One of the challenges of cooking southern food these days is for many people, southern food is synonymous with being inexpensive and coming from a can. When you cook food from scratch, with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and you reference old cookbooks and relative’s memories, it means something different for everyone. Interpretations of hushpuppies, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits differ from family to family. That being said, there are some dishes that we serve at Lucky 32 that resonate regardless of your background because they’re just simple, honest and hearty. The thing they all have in common is they’re kind of a Piedmont interpretation of one-pot wonders.
Sometimes beef stew is chunky, with potatoes, and it tastes like pot roast. You can eat it over rice, and it really isn’t anything special, it’s just something to eat. However, if you want to explore some southern foodways, go visit these little mom and pop places and order the daily special. It’s kinda funny because you can order stew beef and rice and chose rice as your side simply because it sounds redundant, and what will come out is beef stew over rice, with a side of rice. The difference between beef stew and stew beef and rice is stew beef and rice is mostly meat. It’s about the meat and the gravy, whereas beef stew is about the vegetables, the meat, and the gravy. At Lucky’s, we thought it would just ring true to people’s sense of place if we called the dish stew beef. When it first arrived on the menu, there were a handful of folks who thought we had gotten it wrong, because they thought it was more like beef stew. However, it really resonated with some people because many of them hadn’t seen stew beef on a menu in a long time and it was nostalgic and comforting to them.
Stew Beef and Rice
- 2 ½ pounds beef tips
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 ½ tbsp canola oil
- 2 cups yellow onions, diced medium
- 1 cup celery diced medium
- 1 cup carrots diced medium
- 2 fl oz red wine, Burgandy
- 1 quart beef stock
Season beef tips well with salt and pepper. Toss meat with cornstarch to evenly coat each piece. Heat oil in a large skillet, add meat and sear on all sides. Remove meat to an oven proof pan. Add onions, celery and carrots to a sauté pan and brown. Deglaze the sauté pan with wine and continue stirring. Add beef stock. Pour vegetable mixture over beef tips in oven proof pan. Cover with foil and cook for 2.5 hours at 300 degrees. Serve over rice. Makes: 6 servings
There’s a divide in North Carolina where people east of here prefer rolled dumplings in their chicken and “dumplings” (so they’re flat, like noodles), and those are referred to as chicken and pastry. West of the Triad instead of rolled noodles, chicken and dumplings is made with biscuit dough, which is dropped into a simmering pot. We wanted to recognize both of those traditions and make our own middle path, so what we do at the restaurant is make biscuit dough and roll it into little gnocchi style dumplings and cook them in the broth with the chicken. This is a dish that was a favorite for a long time, and when it appears on the feature menu, it’s on two menus in a row. It just recently came off, so we wanted to share the recipe with you.
Chicken and Dumplings
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 cups yellow onions, medium diced
- 1 ¼ cup carrots, medium diced
- 1 cup celery, medium diced
- ½ tbsp garlic, chopped
- 4 each bay leaves
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 ½ tbsp salt (or to taste)
- ½ tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 cup all purpose flour
- 1 gallon chicken stock
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/8 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup dry cooking sherry
- 3 pounds roasted chicken, pulled or rough chopped
- 8 each Buttermilk Biscuit dough circles (see recipe)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Heat oil in a large sauce pot and sweat the onions until golden. Add carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne. Continue to sauté until garlic is fragrant. Stir in flour and whisk until combined. Add stock and bring to a simmer, lower heat. Simmer until carrots are tender. Add sherry, cream and lemon juice. Add chicken.
Tear dough into ½ inch pieces and add to broth. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Makes – 8 servings
While Jambalaya isn’t rooted in the Piedmont, it’s definitely become a tradition here at Lucky 32, and it actually evolved from our New Orleans menu. We’ve done a version of it for many years as part of the New Orleans menu. Once we graduated from doing American regional food to seasonal food, we decided to bring Jambalaya to the base menu and feature it year-round, because it’s not seasonal. Traditionally it’s based on Spanish Paella. It’s a pilaf-style rice dish with onions, celery, bell peppers and a combination of meat (often times crawfish, chicken, sausage, and sometimes oysters). It was created as a budget-conscious way to use rice to extend a meager portion of meat to feed a whole family. Some of us grew up eating it with ground beef and sausage, but at Lucky’s we like to make it with wild American shrimp, roasted chicken and andouille sausage. This dish is a comforting one, perfect for carrying you through these remaining frigid nights. It’s definitely south Louisiana soul food, as filtered through the North Carolina Piedmont.
- 5 tbsp canola oil
- 10 oz andouille sausage, cut into half moons
- 1 pound boneless chicken, chopped
- 1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cup yellow onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup celery, chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 tsp ground paprika
- 3 tsp Creole Spice Blend (see recipe)
- 1 each bay leaf
- 1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 cups chicken broth
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large skillet. Add sausage and chicken. Sauté until chicken and sausage are browned on all sides. Remove to a plate. In the same sauté pan, add 3 tablespoons of oil. Add bell pepper, onion and celery.
Sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, rice and spices and continue stirring until oil has coated all of the rice and garlic is fragrant (about 3 minutes). Return chicken and sausage to pan and add shrimp.
Add broth and turn heat down to low and cover. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Add additional chicken broth if needed. Makes – 6 servings
Creole Spice Blend
- 2 ½ tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 3 tsp black pepper
- 3 tsp onion powder
- 3 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 tsp oregano leaves
- 3 tsp thyme leaves
Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and combine with a whisk until spices are evenly distributed. Store in an air tight container with a lid. Makes ¾ cup
What are some of your favorite one-pot wonders, or winter comfort meals?
Posted February 2014