Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Chicken 'n' Biscuits!







     Old Fashioned Country Cooking! 
     Chicken 'n' Biscuits is a nice old fashioned hearty entrée.  The biscuits serve as the starch of the entrée and they take the place of rice or potatoes.  The biscuits soak up the chicken gravy, just like dumplings and this creates a warm satisfying feeling.
     Chicken 'n' Biscuits has been a popular meal since the colonial times.  In the old west, chuck wagon and mining camp cooks served up Chicken 'n' Biscuits as a filling meal.  Chicken 'n' Biscuits was a popular cheap down home style meal during the Great Depression too.
      Chicken 'n' Biscuits recipes do vary.  Most Chicken 'n' Biscuit recipes require Chicken Gravy (velouté), Milk Gravy (Béchamel) or an enriched broth.  Pennsylvania Dutch style Chicken 'n' Biscuits are usually made with a chicken stock and milk gravy.  In the Louisiana, a variety of French style Chicken Fricassee preparations are poured over the biscuits.  In the American South, the stewed meat is often made with roasted chicken and the gravy is made with pan drippings.  Modern Soul Food style Chicken 'n Biscuits recipes can have some fancy ingredients added to the gravy, like peppers and garden herbs.  Basically, no matter what style of Chicken 'n' Biscuits recipe is chosen, the goal is to create a satisfying plate of food that provides comfort!  
     Today's recipe is a fancy modern Soul Food style version of Chicken 'n' Biscuits.  The gravy is fancied up with aromatic vegetables, bell pepper and herbs, but the rich chicken flavor still reigns supreme.   

     Buttermilk Biscuits:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Buttermilk Biscuits

     Chicken 'n' Biscuits:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.  
     Uncooked chicken leg or breast pieces can be used for this recipe.  I used chicken breast because that is what I had on hand, but the leg meat adds a richer flavor.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot (or sauteuse pan) over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 6 to 8 ounces of thin sliced raw chicken.
     Sauté till the chicken is a little more than halfway cooked, but not browned.
     Step 2:  Add 1 sliced garlic clove.
     Add 1 tablespoon of diced carrot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of diced celery.
     Add 2 tablespoons of diced onion.
     Add l/4 cup of diced red bell pepper.
     Sauté and stir till the onions turn clear in color.  
     *Try not to let the ingredients brown.  Stir often! 
     Step 3:  Add just enough flour while stirring, to soak up the excess butter and to make a pan roux. (About 3 or 4 teaspoons.)
     Continue to stir till the roux combines.
     Step 4:  Add 1 3/4 cups of light chicken stock while stirring.
     Add 1/2 cup of milk.
     Bring the gravy to a gentle boil while occasionally stirring.  
     *Scrape any roux that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan too.  The gravy will be a very thin consistency at this time.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Add 1 small pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 small pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 small pinch of tarragon.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (1 or 2 pinches)
     Step 6:  Gently simmer and reduce till the gravy is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 thin sliced green onion.
     Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Step 8:  Place 2 warm Buttermilk Biscuits on the back half of a plate.
     Use a slotted spoon to mound the chicken and vegetables on the front half of the plate.
     Pour a generous amount of the fancy chicken gravy over the biscuits and chicken.
     Step 9:  Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Serve any extra gravy in a gooseneck sauce boat on the side.
     Serve with a few extra Buttermilk Biscuits on the side! 

     Warm, cozy and delicious!  This is a comfortable tasting modern Soul Food style Chicken 'n' Biscuits!  

Buttermilk Biscuits








     Classic Buttermilk Biscuits!
     Buttermilk Biscuits are not just breakfast food.  Many homestyle recipes require Biscuit Dough for wrapping baked food items or topping baked pot pie style entrées.  Baking a stew in a casserole dish that is topped with several shaped biscuit dough portions is a classic comfort food style dish.  Fresh baked biscuits or leftover biscuits are also featured as a starch in saucy comfort food recipes.  Soul Food style Chicken & Biscuits is a good example and the biscuits are smothered with savory chicken in gravy.
           
     Buttermilk Biscuits:
     This recipe yields about 12 biscuits (2 1/2" to 3" wide).  
     Any extra biscuits can be frozen for later use.  
     Some folks like biscuits baked to a pale color and some like to see golden brown biscuits.  Biscuits have to be brushed with milk to achieve any color at all.  Square biscuits are a classic shape and round biscuits are best for sausage patty sandwiches. 
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of all purpose flour in a bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
     Add 1 small pinch of baking soda.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Sift the ingredients together into a mixing bowl.
     Step 2:  Add 3 ounces of cold butter that is cut into 1/2" cube pieces.
     Cut the butter into the flour with a fork or a baker's cutting tool, till the flour looks like it has been riced to the size of small peas.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of buttermilk.
     Gently stir, till the ingredients just barely combine. 
     Only knead till the dough barely it holds together.  The dough should be slightly sticky.  (Do not over mix biscuit dough!)
     Step 4:  Thoroughly dust a countertop surface with flour.
     Bench the dough on the flour and coat the entire surface, so the dough surface is dry.
     Step 5:  Roll the dough out till the sheet is about 3/4" to 1" thick.
     Use a 2 1/2" to 3 1/2" round biscuit cutter to cut biscuits (or cut 2 1/2" squares).  Cut several biscuits.
     Combine the scraps and roll them out again to cut a few more biscuits.
     Step 6:  Place the biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking pan.  Either space the biscuits so they are separated or bunch them all together.
     Brush the tops of the biscuits with milk or buttermilk. 
     Step 7:  Bake in a 425ºF oven, till the biscuits are fully cooked and lightly toasted highlights appear on the tops.  (About 10 to 15 minutes)
     Step 8:  Remove the biscuits from the oven and place them on a cooling rack.
     Let them cool to a serving temperature.
     Keep the biscuits warm on a stove top.

     Voila!  Fresh Buttermilk Biscuits!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Nigerian Goat Stew









     Traditional Nigerian Comfort Food!
     The spices that are in this stew are not what you may picture as being stew spices.  Cloves, bay leaf, mild hot peppers, ginger, garlic, black pepper and lemon are used to flavor Nigerian Goat Stew.  This stew has an unusual exotic flavor that is truly delicious!
     Goat meat is a little bit stronger tasting than lamb or mutton.  The spices and lemon help to tame the flavor of the goat meat.  Some recipes for Nigerian Goat Stew do call for minced goat meat, while a chunky style goat stew has rustic appeal.  Goat stew meat from a butcher shop is cut into bite size pieces and the bones are usually attached.  The bones add a rich flavor to the stew.  It is enjoyable to nibble the meat off of the bones, just like nibbling on stewed oxtails.
     Peanuts are native to South America, but so many peanuts are grown in Africa that one would believe that peanuts are a native African plant.  Peanuts were one of the first plants introduced to Africa during the Columbian Exchange.  Peanuts are used in many African recipes and peanut butter is used to thicken a Nigerian Goat Stew.  Peanut butter also increases the nutritional value.
     I have a taste for the exotic in life, so I spent some time researching African cuisine in libraries.  I was amazed at the different styles and flavor combinations of African regional cuisines.  For those who yearn for something different, today's Nigerian Goat Stew recipe is a good place to start.

     Nigerian Goat Stew:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.  (About 4 cups)  
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 16 ounces of bite size goat stew meat that has some bones attached.
     Sauté till the goat meat is evenly browned on all sides.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 cup of sliced carrot.  (3/16" thick)
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 1 minced seeded jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Sauté till the vegetables start to become aromatic.
     Step 3:  Add 2 cups of beef broth.
     Add enough water to cover the ingredients with 1" of extra liquid.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Skim off any excess grease that floats on the surface.
     Step 5:  Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 7 spice cloves.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Step 6:  Gently simmer and reduce till the goat meat is tender and the level of broth is slightly less than the meat.  (Do not cover the pot with a lid!)
     Towards the end of stewing, stir the goat stew and try to remove all seven of the cloves and the bay leaf.  (Do not worry if you miss a few cloves.  They usually cook soft enough to be palatable.)
     Step 7:  Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of organic peanut butter with 2 teaspoons of flour in a small bowl.
     Add peanut butter and flour to the stew while stirring.
     Stir till the peanut butter flour paste combines and the stewing sauce thickens to a medium thin consistency.
     Step 8:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce in a medium consistency that easily clings to the meat.  Stir occasionally, so the sauce does not stick to the pan.
     Step 9:  Keep the Nigerian Goat Stew warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Remove any bones that broke loose from the meat before serving.

     Presentation:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Cook 2 portions of plain Basmati Rice before the stew finishes simmering.
     Step 2:  Use a ring mold to place 1 portion of Basmati Rice on the back half of a shallow plate.  (About 2/3 cup.)
     Ladle about 2 cups of the Nigerian Goat Stew on the front half of the plate around the rice.
     Step 3:  Garnish with an Italian Parsley Sprig and a lemon slice.

     The flavor of Nigerian Goat Stew is like no other stew.  The spice mixture sets this stew apart from the rest!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pineapple Shrimp Salad










     Welcome to Fantasy Island!
     Carved pineapple bowl salad presentations are popular at restaurants in the Caribbean Islands, Florida, Mexico and tropical resorts worldwide.  A refreshing Pineapple Shrimp Salad served in a pineapple bowl appeals to tourists and locals alike! 
     Popcorn Shrimp actually are convenient for making mayonnaise salads, but these tiny shrimp practically have no flavor at all or they simply taste like brine.  For a better tasting mayonnaise salad, full size shrimp are the best choice.  Large 16/20 count per pound shrimp increase the eye appeal too.
     When pineapple is added to a mayonnaise salad, the seeping pineapple juice will eventually cause the mayonnaise to become thin and watery if the salad is made too far in advance.  Today's Pineapple Shrimp Salad is best if it is served within one hour after it is made.  The same can be said about the pineapple shell.  If the pineapple shells are stuffed too far ahead of time, the seeping pineapple juice will turn the mayonnaise into a watery mess, so for a large dinner party, the pineapple bowls can be carved well ahead of time, but they should be stuffed shortly before serving.  

     Poached Szechuan Pepper Shrimp:
     This recipe yields 8 ounces.  (Enough for 1 stuffed pineapple.)
     Step 1:  Heat 1 quart of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whole Szechuan Peppercorns.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 pound of peeled and deveined large shrimp.  (Remove the tails.)
     Poach till the shrimp are fully cooked.  (About 3 to 4 minutes)
     Step 3:  Cool the shrimp under cold running water.  (Add ice to cool the shrimp quicker.)
     Drain the water off of the shrimp and discard the Szechuan Peppercorns.
     Chill the Szechuan Pepper Poached Shrimp in a refrigerator to 41ºF.
     
     Pineapple Bowl: 
     This recipe yields 1 Pineapple Bowl and about 1 1/2 cups of pineapple fruit pieces.  
     Step 1:  Split 1 whole pineapple in half lengthwise and keep the leaves attached.
     Use kitchen shears to trim the sharp points off of the leaves.
     Step 2:  Cut a small flat spot on the pineapple rind, so the pineapple bowl will be stable on a plate.
     Step 3:  Place the half of a pineapple on a cutting board with rind facing down.
     Use a paring knife to cut a hollow bowl shape.  The pineapple bowl should be 1/4" to 3/8" thick.
     Use a spatula or spoon to pry and pop the pineapple fruit out of the pineapple bowl.
     Use a melon ball scoop to smooth the surface inside the pineapple bowl.
     Chill the finished pineapple bowl till it is needed.  
     Step 4:  Place the pineapple fruit that was removed from the pineapple shell on a cutting board.
     Cut off the fibrous pineapple core and discard it.
     Cut the pineapple fruit into bite size pieces.
     Place the pineapple fruit pieces in a container and chill in a refrigerator to 41ºF.
     *About 1 1/4 cups of pineapple pieces will be needed for the salad.

     Pineapple Shrimp Salad:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion.  (Enough to stuff 1 pineapple bowl.)
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/4 cups of the chilled pineapple fruit pieces in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 pound of chilled Szechuan Pepper Poached Shrimp.
     Step 2:  Add 2 tablespoons of thin sliced celery.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped Bermuda Onion. 
     Add 1 tablespoon of toasted shelled sunflower seeds.
     Step 3:  Add just enough mayonnaise to lightly coat the ingredients.  (About 3 or 4 tablespoons.)
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Add 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Toss the ingredients together a second time.
     Chill the Pineapple Shrimp Salad for 20 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     
     Pineapple Bowl Presentation:
     This recipe yields 1 large stuffed pineapple salad.
     Step 1:  Mound as much of the Pineapple Shrimp Salad in the carved pineapple bowl as possible.
     Set the stuffed pineapple on a plate.
     Step 2:  Garnish the pineapple with cilantro sprigs.
     Garnish the plate with bias sliced green onion.

     Cool, refreshing and delicious!  Tropical style stuffed pineapple salads have a way of making guests smile! 

Monday, June 5, 2017

T-Bone Steak with Green Tabasco Pilsner Butter Sauce






     Tasty Beer Sauce For Steak!
     Creating a sauce for a steak adds a signature touch that guests truly appreciate.  Just plonking a bottle of store bought steak sauce on the table will only draw compliments if the guests like the brand that was chosen.  Instead of playing the steak sauce brand name identity game, it is better to whip up a good steak sauce from scratch and take all the credit when compliments fly through the air!
     I have published many recipes for classic sauces, gastriques and barbecue sauces that go well with steak.  I even published a tamarind steak sauce recipe that compares to well known bottled steak sauces.  In recent years the craft beer industry has reached a peak, so creating a new steak sauce that is made with beer will certainly appeal to fans of gastro pub cuisine.
     When creating a beer sauce, it is best to work with the featured flavors of the beer itself.  Various preparations of malted barley and hops are the base flavor and body of beer.  A heavy rich semi sweet steak sauce can be made with a malty dark beer.  Simply reducing a good Porter or Stout with onions and a few spices will yield a good dark rich tasting steak sauce that is perfect for a cold winter day.  
     For warm summer weather, the majority of beer drinkers prefer a Pilsner or a light Lager, so the same kind of light tasting beer is the best choice for a summer season beer sauce for steak.  The refreshing beers of summer can be used to make a steak sauce that is lighter on the palate than a sauce made with heavy rich dark beer.  Just like how a dry acidic white wine can be used to make Beurre Blanc for a summer seafood entrée, a good crisp refreshing Pilsner can be used to make a butter sauce for a steak.  Butter carries the flavor of a classic Pilsner quite well.  Adding a little bit of pickled Green Tabasco Peppers gives a pilsner beer butter sauce a mild spicy kick that is perfect for a hot summer day.      
           
     Green Tabasco Pilsner Butter Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (About 2 ounces.)
     Bottles of Green Tabasco Vinegar can be found at most grocery stores.  Each bottle is filled with Green Tabasco Peppers than can be used in recipes.  These small chile peppers are medium spicy hot.
     This butter sauce should be prepared shortly before it is served.  Butter sauces are basically just an emulsion of soft butter and liquid, so if they are made too far ahead of time the ingredients will separate.  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 whole garlic cloves.
     Sauté till the garlic is lightly browned.
     Step 2:  Remove the garlic cloves from the pot and place them on a cutting board.
     Mince the browned garlic cloves and set them aside. 
     Step 3:  Add 1/3 cup beef stock to the sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of lager beer.
     Add the minced browned garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Green Tabasco Pepper Vinegar.
     Add 5 Pickled Green Tabasco Peppers.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 4:  Simmer and reduce till 2 tablespoons of liquid remains.
     Step 5:  Remove pot from heat.
     Immediately add 2 tablespoons of chilled unsalted butter while constantly stirring with a whisk. 
     Whisk till the butter and liquid emulsifies to create a thin sauce.
     Step 6:  Place the Green Tabasco Pilsner Beer Butter Sauce in a ceramic cup.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top and stir occasionally.  

     T-Bone Steak with Green Tabasco Pilsner Butter Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Select a 16 to 20 ounce T-Bone Steak.
     Lightly season the steak with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a chargrill, broiler or cast iron ribbed griddle to a medium/medium hot temperature.
     Cook the steak to the desired finish temperature.  (Rare to Well Done)
     Step 3:  Place the steak on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Let the steak rest for 1 to 2 minutes.
     Step 4:  Place the T-Bone Steak on a serving plate.
     Pour a generous amount of the Green Tabasco Pilsner Butter Sauce over the steak.  (About 2 ounces.)
     Place the 5 whole Green Tabasco Peppers on the steak as a garnish
     Serve with a vegetable and potato of your choice on the side.

     Viola!  A big tender T-Bone Steak with a great tasting spicy beer sauce!
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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Melanzane alla Parmigiana










     Eggplant Parmigiana!
     There are several different ways to prepare Eggplant Parmigiana and some are much better than others.  Today's recipe is the same as what can be found in many Italian restaurants.  The eggplant is sliced lengthwise, then lightly coated with egg batter and pan fried.  Several layers of the fried eggplant, Parmigiana Cheese and tomato sauce are stacked high on a broiler pan.  The eggplant stack is topped with mozzarella and baked till the cheese melts.  The result is one of the most satisfying Eggplant Parmigiana that there is!

     Salsa di Pomodoro:  
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website. 
     • Salsa di Pomodoro

     Egg Batter Pan Fried Eggplant:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
     Many chefs recommend that fine grated Parmigiana Cheese be added to the egg batter, so the egg batter will stick to whatever it coats when fried.  Adding cheese is a crutch and the fried cheese results in a bitter flavor.  If good batter coating techniques are used, then there is there is no need to add grated Parmigiana Cheese!   
     Step 1:  Select 1 medium size eggplant that weighs about 1 pound to 1 1/4 pounds.
     Peel the eggplant skin with a knife.
     Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 3/16" thick slices.  (About 6 to 8 slices of eggplant are needed.)
     Step 2:  Lay the eggplant slices side by side on a sheet pan.
     Sprinkle a generous amount of sea salt on both sides of each eggplant slice.
     *The salt will cause the eggplant to sweat out excess moisture.  The salt will also rid of some of the bitter flavor, while preserving the pale color of the eggplant!
     Let the eggplant slices sweat for about 20 minutes.
     Step 3:  Rinse each eggplant slice under cold running water.
     Pat the eggplant slices dry with a lint free pastry towel.
     Step 4:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of oregano.
     Add 1 tablespoon of water.
     Whisk the ingredients together.
     Step 5:  Place 2 cups of flour in a shallow container.
     Dredge each eggplant slice in the flour.
     Place the each floured eggplant slices in the egg wash.
     Toss the eggplant slices with the egg wash till they are thoroughly coated.
     Set the bowl aside.
     Step 6:  Heat a wide sauté pan (or cast iron skillet) over medium heat.
     Add enough blended olive oil, so the oil is about 3/4" deep in the pan.
     Adjust the temperature of the oil to 360ºF.
     Step 7:  Pull 1 slice of eggplant out of the egg wash and knock off any excess egg wash by dragging the eggplant slice against the rim of the mixing bowl.
     Place the egg batter coated eggplant in the hot oil.
     *Two or more slices of batter coated eggplant can be placed side by side in the hot oil, but do not let the eggplant slices overlap.
     Pan fry a few egg washed eggplant slices at a time, till they are a light golden brown color on both sides.  Try to only flip each eggplant slice one time.
     Step 8:  Place the fried slices of eggplant on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the pan fried egg batter coated eggplant warm on a stove top.

     Melanzane alla Parmigiana:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     Step 1:  Pour about 1/4 cup of the Salsa di Pomodoro on the center of a broiler pan (or pie tin).
     Overlap two slices of the pan fried eggplant on top of the sauce.
     Step 2:  Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the Salsa di Pomodoro on the 2 eggplant slices.
     Spread the sauce so it coats the eggplant.
     Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese on the tomato sauce.
     Step 3:  Stack and overlap 2 more eggplant slices on top of the first layer.
     Repeat Step 2.
     Step 4:  Repeat Step 2 and Step 3 till all of the pan fried eggplant slices are stacked about 3 or 4 layers thick and the Eggplant Parmigiana stands tall, but leave the top layer bare.
     Step 5:  Pour about 1/2 cup of the Salsa di Pomodoro over the eggplant stack.
     Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese over the sauce.
     Place a few thin slices of Mozzarella Cheese on top of the eggplant stack.  (About 2 to 3 ounces.)
     Step 6:  Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the Eggplant Parmigiana becomes hot and the Mozzarella Cheese melts.
     *Try not to brown the Mozzarella or the cheese will have an undesirable bitter flavor!
     Step 7:  Remove the baking pan from the oven.
     Use a large spatula to slide the eggplant parmigiana onto a plate.
     Serve with a past of your choice that is tossed with some Salsa di Pomodoro.  (Anelletti is the pasta in the photos above.)
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of fine chopped Italian Parsley over the Eggplant Parmigiana and pasta.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
 
     Mama mia!  Thats a great Melanzane alla Parmigiana!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Daily Beans! ~ Butter Beans & Southern Fried Chicken Fingers







     The Daily Beans!
     The Daily Beans has its roots in down home style cooking.  In the old wild west, beans were probably consumed more than any other kind of food.  Pioneers, gold prospectors, natives and cowboys all relied on beans.  Beans are a main staple in the modern world too, especially during poor economic times.  If there ever was a food item that could be considered to be the fuel that built a nation, then beans would certainly be it.
     In Southern states, slow simmered beans are often served as a side dish.  The choice of beans down south leans toward Red Beans, Black Beans, Lima Beans and Butter Beans.  This may be confusing to some, but Lima Beans and Butter Beans actually are two names for the same kind of bean.  Lima Beans are usually a pale green color or light beige color.  Butter Beans are most often a beige color.  Fordhook is a breed of Lima Beans that are fairly large and Butter Beans are usually this size or larger.  
     Southern Style Butter Beans are usually slow cooked till they are very tender.  Some of the Butter Beans are crushed while simmering and this creates a rich thick bean gravy.  Fat, bacon or ham are the classic choices for flavoring Butter Beans, but these beans naturally taste great on their own.  Usually a small amount of lard, bacon grease or oil is added to the Butter Beans as they simmer and this dramatically increases the flavor, while giving the pot a beans a shine that glistens.
     Traditionally a serving of The Daily Beans is a complete meal.  Meat is mixed with the beans and cornbread is served on the side.  Today's choice of meat accompaniment is Southern style fried chicken fingers.  Pan fried buttermilk and flour coated chicken fingers that are made from scratch look, taste and smell much better than any manufactured frozen breaded chicken finger product.  The savory flavor of Souther Fried Chicken Fingers tastes great with slow simmered tender Butter Beans!      

     Butter Beans:
     This recipe yields about 6 cups.  (Enough for 3 hearty portions.) 
     Lima Beans and Butter Beans are the same thing.  The name of the bean is just a matter of personal preference, but Butter Beans are usually are larger than Frozen Green Lima Beans.  Butter Beans are almost always preferred to be a light beige color too.       
     Crushing a portion of the beans then adding them back to the pot will create a thick rich gravy when slow simmering Butter Butter beans for a long time. 
     Step 1:  Rinse and clean 1 pound of Dried Large Butter Beans under cold running water.
     Place the Butter Beans in a container.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 3" of extra liquid.
     Soak the beans overnight in a refrigerator.
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the soaked Butter Beans.
     Place the soaked beans in a pot.
     Add 2 cups of chicken broth.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 3" of extra liquid.
     Step 3:  Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Boil for 17 minutes.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of bacon grease.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.  (to taste)
     Step 5:  Place a lid on the pot.
    Gently simmer till the Butter Beans just start to become tender.
    *The Butter Beans will soak up plenty of water and some evaporation will occur.  Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered with about 1/2" of extra liquid.  Stop adding water, when the beans can absorb no more water.
     Step 6:  Remove the lid from the pot.
     Place 2/3 cup of the Butter Beans in a mixing bowl.
     Thoroughly mash the beans.
     Return the mashed beans to the pot.
     Step 7:  Cover the pot with a lid.
     Continue simmering till the Butter Beans are very tender and the liquid turns into a medium thin bean gravy consistency.
     *Only add water if there is not enough bean gravy to cover the beans or the bean gravy is too thick.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper if necessary. 
     Keep the Butter Beans warm over very low heat or chill them for later use.

     Southern Fried Chicken Fingers:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (5 fingers)
     Step 1:  Select 5 chicken breast tenders.
     Use a meat mallet to slightly flatten the chicken tenders.
     Step 2:  Place 1/2 cup of buttermilk in a mixing bowl and set it aside.
     Step 3:  Place 1 1/3 cups of flour in a second mixing bowl.
     Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Mix the ingredients together and set the bowl aside.
     Step 4:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of lard or bacon grease.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil, so the level of oil is about 3/8" deep.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is 350ºF.
     Step 5:  Dredge the chicken tenders in the seasoned flour.
     Dip the tenders in the buttermilk.
     Dredge the chicken tenders in the flour a second time.
     Step 6:  Place the coated chicken tenders side by side in the skillet.
     Pan fry till they are crispy golden brown on both sides and fully cooked.
     Step 7:  Place the fried chicken tenders on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the Southern Fried Chicken Tenders warm on a stove top.

     The Daily Beans! ~ Butter Beans & Southern Fried Chicken Fingers:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     Daily Beans is usually served with cornbread on the side.  There are several pan fried cornbread recipes in this website or use your favorite baked cornbread recipe.
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/4 cups of the Butter Beans with a portion of the bean gravy in a wide shallow soup bowl.
     Place the 5 Southern Fried Chicken Fingers on top of the beans, so they point out from center.
     Step 2:  Sprinkle 1 bias sliced green onion over the chicken fingers and beans.
     Garnish with a Curly Leaf Parsley sprig.
     Step 3:  Serve with cornbread and a bottle of hot sauce on the side.

     Viola!  A big hearty bowl of Southern style Daily Beans!