4th of july

Going Coastal Recipe: Texas Smokehouse Soup

According to legend, Brunswick Stew was first created in Brunswick Bounty, Virginia in the 1820’s. The original recipe varies vastly from the contemporary. That first stew was made with squirrel, stale bread and butter while today’s stew is made using potatoes, chicken and corn. It is the perfect day-after recipe for that weekend cookout as it’s prime ingredients are usually leftovers. This is why it is a staple at BBQ joints from Charlotte to Tulsa.

When I ran the kitchen at Mars Hill Cafe I did a variation on a theme with Brunswick Stew that replaced the chicken with brisket, smoked sausage and smoked turkey meat or pulled pork, replaced the potatoes with kidney beans and replaced the corn with Cajun trinity (onions, celery and bell pepper). Too add to the BBQiness of the soup I use BBQ sauce in the broth.  Since BBQ along the Third Coast tends towards walking meat as to flying meat this recipe is better matched to our lifestyle.  The beauty of this soup is that you can use any smoked/grilled meat – chicken, turkey, brisket, beef ribs, steak, ham, pork ribs, chops, pulled pork and even leftover burgers.  You’ll find the recipe is a perfect use of Fourth of July leftovers.  Happy July 4th!

Texas Smokehouse Soup
4 ounces diced smoked sausage
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion,chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
4 ounces diced smoked brisket or beef rib meat
4 ounces chopped smoked turkey and/or 4 ounces pulled pork
2 quarts beef broth
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 15-ounce can kidney or pinto beans
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup BBQ sauce; adjust for taste
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large soup pot render the sausage over medium heat until browned.  Add the trinity (onions, celery & bell pepper) and sauté for roughly five minutes or just until soft.  Then add remaining meats and cook for another 5 minutes.  Pour in half of the beef broth, the diced tomatoes, the beans, smoked paprika, garlic powder, chipotle chili powder then simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in half the tomato paste, the BBQ sauce, liquid smoke (if using), Worcestershire sauce and salt & pepper to taste.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.  Taste!  If the soup is too thick add some of the remaining beef broth.  If the soup is too thin add more tomato paste.  Serve with Texas toast.

Is the Brick Pit the Best Que in the South?

In a state that is a veritable melting pot of BBQ styles there is a joint that just may out shine the best in the nation.  While the north end of the state has a style similar to Memphis the east trends towards the high vinegar sauces of the Carolinas.  Of course there is also that unique “Alabama White” sauce made famous by Big Bob Gibson’s.

Now in South Alabama most folks are drawn to the Kansas City style of barbecue imploring well smoked meats with a sweet/smokey tomato based sauce and there is one place that does it better than the rest, The Brick Pit.

The “Pit” is just blocks from the campus of the University of South Alabama and it BBQ Spare Ribslooks like a BBQ joint should.  In a word, shabby.  Uneven floor, wobbly tables and the walls, corner posts and even the ceiling is covered with graffiti.  It is a custom to sign the walls whenever you visit.  The walls are also adorned with awards, national write-ups and pictures of all the of football players and coaches that frequent the week of the Senior Bowl.

The Brick Pit is on virtually every “Top 100″ lists out there and they have been profiled on national TV numerous times.  The menu is simple: pulled pork, brisket, chicken and Mobile’s favorite ribs.  They are tender from smoking not from boiling, steaming or roasting.  Low and slow just like they’re supposed to be.  The sides are the usual suspects – slaw, potato salad and baked beans.  Que is available dry or with a helping of their classic KC style sauce.  The Brick Pit may not be the best BBQ joint in the country but it is definitely on the short list.

Check out this clip from the Travel Channel’s Man vs Food Nation hosted by Adam Richman.

Corn Smokies with Cackalacky Sauce

Corn SmoakiesChef Stuart whips up a batch of Corn Smokies (corn dogs made with artisan sausage) and a dip called Cackalacky Sauce. There may also be a cameo from Average Betty.  These are perfect for your Fourth of July celebration.  They would also make a welcome addition to any tailgate party.

This recipe uses an artisan smoked sausage from Conecuh Sausage Co.  Conecuh hickory smoked products began back in 1947.  A lot of preparation has gone into producing their delicious smoked sausage and ham.

They choose only the best meats, prepare them with their patented blend of seasonings and smoke them over a pure hickory fire for that true Southern flavor. The menu hasn’t changed much over forty years, but then, neither has the quality.

: Cackalacky Sauce

: A mustard-based BBQ sauce from South Carolina

  • 4 cups Yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 8 ounces Beer
  • 8 tablespoons Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  1. Heat all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat and mix well.
  2. Cook until sauce just begins to thicken.
  3. Serve cool or warm. The sauce will last in the refrigerator for a long time.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

 

: Corn Smokie

: Meat on a stick

  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 2/3 cups Cornmeal
  • 2 pounds Smoked pork sausage
  1. Cut the sausage to desired length and then grill or roast until the skin is crispy. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine buttermilk and egg. Start with one cup buttermilk, more may be added later if needed for consistency.
  3. In a second mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Adjust the amount of sugar to taste.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add buttermilk and egg mixture.
  5. Stir together until combined. Batter should be thicker than pancake batter.
  6. Dredge each sausage in flour then in the batter. Deep fry in oil that is 365 to 370 degrees (American) until golden brown. Serve with Cackalacky Dipping Sauce.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

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Outdoor Cooking: Grilled Pizza

Most people have run into this scenario:  You’re having a pool party and everyone starts getting hungry.  Half the camp wants to crank up the grill and the other half want to order pizza.  There is no reason you cannot have both.  Pizza translates well to the grill.

The secret to a really good pizza is a blast of heat from the bottom to cook the crust with a slightly softer heat to warm toppings and melt cheese.  That is right in the wheel house of your grill.  The open flame, be it from charcoal or gas, is perfect for crispy crust and closing the lid will surround the toppings with a blanket of cozy heat and a kiss of smoke flavor.

pizzaPizza, grilled or not, can be broken down into two elements – crust and toppings.

For the crust you can purchase some of the pre-cooked “skins” out there like Boboli or Mama Mia’s.  You can even get creative and turn various breads into crust like Italian loaf, naan or pita.  You can also stop by your favorite pizza parlor and purchase raw dough balls from them and put them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.  Or you could make the dough from scratch with this handy recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast or 1 oz brewer’s yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees)
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and stir to dissolve it. Set aside until the yeast starts forming bubbles – about 5 minutes.
    Sift the flour. Pour the flour into a large bowl or on a work surface. Mold the flour in a mound shape with a well in the center.  With a wooden spoon, draw the ingredients together.
  2. Mix everything with your hands to form dough.  Sprinkle some flour on the work surface. Place the dough on the floured surface. Knead the dough briefly with your hands pushing and folding.  Knead just long enough for the dough to take in a little more flour, and until it no longer sticks to your hands.
  3. With your hand, spread a little olive oil inside a bowl.  Transfer the dough into the bowl.  On the top of the dough, make two incisions that cross, and spread with a very small amount of olive oil. This last step will prevent the surface of the dough from breaking too much while rising.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth, and set the bowl aside for approximately 1½ – 2 hours until the dough doubles in volume.  The time required for rising will depend on the strength of the yeast and the temperature of the room.
  4. When the dough is double its original size, punch it down to eliminate the air bubbles.  On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough into three equal pieces.  Knead each piece to form a ball – these are called dough balls.
  5. On the work surface, using a rolling pin and your hands, shape one piece of dough into a thin round layer. Make a pizza about 12 inches in diameter – this is called a skin.

I like to make large batches of pizza dough at one time and then freeze the dough balls in individual zip top bags until I want to make a pie.  They take a few hours to defrost at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

PizzaNow that you have your skin ready you can either throw it on the grill by itself to cook part of the way (par-cook) before topping it and returning it to the grill or you can top it first and then carefully move it to the grill. The latter will take some practice but you’ll be rewarded with a more cohesive pie.  Regardless of which way you go I suggest investing in a peel – the giant spatula that pizza parlors use.  You’ll thank me later.

As for toppings, well, that’s up to you.  You can stick to tradition with tomato sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella or experiment with less conventional adornment.  It is outdoor cooking so why not replace the marinara with BBQ sauce, pulled pork for the pepperoni and pepper Jack for the mozzarella?  Try basil pesto with grilled chicken, sun dried tomatoes and feta for a pie that is a good deal more authentic than many in this country know.

For the kids you can make a chili dog pizza with turkey chili, sliced turkey hotdogs and cheddar cheese.  Adults can garnish theirs with relish, kraut, onions or even jalapeños.  You can take a grilled pizza skin and cover it with yogurt drizzled with honey and sliced fruit for dessert.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and stir to dissolve it. Set aside until the yeast starts forming bubbles – about 5 minutes.
Sift the flour. Pour the flour into a large bowl or on a work surface. Mold the flour in a mound shape with a hole in the center.  Using a spatula, draw the ingredients together.  Then mix with your hands to form a skin.
Sprinkle some flour on the work surface. Place the dough on the floured surface. Knead the dough briefly with your hands pushing and folding. Knead just long enough for the dough to take in a little more flour, and until it no longer sticks to your hands.
With your hand, spread a little olive oil inside a bowl.  Transfer the dough into the bowl.  On the top of the dough, make two incisions that cross, and spread with a very small amount of olive oil. This last step will prevent the surface of the dough from breaking too much while rising.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth, and set the bowl aside for approximately 1½ – 2 hours until the dough doubles in volume. The time required for rising will depend on the strength of the yeast and the temperature of the room.
When the dough is double its original size, punch it down to eliminate the air bubbles.  On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough into three equal pieces.
On the work surface, using a rolling pin and your hands, shape one piece of dough into a thin round layer. Make a pizza about 12 inches in diameter.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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