Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Virginia is for lovers, so they say. Certainly, lovers of rich, salty, delicious foods would be quite at home!
Ham seemed the most logical choice for Virginia, even though the traditional country (or salt-cured) hams are harder to find in the Midwest. I went with a Beeler Ham, a naturally cured ham produced in central Iowa. Interestingly, if you get a naturally cured meat--meaning it was cured without nitrites--it will say "uncured" on the label. This isn't exactly true, the meat is cured using salt and spices (celery seed in particular). Labeling requirements don't allow a "naturally cured" option, though, so the label will state uncured.
On the side, we served collard greens and cheddar biscuits. We had a nice fresh bunch of collard greens from our CSA and cooked them up Southern-style for this meal. In a large skillet, brown 4 strips of bacon until it's nice and crisp, then remove and crumble. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook in the bacon grease until the vegetables are soft and aromatic. Then, add the collard greens, salt and pepper, and about a cup of chicken stock. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, until the greens are nice and tender. Then uncover and continue cooking until the juices (pot likker) thicken and coat the greens. Finish with a splash of vinegar.
The cheddar biscuits are from Ina Garten and are one of our favorite recipes. These are great for a weekend breakfast or a dinner side. The leftovers, if there are any, make handy snacks or lunch additions. I don't use a mixer, but blend the butter in using a pastry cutter; and I don't roll out the dough, just pat it into a rough circle. Too much handling will make the biscuits tough.
The only new item for the kids was the collard greens. Lucy adamantly refused to taste them. Maia agreed only after I pleaded that I needed a reviewer for the blog so she agreed to taste a tiny bite. When we asked if she liked them, she said, "no....they're just...gross."
The rest of the meal was a hit. Lucy likes her ham with honey-mustard--which I make by mixing, shockingly, honey and mustard. Diced ham and a leftover biscuit will serve as a fine lunch-box addition tomorrow.
Next Stop: Missouri