A staple of many a tailgating gathering, jalapeño poppers are pretty much as ubiquitous as queso this time of year. A bad thing? Not in the least. These bites are sure to shake up the usual equation, injecting some irresistible Southern flair into your festivities in practically no time at all.
This Yankee-turned-Deep-South resident doesn’t need any convincing to eat grits in any form — classic cheese, light-and-crispy waffles, salumi-stuffed arancini? I’m there. But shrimp, well, that’s another story. That is, until I met this version of shrimp and grits inspired by a friend’s visit to The Lady and Sons. Swimming in a creamy pool of highly-seasoned sauce studded with a generous amount of spicy, smokey tasso ham, all served over intensely cheesy grits, it’s nothing short of indulgent. Be prepared to fall in love at first bite.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a bit of an extra nudge to eat more veggies. Roasting them to coax out their natural sweetness is defnitely my usual approach, but you can’t beat it when they masquerade as something even more luscious. A tall order? Sure. But boy does this winter squash carbonara ever achieve it… and well.
I’ve wanted to share this recipe for quite some time now, but whenever I sit down to get writing I’ve been at a loss for words. That is, anything beyond DELICIOUS, MAKE THIS NOW and enthusiastic MMMMMMMMS. Of course, the latter may be attributed to the fact that I’ve had a forkful of this tangy, sweet-savory braised pork and cheesy grits goodness in my mouth at pretty much every opportunity since early fall, therefore rendering me incapable of producing more than sound effects. (Only slightly hyperbolic…) But seriously, I can’t keep this one to myself any longer, so here it goes.
We start off with a can of a delightfully balanced, local-to-me hard cider from Cigar City Cider and Mead. If you can’t find it, no worries. Crispin original or your favorite non-spiced variety should do just fine. You can also go completely booze-free with the non-hard stuff or even some unfiltered apple juice (Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section is my fave, and tastes delicious with a splash of bourbon and a few shakes of bitters). Into a saucepan it goes to simmer away by half, concentrating the flavors. Be prepared: Your home will smell amazing.
My good friend Jennie and I have decided to come clean, and reveal our secret pork tamale ingredient at last. What is it? Well, we’ll get to that.
As it happened, the first time we made tamales together — aka the first time either of us had attempted tamales, period — I forgot to pick up lard at La Palma Mexicatessen (an awesome place recommended to me by Vijay from NoshOnIt). Determined not to enter another store, I scrounged through my cabinets and fridge and found a solution: the jar of bacon grease I keep in the freezer and a tub of non-hydrogenated shortening. Traditional? Nope. A great substitution? You bet!