the okra, everything pretty much self seasoned. The bacon on the pork and the pimento cheese in the grits.
Before we get started on the recipe, I want to dip my toes in a controversial topic here in these parts. Pimento Cheese. If you aren’t from the south and have never tried it, you might turn your nose up at it. You shouldn’t. It is fantastic. Here’s a shocker, I don’t like (I loathe) mayonnaise (unless I make it myself), an essential ingredient in every pimento cheese. I still love this stuff, but I digress.
Do you have your own recipe for pimento cheese? Which mayo do you use? Heaven forbid, do you add jalapenos? Do you only eat your Grandmothers? Do you buy it from a store or deli? What brand do you buy? You’d be surprised how many different answers to those questions you might get around here and the conversations they turn up. It’s almost (ALMOST) as bad as asking a southern about BBQ.
My answers are: Yes, I have made it myself. Duke’s is the only mayo if you must. Yes, I love jalapenos in mine. Nope, I eat just about anyone’s recipe. Yes, I buy in the store most times. Palmetto with Jalapenos (from Pawley’s Island) is favorite.
Ruth’s is another brand made in South Carolina that you can find in most stores but Palmetto isn’t as sweet or mushy.
Set oven to 425 ° and set a large pan over medium high heat.
Slice the okra in half length wise, toss in a bowl with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Wrap the pork with the bacon so that the seems are on the bottom of the tenderloin.
Place the bacon wrapped pork in the hot pan seem side down and then sear on all sides. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until desired doneness (it is supposed to be 165 but I pull it before that). Place on a cutting board and allow to rest.
Heat a large grill pan over medium high heat.
Depending on the type of grits, cook per the instructions. I generally use half water and half milk. Also, if it calls for butter, I substituted olive oil. Just before serving mix in pimento cheese and allow to melt. For four servings I used 3-4 tablespoons.
Place the okra in the grill pan and sear on both sides until just slightly tender.You should have nice grill marks.
To serve, spoon some grits down, slice the pork and stack, then top with the okra.
Soby’s was one of the first upscale restaurants to open up on Main Street here in Greenville, SC. We’ve had a number of important dinners there, including our wedding dinner. As long as I have been going there, one of my favorite meals has been the bacon wrapped pork loin with broccolini, mashed potatoes and a habanero cream. The habanero cream sauce is the hit of the dish and it makes me crave it. I crave it so much, I decided to remake this meal at home.
I have to say, this was about as close of a recreation as there gets. The crispy/fatty bacon (I use Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked) is a nice balance against the lean pork loin. The crunch broccolini adds freshness and lightens the dish. The whipped potatoes are the glue and the habanero cream sauce… oh that spicy cream sauce blends perfectly with everything. The best bite is when you get a bit of all the components together on the fork. I love when meal components are great alone but are enhanced by each other. Amazing.
1-2 pork loin (they come in two packs at my grocery)
4-6 slices applewood smoke bacon (I prefer Niman Ranch)
1 large bunch of broccolini
2-3 large baking potatoes
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Salt and pepper
Directions for Habanero Cream
In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil.
Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Whisk in the flour and cook until the rue is light blond.
Slice the habanero in half and add to the pan. Note: for less spice, only use half. For even less spice remove the seeds and steams.
Whisk in the milk and increase heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and bubbly.
Stir in the chicken broth and season with salt and pepper.
Cover and keep warm. Remove the habanero halves before serving.
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Wrap the pork loin tightly with the applewood smoked bacon keeping a slight overlap on each wrap.
Place the pork in oven pan and roast until desired doneness about 25 minutes. The last few minutes you can switch to the broiler if the bacon is not crisp enough.
Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes into uniform chunks. Place in pot of cool salted water with the smashed garlic cloves. Bring to boil and let them go until fork tender. Strain potatoes and using a ricer, food mill or food processor “mash” until you achieve the consistency that you like. I mash the garlic right in with the potatoes for extra garlicky goodness. Return potatoes to the pot, add approximately 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, as much half and half, heavy cream or milk as you like and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.
To save time and keep from clean two large pots, while the potatoes were boiling I add a steamer to the same pot and steamed the broccolini. You can do this in a separate pot if you like, but it worked out just fine using the same one.
Once the broccolini are as tender as you like (I prefer mine almost raw), set aside.
To plate this like Soby’s does, after allowing the pork to rest, slice the pork. Add the potatoes, three pieces of pork (as seen above), top with broccolini and pour the cream around the edges of the plate.
I over seasoned the black-eyed peas a bit in the initial recipe so instead of using all stock, I used the rest of the turkey stock and cut that with water. The grilled cheese was a spin on the wildly popular PUBLIX TURKEY, BACON AND CRANBERRY SUB ON MULTIGRAIN post from two years ago. I make those subs at home at least once or twice during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday so I had the cranberry-orange relish already.
Can I just say WOW about this little meal. The soup had so much depth of flavor, like I mentioned in the original post. Sour, spicy, sweet, creamy and earthy. The sandwich had the savory, crunchy, sweet and spicy (from the mustard). Yum!
In a large pot over medium heat, add the black-eyed peas, collards, stock and water. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until desired consistency is acheived.
Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium heat.
Open four slices of bread. Add Dijon mustard to one side and cranberry orange relish to the to the other. Add sliced smoked turkey and smoked Gouda cheese. Drizzle the top of the sandwich with oil and season with salt and pepper and place on the grill. Meanwhile, drizzle oil on the now top side of the sandwich with oil and season. Grill both sides until the bread is crunchy and the cheese is melted.
Field peas for luck and greens for money. That is how it goes in the South. A traditional New Years meal, the first meal, should have field peas (usually black-eyed peas) and greens (usually collards). The peas bring luck and the greens bring wealth and together bring a prosperous year. It has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. I decided this year to come up with my own version of the classic.
As a kid growing up the whole house stunk on New Years day. The huge pot of collards would stew all day with a big old ham hock. Also, black-eyed peas don’t exactly have the best smell either. When we smelled the cornbread we knew it was “fixin to be” (almost) time to eat. We never got a meat, you just fought over the bits of ham hock that would break up in the greens.
I have to admit, I wasn’t a true believer as a kid. The greens weren’t my favorite so I poured vinegar over them. I didn’t love black-eyed peas so I poured ketchup and hot sauce on them. Something about those flavors blending together though, yum! The bitter greens with the smokey/savory ham hock and sour vinegar combined with the earthy peas, sweet ketchup and spicy hot sauce and the crunchy cornbread to sop it all up made an indelible impression. Over the years I have come to love this meal. Now that I’m older I finally decided to put my own spin on it.
I don’t have a smoker, some day I will, but I don’t have one now. The faux sous vide / faux “smoked” turkey was dreamed up to provide a “real” protein and add that smoke since I wasn’t using a ham hock. The sous vide was inspired by this Skillet Roasted Chicken recipe. I could not believe how the turkey turned out. It tasted just like it had been smoked. With the greens, I added the vinegar to mimic what I liked as a kid and it totally tasted just like I used to eat them. I have no idea if the Mirepoix/Holy Trinity of vegetables added to the black-eyed peas is traditional or not but they were also fantastic. Full disclosure, I over seasoned the peas a bit and that is why I suggested low/no sodium stock in the recipe below.
Over all this one brought me back to when I was a kid. I loved it. My “perfect” meals always have something savory, crunchy, creamy, sweet, sour and spicy. This one has all that plus. The smoked turkey turned out way better than I could have hoped and paired very well with the rest. The “not stewed all day long” greens were spicy and sour. The blacked-eyed peas with the vegetables and herbs, as I said, added an earthy, creamy, comfort to the meal. And like when I was a kid, the cornbread was there to sop all that goodness up. But where was the crunch? Oh did I mention, TURKEY SKIN CHIPS. That should be all I have to say.
Give this whole meal or just some of the components a try and let me know how it turns out in the comments.
Happy New Year!
Turkey Skin Chip New Years Black Eyed Peas, for luck Cheddar Cornbread with Cracked Black Pepper
Sous Vide Turkey Post Marinade New Years Collard Greens, for wealth
Use your best judgement here, I just added and tasted until I liked it.
12-24 ounces fresh black-eyed peas (dried or canned if need be)
2 large bunches of collard greens (or mustard, kale), stems and ribs removed, chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 small white onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, 2 minced and 2 smashed
Crushed red pepper flake
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2-4 cups low or no sodium turkey stock (or chicken stock)
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Cracked black pepper
1 packet Jiffy Cornbread mix
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup aged cheddar cheese, grated
Directions (the day before serving)
The night before, add all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and whisky together. Taste and add more or less of each to taste. It should taste more smokey and more seasoned then you might want.
Remove the skin from the turkey breast and set aside. Try to keep it in tacked. Some times they come right off, other times you’ll need a pairing knife.
Poke a few holes in the turkey breast with the pairing knife and place in a large zip top bag with the marinade . Fill a large pot with cold water. With part of the bag open, slowly lower the bag into the water to remove all the air. Remove as much air as you can, it should seem like a vacuum seal. Seal the zip top bag and place in the pot. Turn the heat to medium and allow the water to reach 150 degrees F. Once the water temperature is at 150 F, cover the pot, turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit for 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, remove the bag, dry it and place in the refrigerator to chill over night.
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Take two baking sheets (preferably one would be slightly smaller than the other), line the top of one (the larger one) and the bottom of the other (the smaller one) with tin foil. Place a piece of parchment paper on the first pan, spread the turkey skin out flat, season with a little salt and pepper, top that with another piece of parchment, top that with the second sheet pan. Finally, place a heavy skillet or oven proof dutch oven on top and place in the oven for 30 minutes or so. Once the skin is crisp and brown, place between paper towels and allow to cool. Wrap in foil and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.
If you are using dried black-eyed peas, place in water to soak. Skip this if you are using fresh or pre-soaked peas
Directions (the day of serving)
Heat a medium or large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon, cook until rendered and remove with slotted spoon. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmer add the diced onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper. When the vegetables are almost translucent, add the minced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss until the garlic is no longer raw then add the black-eyed peas and toss until coated with the oil. Add the bacon, fresh thyme (I leave it on the sprigs), bay and turkey stock to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30-40 minutes until the peas are tender. Stir often and add more stock or water as needed. Before serving, I smashed some of the peas to thicken the sauce. Season again to taste and keep warm. Also, remove the thyme stems and bay leaves.
Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
Heat a large cast iron skillet (or oven proof pan) over medium high heat. Season the turkey and sear on all sides and place in the oven. Roast until internal temperature is 165 degrees F (I usually take it out earlier but…), remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Heat another large pot over medium heat and coat the bottom with olive oil, crushed red pepper and the remaining smashed garlic cloves. Stir until the pan is to temperature not allowing the pepper to burn. Add the collard greens and toss to coat. Add white wine, apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt, cover and reduce the heat. Cook until wilted to your liking, about 15-20 minutes. Keep warm.
Combine the Jiffy cornbread mix, two eggs, buttermilk, half the cheese and cracked black pepper to taste. Allow to it sit for 20 minutes.
Mix the cornbread mixture once more than place in pre-sprayed muffin pan. Top with the remaining cheese and set aside.
Place the muffins in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and the tops are browned.
Place the turkey skin from the day before on a pan and heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
To serve I put the greens down, then the black-eyed peas, then the sliced turkey and topped with the crushed turkey skin chips. Enjoy!
If you don’t have a Publix near you, it might be time to consider relocating. For those not familiar, it is a grocery store or supermarket primarily in the Southern states of the east coast. They are ALL always clean. The employees are always nice. Their products are of the highest quality and their prices are fair. For those of us lucky enough to have one or many Publix nearby, a trip is truly a pleasure. I visit one near work and one near home probably 5 times a week (maybe more).
Everything is pretty awesome about Publix, but their deli and bakery stand out. I’m sure I could get arguments from near and far, but I’ll just say it…Publix sub sandwiches are the best sub sandwiches…EVER.
Why? Quality meat and cheeses (Boar’s Head), suitable toppings and the best bread. The bread is so good, you can eat it by itself. My go to is the Italian but regular old turkey is a faithful friend. I eat at least one of these subs every week.
Of all Publix subs, there is one that stands out. A seasonal sandwich masterpiece that only comes around in November. The Turkey, Bacon and Cranberry. You pick your bread (I always pick the multigrain because it is awesome), they are all good. When ordering other subs, I like to add a little lettuce and tomato, oil and vinegar with the spicy mustard. Don’t do it with this sub, maybe a little spicy mustard. The deli folks add Boar’s Head turkey and smoked gruyere, Publix brand cranberry relish and warm crispy bacon. So good. Sweet, spicy, sour, salty, crunchy, gooey, perfection. I like these so much, I duplicated them at home with the same ingredients except I used Niman’s Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon instead of Boar’s Head. Now, even if you don’t live near a Publix, you can have a taste.
Publix Multigrain bread
Boar’s Head Turkey
Boar’s Head Smoked Gruyere Cheese
Publix Cranberry/Orange Relish
Spicy Deli Mustard
Slice the bread almost half way through and slather with just a little mustard on both of the insides.
Add meat and cheese to your liking in the middle of where you sliced. Note: I did not add the meat in the middle of the slice in the one in the picture but it is a nice thing they do at the deli.
Add cranberry relish to taste.
Add bacon, and then using the backside of the knife push down on the middle of the meat, into the inside of the slice and fold the sandwich over.
Yes, that’s right Bourbon-Bacon Jam. Make this now if you like bourbon and bacon.
I got the basis of this meal from Bourbon Country magazine (Go figure, right?). I was obviously intrigued by the bourbon-bacon jam, but really the whole meal sounded great. I tweaked it a good bit, like I served the soup warm (it was chill outside) and added the chili for heat. The sandwiches would’ve probably been better if the tomato and arugula were added after cooking.
I would have never thought of making the parmesan and olive oil mixture to make the crust on the grilled cheese, nice touch. In the Bourbon Country article the chef (Levon Wallace, Proof on Main in Louisville, KY) used butter but I prefer the more healthy version of olive oil. I’ll be doing that forever.
Ironically, the soup turned out to be the star. It was bursting with fresh corn flavor and the back-end chili heat was a perfect match.
Bourbon-Bacon Jam Ingredients
4 pieces of applewood smoked bacon (I prefer Niman Ranch)
½ white onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup bourbon
¼ cup coffee
½ cup maple syrup
Bourbon-Bacon Jam Directions
In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook bacon until brown mostly rendered. Reserve fat.
Add onions and 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat. Cook until caramelized, about 6-8 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened.
Place in food processor and pulse to a consistency you like.
In a large stock pot, add water, chicken stock, bay leaf and corn cobs and bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, strain and reserve the liquid.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, shallot and vegetable oil and cook for 2 minutes, add reserved corn kernels. Toss and cook another 8-10 minutes.
Add wine, lemon zest and juice, Cheyenne pepper, Chipotle Chili powder and continue cooking until the liquid has reduced by half. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
In batches, add corn mixture with corn stock to a blender. Puree until very smooth and repeat until all of the mixture is smooth. Using a strainer, pass the puree slowly through working with a spatula discarding pulp.
Place soup in a pot and cover. Keep warm.
Grilled Cheese Ingredients
4 slices bread (we used multi-grain Italian from Publix)
¼ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese (only the best)
2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
2 slices provolone cheese
Tomato, thinly sliced
Grilled Cheese Directions
Pre heat a griddle or large pan over medium heat.
In a small bowl, add parmesan cheese and equal amount of olive oil and mix to combine. See aside.
Assemble sandwiches by adding cheese, tomato, arugula and a small drizzle of olive oil on one side and bourbon-bacon jam on the other.
Slather the outside of the top piece of bread with the parmesan cheese and olive oil mixture and place that side on the griddle. While on the griddle, slather the other side with the remaining parmesan and oil mixture. Cook until golden brown.
A southern tradition, shrimp and grits is perfect any time of year. This is my version and a little non-traditional but delicious all the same. Definetly low-country based, my version uses Poblano and Serrano peppers instead of bell pepper (more traditional). Bacon (a food group and complete sentence on its own). More traditional recipes call for Madeira and I used Sherry (only because that’s what I have). The grits normally would be from Anson Mills, but I didn’t have any so I used yellow grits from Lakeside Mills in NC and they were great. Cheddar cheese is the standard for adding richness and depth to the grits but I used Asiago for some salt and tartness. The local SC shrimp were outstanding.
There is nothing quite like shrimp and grits. In the winter it is warm and comforting. In the summer it is surprisingly light and refreshing. If you’ve never had low-country shrimp and grits, I encourage you to try this recipe. It is easy and you won’t regret it.
1 lbs unpeeled raw shrimp (local if you can get them)
4 thick slices applewood smoked bacon (I prefer Niman Ranch)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium sized Vidalia onion, diced
1 Poblano pepper, diced
1 Serrano pepper, minced (I left the seeds and stems in)
Grits (Not instant, just don’t do it. Recommend Anson Mills)
¾ cup grated Asiago cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped green onion
Follow instruction for the grits. They usually call for just water. If they call for 4 cups of water I generally replace 1 cup with chicken stock and 1 cup with milk. I would generally add salt but if your stock is not low sodium, I wouldn’t add here. When the grits are done add a tablespoon of butter and the cheese, cover and keep warm.
Rinse, peel and devein the shrimp leaving the tails on. Dry and set aside.
In the meantime, in a large skillet, render the bacon on medium heat until crispy (don’t rush it). Remove from the pan and place on paper towel to drain. Once cooled and drained, cut in small strips. Depending on the fat content of your bacon, you may want to remove some of the fat from the pan (or not).
Add a tablespoon of butter to the bacon fat. Add onion, Poblano and Serrano and sauté. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Deglaze the pan with Sherry. Add chicken stock, lemon juice, and Tabasco. Cook a minute and whisk in flour. Bring to a bubble then reduce to medium. Adjust sauce to get the consistency you prefer (add more stock for thinner sauce, more flour for a thicker consistency). Add the bacon back to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste (you shouldn’t need much if any).
Add shrimp and toss until the shrimp are just barely cooked through. Do not overcook.
To serve, place grits in the middle of a plate. Add shrimp and spoon sauce over the lot.