This cookbook was a gift from my cousin Jenn for my f-f-f-fiftieth (my second favorite "f" word) birthday. I've had tons of fun with it so far. My first foray into it was two weeks ago for the premiere of the new season. I made three of the recipes: "Dripping Ribs with Bourbon", "Squirrel Poppers", and "Li'l Ass Kicker Punch". I also looked at "Sweet-sh Fleshballs with Red Berries". That will be our next Walking Dead/Snacking Dead Sunday night while-we-watch dinner. Our review? We both LOVED the ribs. The citrus in the marinade/sauce is a great counterpoint to the sweet, sour, and heat. Pre-baking and then grilling (or broiling for us that night) caramelized the meat for a sweet, savory, and fall apart deliciousness. We'll be using this recipe again and again. Gene loved the "squirrel" (chicken) poppers; I was ambivalent. We both loved the chicken base (prior to shaping/breading/frying) so I'm going to use that recipe, with added vegetables, the next time I make chicken pot pie. And the punch? Oh yeah! I did make one more southern (by my definition) ingredient substitution that I talk about later in this post. I made a smaller quantity punch than the recipe (party-sized) calls for but even so, the bottom of the pitcher was dry by the end of the night. 'Nuff said!
Dripping Ribs with Bourbon
Two racks ribs (5-6 lbs)
Cook's Note: I was cooking for just Gene and I so I used a much smaller quantity, what I had on hand. Actually, I thought I laid boneless country-style ribs out of the freezer that turned out to be trimmed pork steaks. Oh well. One of my favorite things about cooking is the challenge of using what's local, what's available, what's convenient--a necessary post apocalyptic skill if I ever heard one!)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Spanish onion, sliced
1 cup pomegranate or orange juice
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp hot sauce, more or less to taste
(I followed the directions of the recipe but, like with the pork, I used what I had including broiling the ribs instead of grilling them so I'm going to paraphrase how I did this. For the recipe in the exact words used by the author, please see www.snackingdead.com for the book.)
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and scatter the sliced/chopped onion across the bottom.
Lay the ribs (country ribs or trimmed pork steaks in this case). Salt and Pepper both sides.
Mix together the fruit juice and vinegar and drizzle over the top. Cover with foil and bake until fork tender, approximately 2 hours. At this point, the meat can be set aside, for up to 2 days the recipe says, before grilling and serving.
To make the sauce, sauté the onion and then garlic in olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until onion is translucent and garlic fragrant. Add spices and stir. Add rest of ingredients and whisk to combine. Bring to a bubble and then turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce thickens and darkens in color. Can also be made ahead.
To Broil: Preheat oven. Brush the meat with the BBQ sauce and broil for about 5-10 minutes per side until the meat is crispy and darkened at the edges. Cook's note: As Rob Lowe might say in one of his Direct TV commercials "Don't be this me". Or in my case "...and this is distracted Glenna. Don't be this me." My crispy and slightly darkened was more like "oh shit!" crispy and darkened because I was trying to do too many things at once. But they were still so tasty that, like I said, we'll be using this recipe again even if I don't have a pretty photo to show you.
Squirrel (Chicken) Poppers
By D.B. Walker
The recipe jests about using squirrel meat, using rotisserie chicken instead, but hey, this is The Ozarks. I can't say that squirrel is completely out of the realm of possibility before or after the apocalypse.
Cook's note: as with the ribs, I made the recipe according to direction but I'm going to paraphrase it here in my own words for my ease. For example, separating the ingredient list into the chicken base (that I intend to use again for chicken pot pie) and then listing the ingredients to finish making the fritters. For the exact author's phrasing, see the book.
Makes 15 poppers
3 Tbsp butter
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken, rotisserie chicken works well here
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Additional Ingredients for fritters:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped (or 1 1/2 tsp dried parsley)
2 cups bread crumbs or panko
Cooking oil for frying, several cups
Optional: Lemon wedges for serving
In a heavy skillet or sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Cook's note: I admit I added 2 Tbsp of onion and clove of minced garlic (that I had already prepped for the ribs recipe) that I sautéed first. The original recipe simply adds the chicken at this point.
Add the chicken, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir until heated through.
Sir in the flour to make a paste. Slowly add the chicken broth and cream, a little at a time, while continuing to stir until smooth. Turn heat to low and continue to stir until mixture thickens.
Spoon into a bowl and place in the fridge. Chill for 1-2 hours. This is a crucial step to making the fritters form properly.
When chilled, with floured hands, form the mixture into 12-15 "balls".
The original directions don't tell you this but from my personal experience I found that after I put the cutting board with the fritters, unbreaded, back into the fridge for another 20 minutes I had an easier time breading them.
The breading is a standard three bowl dredge. The first bowl is simply the all purpose flour (to help the next two ingredients stick). The second bowl is the two eggs, beaten. The third bowl is the bread crumbs or panko, mixed with salt/pepper, the paprika, and parsley. Dredge each fritter and then, again, not in the recipe but from my personal experience, I let the fritters rest for about 20 minutes so that the coating would adhere better when frying.
When it's time to "do it to it", so to speak, heat 1-2 inches of cooking oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until frying temperature. To test, drop a small amount of flour into the oil. If it sizzles, it's ready. If not, wait a bit longer.
Fry 3 or 4 fritters at a time until golden brown. .
Drain on paper towels. Serve to Daryl and enjoy his appreciation.
The ribs and squirrel poppers go great with a pitcher for of Lil Ass-Kicker Punch:
Mmmm....properly sipped (sipped? What-e-ver!) from a blue plastic cup, poured out of a "Schlitz" logo'd, looted, bar pitcher...and with one ingredient trade-out. "Seltzer"? Seltzer? Oh no, honey chil', in the south that would be cream soda for a great, sweet, fizzy touch.
Click for the recipe: Li'l Ass-Kicker Punch and don't forget the cream soda!