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Author Topic: School me good - The Essential American Gourmet  (Read 5686 times)

Iain

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« on: April 26, 2005, 04:26:36 AM »

Lots of food talk on here so I thought I'd ask for some recipes and ideas.

What is the essential American eating experience? I've eaten at both Burger King and MacDonalds before anyone suggests that - I'm talking backwoods proper food, I'm talking chilli to die for, I'm even talking Nouveau Cuisine Americain.
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Werewolf

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2005, 05:04:32 AM »

Chili? Good stuff - there's a chili recipe thread on THR somewhere do a search.

Backwoods proper food? Huh? Do you mean southern food (what many incorrectly term soul food)?

Nouvea Cuisine Americain??? Sounds like some yuppie city folk garbage that's more euro than American. WTF is NCA?

IMO there are a number of uniquely american meals that I've not seen anything similar to anywhere in the wide world I've traveled over. A few of my favorites:

1) New England Boiled dinner. Corned Beef slow cooked in a pot with cabbage, potatos and carrots. I doubt if corned beef originated in America but it's the only place I've ever found it out of the 5 continents I've been to.

2) Grilled steak (many different cuts) with baked potato and salad. Grilled steak is big in Mexico and the western countries (including Argentina) of South America but they never served it with potato or salad. Surprising in Central America one can get steak but it's not common. I've never eaten a decent steak in europe and found them almost impossible to get in africa or asia.

3) Fried Chicken - many ways to do it - uniquely American and the only place I've seen it outside the USA is KFC's and KFC is an export just like MacDonalds (uuuyyyykjkkk!)

4) Pecan Pie - uniquely American

There are other uniquely American meals I'm sure but can't think of any off the top of my head.
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JAlexander

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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2005, 05:16:46 AM »

All the styles of Barbecue (smoked, not grilled)
Tex Mex
Cal Mex
Chicken Fried Steak

James

Sean Smith

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2005, 06:22:30 AM »

Quote from: Iain
Lots of food talk on here so I thought I'd ask for some recipes and ideas.

What is the essential American eating experience? I've eaten at both Burger King and MacDonalds before anyone suggests that - I'm talking backwoods proper food, I'm talking chilli to die for, I'm even talking Nouveau Cuisine Americain.
We export our crappy fast food because it has a high profit margin, sorry about that.  

The essential American eating experience would take weeks, and to do it right you have to visit all the major regions where the food originated to get the "genuine article."  American food is extremely diverse, it includes all the indigenous foods, all the immigrants' foods, and the various hybrids of all of the above.

For one book with alot of good versions of "clasically American" dishes, this is an excellent book:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0688052827/qid=1114528872/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/002-1749432-0213652?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Some foods to look into:

New England clam chowder... this one of the major liquid food groups in New England.  This is a pretty simple dish, and recipes for it abound.  However, the quality all hinges on the freshness of the clams used, hence substitutes outside New England tend to be pretty crappy.  I know of no place in the entire state of Texas to get acceptable clam chowder, for instance.  If you can't get live clams to make it with, don't bother.

New England features lots of excellent seafood, but having been to England, it isn't THAT different.  The emphasis in New England is really good fish prepared in fairly simple ways (bake it, fry it, etc.).

Steaks... I am quite confident that Americans make the best steaks on Earth.  Prime beef grilled over a hot fire, at most lightly seasoned and served with a baked potato with every artery-clogging substance available (butter, cheese, sour cream, bacon...) is an impressive meal, and I don't think any other country does it even remotely right.  Good steak places are pretty much everywhere in the United States.

This can be reproduced pretty easily with a hot grill, good meat, and the recipes and tips at:

http://www.weber.com/bbq/pub/recipe/category.aspx?c=beef

However, Prime beef is typically only sold to restaurants, so you typically can't get a 100% reproduction of the best steak houses' results at home.

Hamburgers... the McDonalds hamburger hovers at the bottom of the burger totem pole in America.  If burgers were cars, McDonalds would be a Fiat.  Burgers are prepared in endless varieties and varying degress of sophistication here, and are often not to be trifled with.

Barbecue... this is meat cooked/smoked over low heat over long periods of time, NOT grilling.  Name a meat and it can be barbecued.  Sauces and spices vary radically by region, and different regions focus on different meats.  Without a proper smoker and alot of experimenting, getting good results yourself is a bit dicey.

Chicken fried steak: http://www.texascooking.com/features/june2002chickenfriedsteak.htm

Pizza... our pizza is not the pizza of Italy.  It is the product of Italian immigrants producing something alot more interesting.  New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Southern New England, and anyplace with long-standing Italian immigrant populations will typically have excellent pizzas.  Varies by region quite a bit, Chicago-style being a thick pie, New York Style having a thin but flexible crust, Sicilian being a square pizza with a very "crusty" crust, and so forth.  Even though it is a superficially simple dish, good pizza is hard to reproduce at home.  All large pizza chains are crap.

Chili... there is no fixed recipe for chili.  In some regions it has beans, in others beans are forbidden.  Most use ground beef, but almost any meat is fair game (including game meat like venison).  Alot of it has more or less a tomato base, but even that isn't a constant.  Aside from chili powder and/or cumin, some amount of hot peppers for heat, and maybe onions, it is pretty much a free-for-all, as long as the end result is a spicy stew.

Here is just one example, in spite of the beans I've even gotten Texans to admit it is good (although they say it still isn't chili because it has beans).  Anasazi beans are specified because they taste good and are low gas; other beans can be used in their place, and as long as you follow the "gas free soak" instructions the results shouldn't be too socially unacceptable.  

Chili Recipe
Full Batch

Meat:

2 lb ground sirloin

Vegetables, fresh:

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 Jalapeno peppers, seeded & finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp crushed garlic

Canned & dried goods:

3 cans diced tomatoes
cup low sodium/low fat beef broth
cup medium Arriba Fire Roasted Red Salsa
1 cup uncooked Anasazi beans

Spices:

1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Hot Shot" pepper mix
1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1 tsp ground ancho pepper
1 tsp Chinese chili garlic paste
1 tsp ground dry mustard
2 packets Sugar in the RawTM
Worcestershire sauce
Salt (to taste)

Miscellaneous:

cup Bitburger beer
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

The night before cooking the chili, do the gas free soak.

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil; add 1 cup dry beans.  Boil 2-3 minutes, and then cover and set aside overnight.  Drain and rinse beans thoroughly before cooking.  This will remove 75-90% of the indigestible sugars.  Anasazi beans also have much less of these than most beans to start with.

The night before the chili will be served:

Add the beans to a pot with 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.  Add more water at any time if beans are not covered.  Drain well & rinse.  

In a large skillet, brown the ground sirloin, garlic, and onions at medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil.  Reduce heat.  Add the chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, and other spices.  Stir over low heat for a few minutes, then transfer to the crock pot.

In the crock pot, add the beans, meat and remaining ingredients.  Simmer over low heat as long as possible (8+ hours being ideal).  Gradually add additional beef broth if the chili gets too thick (this should be unnecessary).

charby

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2005, 06:34:34 AM »

Here in Iowa it is a pounded and breaded fried pork tenderloin is king. Served on a white Kaiser bun with Lettuce, tomato, dill pickle slices, onion, ketchup and mustard. Bigger the tenderloin the better, ones that are the size of dinner plates are the best.
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Iain

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2005, 07:15:27 AM »

Good info so far.

Werewolf - I made NCA up. I think the chili thread will have gone with RT. I actually wanted some chili recipes because my own was not terribly exciting.

Sean - that whole link on chicken fried steak made me really hungry. Thanks for all the info. Not sure what some of the things in the recipe are. 8 hours simmering though? I've often simmered chili for a couple of hours, but it always tastes better the following day.
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Sean Smith

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2005, 07:18:03 AM »

Quote from: Iain
Good info so far.

Werewolf - I made NCA up. I think the chili thread will have gone with RT. I actually wanted some chili recipes because my own was not terribly exciting.

Sean - that whole link on chicken fried steak made me really hungry. Thanks for all the info. Not sure what some of the things in the recipe are. 8 hours simmering though? I've often simmered chili for a couple of hours, but it always tastes better the following day.
I usually simmer it overnight in the crock pot on "low", then put it in the fridge when I'm at work, and eat it when I get back.  Cheesy

Preacherman

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2005, 08:38:19 AM »

Don't forget the Cajun and Creole dishes of southern Louisiana.  I've travelled to more than 30 states, and eaten in Europe, Africa, etc.:  and I have to say that Louisiana food has to rank right up there with the best in the world.  Yummy!
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K Frame

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2005, 08:41:39 AM »

Pennsylvania Dutch, my friend.

No better food in the world.
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mtnbkr

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2005, 09:36:35 AM »

Quote
No better food in the world
Yeah, if you wanna die early of heart disease or stroke.

What am I talking about?  Southern food isn't any better. Cheesy

Chris

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2005, 03:50:52 PM »

Quote
What is the essential American eating experience?
A light Continental breakfast at dawn.  Biskets & sausage gravy for 2nd breakfast, Gyros on the mall for 11:00es, sushi and sake for lunchen, a slice of pizza w/ feta cheese, artichoke hearts and pineapple for afternoon tea, green chili and tortillas for supper (non of the red-sauce/bean/mystery meat concoctions here) and some leftover lamb vindaloo eaten in front of the fridge while watching the late news to end the day.
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Werewolf

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2005, 04:43:05 PM »

Quote
A light Continental breakfast at dawn.  Biskets & sausage gravy for 2nd breakfast, Gyros on the mall for 11:00es, sushi and sake for lunchen, a slice of pizza w/ feta cheese, artichoke hearts and pineapple for afternoon tea, green chili and tortillas for supper (non of the red-sauce/bean/mystery meat concoctions here) and some leftover lamb vindaloo eaten in front of the fridge while watching the late news to end the day.
ROFLMFAO!

You're kidding? Right?

Reg'lar Muricans don't have a clue what the hell that food(?) is - let alone eat it! Cheesy
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J.J.

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2005, 06:50:41 PM »

Tex-Mex with home-made flour tortillas, Spicy to the point of making your eyes water and sweat.  A cold  sip of Shiner Bock to cool you down between bites.. If ONLY I knew how to make Tex Mex it like that.  But you have to start with the fresh flour tortillas.  
Heck I am a Texan And have no clue how to perfect some of the Tex-Mex I eat.  I just rely on those little restaurants that look at first glance like the place should be condemned.    Thats where the best BBQ and Mexican comes from.. Darn now I am hungry!

doczinn

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2005, 06:54:44 PM »

My vote goes to good ol' Eastern North Carolina Style pulled-pork barbecue. Heaven on a bun.
D. R. ZINN

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2005, 09:37:21 PM »

Grilled 'Chicken on the can'
Breaded deep fried cheddar cheese curds... well anything tastes good deep fried.
Twice baked potato.
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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2005, 04:10:20 AM »

Philly Cheese Steak. I can't believe no one has mentioned this yet!
New England Grinders.
Doczinn, double ditto on the NC BBQ. With cornbread, coleslaw and corn on the cob.
Southern "fish camp" dinner. Fried catfish, fried hushpuppies, fried okra..I can feel my arteries screaming already.
Chesapeake crab cakes. If you don't know what Old Bay is, find out!
Seattle planked salmon, or Dungeness crab.
Jambalaya.

I think I just wrote next week's menu!

Sean Smith

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2005, 04:16:00 AM »

Quote from: Sindawe
Quote
What is the essential American eating experience?
A light Continental breakfast at dawn.  Biskets & sausage gravy for 2nd breakfast, Gyros on the mall for 11:00es, sushi and sake for lunchen, a slice of pizza w/ feta cheese, artichoke hearts and pineapple for afternoon tea, green chili and tortillas for supper (non of the red-sauce/bean/mystery meat concoctions here) and some leftover lamb vindaloo eaten in front of the fridge while watching the late news to end the day.
Let me count the ways that your statement makes no sense.  Tongue

There are only 3 meals in America: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.   None of this "11es" or "tea" bullcrap.

Gyros are Greek, sushi is Japanese, the "gourmet" pizza abortion you described neither American nor Italian, and 99% of the American population has never even heard of "vindaloo."  The only thing you described to your credit as an American is the biscuits & sausage gravy.

Tongue firmly planted in cheeek.  Wink

MicroBalrog

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« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2005, 04:38:55 AM »

Iain, while actually irrelevant, do you still use MSN?
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Stand_watie

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« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2005, 05:03:53 AM »

For poor people living in Maine it would be baked beans, potatos, tomatos, zuchini squash and all the venison you can poach.
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Iain

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« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2005, 06:07:21 AM »

Quote from: MicroBalrog
Iain, while actually irrelevant, do you still use MSN?
I sent you an email the other day.

I don't use it anymore, lost touch with most of the people on it. Thought I'd lost touch with you. Email me back.

Micro - what is the essential Israeli eating experience? I'm thinking about throwing a party maybe next month and a friend of mine who I will be inviting has spent several months in the last year living in Israel. Be good to make something that he will remember, and to make some American food. Definitely going with chicken-fried steak, and might do that whole meal that Sean's link describes, sounds so good.

Stand_watie - good to see you around. My chances of poaching vension extend to going to a deer hotspot (there are quite a few) and hoping to hit one with the car.

Is curry not big in the US? The essential British food experience is pretty much curry these days, a lot of what we Brits call Indian food was actually born in Indian-owned British restaurants to some degree.
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Stand_watie

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2005, 06:57:27 AM »

Quote from: Iain
..Stand_watie - good to see you around. My chances of poaching vension extend to going to a deer hotspot (there are quite a few) and hoping to hit one with the car.

Is curry not big in the US? The essential British food experience is pretty much curry these days, a lot of what we Brits call Indian food was actually born in Indian-owned British restaurants to some degree.
Thanks. The internet hasn't held much of my interest of late, maybe my posting again is a good sign? I had three meals for the first time in ten days the other day.

My dad has actually talked of a certain uncle poaching a number of deer under an apple tree that overhung the road with the front bumper of his studebaker, so your idea isn't as farfetched as you might've thought. Don't think I'd want to try it with one of those little coopers though Smiley I think Chili or Tex-Mex is to Texas what curry is to England. I'm sure curry is available in any large city with an Indian population, but I'd never heard of it until I saw it mentioned on British messageboards.
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mtnbkr

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2005, 07:22:16 AM »

Breakfast:
eggs, sausage, bacon, fried apples, grits, etc.  I prefer eggs over easy or fried completely, sausage or scrapple (sausage's poor brother in law), and grits with butter.  I wash it down with strong black coffee.  This meal is best eaten in a greasy spoon diner, grandma's kitchen, or in the woods at hunting camp.

Lunch:  fried chicken or fried fish (both must be fried in a deep cast iron pan), cole slaw, cold cut sandwiches, or hot dogs and/or hamburgers on the grill.  Wash it down with beer or sweet iced tea.

Supper:  Same as lunch or steak and baked potato, or bbq chicken, or bbq pork ribs, etc  if you want to get fancy.  For those nights where we keep it simple, we'll cook some pinto beans and cornbread.  You break up the cornbread in the bottom of a bowl, pour some beans and pot liquor over the cornbread, and top with sour cream and chedder cheese.  mmmmm

Other items of note:  BBQ (probably a dozen or more different styles and meats, I like pork done Eastern NC style, especially if you cook the hog, yes, the whole hog, over coals all day long...), squash and onions fried in a cast iron pan till mushy, beans of all kinds, white rice, pot roast, deep fried turkey, collards, rutebegas (I know I misspelled this), turnip greens with bits of turnip, okra (especially fried), buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, home grown tomatoes, fried green tomatoes (coated in cornmeal, fried in lard, preferably in grandma's old cast iron pan).  There's more, but these were the traditional "southern" foods in my family.   Anything fried has to be fried on cast iron, the older the better.

Chris

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2005, 07:43:18 AM »

Quote from: mtnbkr
scrapple

Chris
Scrapple, where everything that's not good enough for hotdogs goes.  Yak!

Aren't we forgetting the backwoods classic that I'm sure we've all heard so much about?  You know, roadkill possum baked in mud, or some such revolting nonsense.  Sounds about as tasty as scrapple.
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K Frame

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School me good - The Essential American Gourmet
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2005, 08:03:32 AM »

"Yeah, if you wanna die early of heart disease or stroke.

What am I talking about?  Southern food isn't any better."

Hum...

You're right. Let's "healthy up" that PA German food.

OK, no beef, no pork.

Gotta lose the lard and use olive oil.

No pan frying, no deep frying.

Cut back on the potatos and corn, can't have that many carbos.

Molasses? That's just pure sugar! Can't eat that.

Pie crust? No no no!

Butter? That's out. Cream and/or whole milk? You're joking, right?

You're right, I'm going to die early, all right.

I'm going to blow my damned head off if I have to eat Pa. Dutch Light!
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« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2005, 09:07:35 AM »

Our dinner menu this week includes:
Mon:  BBQ baby back ribs Mesquite Lime, coleslaw & cornbread
Tues:  Chicken Picata Pasta Toss w/ stuffed artichokes (30-Minute Meals style)
Wed:  Baked salmon and asparagus
Thurs:  Jambalaya (chicken, Andoulie sausage, and shrimp) w/ red beans & rice
Fri:  We go out for sushi and sake
Lunch is always leftovers, breakfast tends to be nonfat yogurt & granola w/ lots of coffee.

Next week I am planning:
Fried catfish, hush puppies & coleslaw
Steak w/ Yoshidas & red pepper, baked potato w/ butter & sour cream, green salad
Greek Night - chicken, onion, sun-dried tomato, spinach and feta cheese in Pita bread w/ salad of cucumber, artichoke hearts, bell pepper, tomato, onion and capers with a red-wine vinaigrette.
Chicken pot pie
Thai Night - coconut curry soup w/ shrimp, salmon and scallops, cold beef salad w/ onion & tomatoes in fish sauce, lemon juice and crushed red pepper, Sweet chili sauce cucumber and onion salad

We travel all over the world at our dinner table!  Unfortunately, I not only enjoy cooking, but I enjoy eating way too much.  Thankfully, my family appreciates it.

This not "All American" in the sense of "only American", but in the sense of our mixed cultures.  I learned to cook because I like to eat.  I only go out to eat the foods I will not cook.  Those are only Chinese and Japanese.

Is it lunchtime yet?
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