I put together a really nice dinner with the pulled pork I was talking about earlier (with the mango sazon). I usually make my pork in big batches and freeze it to use later. This happens to be one of those dishes.
Deep fried corn. Mmmm. We did a double breaded cilantro fried corn, which was ridiculous. It didn’t even need butter and that’s saying something. So good and really easy. For this we used a little Italian bread crumb mix and added some finely chopped cilantro for flavor. We blanched the corn and then used a standard breading procedure (flour, egg wash, and the bread crumb mix). It adheres really well if you do a double breading. Then we just fried it and enjoyed.
I did a little bit of sautéed mustard greens with a Polish bacon. Found it at a local market and had to try it. Noticed it had a kind of smoked paprika brine, which seemed interesting. I bought it slab style, did a small dice, rendered it, and sautéed the greens in it. Thought it was a nice little addition, even if it did leave my house smelling like bacon for days.
I came across grits in my early 20s and they were all right. Grits were like porridge for me at that point, so I wasn’t crazy about them. Not that great, right? Wrong. Wrong’s the answer. It was my fault for trying such a great food at a 24-hour greasy diner. When I moved to North Carolina, I started doing farm-to-table for this restaurant and found REAL grits. This guy and his daughter had a little farm; they didn’t have a lot, but they did have a lot of stone ground mountain grits. It was a real nice coarse grade grit. I’ve never met its equal. It is the Darth Vader of grits, like the best grit I’ve ever tasted. (I wish I could remember the farm’s name so I could order more. If you see this post, man, hook me up!). Anyway, grits shouldn’t be this thin, watered down, little bit of salt little bit of butter thing people make. That’s not what grits are about. A grit can truly take on the world. It’s like I was saying about the pork! You can do anything with it. Any flavor, any food, any cheese, any sauce, any spice. Anything. I went for a cheese and black bean grit cake for this recipe because it was going to be such a base compared to all of the vinegar from the sazon.
For the cheese grit cakes:
1 cup coarse ground grits
2 teaspoons salt and pepper
3 cups of water
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1 cup Cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese, combined
½ cup milk or cream
2 cups of black beans
1 cup flour
Simmer grits in water, along with salt and pepper. Continually stir to keep from sticking. Watch your grits as you may need to add water periodically. At the end of cooking, add the lemon zest and juice, cheeses, and milk or cream. Let cool. Add black beans and flour. Make into 2 oz. patties and pan fry.
Tostones are double fried plantains. Real easy to make. You basically cut the plantain into large sections (not quarters, like 2 inch sections). Lightly fry it like a french fry at 250 degrees. Let it cool. Smash it down and fry it again at 350 degrees until it’s as crisp as you can get it without burning it. For this recipe, I tossed it with a bit of cumin, onion powder, cracked salt, and sugar.
Sweet, savory and delicious.
On a final note or two, I like to garnish plates. I do. I like swoops of sauces. I like my stuff to look pretty. That’s pretty girly huh? Anyway, that swoop of white stuff is Greek yogurt, which I substituted for sour cream in this recipe. It’s been floating around on the Internet for a while now, but I didn’t take it seriously. Honestly I thought it was an expensive alternative that probably wouldn’t work. But hey, I’ll try any food thing, so when it was on sale a while back we bought it, tried it and… well… it’s delicious. It’s a perfect substitute, tastes pretty much the same, and it’s so much healthier for you. Can’t imagine why everyone wouldn’t use it as a substitute (cough, cough). Crazy.