On my drive south from the mountains to my favorite little creek in Lower Alabama a couple of days ago, I entertained myself listening to podcasts via my Stitcher app. Two of the podcasts, including this Bon Appetit piece on retro comfort foods, talked about our nostalgia for the foods we grew up eating. Our favorites. Dishes served for special occasions. Mom’s or Dad’s specialty. The podcast offered updated versions of meatloaf (I will be adding the bacon braid to mine), grilled cheese sandwiches (I tried the mayo and grated cheese tricks today and loved the outcome), and tuna casserole (I’ll probably still pass), among others. At my house it was fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I suspect that each of my three sisters would answer the same. That, and the oatmeal cake topped with coconut, brown sugar and pecans which I still beg my mom to make for my birthdays.
I’m not sure what my boys will ultimately pick as their nostalgia foods… probably my slaw. Maybe Chicken Parmesan, maybe pan-fried catfish, maybe these Sloppy Joe Sliders…
Sloppy Joe Sliders
- 1 1/3 pounds ground beef (or turkey)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2/3 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed to remove excess moisture
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 cup ketchup (and yeah, it needs to be Heinz)
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 table spoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Cholula hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme plus extra for garnish
- 8 slider buns
- Brown the ground meat or turkey in a large skillet over medium high heat, using a spatula to break it up. When you are sure the meat is thoroughly browned, dump it in a colander to drain the extra fat.
- Wipe out the skillet, and heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onions, celery and carrots until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the zucchini to the pan and saute until any moisture has cooked off, then add the garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the meat back to the pan, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Then, stir in the ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, hot sauce and thyme.
- Stir in 1/2 cup water and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes.
- Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Toast the slider buns, top each bottom bun with the meat and garnish each plate with a sprig of thyme.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
I must have a fresh bag of crispy potato chips with my sloppy joe — a little extra salt, a bit of crunch for a contrasting texture. If you are looking for something healthier, a little lightly dressed broccoli slaw works well too.
Paté de Campagne was not something I grew up eating in south Mississippi in the seventies. I discovered the joys of country paté when I moved to New Orleans after college, and regularly indulged thanks to Martin Wine Cellar‘s deli. Then I discovered that George, most everyone’s favorite Southern Yacht Club bartender, made paté. He called all the unmarried ladies “Isabelle”, likely to avoid calling a member’s Saturday night date by his Friday night’s date’s name. He replaced your “red drink”– a slushy concoction of fruit punch and rum — with another before you’d finished your first, delivering each with a playfully suggestive remark that only you could hear. He made his patés at Christmas time, delivering delicious savory bread-loaf sized terrines wrapped tightly in foil to his customers. For years, he’d ask in his Greek accent “when you gonna come over to make paté with me, Isabelle?” everytime I saw him. As much as I wanted to learn to make paté, I got the idea that George’s wife would not be thrilled to find me in her kitchen.
That was about 30 years ago. Over the years, I’ve made many smooth chicken liver patés, but never attempted a country-style terrine. After looking at a number of recipes, I decided to use Ruhlman‘s recipe published in Charcuterie, and also available online at the Splendid Table. I was a little wary of his spice mixture, especially compared to some of the other recipes I had considered, so I did a little research and found that Ruhlman’s recipe is a variation of the traditional Quatre épices of white pepper, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. The spice mixture should be varied to suit your taste — I toned down the white pepper a bit because I am not a big fan, and limited the cinnamon to accentuate the savory. I modified the meats — substituting bacon for some of Ruhlman’s pork butt — based on availability and was very pleased with the resulting flavor and texture.
Paté de Campagne
For the Paté Spice:
- 1 tablespoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Paté de Campagne:
- 1 1/2 pounds pork butt, cut into 1-inch dice
- 1/2 pound bacon, sliced crossways into 1/2–inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound crimini mushrooms, cut into1/2-inch dice
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped onion
- 1/2 pound chicken livers
- 8 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 heaping teaspoon Paté Spice
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons Calvados brandy
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Put the blades and all parts of your grinding attachment along with your bowls in the freezer.
- Combine the spices, mix well, and store in an airtight container.
- Spread the pork butt and bacon in a single layer on baking sheets and put them in the freezer.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter.
- Swirl the butter around the skillet, add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Assemble your meat grinder with the large die.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and set a smaller cold bowl inside.
- Grind the pork and bacon through the large die into the bowl immersed in ice.
- Take 1/3 of the mixture and move it to a separate large bowl and add the onion, liver, parsley, salt, pepper and Paté Spice. Mix the spices into the meats using your hands.
- Fit the grinder with the small die and grind the pork, liver and spice mixture into the bowl of more coarsely ground pork.
- Quickly make your panade by whisking together the flour, eggs, brandy, and cream. Using the paddle attachment on your blender, mix the panade into your meat mixture to bind it.
- Fold in the mushrooms.
- Do a quenelle test or fry a small piece of the mixture to check seasonings and adjust if needed.
- Line a 1 1/2 quart terrine mold with plastic wrap. Leave enough overlap on the two long sides to fold the plastic over the terrine after you’ve filled it.
- Put the terrine in a high-sided roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven in the oven, then add hot water until the terrine is half-submerged.
- Bake until the interior of the paté reaches 160 degrees — between 1 and 2 hours.
- Remove the terrine from the oven (and water bath). Set a 2 pound weight on top. Let cool to room temperature, the refrigerate overnight or until completely chilled.
Yield: 10-12 appetizer servings
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1-2 hours
Total time:15 hours
I like my paté served very simply with crusty bread, grainy mustard and tart and crisp cornichons.