Howdy y’all! Welcome to Texas!
One evening, while feeling particularly full of myself, I submitted a proposal for Foodbuzz’s montlhy 24, 24, 24 event. For those of you reading who do not know what 24, 24, 24 is I’ll give you the short version. 24 bloggers have 24 food events over 24 hours. Fun, right?
I decided on the following menu:
Fried Gulf Coast Shrimp
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos
Smoked Beef Brisket
I decided I wanted to do something that screamed Texas, that would show the food blogging world what tradidtional Texas food and cooking is all about. Well, there are three things that come to mind, for me, when thinking of Texas style food.
1. Beef barbecue. Be it ribs or brisket, the cow is king in Texas.
2. Fresh produce. Texas farmers work hard every year to produce fresh fruit and vegetables.
3. Gulf coast seafood. The gulf coast is a rich shrimping and fishing ground.
Knowing what I wanted to feature was the first step, but for me what I buy is as important as where. I wanted to source as much of the food for this event as locally as possible. Now, by local I do not mean that I would only eat food grown or produced withing a specific radius. Small business owners are the heart of the local community. Supporting them is as important as buying locally produced food.
So, my meal would be sourced by local, small businesses which sell the highest quality food, and if the food was produced in Texas all the better. I also wanted to share this experience with two local food bloggers who I have met on the internet. They are Marye Audet from Baking Deights, and Donna from Way More Homemade. They made me bread and desserts, and anyone who would bring me desserts is a goddess. Wanna see?
Marye brought me cake that was made for her daughter’s baby shower! I love cake!
She also made me rolls with local honey and flour she milled herself!!
Donna made me a pie with blackberries from her garden and the most tasty cinnamon graham crust!!
Since I talked about local let’s discussing sourcing.
A local butcher shop, not the kind in a supermarket, is a beautiful and desperately rare thing. In Dallas we are lucky to have Vongeertsem’s Butcher Shop. Winner of the Dallas Observer’s Best Butcher Award in 2007, Vongeertsem’s Butcher Shop is clean, tidy, and stocks some of the highest quality beef in the Dallas area.
Greg, the owner of the shop, is very knowledgeable and very friendly. He takes the time to find out what you need, how you plan to cook it, and even offers tasty alternatives if he does not have what you are looking for. Trust Greg, he knows his meat!
I decided to buy a beef brisket, which I planned to smoke, and I decided to buy it from Greg. His beef is Angus, corn fed and from Nebraska. Yes, I know that isn’t Texas but, and this is a big but, when I tested a smaller brisket the week before it was, and I kid you not, the BEST brisket I have ever had – tender, a little sweet, and juicy in the extreme. He is planning a line of meat that is raised in Texas, and I will be back to try that as well. Greg is a local butcher with a small local shop, and he is my new source for meat.
Just down from Greg was a place I was not expecting to find. A local cheese shop!
Scardello Artisan Cheese is an impressive locally owned cheese and wine shop. They also carry a line of gourmet and specialty food items. The staff and owner are enthustiac and knowledgeable, offering samples of the different cheeses. Scardello has a few cheeses made in Texas and I must say I was sold.
No local food adventure is complete without a trip to the Farmer’s Market.
The Dallas Farmer’s Market is a mixed bag. There are a number of stalls that offer produce grown locally, and they have a sign that indicates they are in fact local, but many of the stalls offer produce grown in any number of places.
I was able to find a few stalls on the day I went that were local, and bought as much of the produce for the meal as I could.
Last I needed Texas seafood. There are not a lot of seafood shops in Dallas, so I went to Central Market.
Central Market is part of a Texas grocery chain called HEB. They sell premium food, wine, and have a wonderful deli with freshly prepared foods. I decided to buy my seafood there.
The Gulf Coast shrimp looked wonderful. They were not previously frozen, smelled clean, and were a really nice size. Picking the shrimp was easy. Just look at them … I’ll wait.
I know, right!
So,with the food purchased it was time to get cooking.
Smoked Beef Brisket Serves 12
1 beef brisket, 12 pounds uncooked
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon dry chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/4 cup chili powder
First, in a medium bowl combine all the ingredients for the rub and mix well.
Wash and dry the brisket and trim the fat layer to no more than 1/2″ thick. Coat both sides with about 1/3 of the rub.
Heat the smoker to 250F. Be sure to cook the brisket using hard wood smoke and cook the brisket using indirect heat. After four hours coat the brisket with another 1/3 of the rub. The brisket is ready when it reaches 190 F, about an hour per pound.
Let the brisket rest, tented with foil, for fifteen minutes before slicing. Serve the brisket with the remaining rub for seasoning.
Bask in the flavor!!
While the brisket smokes you have time to prepare your side dishes. For this party I decided to go old school picnic and make potato salad and macaroni salad.
Potato salad in the South has mustard in it, and my potato salad is no different. This is my basic recipe.
Potato Salad Serves 10
4 large russet potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1/2 cup finely diced onion
4 eggs, hard boiled, chilled, and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Peel and chop the potatoes into 1/2″ cubes. Boil in salted water until fork tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
In a large bowl combine your mayonnaise, mustard, relish, onion, salt, pepper, and eggs. Mix well.
Add the potatoes and fold gently to combine. Chill for two hours before serving.
Next, let’s talk about macaroni salad. I wish I had a recipe that was new and unique, but I don’t. I use the recipe from Hellman’s mayonnaise, but I adjust the ingredients slightly. It is a good recipe, the one I grew up eating, and a brisket dinner is not complete without it.
Macaroni Salad Serves 10
Adapted from Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1 pound rotini pasta
2 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup finely diced sliced celery
11/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
In a large bowl combine the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, celery, onion, red pepper, salt, sugar, and pepper. Mix well.
Add the pasta and turn to coat. Chill for at least two hours before serving.
To go with the brisket, because it is nice on the side, I decided to make some barbeque sauce. I decided to make a sweet sauce because I love sweet sauce to dip my brisket in.
Sweet Barbeque Sacue Yield two cups
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
In a saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add the tomato paste and cook for five minutes, or until darker in color.
Add the vinegar, ketchup, molasses, and honey. Stir well, then add the chili powder and paprika.
Add the can of tomatoes and stir well. Reduce the heat to low and cook for one hour. Puree thoroughly then add back to the pan and allow to simmer for twenty minutes.
Ok, now it’s time for something spicy. I LOVE stuffed jalapenos just about any way they come. Most places serve them deep fried, and deep fried is a nice way to eat them, but I prefer mine wrapped in bacon and grilled. I purchased the jack and cheddar cheeses from Scardello.
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos Serves 6
12 large jalapenos
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup shredded jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
16 slices of bacon
Wash the jalapenos, slice off the tops and clean out the seeds and ribs. Rinse with water and dry.
Slice the bacon strips in half. Take four of the slices and cook them until crisp and crumble.
In a small bowl combine the cream cheese, jack cheese, cheddar cheese, and the crumbled bacon. Put the filling into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
Fill each jalapeno with the filling. Don’t over stuff, just fill them until the filling just reaches the top of the pepper.
Wrap the jalapenos in bacon. Lay the bacon strip over the top and secure with a tooth pick. Wrap the ends around the jalapeno, securing them on the tooth picks.
Grill for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the bacon is coked and the peppers are soft.
Last, but not least, is the fried shrimp. You need to fry these as close to serving as you can. I make the process of frying part of my party. People love to watch things cook in boiling oil!
Fried Shrimp Serves 12 as an appetizer
36 medium shrimp, peeled and divined
1/2 cup cracker crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 cup buttermilk
Dash hot sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
Oil for frying
Combine the cracker crumbs, panko, and paprika in a medium bowl.
In a second bowl combine the buttermilk, egg, hot sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of the cayenne pepper. Mix well.
In a third bowl combine the flour, remaining cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Pat the shrimp dry. Dredge first in the flour, patting off the excess, then dip into the buttermilk mixture and allow the excess to drip off. Last, roll in the breadcrumbs. Allow to sit for ten minutes before frying.
Heat the oil to 375F, making sure that the oil is three inches from the top of your pan. Cook until golden brown, about three minutes.
Serve hot, with dipping sauces.
So, at the end of the day I had a great meal, a wonderful time, and I had met two wonderful new friends! I do not regret doing this 24, 24, 24 event. In fact, I hope to do another one again!