Southern menu plan

So this coming Sunday, we’re hosting an esteemed local food writer and his family for lunch. They want to explore the farm, and I want to demonstrate good farm-based Southern cooking in mid-winter. Here’s my proposed menu, for perusal, comment, and critique:

Oven-fried chicken (our chicken, breaded with our fresh-ground cornmeal)

Hoppin’ John (blackeyed peas cooked with spices and our onion, garlic, meat/bacon, dried green peppers, greens, & tomatoes, topped with our cheddar cheese) served over Missouri rice
Cornbread (our fresh-ground heirloom cornmeal, our yogurt & eggs) with local honey and our jams/jellies

Fried okra and tomatoes (our frozen okra & fresh Mercuri tomatoes, breaded with our cornmeal)

Sorghum-pecan pie (Missouri sorghum & pecans, crust of Missouri wheat flour)

Possible second meringue pie

The only significant item that isn’t sourced on-farm or locally are the blackeyed peas, and that’s largely because we had a significant crop failure last year due to deer and weather. We were eating our own peas and beans through early winter, and fully intend to have more stocks for next winter.

We don’t have any more fresh greens, more’s the pity, or I’d certainly serve up a helping of garlic-sauteed mustard, collards, and kale to complement the rest. Still, this ought to be a fun meal. Comments or suggestions?

6 thoughts on “Southern menu plan

  1. Oooohhh… I'm really curious how the Mercuri tomatoes hold up to the frying. Regular tomatoes I find get a less desirable flavour when they start to ripen compared to green tomatoes, but the unique flavour of the Mercuris could be amazing.Your menu reminds me of a restaurant in Chicago, Dixie Kitchen, that does amazing southern food. Making me hungry for their corn cakes (basically cornbread pancakes the texture of pancakes and the flavour of cornbread – amazing!), oyster po'boys and red beans & rice!! (Actually, you're making me hungry for your menu and getting me nostalgic about Dixie Kitchen!)

  2. One more thing… where do you get your oven-fried chicken recipe? Your own creation or inspired from a book/website/etc?renée, oddly, got excited about the possibility of fried chicken when I was buying some organic legs & thighs at the market that were reduced because their use-by date was approaching (they're now happily in my freezer), but I like the idea of frying in the oven…

  3. Brittany,I’ll feel some shame because as soon as we get a hoophouse or two in place we ought to have greens all winter. We just haven’t yet. We expected to hold our kale, at least, all winter outdoors as it’s usually virtually impervious to winter, but the variety we grew last year didn’t take the winter well. Joshua,While green, the Mercuris are fantastic fried. The tart flavor really works. They’re all at least partially ripe now, so frying them at this stage is a bit of an experiment. I couldn’t leave out greens AND fried tomatoes…I’ve heard of Dixie Kitchen; am I right that it was a haunt of Obama’s back in the day?I would be interested to try their beans; I’ve never had Southern beans in a restaurant that didn’t taste like a can. The problem, to me, is that even good restaurants often have to source their ingredients in ways that don’t make them as fresh as home or farm cooking, and I can tell the difference.Oven-fried chicken is pretty straightforward, ours is from a cookbook but I’m sure there are plenty of equivalent online. Really, it’s just dredging the meat in cornmeal, salt, pepper, then putting it in a baking dish at 300something or whatever you Canucks use. Google will teach you all. I like doing it in roughly equal strips rather than a whole breast or thigh in order to make the cooking more even.

  4. Yeah, Dixie Kitchen got a bit famous recently because it was featured on Chicago PBS program Check Please! (on of our favourite shows to watch while in Chicago) Obama reviewed Dixie Kitchen on-air. We didn't know about the Obama factor when we were enjoying their food. :)To be fair, I haven't had their red beans & rice since I've started exclusively making my own beans from dry, so it's possible I'd go back now and be less impressed. It wouldn't surprise me if they just get big cans of beans.In late 2006 my Mom had what seemed like a million green tomatoes she had to pick before they froze on the vine and renée made so many fried green tomatoes… I don't think I've had any since, so now I want to go raid the nonni's cantina to get some Mercuris and give 'em a try 🙂