It's not November, but in a truer sense, every month is Pimento Cheese Awareness Month, and it's important not to miss a chance to bring the minner cheese to the people when you can. I As such, very happy to report that the Woodstock Farmers' Market, in Woodstock VT, is now making its own pimento cheese, based on the recipe I gave them. They have tweaked it some, but here is what I gave them, in the event that it is not convenient for you to visit.
Brother Jonathan’s Pimento Cheese
2 red peppers, roasted.
1 lb Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar, grated on large holes of box grater.
4 oz Duke’s Mayo.
2 Tb Korean red pepper flakes.
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika.
1 tsp Tabasco
Roast peppers in 450 oven, turning once or twice, until exteriors are blackened and blistering
(20 minutes or so)
Place roast peppers in bowl, and set bowl inside paper grocery bay, and fold down top.
Allow peppers to cool for approx. 30 mintues, and remove skin and seeds, reserving liquid from
peppers. Rinse peeled peppers if necessary. Chop peppers into approx. ¼” dice
Combine peppers and cheese in large bowl and combine with clean hands or mixing spoon until
Add mayo, using just enough to bind peppers and cheese, and maybe a little more for flow.
Add pepper flakes, paprika, Tabasco, and strained liquid from peppers.
Stir to combine, check seasoning, and serve with mini pretzels or crostini.
Anchower, I know, but stay tuned for PHC on the new Maws joint, and a Chicago safari.
Anyway, I mentioned this briefly in a tweet yesterday, and wanted to expand just a little. I've been aware recently of how much cooking is the repetition of similar tasks at different times in different contexts. There are new ingredients, better equipment, new friends, new techniques, etc. There is also displacement, isolation, and bereavement. It's jarring every time I realize I don't have access to a staple b/c there are not Asian groceries where I live now, and so forth.
But what struck me last night was the experience of returning to an old recipe after time away from it. It's a green Thai curry receipt I learned off of the back of a can of Westernized coconut milk, but it was a favorite back in the 1990s. I cooked it on third dates, and my folks really loved it. It goes like this:
Heat green curry in coconut milk, add diced chicken breast, add brown sugar/fish sauce, add basil, add stock, add frozen peas, serve over rice.
Nothing fancy, but comforting on a cold night. I doubt if I've made it though, in the time I've been doing this blog, which is now longer than I care to consider (2005). I was working from memory, and a couple of things immediately struck me. Somehow the process reminded me of long-ago agit about how to cut up a chicken breast, which I've done many times in other contexts since, or at least spent more time with a knife in my hand. Also, it occurred to me that I wanted to punch up the jar of cury (now Maesri rather than Taste of Thai), w/ real aromatics, so I added some fresh ginger and shallot at the beginning. Then I browned the chicken in the curry/aromatic mix, before adding liquids. This receipt was a favorite winter choice for my folks, b/c it's a non-assy application of frozen peas. However, reheating was a disaster, as peas got untenably mushy. I barely thawed some frozen peas, rinsed in cold water, and added as I served.
This version was objectively better, but somehow it felt strange to improve upon something my parents (now dead) had enjoyed so much when I cooked it for them. Cooking is funny like that.
While you wait for the UPS man to bring your Sweet & Sassy Mix, you might give this giardiniera receipt from G&G a whirl. The Cochon muffaletta is the truth, and may, in some situations, edge out the legendary Central Grocery standardbearer. Some of these situations would include wanting to sit down while you eat, having this sandwich on a Sunday, etc. The puree at the end seems smoother than you want, but in terms of sandwich architecture, makes some sense.
As for the title of this post, some may wonder - is it still the G-Funk Era? Until Warren G tells us different, the G-Funk Era it remains:
It is, as it happens, the key ingredient in the Only Sandwich That Matters, commonly termed the Muffuletta or Muffaletta. That guy who rapped w/DJ Code Money spelled his name different ways too. To create the muffuletta not on Decatur St, and indeed, not even in the 504, would be a literally Promethian feat, if Prometheus had had the good sense to steal a delicious and robust sandwich from the gods.
So, I put a picture of last night's dinner on the internets, and folks liked it. Some more background. Underneath, rice grits from Two Boroughs Larder. Not perfect on this but a nice change from grits, and somehow more soigne than rice. The actual succotash (I am not clear on what succotash really is, and aim to keep it like that) I'd made the day before, because of leftover dark butterbeans from making Sifton's Oxtail stew. The next part is probably not necessary, but I did have some old odds and ends of Benton's hanging around, so in the interest of conserving our dwindling supply of Benton's bacon, I cubed the ham, and cooked in a little butter and then braised in vermouth. Good flavor, but a little on the chewy side, as one might expect from a country ham with some years on it. To return: I then quickly cooked red onion and carrot and celery I had around in the ham pan, and tossed all that w/ the butterbeans. I then tossed the butterbeans, etc. w/ a dressing w lots of minced shallots and Zatarain's mustard (increasingly the house mustard around here).
I'd been thinking that the succotash alone would make a nice lunch, but then yesterday was my first pickup from the CAFE, and I wanted to do some things with my stuff. So, I cooked up a couple of strips of Benton's after all, then cooked down turnip greens in that, w/ a splash of cane vinegar (the definitive all purpose vinegar around here). Finally, I poached the gorgeous local eggs from Son Rise Acres, and scattered the radishes and bacon around the perimeter. A pretty satisfying and not too hearty meal, employing mostly stuff that was around.
I had been wanting to do this for a while, and I'm sorry that it took Dave Brubeck's death for me to get around to it. I've been a fan of banh mi for a while, doing them from scratch at home a while back, and have been messing around with various forms of charcuterie for years. One of the central spice combos for French-informed pates, etc, is quatre epice, (4 spices, if you're scoring at home). Similarly, one of the central spice combos in some Vietnamese cooking is 5 spice powder. Considering that the banh mi is a sandwich that features two types of pate* it seemed logical to do a 5 spice pate and a 4 spice pate as an hommage to the favorite jazz song of people who don't like jazz -Dave Brubeck's "Take 5," notable for being in 5/4 time. The 5-spice was a very simple shoulder/spice/potato starch prep from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, and the 4 spice was a riff on Polcyn and Ruhlman's pate grandmere from their charcuterie book. Worked out pretty well, though I imagine the echo of the song would not be self-evident. Play us off, Dave:
*We will address the burgeoning problem of how some folks will basically take a dump on an Italian sub roll and call it banh mi some other time.
Few things more satisfying than delivering a gift to just the right person. Passing the hat on from Orange Paws and Red Sox (SC college football fans gather in deserted baseball park, eat lobster) to somone with a normally shaped head was a good call. Better still - the recent trip to TLOTB&TC meant a visit w/ FOC and sometime commenter Rose's Lime and family. As Boston hotels 1) cost a million dollars a night and 2) do not contain my godchild, I was very happy to stay with the Rose's Lime family. The Cod showed his appreciation the only way he knows how -- with Benton's bacon, and woke up to find the below in his inbox. Esp. considering that Mr. Lime is employed, johnnycakes on a school morning seem like a mic drop, parenting-wise.