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Hungry Man's Gide is content about food and cooking, dining, travel, drink and lifestyles for readers who hunger for adventure, fun and a great life.

Food

Goodnight Brothers Country Ham fits neatly into holiday recipes

Tim Rutherford

   As a kid, country ham was one of those things we took for granted. Our modest grocery bill allowed for one ham a year, a carefully selected, suitably moldy specimen from a local grocer who still had a real butcher and meat shop.

   The characteristic saltiness, which I loved, was, however, loathed by my grandmother. She would boil the ham for hours to tone down the salt. Still, what was left was texturally and flavor wise far superior to those new-fangled “canned hams” or sweetly smoked Virginia hams.

   From birth, country ham has followed me. I had a ah-ha moment when I read about a legendary country ham maker immortalized in Calvin Trillin’s, “Alice, Let’s Eat: The further Adventures of a Happy Eater.” In fact, that Hart County, Kentucky, ham maker was just a handful of miles from my home. This 15-minutes of fame for country ham propelled my career as a food writer. Sadly, it didn’t do much for American country ham. Folks love ‘em or they hate ‘em. Frankly, I think flag-waving and cheering on country ham is the patriotic thing to do.

Prosciutto in Florence’s Piazza Sant’Ambrogio.

Prosciutto in Florence’s Piazza Sant’Ambrogio.

   Salt-cured ham are treasured the world around. Even uptight Americans who turn up their nose at American country ham will gush for hours about the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of Spain’s Jamon Iberico hams or Italian prosciutto. Both styles of hams are indeed very, very good. One of my favorite food experiences is buying two hand-cut transparente slices from a fifth-generation prosciutto maker in Florence’s Piazza Sant’Ambrogio. The hams, buried in ash to age for two years, are deep burgundy in color and melt like butter on your tongue.

   And over the years, I have chased local hams – or at least regional hams – where ever I have called home. From the rolling hills of Southern Indiana, through the coal fields of Western Kentucky and to the coast of Georgia, it often takes effort – but I still find hams from small producers, crafted from hogs that grew up in the region. In Kentucky, I even bought a ham once form the once landmark “Country Ham Motel,” on Bowling Green’s bustling U.S. 31-W Bypass.

   And here I am in North Carolina. I found a good selection of country ham at the Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market, a sprawling, year-round market just south of Asheville. And then, quite by accident, I found Goodnight Brothers in Boone, N.C. The family has been dry-curing hams since 1948. They package a wide variety of country ham products including the two I tried -- ham hocks and all natural biscuit cut ham.

   The all natural packages are sourced solely from the Eastern North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association in Pine Town, N.C. These products are sold under the demanding auspices of grocers Whole Foods Market and Earth Fare.

   These products strike a great balance. Old school hams could be very, very salty (leading to my grandmother’s habit of boiling her ham) but modern efficiency and much more stringent food safety guidelines result in country ham products that have much broader appeal to most consumers.

   I enjoy country ham all year and especially around holidays when I want a hearty breakfast or New Year’s Day when I preparing a traditional pot of collard greens. Here are recipes and a couple of ways to use Goodnight Brothers Biscuit Cut Ham and Ham Hocks.

Country Ham Biscuits

I searched the archives for my collard greens recipe – only to discover I had never written it down! Lots of folks have a love-hate relationship with collards, a bitter, broad-leafed plant that, uncooked, is tough, leathery and very not tasty. With the right ingredients, a long, slow cook and patience, collards can be delicious, satisfying and, I’ve been told by collards haters, one of the best things they’ve ever eaten.I searched the archives for my collard greens recipe – only to discover I had never written it down! Lots of folks have a love-hate relationship with collards, a bitter, broad-leafed plant that, uncooked, is tough, leathery and very not tasty. With the right ingredients, a long, slow cook and patience, collards can be delicious, satisfying and, I’ve been told by collards haters, one of the best things they’ve ever eaten.I heat the country ham tightly sealed in a foil pack in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes. You can also bring it to heat in a medium hot fry pan. One pack is enough to give good portions to four biscuits. I have made hundreds of dozens of biscuits and tampered with a variety of recipes. This one from White Lily flour remains a steadfast, crowd-pleasing recipe.

MAKES ABOUT 20

The recipe for these biscuits is based on one from “Sunday Best Baking: Over a Century of Secrets from the White Lily Kitchen,” by Jeanne Voltz (Longstreet Press, 1998).

Ingredients

6 cups flour, preferably White lily flour     3 tbsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. salt     6 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces

6 tbsp. cold vegetable shortening     2 1⁄2 cups buttermilk

Method

Preheat oven to 500°. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter, 2 table knives, or your fingers, work butter and shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add 2 1⁄4 cups of buttermilk and gently stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a stiff, slightly tacky dough forms, adding a little more buttermilk if dough is too dry.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and quickly knead 2-3 times. Roll dough to a 1" thickness. Using a 2 1⁄2" round cookie cutter, cut out biscuits and set aside. Gather dough scraps together and repeat process, making 20 biscuits in all. Put biscuits on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet about 1⁄2" apart as they are formed. Bake biscuits until they have risen and turned golden brown on top, 10-12 minutes.

Serve biscuits hot, slathered with butter and⁄or with thin slices of Goodnight Brothers Country Ham.

First published in Saveur, Issue #80

New Year’s Day Cornbread, Hoppin’ John and Collard Greens

   Black-eyed peas and collard greens are traditional Southern dishes served on New Year’s Day as a symbol of prosperity to come in the new year. I like to embellish those plain peas and prepare a big pot of Hoppin’ John – black-eyed peas cooked with rice and ground sausage. The rich bean dish, tangy collard greens and plenty of homemade cornbread to soak up the greens’ “pot likker” is a satisfying and simple meal. Using a Goodnight Brothers Ham Hock to season the greens adds a hint of saltiness and plenty of great pork and smoky flavor.

CORNBREAD

C’mon, don’t use that junk from a box! It’s too sweet and doesn’t have the same character as this recipe from scratch. This is as close as I get to the recipe that my maternal grandmother made nearly every day of her life.

INGREDIENTS

¾ cup all-purpose flour     1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal

4 tsp baking powder     1 tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten     1 ¼ cups milk

¼ cup cooking oil

METHOD

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together dry ingredients thoroughly. Add wet ingredients and stir until well blended.

I use a 10-inch cast iron fry pan. I begin by spraying a non-stick cooking spray into the pan, or you may use vegetable oil or shortening. Pour in the batter, place in 400 degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

Collard Greens with Goodnight Brothers Ham Hock

GBHamHockGreens.jpg

I searched the archives for my collard greens recipe – only to discover I had never written it down! Lots of folks have a love-hate relationship with collards, a bitter, broad-leafed plant that, uncooked, is tough, leathery and very not tasty. With the right ingredients, a long, slow cook and patience, collards can be delicious, satisfying and, I’ve been told by collards haters, one of the best things they’ve ever eaten.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 27 oz. or 2 16 oz. precut collard greens (I like the mixed style – collards, turnip and mustard greens)

1 small yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

48 oz. chicken broth

2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 Goodnight Brothers Ham Hock

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

½ tsp ground black pepper

Method

Heat pot over medium high heat until hot, then add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onion and sweat until tender. Add garlic and collards. Occasionally stir the collards – the object here is to wilt the greens until the volume is reduced. Then add all remaining ingredients. If necessary, top off the pot with water to just cover the greens. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover pot and simmer for two hours. I don’t salt collards until cooking is complete. Some saltiness will be extracted from the hock.

Hoppin’ John

GBHoppinJohn.jpg

   This staple has as many interpretations as there are awesome Southern cooks. I make mine with ground sausage, but am partial to this version by my friend Chef John Witherington of Statesboro, Georgia. In this version, Goodnight Brothers Ham Hock come into play again, creating the third player of the traditional New Year’s Day triumvirate: Collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread.

Hoppin’ John

Makes 10 bowls

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil     2 ham hocks or 1 lb. smoked bacon, diced

1 cup green bell pepper, diced      1 cup celery, diced

1 cup yellow onion, diced     1 tablespoon garlic, minced

3 bay leaves     2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes

4 cups stock (pork or chicken)     1 pound dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed

2 teaspoons dried thyme     1 cup long grain white rice

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In large pot or cast iron Dutch oven, heat oil and add ham hocks, bell pepper, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and pepper flakes. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. (Add teaspoon of salt to mixture to release liquid. You want to sweat the vegetables, not caramelize them)

Add stock and bring to a boil. Add peas and bring back to boil for one minute. Reduce heat and simmer peas for one hour.

Remove bay leaves, add rice and thyme and cook with the lid on for about 20–25 minutes or until rice is tender and most of the liquid is cooked out. (This is a point of debate. Some recipes call for more of a stew–like dish, while others call for the dish to be drier like a pilaf or perleau. Personal preference should prevail.)

Add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Thanks to Goodnight Brothers for providing samples from which to produce this story.

Recipes & Advice for Taming Thanksgiving Stress

Tim Rutherford

Thanksgiving is upon us.

That first Thanksgiving is depicted as a great feast celebrating the survival of the Pilgrims, who gave thanks not only for their lives, but for the Native Americans who lent assistance to the struggling colony. Despite biases, no doubt on each side, the two cultures broke bread together.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Your Thanksgiving this year is potentially much more explosive. With entire families sitting on opposite sides of a divisive political line in the sand, the usual holiday conflicts may reach an all-time high. Suddenly, nosy Aunt Martha and your sister’s new vegan boyfriend may seem surmountable frustrations compared to the political fanaticism of Uncle Steve. How would Norman Rockwell paint this scene? 

So, let’s take deep breaths and remember a common denominator – great food. What follows are recipes and ideas from a cooking class I conducted almost every year for more than a decade. Originally titled, “Thanksgiving for the Absolute Beginner,” the recipes are very approachable, time-tested and delicious. I also include a cue sheet to help with planning (Remember: Hot food hot; cold food cold), and a shopping list – just in case you ARE a beginner and don’t have a nicely stocked pantry.

As for the stressful part of conflicting family members, I call upon my wife, T.J. Rutherford, LCSW, a psychotherapist, for some tips on handling family dysfunction. You can learn more about her here.

“It’s inevitable and deeply rooted in some families that holidays mean conflict,” T.J. says. “Knowing that the potential for disagreement is likely, there are things you can do to reduce or cope with conflict.”

Among T.J.’s tips are:

  • ·         If you are the host, consider setting ground rules. Gather your guests before sitting for the meal and declare topics out of bounds, things like politics, lifestyle choices, or other family “hot buttons” known to set off a dinner table war.
  • ·         Redirect conversations, politely but firmly. “I’m sorry Uncle Steve, but can we save discussion of politics until after dessert?”
  • ·         Guide the discussion. “It’s been a year since we’ve all been together. Let’s go around the table and each of us share something great that happened to us this year.”
  • ·         Enlist help from other guests in advance to help redirect or head off arguments.
  • ·         Make time to care for yourself. Take a walk, or find a quiet place to practice relaxation techniques.
  • ·         Be grateful.

There, you’re armed with everything from a shopping list to how to manage unruly family behavior. Here are the recipes!

WHAT ABOUT BRINING?

You know, I've brined ... and not brined. And when cooked properly, I can't tell the difference. When I do brine my turkey breast I use a honey brine -- which helps to create a deep, mahogany brown skin. If you choose to brine, here's the recipe:

HONEY BRINE FOR TURKEY BREAST

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bone-in turkey breast
  • 6-8 quarts water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3 -4 tsp fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 10 -12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 bunches fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 4 -5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 -3 lemons
  • 2 -4 tsp olive oil

METHOD
Rinse turkey with cold running water and drain well. Blot dry with paper towels.
Prepare brine by mixing water, honey and salt in a large bowl. Stir until honey dissolves. Add half the thyme and sage along with the garlic and black pepper. Set aside. Add chicken stock.
Line an extra-large stock pot with a food-safe plastic bag. Place the rinsed turkey in the bag and pour brine over the turkey. Gather the bag tightly around the turkey, causing the turkey to be surrounded by the brine. Seal the bag and refrigerate the pot, bag and brined turkey for at least 12 hours.
Remove turkey from brine and pat dry inside and out. Discard brine. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow (about 2 1/2" deep) roasting pan.
Squeeze lemon juice into the main turkey cavity. Put the squeezed lemon halves into the cavity along with the rest of the thyme and sage. Coat turkey lightly with oil and sprinkle inside and out with salt, pepper. 

ROASTED TURKEY BREAST (6-8 LBS)

METHOD:
Place thawed or fresh turkey, breast up on a flat rack in a shallow pan, 2-2 1/2 inches deep. Brush or rub skin with oil to prevent the skin from drying and to enhance the golden color.

Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the meatiest part of the breast, but not touching the bone. For turkey breast, the thermometer should read 165°F when inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh. (Source: American Turkey Federation)

Place in a preheated 325°F oven. When the turkey is about two-thirds done, loosely cover the breast with a piece of lightweight foil to prevent overcooking the breast.

Use this roasting schedule as a guideline; start checking for doneness 1/2 hour before recommended end times. Allow the turkey breast to stand for 15-20 minutes before carving the bird.

4 to 6 lbs. breast...1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hrs.

6 to 8 lbs. breast...2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hrs.

UN-STUFFED WHOLE TURKEY

8 to 12 lbs............…...2 3/4 to 3 hrs.

12 to 14 lbs.....…........3 to 3 3/4 hrs.

14 to 18 lbs...…....3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hrs.

18 to 20 lbs..….....4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hrs.

20 to 24 lbs...…..........4 1/2 to 5 hrs.

CONFESSION: I smoke my turkey breast – or two if I’m having company. It is easier to handle than a whole bird and two breasts fit nicely on a Weber smoker or a large Big Green Egg. Cooking temperature should not change and is pretty easy to dial in on a Big Green Egg. If you are using a Weber or a gas grill, check out these tips from Butterball.com.

A great cocktail can add to the holiday spirit. JL Hoke gives you new takes on familiar flavors to whip up three cocktails with seasonal flair.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS, WATER CHESTNUTS AND MUSHROOMS

The water chestnuts, mushrooms and spicy ginger integrate more complex flavors and different textures into the recipe. Add anther pleasing flavor component by sauteing in bacon drippings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can (16 oz) water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Serves 6

METHOD

Steam Brussels sprouts until tender; if frozen until heated through. Sauté mushrooms, water chestnuts and seasonings in butter until mushrooms are tender. Dish sprouts onto plate; top with mushroom mixture.

ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES

This is a great variation on the traditional mashed potatoes or dessert-like sweet potato casserole. It's also an easy and flavorful way to sneak some veggies the kids won't touch into a dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups cubed potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, onions – any combination
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Serves 4-6

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 425°F Peel the vegetables and cube into 1/2-inch pieces (I leave the peeling on the potatoes). Add rosemary to the olive oil in a small bowl, then toss with the vegetables to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with vegetable cooking spray. Spread the vegetables on the sheet; roast 35-45 minutes or until tender.

CORNBREAD

C’mon, don’t use that junk from a box! It’s too sweet and doesn’t have the same character as this recipe from scratch. This is as close as I get to the recipe that my maternal grandmother made nearly every day of her life.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • ¼ cup cooking oil

METHOD

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together dry ingredients thoroughly. Add wet ingredients and stir until well blended.

I use a 10-inch cast iron fry pan. I begin by spraying a non-stick cooking spray into the pan, or you may use vegetable oil or shortening. Pour in the batter, place in 400 degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Use this to make Cornbread Dressing

CORNBREAD DRESSING

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups crumbled cornbread (see cornbread recipe)
  • 2 13-14 ounce cans chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • Sage, salt, pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs 1 cup butter, melted
  • Serves: 8

METHOD

In a large bowl combine the cornbread and chicken broth, and allow to soak. Sauté the onions and celery until tender. Add the onions, celery, sage, salt and pepper to taste. Add eggs and melted butter, mixing thoroughly. Place the mixture in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350°F oven for 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Note: The chicken broth may vary, depending on the texture of your cornbread. The resulting mixture should be thick and just a bit soupy – otherwise it will be very dry upon completion.

SWEET POTATO PIE WITH A KICK

I made this pie for the first time in the mid-1990s. I baked it in a reflector oven in front of an open hearth to cap off a pioneer" dinner for a meeting of The Daughters of the American Revolution. These ladies were pretty leery of sweet potato pie -- until they tasted the bourbon. There wasn't a crumb remaining! Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cooked, peeled and
  • mashed sweet potatoes
  • 4 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 unbaked pie crust (I use a
  • frozen crust for this one!)
  • Serves 8

Method
Bake (350 degrees F for about an hour) or microwave the sweet potatoes until very tender. Peel and mash thoroughly. Mix all ingredients together and pour into unbaked pie crust.
Place in a 400°F oven, immediately lower the temperature to 325°F, and bake about 45 minutes or until the center of the pie sets (a table knife inserted into the center should come out clean).
The alcohol cooks out completely, but you’re left with the flavor – and the wonderful aroma.
Any leftover filling is tasty baked alone in a small dish and eaten like pudding.
Of course, for a classic Southern touch, top the cooled pie with miniature marshmallows, pop the pie under the broiler and remove when marshmallows are just toasted.

BREAD AND WINE

Hey, Tim, what about bread and cranberry sauce? T.J. and I fall back on our childhood comfort foods here: Brown and serve rolls and jellied cranberry sauce. It’s OK for a beginner or for the nostalgic, but if you want to ramp it up, don’t stress: Get rolls from a local baker or bake up Pillsbury frozen Grands (Southern style) and score you choice of cranberry sauce, chutney, whatever you prefer, from a local deli. One less thing to fuss over!

About Pairing Wine and Beer: This menu is very compatible with Pinot Noir, Burgundy and Beaujolais wines. The label isn’t particularly important – buy within your budget. Fruit forward Washington State Cabinet Sauvignon will work too, as will Argentinian Malbec. American Chardonnay is a good choice if you’re not a red wine drinker, as are drier styles of Riesling. I’m partial to Italian whites with Thanksgiving – like Soave, Vernaccia or the slightly sweeter Friuliano.

For beer, malt driven styles will serve best: Brown or amber ales. Pumpkin beers are a good choice as are some of the winter seasonal just coming to market. Avoid high IBU styles – really hoppy beers can over power some Thanksgiving flavors.

ANNNND.....GO!

Nothing left now but shopping and planning your kitchen time. Click the links below to score a shopping list and a cue sheet. Happy, stress-free Thanksgiving!

Shopping List and Cue Sheet -- Adobe Acrobat Reader required

Top Five Tips for Big Green Egg Newbies

Tim Rutherford

The name is quite simply a spot-on description: Big. Green. Egg.

The ceramic cooker -- part oven, part grill, part smoker -- has a fanatically devout legion of followers for good reason. The outdoor cooking appliance is fun to use and the results speak for themselves. Simple to control temperature, the ability to hold heat for "low and slow" cooking and, the means to quickly develop searing heat make the Big Green Egg a backyard chef's dream firebox.

Plenty has been written about the Big Green Egg -- I'm defnitely late to teh game. But after five years of using my own Big Green Egg three or four times a week and reading several hundred posts from devotees, I felt compelled to break down some simple truths about the Egg.

The following played well in a Facebook group (Big Green Egg BBQers) devoted to the Egg -- but sympathetic to folks who choose other ceramic cookers.

Top Five Tips for BGE Newbies

1. Once you get “Zen” with your Egg, remember that this ceramic cooker is essentially just like your in-home oven and infinitely controllable. There is a learning curve. Anything you can cook in the oven, you can do in the Egg. Time, temp, method remain the same. The bonus: Your BGE is also a smoker AND a grill. Alton Brown would be proud of you for acquiring a multi-use appliance.

2. There is no fixed answer for “How long does XXXX take to cook?” Even same cuts of meat have varying cooking times due to density, marbling, and starting temp. Get a meat thermometer and use it. Championship BBQ master Wiley McCrary told me years ago: “The meat is done when the thermometer says it’s done.” I prefer a remote read thermometer so I don't have to open the lid. Still, an inexpensive instant read thermometer will also do the trick.

3. Be confident in your comfort zone. In other words, don’t obsess over what’s “right and wrong.” If you prefer a certain brand of charcoal – use that. If you are more comfortable using paraffin starting blocks vs a Loofa lighter, then do that. Outdoor cooking oughta be fun – not a challenge, competition or shame fest. Fire up your BGE and have a beer.

4. Longer isn’t necessarily better – nor is hotter. I know guys who brag about a cook that went on for 15 hours. Yeah, you can do that – but mostly it’s not necessary. Nor is pimping out your Egg to generate heat paralleling hellfire. Refer back to Tip No. 1.

5. Check your band bolts every couple of months, keep the ash dump clean and your BGE is pretty easy to get along with. The more you use your BGE, the more comfortable you will become. Above all…have fun, eat well, enjoy!

More resources:

Big Green Egg website

Review: There's Good eatin' in 'Buxton Hall Barbecue's Book of Smoke: Wood-Smoked Meat, Sides, and More'

Tim Rutherford

By Tim Rutherford

   For every "celebrity chef" who comes across as an overnight success, there are scores more talented men and women in the kitchen who have lived life on a roller coaster.
   A chef's thrill ride is a series of emotional highs and lows, economic windfalls and abject poverty, succumbing to empty promises and outright lies and maybe, just maybe, one day they hit the big time.
   What's the big time for these knife-slinging, saute line kings and queens?
   Their OWN place.
   Their own place allows them to explore culinary fantasy and flex often restrained skills. They command a three-ring circus of heat and flame that is at once exhilarating and systematically exhausting. We eat their food, marvel at their talent, and all the while it looks easy. They make the roller coaster look like a kiddie ride.
   I was prepared to recount Buxton Hall Chef Elliott Moss' own wild ride as part of this cookbook review. Instead, buy the book -- and hear the story from his own pen. The talented pitmaster has smoke and vinegar-pepper sauce coursing through his veins -- even when he was knocking out award-winning eats at The Admiral and earning lavish praise from customers, critics and the distinguished James Beard Foundation.
   He should have had a book deal then. He should have had a shot at his own remarkable kitchen then. He didn't. Instead, he jumped into the last car of the aforementioned roller coaster and tussled with financiers, emotions and ceaseless questions about his future.
   Perseverance pays, the ride ends, the rewards come.
   "Buxton Hall Barbecue's Book of Smoke: Wood-Smoked Meat, Sides, and More," is a solid affirmation of Moss' success and popularity. With a dependable business partner in Meherwan Irani, a successful restaurant, new found attention from Bon Appetit magazine, whose editors gushed over his fried chicken sandwich and name BHB as one of the nation's Top 10 new eateries, Moss is sitting pretty.
   The 208 pages, part autobiography and mostly cookbook, captures the essence of the restaurant's menu. From Moss' signature vinegar-pepper sauce -- the foundation of his barbecue roots -- through Chicken Bog, smoked pork shoulder and ribs, this collection of recipes is in homage to the self-taught chef's passion for food, for breaking out of the usual barbecue shack recipe box.
   Unlike many other barbecue joint books, Moss' presentation touches on old school pit cooking methods but its recipes sympathetically address less adventurous home cooks. The chef spends time explaining stovetop smokers and recipes are designed to be carried out indoors, without the need for an outdoor kitchen or coping with charcoal fires.
   Moss devoted pages to props for key team members: sous chefs Sarah Cousler and Dan Silo and Pastry Chef Ashley Capps. He is quick to credit those closest to him for his success. No one is resting on laurels. In fact, newcomers to the skating rink turned dining room are often surprised that the smoke stained, bespectacled guy in the kitchen is Moss himself -- complete with a grease stained shirt and nursing splinters from handling a recent load of wood.
    As for me, I have spent less than an hour with Moss ever. I have, however, enjoyed several hours with his food: Pulled pork, Brussels sprouts seasoned with pork drippings, Chicken Bog, and that miraculous fried chicken sandwich. I survey the dessert list on every visit, but can't face a break-up with Capp's legendary banana pudding pie -- the restaurant's homage to a 'cue joint staple.
   The recipes are tried and true, easy to follow and execute. These are dishes that are honest, satisfying and rich with flavors. Moss has mastered an intuitive skill for crafting dishes that blow the minds of home cooks and can still inspire weekend pitmasters to explore their own paths. Photos are a pleasant mix of black-and-white and color. This is an effort Moss can be proud of completing. Gosh, I'm beaming with happiness for him, the restaurant and the Buxton crew.
   Even if you've never smoked a pork shoulder, "Buxton Hall Barbecue's Book of Smoke: Wood-Smoked Meat, Sides, and More," will lay the foundation for you to approach smoked meats and a new repertoire of side dishes and desserts with confidence. It's a sure fire way to get a taste of one of Asheville's premiere restaurants without leaving your kitchen.

Buy the book on Amazon -- click here.

About the Author
   Elliott Moss has received national attention for his innovative cooking from the New York Times, Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Living, Southern Living, Bon Appetit, Garden & Gun, GQ, and other publications. He was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast in 2013. He currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina, where he has been the head chef at celebrated restaurant The Admiral and pop-up restaurants such as Punk Wok and The Thunderbird. He is now the co-owner and head chef of Buxton Hall Barbecue.

Book Signing
   Friday, Oct. 7, 7-9 p.m., Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, 55 Haywood St, Asheville, North Carolina 28801

Eat at Buxton Hall
OPEN DAILY: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
32 Banks Ave.
South Slope Asheville, N.C.
(828) 232 7216
Website: http://www.buxtonhall.com/

Review: Nightbell rings true with its imaginative menu, well-crafted cocktails, and exemplary service

Tim Rutherford

By Tim Rutherford

ASHEVILLE, NC -- When Curate opened in 2011 it set the pace in Asheville and across the region with its artful design, one-of-a-kind menu and exemplary attention to detail. The Spanish-themed menu was borne of Chef Katie Button’s ingenuity and her amazing repertoire of dishes. Curate was the shot that newly formed Heirloom Hospitality Group fired to signal its devotion to standard-setting food and drink experiences.

When Nightbell opened in 2014 the small plates that had distinguished Curate anchored the new restaurant’s strategy. Nightbell takes the tapas approach and artfully weaves in a pantry rich with indigenous foods: Local cheeses, pasture-raised poultry and beef and locally-brewed craft beer find flavor packed niches on the cleverly designed menu.

The simple, single sheet menu taunts guests with plates designed to share, single bite offerings perfect to explore and more traditional entrée-sized small plates. Casual, well-paced service means food steadily streams to the table while diners savor each delectable bite.

My party shared a regionally-sourced cheese plate featuring bites of blue cheese, cheddar, goat cheese and brie. The cheddar – Chocolate Lab from Fairview, NC-based Looking Glass Creamery – was our overall favorite on the plate. My less cheese-inclined friends graciously left the blue for me to savor all by myself. House baked crackers, sweet honeycomb and a juicy bowl of pickled berries rounded out the nicely proportioned plate.

There were two bites that I had to sample. The Wicked Oyster foundation is a nicely briny and chilled raw oyster topped with “snow” crafted from brewer Wicked Weed’s Lunatic Blonde beer. A bright shot of lemon and a hint of cilantro packed this creation with flavor. One was just enough, it was so richly flavored I think another would have sent my taste buds into overload.

NBDeviledEgg.jpg

The French may have perfected the paper-thin, crisp dough known as Feuille de Brick, but Chef Katie has mastered its use as a delivery vehicle. A fragile little cone was just perfect for three bites of dry-aged apple brandy beef tartare topped with smoked horseradish “whipped cream.” I was all set to move into a larger plate until I spied the “deviled egg” chosen by one of my party. Pretty soon, I had one of my own.

The brown egg shell cup is filled with delicate sweet corn sabayon, a colorful sprinkle of pimenton and a flavorful hint of smoked Sunburst trout gravlax. I dug to the egg shell’s bottom and brought up a spoonful goodness, the endeavor rewarded with flavors that were at once garden fresh and smoky satisfying. The sabayon was executed perfectly: light, creamy and fresh.

Service was impeccable. Water glasses were topped off frequently, empty cocktails were noted and other beverages offered. Spent plates were cleared, flatware replaced and answers always, always at the ready. The service team truly knows this menu and enhances the kitchen’s imaginative skills with a passion for pleasing guests.

For my last dish, I dipped into the “small plates” menu for a delicate crispy waffle accompanied by duck confit poutine. Chef’s take on this dish substituted delicate cheddar mousse for more traditional cheese curds. Bravo for the interpretation! The duck confit was both plentiful and deliciously tender atop a hot bed of hand cut frites. My enthusiasm for the dish caught the eye of a another diner who quickly ordered the same dish.

We each enjoyed a before dinner cocktail, another of Nightbell’s hallmark features. There are some excellent reinterpretations of classic cocktails and some inventive new creations from Nightbell’s bartenders and mixologists. I did raise a question about the wine list, which is compact, beautifully paired to the menu and pleasingly priced. I noticed that no varietals were listed – just label names and tasting notes.

Our server explained that the beverage director Felix Meana wants guests to explore the wines rather than be swayed by devotion to varietals. The strategy takes guts in a market where diners are more partial to varietals than really thinking about how flavors go together. My server was able to tell me the varietal of the wine I ordered – an earthy French Grenache. I wanted to know out of curiosity; the tasting note sold me on the selection even before I knew its grape variety.

In all, we were ecstatic about the experience. Food and beverage, service and atmosphere surpassed our expectations. An added surprise were menu prices, ranging from $3 on the individual bites menu to a high of $18 for small plates selections. I will be back often and look forward to arriving early for a visit to the cozy and inviting cocktail lounge before dinner.

There are plenty of reasons to visit Asheville and dozens of remarkable dining choices. Chef Katie Button’s playful and fastidiously executed dishes firmly lands Nightbell among the best of those choices.

Nightbell
32 South Lexington Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 575-0375
Hours: Open at 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
www.thenightbell.com
info@thenightbell.com

Tim Rutherford produces HunrgyMansGuide.com. He is a freelance writer, photographer, social media content producer and marketing campaign developer. Send him a note at timrutherfordis@gmail.com.

Mooty's rebrands; Back to market with roasted chickpeas and Fava beans

Tim Rutherford

   In February, I told you the story of Nas Mouti and his new, all-natural snack product, Mooty’s Tomato Chips. The Asheville entrepreneur was heading down a path to become the city’s Snack King. After all, what can fuel vegan-friendly AVL like delicious, flavored slices of locally grown Roma tomatoes?

   Nas suddenly realized that he was asking the Veg Crowd to dig too deep into their wallets – and when they did, not enough of the sales price came back to him as a living wage. That, and frankly, production of the chips was very labor intensive and time sensitive.

   Nas went back to the snack drawing board.

   Sunday, I met him again at Vegan Fest. He’s rebranded – simply Mooty’s Healthy Snacks – has killed off the tomatoes and now produces hearty bags of seasoned and roasted chickpeas and Fava beans.

   I believe he’s got it!

   I sampled Smoky Paprika Chickpeas and Lemon Ginger Fava Beans. Each has a happy crunch – just like our not-so-good-us snacks, plenty of great flavor and there’s nothing bad for you. Nas is careful to select non-GMO ingredients that are processed with no added sugar, no gluten, no food additives that read more like the alphabet than a delicious snack.

   The snacks munched perfectly with a Highland Brewing Co. Pilsner. I’m confident Mooty’s Healthy Snacks can find a place in your cupboard – and how ‘bout some of you barkeeps putting out for bar snacks?

   It’s time to show Nas some love – and officially crown him as Asheville’s Snack King. He’s scored a winner with this new line of healthy snacks.

   Find Mooty’s Healthy Snacks in your Twitter timeline and Facebook newsfeed.

 

Review: Cheribundi 7-Day Challenge

Tim Rutherford

When the folks at Cheribundi reached out to me with info and an offer of samples they, nor I, understood the serendipity of the action.

They are, of course, touting the powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of pure cherry juice. The tart cherry juice comes with claims of a better night’s sleep, better muscle recovery and an energy boost.

I was, unknown to them, dealing with an inflamed shoulder and knee, spending more time tossing and turning than dozing and languishing after twice weekly lifting and cardio sessions.

According to the company, Cheribundi’s popularity isn’t based on hype or stunts -- it’s based on more than 50 scientific research studies performed on tart cherries. The athlete-favored product, made from American-grown tart cherries, contains robust natural antioxidants, which are linked to a broad range of powerful health benefits including anti-inflammation, heart and cardiovascular health, pain relief, exercise recovery and even arthritis alleviation. 

“More than 120 professional and NCAA sports teams drink Cheribundi,” said CEO Steve Pear. “This time of year is all about statistics and odds and ending the season with a big win. It’s clear by the numbers that Cheribundi is a winner – in this year’s college football bowl games and in some of the most prized championships in several other sports.”

In fact, Cheribundi is the common thread that ties together all of 2015’s championship teams, including: Super Bowl champs the New England Patriots, Stanley Cup winners the Chicago Blackhawks, NCAA men’s basketball tournament champions the Duke Blue Devils, and the U.S. women’s national soccer team who beat Japan 5-2 to win the 2015 World Cup.

If it’s good enough for a bunch of pro athletes, I figured I could play along. I certainly answered “yes” to Cheribundi’s Seven-Day Challenge question:

Do you have aches and pains, trouble sleeping, slow muscle recovery, or simply looking to feel more energetic and alive?

Why seven days? Tart cherries have one of the highest ORAC rates (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities in biological samples in vitro) among all superfruits, offering a high dose of anthocyanins, a specific class of antioxidants shown to battle free-radicals and repair cell damage inside the body. Drinking 8 ounces of tart cherry juice for seven days has been shown to increase the body's anthocyanin level needed to achieve the maximum health benefits and feel your best.

Cheribundi is not a bitter pill to swallow. The tart cherry juice is refreshing and goes down easy – especially chilled. Each 8-ounce serving is made from 50 cherries. A check of the ingredients label found only cherries and apple juice form concentrate on the list. The portion is 130 calories with 32 grams of carbs – 28 of which come from natural fruit sugars.

So it went for seven days. Did I feel better? Did I sleep better? I thought so, but my inherent skeptic was unconvinced. I stopped after seven days, went two weeks and did the 7-Day Challenge again – this time focused on my feelings and actual notation sleep habits.

My skeptic has been put to rest. I don’t need a nutritionist or a sports medicine doctor to tell me how I feel. The joint pain is lessened or eliminated. I go to sleep effortlessly and achieve a deep, restful sleep. It is rewarding to know that such a simple, all-natural juice can have such a powerful, noticeable influence over my well-being. I continue enjoying 8 ounces of Cheribundi every day. My favorite grocer stocks the juice in 8-ounce and 32-ounce bottles.

Take the challenge yourself. In the meantime, read up on the science behind Cheribundi. On the company website, you can also sign up to take your own 7-Day Challenge and get coupons for Cheribundi Tart Cherry juice.

Five Questions with Brad Jordan, The Real Food Truck

Tim Rutherford

   Visit any city in America, talk to local food geeks and the conversation ultimately turns to food trucks.

   These restaurants on wheels are the darlings of the foodie community and the bane of regulators. Perhaps fueled by 2014’s film, “Chef,” would-be chefs on wheels longed for the vagabond life. The challenge: Careening from city to city on a cross country food truck journey is unrealistic. Food trucks, just like the brick and mortar counterparts, are subject to state and local food safety regulations, zoning guidelines and enough population to queue outside a truck’s window. 

   Devoted food truck operators are a stalwart bunch and find ways to maneuver the system. That applies to Asheville’s growing fleet of food trucks and the hard-working men and women who put the pedal to the metal and the burgers on the buns.

   According to AshevilleFoodTrucks.com, there are almost 60 active food trucks traversing the city. Operators in Asheville park at festivals, breweries and other private sites, lacking an ordinance that allows public street parking. For devotees, Twitter and AshevilleFoodTrucks.com keep everyone abreast of where to find their favorite taco, barbecue, pizza or even Salvadoran pupusas.

   One of those food truck chefs is Brad Jordan. Brad ditched a gig in a distribution center to take to the streets, hustling up sandwiches and dishes built around locally-sourced, organic and natural ingredients. Brad took time off from cooking, menu planning and truck repair to answer HungryMansGuide.com’s 5 Questions.

HMG: A food truck seems to be every chef's fantasy. I get the impression you didn't come from a kitchen gig. What career did you leave behind -- and why take on the hard work of a food truck?

BJ: Yeah, I don't have much of a formal kitchen background, but I've always loved to cook. I remember when I was a youngster and saw The Food Network on TV and thought, man I want to learn how to cook like those guys. But, it's even more than that. I have a primal urge to bring back food that's closer to the way our ancestors ate, even though I have to temper my desire with customer demand. I want to use the whole animal. I use the bones for demi-glace, ground beef for the meat, and hopefully, at some point in the future, I'll be able to use beef tallow to fry potatoes in. That way I'll be using the whole animal, instead of just one part of the cow. 

I take on the hard work of the truck because, I love to cook. It's in my bones. I think it's in all of our bones to some degree, that's why people seem get so caught up in it, whether it's watching it on TV, going out to eat, or cooking from home.  We are the only species on earth that cooks our food and I think people are fascinated by it.

HMG: Any food operation has challenges -- what is unique about running a food truck?

BJ: Finding a good, consistent place to park is probably the hardest thing to do, especially here in Asheville, where there seems to be an abundant amount food trucks. The number of decent parking places is limited because we can't park on public streets. We have to find private business owners who've gone through a complicated approval process to allow us to use their parking lots. For example, the city might require a landowner to make improvements to their parking lots - like adding trees - before they designate it as a legal food truck spot. 

Another challenge is repairs. I had to replace my motor this year, which set me back quite a bit. 

HMG: You could have easily opened a taco truck -- why did you adopt the strategy of grass-fed meats and what you are calling "real" ingredients?

BJ: First and foremost, the flavor is better. Grass-fed meats are richer in flavor and provide one more nutrients, like iron and Omega-3 fatty acids, which are lacking in grain-fed, factory-farmed cows. Not to mention the way they treat those animals is absolutely horrible. 

HMG: When you turn off the truck at night, what has happened that makes you say, "Now that was a good day!" Do you have a best-seller?

BJ: When business is popping and everyone is loving the food that they're getting. The Brad's Burger is probably the No. 1 seller. It's 1/3 lb. grass-fed beef smothered in grass-fed cheddar cheese, topped with caramelized onions, local lettuce and tomato, on a local bun smeared with horseradish mayo.

HMG: Is there a bricks and mortar storefront in your future? If you weren't doing this, what would your fantasy career look like?

BJ: I don't know about a brick and mortar restaurant, maybe. What I've learned from food trucking is the restaurant business is hard work, wheels or not. Right now, I'm living moment to moment and enjoying the ride. I do dream about starting my own YouTube cooking channel sometimes, so you may see that in the not so distant future. 

Where is Brad? The Real Food Truck schedule is posted to its social media pages. Brad is a regular at Twin Leaf Brewing, The Brew Pump, and has recently been appearing at The Asheville Food Park, 219 Amboy Road.

Related links

The Real Food Truck website

The Real Food Truck on Twitter and Facebook

AshevilleFoodTrucks.com

 

Review: Big tomato flavor packed into every style of Mooty's Tomato Chips

Tim Rutherford

   There is no denying the allure of Asheville’s food culture. From beer and barbecue to baked goods and vegetarian friendly eateries, the city has a reputation for good eats.

   Joining that culture is the new West Asheville start-up -- Mooty’s Tomato Chips. Nas Mouti founded the snack chip company -- the products are a far cry from the usual corn or potato chips that tempt “you can’t eat just one.”

   Too bad that slogan is taken. At first, a taste of a Mooty’s Tomato Chip is surprising. The dehydrated chips, made from slices of locally sourced Roma tomatoes, actually taste like tomatoes. The light as air, crispy chip explodes with the bright, juicy flavor and acid of a well grown tomato. Why? There is a lot packed into a pack of the dried tomato chips. According to Nas, it takes 1 pound of tomatoes to make the barely 3/4-ounce pack of chips. The result is the fresh flavor -- and a bit of chewy beefiness that's so inherent in a ripe, fresh tomato.

   The chips are available in four flavors: Naked, Olive Oil & Herbs, Green Tomato Hot Salsa, and Parmigiano. Each .7 oz. package hold two servings, each dished up at about 30 calories. Nas says ingredients are natural, and all ingredients at non-GMO, sulfite and gluten-free and there is no sugar added during manufacturing. The chips are available at French Broad Co-op and sell for $6.99. As production increases, anticipate a price drop. For now, this is a very hands-on, labor intensive process. In fact, you can get a peek at how Mooty's Tomato Chips are made in this video.

   Beyond a healthy snack alternative, the chips made an excellent garnish for Bloody Mary’s, delivered great flavor and crunch when topping a salad and have enough character to add another flavor element to burger dressings. The light weight packaging and bold flavor make Mooty’s Tomato Chips a great backpacking or camping snack.

   You can learn more about Mooty’s Tomato Chips by following along on the company Facebook and Twitter accounts. Those sites will also announce the opening of Mooty's Tomato Chips online store -- coming soon.

Recipe: Pot Roast with Rosemary and Garlic

Tim Rutherford

   Winter weather signals the need for comfort food -- warm, satisfying and familiar dishes. When the mercury takes a dip, I reach for the big pot and put together this rich, hearty Pot Roast with Rosemary and Garlic. I still have a bit of rosemary n the garden to add a bit of my own homegrown goods to the pot!

Ingredients
1 center cut chuck roast, about 3 pounds
salt and pepper
oil
1 quart beef stock or broth
3-4 springs fresh rosemary
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium white onion, rough chopped
1 lb. white mushrooms (or your choice), sliced
2 tblsp corn starch
 

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Generously season both sides of the roast with salt and pepper. Pour just enough oil into a Dutch oven to cover the bottom and heat over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on both sides. Remove from the heat. Add the beef stock or broth. If necessary, add enough water to bring the level of liquid halfway up the side of the roast. Add the rosemary, onion, mushrooms and garlic. 
Cover tightly and place in preheated oven. Cook for 1 ½ hours. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing. 

To make the gravy
Remove the roast from the pot. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Dissolve corn starch in ¼ cup water and stir into boiling liquid. I left what remained of my veggies and garlic as they were in the stock. However, you may use a spider to remove them and mash the softened onion, mushrooms and garlic to add back to the gravy.

Stuffing or dressing? My thoughts...and recipes

Tim Rutherford

   Ah, Thanksgiving.
   We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing, root for our favorite team and gather 'round a harvest feast. Add to the gratitude list that we didn't have to go far or labor very much to find an awesome supermarket.
   Blessed with plenty of energy and no need to tend to the evening milking, we're left to debate an age-old question:
   Is it stuffing or dressing?
   Rely on the words themselves for an answer. Pack your holiday bird with all kinds of carbs and veggies -- it's stuffing. Take those same ingredients, assemble in a baking dish and cook by itself -- it's dressing. That is, a side dish to old Tom Turkey.
   I, being a devout Southerner and one who clasps family tradition with both hands, prefers cornbread dressing.  You can enjoy along with me by following these two recipes --- one for from scratch cornbread which will form the savory foundation of my Thanksgiving dressing.
   Amen...
 

Cornbread Dressing

Ingredients
4 c crumbled cornbread (The whole cornbread you prepared from the recipe below)
2 13-3/4 ounce cans chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
Sage, salt, pepper to taste
3 eggs
1 c butter, melted

Method
In a large bowl combine the cornbread and chicken broth, allow to soak at least 5 minutes. Saute the onions and celery until tender. Add the onions, celery, sage, salt and pepper to taste. Add eggs and melted butter, mixing thoroughly. Place the mixture in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350\(F) oven for 1 hour, 20 minutes. Serves: 8

Note: The chicken broth may vary, depending on the texture of your cornbread. The resulting mixture should be thick and just a bit soupy - otherwise it will be very dry upon completion.

Cornbread

Ingredients
1 1/2 c yellow corn meal
3/4 c flour
1 t salt
4 t baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 c buttermilk (or milk)
1/4 c vegetable oil

Method
Mix all dry ingredients together. Stir eggs into buttermilk and add to dry mixture. Pour the cornbread batter into skillet and bake in a 400 oven. Cook bread until it has a golden brown crust (approximately 25-30 minutes).

11/18/2015

Sweet and Spicy Salmon recipe from the Big Green Egg stage at Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Tim Rutherford

   I had a great time introducing the other chefs – Georgia Grown chefs Jennifer Booker and Roberto Leoci and Chef Orchid Paulmeier of One Hot Mama’s on Hilton Head Island. I promised my recipe on the website – so here ya go!

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Ingredients
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (I prefer to use a side instead of so mnay small portions. I also leave the skin on.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cedar grilling planks, soaked in water for at least 1 hour

Method
   Set the Big Green Egg up for direct cooking and pre-heat to a steady 425 degrees F. Place the planks on the grill with the lid closed to also preheat while you prep the salmon.
   Combine the dry rub ingredients thoroughly. If you don’t like the taste of cumin, omit that spice.
   Rub each side of the salmon filets with olive oil, then dust each side with the dry rub.
   Open the lid and turn the planks over, brush them with olive oil, and place 3 salmon fillets skin side down on each plank. Close the lid of the Egg. Cook the salmon for 12 to 15 minutes for medium. (Internal temperature of medium salmon is 135 degrees F).

11/17/2015

39 Rue de Jean
sets Savannah
opening date

Tim Rutherford

SAVANNAH, GA – 39 Rue de Jean, second of its name and sister to the Charleston, S.C., location, has announced its long awaited grand opening on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 605 W. Oglethorpe Ave., inside the contemporary Savannah Historic District hotel, Embassy Suites.

Offering the best in classic brasserie cuisine, 39 Rue de Jean is a French café and bar featuring a robust selection of classic soups, salads, fresh sushi and an affordable wine selection. 

Widely known simply as “Rue”, this Downtown eatery has been abuzz since opening its doors in Charleston, S.C. in 2001. Rue is inspired by the style of classic French Brasseries, the impeccable flavor and European design will lend an air of sophisticated comfort. Rue’s menu incorporates classic French staples with contemporary fare, including mussels in a choice of six preparations, steak frites or Rue's famous burger, ground in-house and served alongside hand-cut pommes frites. Click for the full menu and wine list

“We’re delighted to join the vibrant culinary scene in Savannah and we can’t wait to introduce the locals to everything 39 Rue de Jean has to offer,” explains 39 Rue de Jean executive chef Drue Longo.  “Everyone loves a place that offers a little bit of everything and at Rue we do just that, with a lively ambiance that encourages a great time.”

39 Rue de Jean will serve dinner nightly from 5 p.m.–10 p.m. with extended bar hours Sunday through Thursday until 11 p.m.Friday and Saturday until midnight. For more information, visit the restaurant website, 39RuedeJeanSAV.com, or call 912.721.0595. 

Lucky's Market
opens Oct. 21

Tim Rutherford

Trish and Bo Sharon, the chef couple who founded Lucky's Market.

Trish and Bo Sharon, the chef couple who founded Lucky's Market.

   Lucky’s Market, a natural, organic and specialty market, will open to the public on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m. The 5501 Abercorn St. market is the company’s first Georgia store.

   Lucky’s Market was started in 2003 by two chefs in Boulder, Colo. Lucky’s Market founder Bo Sharon, store director Janine Segarra and local officials will open the new store with a ‘Bacon Cutting’ ceremony and present $10,000 in donations to local non-profits Step Up Savannah and the West Broad Street YMCA..

Other events include:

Gift Basket Giveaways and Local Vendor Showcases during grand opening week where each day customers can enter to win gift baskets from Lucky’s Market Natural Living department, and also meet, greet and eat with various local vendors.

Health Fair on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with vendor samples and gift basket giveaways.

Local Food Fair on Sunday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with local vendors and food samples.

Taste of Lucky's Market on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. featuring a variety of house-made foods, live music and entertainment for kids.

Reusable bag credits through the end of the year, shoppers reusing their shopping bags can choose to get a 10-cent credit on their purchase or to send a donation to Blessings in a Bookbag, For Heart Sake, or Savannah Bicycle Campaign.

February 10% Day in which 10% of one day’s total net sales will go to YMCA Habersham to support their Early Learning Readiness Program.

Five Questions with Elliott Moss
Buxton Hall BBQ

Tim Rutherford

By Tim Rutherford

   ASHEVILLE NC -- The fire rarely goes out at Buxton Hall BBQ, the new South Slope mecca for slow cooked pork fans. 

   If an impassioned foodie came breathlessly shouting that Elliott Moss had opened a shrimp joint it would not surprise anyone who knew the chef came out of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. After all, it’s our heritage that shapes our passions. But the long-time chef of Asheville’s acclaimed The Admiral didn’t do that. Instead he opened a barbecue restaurant just off the heart of downtown.

   In doing so, Moss is rocking the barbecue map. He’s cooking whole hogs over live coals – a tradition that was nearly lost in Western North Carolina.

   Who says? Jim Early is the CEO and founder of the North Carolina Barbecue Society. His book, “The Best Tar Heel Barbecue: Manteo to Murphy,” chronicled more than 140 Tarheel barbecue joints. He hit all 100 counties and ate at more than 200 places to compile the list. What he found was a stylistic dividing line:

   “East of Chapel Hill, you find whole hog cooking -- chop it all together. They use a vinegar-based sauce (12 Oaks vinegar, salt, pepper, water, some sugar and crushed red peppers). The white meat of the hams and dark meat of the shoulder are combined. “West of Chapel Hill, they cook shoulders and take the vinegar-based sauce and put in tomato sauce, puree -- or ketchup -- and add a sweetener.”

EMHog.jpg

   Moss is no stranger to the spotlight. His stint at The Admiral earned rave reviews from The New York Times, GQ Magazine, Food & Wine Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Conde Nast and several other regional and national publications. He was a James Beard foundation semifinalist in 2013 for “Best Chef Southeast” and was invited to cook at the Annual James Beard Sunday Supper in Atlanta

   Followers of the Asheville food scene have enthusiastically tagged along as Moss flexed his culinary chops at projects like Ben’s Tune-up, Punk Wok and The Thunderbird. For months preceding the opening of Buxton Hall BBQ the buzz was almost deafening. It’s safe to say that no one was disappointed. The conversion of the former skating rink is industrial with a few chic appointments. The open kitchen is alive with action and plenty of open flame cooktops. Front and center is a whole smoked hog, splayed open for its tasty bits to be plated.

   Ms. T.J. and took seats at the bar, which gives a panoramic overview of Buxton Hall BBQ’s 130 seats. Service is solid, the drinks list intriguing and the selection of locally-brewed craft beer, obviously impressive. We sampled lots of dishes and walked away grinning like fools after sharing a piece of banana pudding pie. Buxton Hall BBQ will be a regular stop on my trips to Asheville. Now, let’s hear from Moss himself:

Five Questions with Elliott Moss

HMG: I’ve known other chefs branded with the “fine dining” label who have successfully opened very traditional barbecue restaurants. In some ways, it’s a paradigm shift – but still requires the precision and passion that goes along with fine dining. What is it about barbecue that lures you into the fire and smoke?

EM: I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life until I was around 21. My grandfathers, my dad and uncles, and a lot of my family were small business owners and hard workers. I'm drawn to hard work. I'm drawn to cooking food for people because I see it as an art form. There’s instant gratification in seeing people's reactions and seeing clean plates come back. I knew I wanted to cook for a living and ultimately I wanted to own my own business. Being a chef is gratifying hard work. I moved to Asheville in 2007 to open the kitchen at a place called The Admiral. After 5 or 6 years I felt like I put in the hard work and felt like it was time for me to move on and try something else. Barbecue had been on my mind since the very beginning of me moving to Asheville. Barbecue has been such a huge part of my life and really up until opening Buxton, I really didn't realize how much it was a part of me. Buxton Hall is a dream job. I'm going on 36, and it's taken a long time – but I've found what I'm supposed to be doing. I could go on for hours about the inspirations behind Buxton. 

HMG: While many pitmasters are devotees of gas-fired smokers, you’ve chosen to take barbecue fans down the rabbit hole with live fire, whole hog barbecue – a rapidly disappearing art. What challenges does that present in the preparation and cooking?

Moss, with Bryan Furman, owner of B's Cracklin' BBQ in Savannah, Georgia. On this night, Furman was guest chef, preparing St. Louis-style ribs.

Moss, with Bryan Furman, owner of B's Cracklin' BBQ in Savannah, Georgia. On this night, Furman was guest chef, preparing St. Louis-style ribs.

EM: Back to the hard work part. I wouldn't do it if it was easy. No offense to gas smokers or BBQ joints that use them. I just grew up loving the wood flavor from making coals. Burning the wood to get the smoke is so different than the flavor u get from the smoke off the coals. There's something about the intense heat (maybe the days of me working at my dad’s welding shop on summer breaks), hot as hell with long sleeves and hot sparks everywhere? Bryan Furman (Owner and pitmaster at B’s Cracklin’ BBQ in Savannah, Georgia, and a colleague of Moss) was a welder, maybe there's something there – staring at the fire, the smoke, the late and long hours, the grease, the wood splinters, the burns, achy joints, I love all of it and wouldn't want to change any of it. Sourcing the pigs is also the fun part. Building relationships with the pig farmers here in Western North Carolina. Whole hog is big in eastern North Carolina partly because of all the hog farms. I'm trying to grow these pasture-raised hog farms with business and look at the farmers as almost business partners. The more money we make, the more money they make. I want Asheville someday to be a whole hog BBQ destination. Hopefully I can inspire some young cooks or kids coming to eat with their families to open there own whole hog joint. And hopefully we can help raise a bunch of hogs and grow some hog farms in the area.

HMG: You’ve gotta sleep sometime…how demanding is manning the fire and monitoring the cooking for you and your staff?

EM: The fire is the heart beat of Buxton. If it goes out, well it can't go out. And that's talked about constantly. Right now the fire goes out around 10 Sunday night. We're closed Monday but we start it back up Monday night around 10. Other than that, the fire burns 24 hours straight for 6 days. It's hard work and mentally demanding work...But that's why I do it. 

HMG: You have said you want to explore your creativity with side dishes and other menu items that aren’t so typical to a barbecue restaurant. What is on the current menu that steps beyond the usual baked beans and potato salad and still gives you a creative outlet?

EMpulled-pork.jpg

EM: The sides are right now the hardest part. I've never run a kitchen tis big and I've never worked in a restaurant this huge. We can feed a LOT of people every day. It's been a big thing to figure out. How can I make 100+ portions of sides that are consistent and quick to fire? I took that part for granted. The sides are the sleeper part of this that's keeping me up at night trying to figure out. Once I get the ordering and systems down, we can all start playing around. I want to use all of that smoke, pig fat, cooking in the embers and letting the pig fat drip on them. It's just gonna take us some time to figure it all out. I've got time, and I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon. Oh, and Asheville has awesome produce and awesome farmers. The sides will have that same growing connection like the pig farms. The more money we make, the more money they can make.

HMG: If you find a genie’s lamp tomorrow, what would be your one pie-in-the-sky wish?

EM: It's funny, I have a genie-ish lamp in my office and at first I was like, “How do you know I have a genie lamp?” – anywho…That's a tough question. Right now my answer: I want Asheville to be a whole hog BBQ destination. I want a ton of whole hog joints and I hope that I can help inspire my opening team to open their own places. Using what I taught them, things that my chef friends inspired them with, having a surplus of hog and vegetable farms. That's my wish. And if it's not my staff that's doing it all – maybe it's all these kids that I'm showing the hogs to. 

Buxton Hall BBQ
32 Banks Ave.
Asheville, NC
828-232-7216
Website
 

Tim Rutherford produces HunrgyMansGuide.com. He is a freelance writer, photographer,  social media content producer and marketing campaign developer. Send him a note at hungrymansguide@gmail.com.

Porterhouse? T-bone? Here's the difference

Tim Rutherford

The porterhouse, left, is basically two steaks in one: A New York Strip and a filet mignon. The T-bone steak, right, has a narrow strip of meat in place of the tenderloin.

The porterhouse, left, is basically two steaks in one: A New York Strip and a filet mignon. The T-bone steak, right, has a narrow strip of meat in place of the tenderloin.

   The steak is the go to piece of meat for grilling up a special meal at home. A T-bone steak is considered the ultimate steak for many beef lovers, but consider paying a bit more and scoring the Rolls Royce of big meat cuts the next time your fire up the grill.

   What is the difference in the two cuts? And why does a porterhouse cost more? I checked in with veteran butcher Willie Hughes at Savannah's Smith Brothers Butcher Shop for the details.

Willie Hughes, butcher at Smith Brothers Butcher Shop, talks with a customer.

Willie Hughes, butcher at Smith Brothers Butcher Shop, talks with a customer.

   "On a porterhouse the small side, the tenderloin, is much bigger than the same side on a T-bone," explained Hughes. "When we're cutting, for a piece to be called a porterhouse, the tenderloin side has to be at least three gingers wide."

   You can see that illustrated in the photo above. The porterhouse, on the left, has a massive tenderloin. The T-bone steak, right, has a narrow strip of meat  on its tenderloin side. Industry specs often define a porterhouse has having a tenderloin that is 1 1/2-inches or more wide.

   But why the price difference?

   "You can only get four or five porterhouses from the strip. As your move away from the center, the tenderloin grows smaller -- and that's where the T-bones are cut from," Hughes explained. "The higher price is because there are fewer porterhouses. If we sold both cuts for the same price per pound, we'd be left with piles of T-bones."

   Hughes knows meat and is among a very small collective of real butchers that re left in the city. He has been a fixture in Savannah butcher shops since since 1976, two years after he graduated form high school. "I tried a job at the paper company, and that wasn't working for me. I applied at a grocery store and they asked what I could do. I asked them what paid best, they said the meat department. I've been cutting meat ever since."

   Hughes longest stint has been with Smith Brothers. In their new Liberty Street location, Hughes makes lots of sausage very week, but also oversees dry aging, smoking and also breaks down fish. "We do get in whole hogs, but it's almost impossible to get a hanging beef anymore. We get cry-vac pieces that we we cut down."

   I took this porterhouse home to find a new home on the Big Green Egg. A quick sear at 600 degrees on each side, then I shut down the dampers and let it finish cooking -- until it reached 140-degrees F internal temps. Ms. TJ polished off every bite of the tenderloin; the strip side was perfect for me. Seasoning was simply Himalayan pink salt and fresh ground black pepper.