Alabama

Bowl Game Grub: Cuban Pulled Pork

Well football fans the post season is on us.  The first week of bowls has given us a few fireworks and the intensity keeps building all the way up to the most important game of the college football season – the Peach Bowl between Virginia and my Auburn Tigers.  The LSU/Alabama rematch is pretty important too.  The NFL playoffs for their part are almost decided.  Whether you prefer your bowl games of the Peach or the Super variety it’s time to whip up some special recipes.

Cuban Pulled Pork
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 45 mins
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 8 hours 45 mins
Serves: 8
This is great served with black beans and a little saffron rice or use it to make a Cuban Pressed Sandwich.
Ingredients
  • 1 3-5 pound Boston butt roast
  • 1 bottle Mojo Criolle marinade (or 2 parts range juice, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part lime juice, 1 part white wine and herbs & spices to taste)
  • Jerk seasoning and Cinnamon to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the roast into a large zip top bag and pour the marinade over the top.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 72 hours turning once or twice a day.
  3. Heat a grill or Dutch oven to medium high heat. Drain the roast (reserving marinade) and seer on all sides, about 30 minutes.
  4. While the roast is cooking, preheat a crock pot to high and add the marinade.
  5. Add the roast to the crock pot fat side up and cook for one hour on high. Turn down to low and let cook for 6-8 hours. When the meat is falling apart it’s done.
  6. Remove most of the liquid reserving about a cup.
  7. Pull the pork and toss with the remaining liquid. Season to taste with Jerk seasoning and/or cinnamon. Lower the crock pot to warm and let steep at least 30 minutes before serving.

Review: Bama Glama

So Food Network is once again traipsing down the road of Reality TV and farther from actual Food TV.  Their new series, Bama Glama, premiered last week.  So what’s it about?  Here’s how the Network defines it:

Friday nights on Food Network are about to get a little more fabulous. From incredible food to lush floral arrangements, Alabama event designer Scot Wedgeworth creates one-of-a-kind events in Bama Glama, a six-episode original series premiering Friday, December 16 at 8p.m. Eastern/7p.m. Central. With his signature edgy flair, unfiltered sense of humor and volatile team, Scot makes every wedding, birthday party and reception an over-the-top affair.

Bama GlamaBama Glama is remarkable in that it manages to offend me on every possible level.  First and foremost this is not a show about food.  Period.  In an episode they might spend four or five minutes discussing food.  I’m offended that this type of show is on a network that is supposed to be about food.

The acting and writing are wretched.  Perhaps “acting” isn’t the right word.  The “reading” is wretched.  Many scenes of this “reality” program feature people clearly reading (poorly) from cue cards or fighting to remember their lines.  Now I’m not saying the entire show is fake but it’s apparent that certain scenes didn’t go according to plan so they had to fabricate what they had hoped would occur naturally.  I’m offended that they think I’m so stupid I wouldn’t notice that.

Another highly offensive gimmick for the show is the inclusion of a weekly Bridezilla or Mother-of-the-Bridezilla.  You know the types, they feel that a wedding is the bride’s chance to be a princess for a day; in other words raging egomaniacs.  These women never marry for love they marry so they have can be the center of attention for a day.  Well, three days – one for each of their inevitable marriages.

A tangential word of advice to my fellow men.  If at any time during your engagement your fiance says, “Our wedding day is the most important day of our lives” your marriage is doomed.  How can it be the most important day of your lives when it is the least important day of your marriage?  The most important day of your marriage is every day after the wedding.  Now back to business.

Then there is event designer Scot Wedgeworth.  Clearly he is a very creative person.  But, Scot, whenever you have one of your extravagant ideas it doesn’t matter how many times you say “that’s how we do it in the South” it won’t make it true.  They are your very original ideas, take ownership.  But trust me, the average Alabama wedding does not include ballerinas.  I mean 75% of the state’s inhabitants are Southern Baptist, they don’t believe in dancing for any reason.

Many of the things Scot says are typically Southern, aren’t.  I know this because I’ve lived in the South my entire life – seven years in Tennessee, three in Mississippi, a few months in Florida and over three decades in Alabama.  Nothing about this show is an accurate portrayal of life in the modern South.  That blatant and deliberate misrepresentation of an entire culture offends the hell out of me.

Mystery Diners is a great show and so far it’s gotten one episode and now everyone at T Group Productions has to play the waiting game to see if the Network will pick it up.  But this dribble gets a six episode deal?  That means for the next month there is no point in watching Food Network on Fridays because they will be forcing this VH1 reject down our throats.  Now if you’ll excuse me I feel like I need to take a shower or six.

Review: Big Shrimpin’

This is a show I have been eager to see.  Partly because it is filmed in a town just a few miles away, Bayou La Batre (aka the Bayou), AL.  Mostly though I am hoping that the show addresses the crisis our domestic shrimpers face because of corruption in Washington DC, massively overzealous environmental laws and of course BP.

big shrimpin history channelThe series follows three shrimping boats out of the same company on “the Bayou” as they voyage to participate at the Texas Open.  Texas is the only state on the Gulf Coast tat closes waters to shrimping a few months out of the year to allow the shrimp to grow larger.  When they first reopen the waters there’s a race to get those big shrimp (oxymoron anyone?).

From the get go the crews face obstacles like a shrimper with a serious injury, a torn net (they cost $2800 each) and an inspection by federal agents that results in $15,000 in fines.    Along the way viewers are introduced a whole gaggle of characters and I guarantee you that these are not fabricated personalities.

I’ve grown up around shrimpers from “the Bayou” and they are a very, very tough group of people.  They do more actual work in a day than most Americans do in a month.  Of course it isn’t uncharacteristic for their workdays to run 36 or even 48 hours.  See what I mean?  The whiny brats occupying Wall Street are crying about having to work 36 hours a week and these folks do that in one shift.

big shrimpIt’s been one episode and I am enjoying the show.  It’s important for America to know what it takes to bring the world’s greatest shrimp to their table.  My lone disappointment is that they have not addressed the political corruption that has lead to our markets being flooded by inferior and down right dangerous foreign shrimp.

Asian farm-raised shrimp are cheaper than wild caught US shrimp because they do not have to withstand the scrutiny ours does. In Asia, the shrimp are raised in farms where the populations are thousands of times more dense than in the wild which creates a breeding ground for disease and parasitic microbes. To control this they use antibiotics and pesticides that have been proven dangerous to humans.

These chemicals are banned for use in food animals in the United States and Europe because nitrofurans are carcinogenic, and chloramphenicol causes aplastic anemia. Technically no imported seafood can contain them and still be sold. While domestic seafood is inspected like crazy (Gulf seafood is actually inspected twice since the oil spill) only 1% of imported seafood is ever inspected and then not by the FDA or USDA (agencies trained for such tasks) but by the Dept. of Commerce.

Tonight they did mention that 90% of all shrimp sold in the US is imported from farms in Asia.  These shrimp are untested for harmful chemicals though they most likely contain them. It has created a trade imbalance that has all but killed the US shrimping industry while fueling China’s economic growth. The inequality of the issue harms us both as individuals (medically) and as a community (economically). But since the companies that manufacture those chemicals are in the US it is more profitable for politicians to ignore the issue.

Hopefully they will address this later on in the series.  I implore you, please watch this show.  You may learn somethings about the world you didn’t know.  Big Shrimpin’ airs Thursdays at 10/9 central on the History Channel.

Recipe: Shrimp Wings

2nd Annual Wings and Waves Cook-offOn October 1st Dauphin Island, Alabama will be hosting its 2nd Annual Wings & Waves Cook-off.  The Hot Wing throwdown was born from the BP Oil Spill disaster that closed the Gulf off for nearly a year.  That meant no seafood.  This year teams will compete in four categories- Hot, Mild, Free-Style and Shrimp Wings!

What is a Shrimp Wing? They’re not quite sure yet.  But when the Shrimp Wing winner is announced they will! The winner of the Shrimp Wing category will have just invented the official dish of the Dauphin Island Chamber of Commerce– The Dauphin Island Shrimp Wing!

You can get your tickets HERE.  They are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

Now I offer my interpretation of Shrimp Wings.

Shrimp Wings
Recipe Type: Appetiser
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 3-4
The cinnamon sticks in this recipe are not ingredients so much as surrogate bones.
Ingredients
  • 1 dozen large (16/20) Gulf shrimp, peeled
  • 1 cup spiced rum (Captain Morgan or Adm. Nelson)
  • Jamaican Jerk seasoning to taste
  • 1 dozen cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a zip top bag combine the shrimp and rum. Seal and refrigerate for about an hour.
  2. Make Cilantro/Lime Cream by combing the sour cream, juice and zest of the lime and cilantro then refrigerate.
  3. Fire up the grill. While it is heating up drain the shrimp and season with the Jerk seasoning. Using a cinnamon stick as a skewer impale each shrimp with its own stick.
  4. Place on the grill for about two minutes on each side.
  5. Serve with Cilantro/Lime Cream for dipping.

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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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