Mississippi Cooking – Lots of Cooking and Tasting

I must warn that this blog turned out longer than I initially planned, but there were so many ideas and recipes I wanted to share – just had to keep going.

Mississippi cooking is a nice change from Missouri – I can’t believe I almost overdosed on BBQ which is one of my favorite flavors in the world.  I hit Mississippi with a long list of never tried (or never tried authentic) foods known for in this state:

Catfish (my everlasting pursuit of a whole – meaning bone-in – fish!)
Fried green tomatoes
Bacon rinds (Love these and used to make them when we were raising pigs)
Calamari (always want more of this – sure didn’t know Mississippi was known for it)
Fried Chicken – would love to try some in each Southern state
Sawmill Gravy – had never heard of this, but evidently it is milk gravy as I know it, but would love to try it.
Mississippi Mud Cake
Mississippi (Sausage) Breakfast Casserole
And, of course we’re getting into Po’Boy country…………….

While I was gathering ingredients and my thoughts, I ran across this dish from Noble Pig – Cathy Pollak’s blog, and it sounded so tasty I had to make it first night here.

Brined and Glazed Hoisin Drumsticks
This is a winner for sure!! I’d give it at least a 12 (out of 1 to 10). Here is a link to the original recipe but, I have adapted the brining method to the easy one that I use.

The recipe looks time consuming but 90% is hands off – so very easy. We loved the flavor – the soy and vinegar cut the sweetness of the Hoisin while leaving a strong mellow (is that contradictory??) flavor to the chicken.

1 qt. cold water
1/4 cup Kosher salt
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. granulated sugar
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
3-inch piece of ginger, chopped
3/4 tsp. (liquid) anise flavoring (couldn’t find Star anise in stores) Watkins Pure Anise Extract
6 large chicken drumstick
For the Marinade/Glaze:
1-1/4 cups hoisin sauce
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tb garlic, minced

Whisk all the brining ingredients together until the salt and sugars are dissolved – don’t worry if there are a few grains not dissolved; add drumsticks, making sure all are submerged. Put the chicken in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, just before chicken is done brining, combine all ingredients for the marinade/glaze in a large Ziploc bag. Remove chicken from brine, rinsing and patting off excess water; place in the hoisin mixture. Tightly close bag and turn over several times. Let sit for two hours and continue to turn. Keep chicken on counter so it can come to room temperature. (I kept mine in the fridge)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a large rimmed baking tray with aluminum foil and set a rack on top, spraying with cooking spray. Place drumsticks on rack, wiping off any excess garlic back into the marinade/glaze (garlic tends to burn in the oven). Reserve sauce.

Bake chicken in the oven 40 minutes on each side (a total of 80 minutes), turning over once. (I turned mine over after 25 minutes and my drumsticks were done in 55-60 minutes.) While chicken is cooking, add marinade/glaze to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10-12 minutes.
When chicken is done, remove from the oven. Brush reduced marinade/glaze on both sides of the chicken. Serve warm. 6 servings

Red Beans & Rice – Any RVers out there (or just for a fast, easy dinner) – There is a great pkg’d dinner mix I tried that is so flavorful, it’s like it was made from scratch! I’m having a devil of a time finding Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, but as I check stores I am running into his products. Picked up Creole Red Beans and Rice Dinner Mix and wow, it is so good.
Red-Beans-&-Rice-7oz-LG It’s just ridiculous to think of having all the ingredients/seasonings in my trailer and this one solves the problem. If you’re on the road anyone, this is one to try. Great with a pulled pork sandwich.
One of my favorite food combinations (and I have no idea why) is Fried Oysters – with Corn Chowder. And, my chowder has to be drizzled with Tabasco only, no other hot sauce will do for me for the flavor.
Corn Chowder with Clams
From “Black Bens & Corn”  a Chef’s Journey cookbook. Whatever you add to this chowder, it is delicious!

4 T. butter (or 2 T. butter & 2 T. bacon grease)
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
2/3 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 qt. milk
2 cans (15 oz. each) cream style corn
1/4 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
8 oz. can minced clams (optional)

Melt butter and add celery and onions; sauté until transparent. Add remaining ingredients except the clams.
Cook over low heat until potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Add drained clams and just heat through. 6-8 servings.

CJ’s tips: below is an addition (1) and a substitution (2) to the chowder
(1) BACON AND SCALLOP CHOWDER (to be added to above chowder):
Cook 4 slices of bacon and chop coarsely. In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add 1/2 lb. medium sea scallops, season with salt & pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Ladle the Corn and Clam Chowder into soup bowls top with the scallops and garnish with the bacon and chopped chives.
(2) SALMON AND CORN CHOWDER (Substituting in original Chowder recipe above):
Substitute 1/2 lb. salmon, cut in bite-size pieces for the clams; add to the soup (after the potatoes are tender) along with 2 tsps. lemon zest, cook until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Now here’s a dessert to add to your list of easy and delicious favorites! Stretching it a little, but we are heading south – Candied Jalapeno Peach Ice Cream. One of the best combinations so far in this continuing fascination with flavoring our ice cream.

At the farmers market in Vicksburg, I ran across Candied Jalapeno peppers at one of the stalls – it hit me immediately, Why have I not done this???? Brought a jar home and we have been adding a little of the peppers and/or just the ‘syrup’ to everything!! For dessert, I use 6 oz. of ice cream or frozen yogurt for our treats and this is the amount I use for combining with jams/jellies/sauces/and now candied jalapenos. To the ice cream, I added 2-3 T. peach jam and approximately 1 tsp. of the jalapeno syrup and used a mixer to combine.

???????????????????????????????  We think this is the best combination to date. I have found a number of recipes online for making the jalapenos and this one is the closest to the ingredients that are listed on the jar. I have not tried this recipe yet, but it is on the list!

Turnip greens – had for the first time and I’m certainly hooked – now, to cook them for myself.

Black-eyed peas – have used them for years, but in conjunction with stews and soups and such. I’ve never just had a dish of the beans themselves as a side. I love them! Over the years, I have taken these silly quizzes of say, “How many of these foods have you eaten?” which usually offer exotic dishes and adventurous foods and I can answer yes to almost all of them. But, for everyday local foods, I sure wouldn’t be able to; so I’m having fun tasting everything our country has to offer.

Mississippi Breakfast Casserole – the usual ingredients for a strata, but somehow this one is a little tastier and I can’t figure out why!! (one thing – no mustard, which I normally add to a strata might mute the fresher, vibrant flavors???? ) interesting idea.

The only thing I’d do differently is using the sausage as patties makes it difficult to eat (but, it is prettier) – I’d just scatter the broken up sausage as a layer.

Just a quick note about Catfish Po’Boys – if you have catfish you’ve brought home from a restaurant and IF you also have Remoulade sauce and a fresh sandwich bun, you are all set for a delicious and easy Catfish Po’Boy Sandwich!

And, lastly for this week of cooking – WOW, we’re ending with a real bang for your buck!

Mississippi Mud Cake with Bourbon
Because there are only the two of us and we try to limit ourselves In what & how much we eat (I know it doesn’t sound like it, but we do – usually), I cut this cake recipe in half and made a mini-Bundt cake. Cutest little thing; I’d never thought of doing this before but it’s certainly the way for me to go.
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The Bittersweet chocolate gives it the fudgy dense cholately flavor  I love. The cake recipe:
We have 5 more days in Vicksburg, but in addition another  couple weeks in Lake Charles area, I may be able to do the remaining projects I’d like to do – myself rather than paying too much money in a restaurant when I can do it the way I want!
Buy and cook my own bone-in catfish!!
Fried Green Tomatoes
Mississippi Fried Chicken with Sawmill gravy….we’re in trouble now
Turnip Greens and Black-eyed Peas as sides

That’s all for now –  I hope you all made it through all of this!!