When Garden & Gun magazine’s Facebook page announced the publication of The New Southern Table: Classic Ingredients Revisited, I immediately turned to our adult nonfiction selector and said, “Please!” She happily agreed. This lovely, large paperback cookbook has one chapter devoted to each of thirteen Southern ingredients such as okra, collard greens, and figs. You know, if you’ve read my cookbook reviews before, that lots of pictures are really important to me. You have to know what it’s supposed to look like! Fortunately, this cookbook has a full-page photo for almost every dish. Some recipes combine traditional Southern ingredients in new ways, such as the Sweet Potato, Sorghum, and Rum Flan or the Peaches with Pecan Mint Pesto. Others bring Southern foods to the international table in ways that seem intuitive, like Butterbean Hummus or Chicken, Collard, and Country Ham Saltimbocca. Still others are wildly adventurous, such as Japanese-Style Okra with Horseradish Soy Dressing or the Pizza with Figs, Country Ham, and Mustard Greens. If you saw the picture for that one, you would never use figs for anything ordinary again.
As a diabetic, I had to skip the rice, corn, lima bean, and field pea chapters, but you should certainly dive into those luscious risotto and Hoppin’ John recipes. I still had plenty to choose from. I tried two very different recipes, both of them, amazingly, from the pecan chapter!
First of all, I had to make my husband happy by trying out the pimento cheese recipe. It’s really different, with Monterey Jack cheese and chopped pecans. You might think that Monterey Jack cheese is too mild for pimento cheese, but this recipe gets its kick from habanero peppers. As always, you should shred your own cheese, not buy bagged shredded cheese, in order to avoid fillers. Since Monterey Jack is difficult to find already shredded, this is not a problem. What is a problem is getting that soft cheese through a shredder! I recommend making sure that your cheese is very cold. If it gets to room temperature, you will have a hard time with it. Fresh lemon juice is also important to the flavor, and the book advises adjusting the lemon juice and mayonnaise in order to achieve the desired spreading consistency. The author did not say this, but of course you must use Duke’s mayo to be truly Southern. Just a tip. We really enjoyed this pimento cheese as a change from the tried-and-true cheddar variety.
Then I made this scrumptious roasted Brussels sprouts dish with pecan halves and country ham. I wondered how in the world I could buy only the 6 ounces of country ham that the recipe calls for, but lo and behold, you can readily find packages of sliced country ham that are exactly 6 ounces. Although it may be meant as a side dish, with the ham and pecans for protein, I served it as the main course. First you toast the pecans at 350 degrees, and then turn the oven up to 400 so that the Brussels Sprouts caramelize a bit. Here is the awesome part: You then remove them from the oven and toss them with chopped, ripe avocado! Y’all, it is fabulous. We like it with or without the recommended balsamic vinegar.
Just writing about these recipes makes me want to run out and buy the ingredients for more. Tomorrow is Easter, though, so it’s lamb and asparagus at the Teal house. Maybe Monday….
Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this cookbook. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.