The Most Southern Fried Cake Ever

Collard green and cornbread cake from DariusCooks

We stumbled upon this photo on Facebook and it literally changed our lives. According to the creator, Darius Williams of Darius Cooks, “Collard green and cornbread cake. That’s mashed potato frosting. With gravy. And fried chicken sprinkles.” SAY WHAT. Darius is coming out with a cookbook soon, and if it’s full of food porn-y treasures like this cornbread cake, we are investing in multiple copies. Stat.

Darius, you are our new hero.

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Southern BBQ Brisket Hash

Southern BBQ Brisket Hash

I’m a big fan of breakfast for dinner. Well, actually, I don’t really like pancakes or scrambled eggs or anything for dinner…. let me rephrase. I’m a big fan of adding a fried egg on top of whatever I’m having for dinner. That’s more accurate. (I think by this point, most of the culinary world can all agree that a runny egg yolk makes anything better, any time of day.) Anyway, even though this recipe is pretty dang breakfast-y, I like it for dinner because it’s hearty and balanced.

Take your run-of-the-mill hash – potatoes, onions, shredded beef – and give it a southern twist. We’re talking a hash made of sweet potatoes, collard greens, caramelized Texas sweet onions, and smoked brisket, topped with a fried egg and drizzled with BBQ sauce and Louisana hot sauce. Giddy up.

Southern BBQ Brisket Hash

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Carolina Sushi

Collard leaves behaving like nori?  I was pleasantly surprised!

Growing up in the South I’ve become fond of a few standard staples, such as: tomatoes n’ cucumbers swimming in vinegary pools of pleasantries, banana puddin’ in my wife’s belly button, and reclaiming Darwinian fusions in food.  So I’ll embrace my heritage in a way that will make most neighbors cringe: sushi!

This dish comes from an idea that I’ve held onto for some time: “why not combine vinegar-based Carolina barbecue with rice in a sushi delivery system?”  My food muse gave an agreeable smile through her vodka-Kool-Aid-‘stache, whereas my wife was repulsed by the idea.  With the wife and kids away house-sitting for the in-laws this week, I’ve lived what she’s termed a “semi-bachelor week.”  She’s right, I’ve done all those things I don’t get to do: blast classic rawk, leave my socks on the couch, revisit my forsaken porn stash (no longer shall I eighty-six the pics of sixty-nine), play Madden, and watch Tosh.0.  I ran with the opportunity to create these with immunity.  And guess what?  Truth is, I’m miserable without her—talking to an invisible muse makes a man lonely—and I can’t wait to recreate these high-maintenance morsels when she returns.

BBQ Chicken and Collard Green Sushi

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A Very Southern Potato Salad

Down here in Texas it’s already feeling like summertime. Days have been in the 80s-90s, which means long afternoons of day drinking and barbecuing. The other weekend I decided to make a potato salad for a backyard barbecue party, but I wanted to do something a little more exciting than your average white potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and celery. (You will never find celery in my picnic foods, actually! It’s the bane of my existence.) I was inspired when I found some beautiful Texan collard greens at the store.

One thing (out of the katrillion things) I love about Austin, that you might not expect if you’ve never been here, is how strongly this community promotes buying and eating locally. I decided to take these greens and incorporate them into a potato salad celebrating all my favorite aspects of southern sides… namely, sweet potatoes, collards, and pork fat.

Sweet Potato Salad with Collard Greens, Caramelized Onions, and Bacon

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Sandwiches in the City

New Yorkers are obnoxiously proud of our lunchtime options. We don’t do chains because we don’t have to. Not when you can find everything from banh mi hot dogs to Brussels sprouts sandwiches for under $10. That’s exactly why I’ve been so bothered by the rapid proliferation of Cosi, Pret a Manger and the like across Manhattan in recent years. Are New Yorkers really lunching at these places now? Sure, these semi-upscale sandwich chains are better than Subway or Quiznos, but I’d still take a Boar’s Head bodega roll any day of the week.

Recently entering the midtown sandwich contest and blowing the chains out of the water is City Sandwich, a Portuguese-style sandwich shop from chef Michael Guerrieri. Now, you foodies may be noting that there’s not really any such thing as a Portuguese-style sandwich. This is true. Like most refined Europeans, the Portuguese prefer to sit down and eat their meals with knives and forks. So Guerrieri, who was born in Naples, raised in New York and spent 13 years cooking in Lisbon, has taken traditional Portuguese meals and turned them into an array of newly-invented sandwiches.

The crispy bread is brought in twice daily from a Portuguese bakery in New Jersey; the insides scooped out to make room for fillings and to ensure the sandwiches aren’t too heavy. Each one is spread with high-quality olive oil and built using unique ingredients you’d be hard-pressed to find in any other sandwich shop in the world. For example, the Bench Girl, pictured above, contains alheira, a smoky, spicy sausage that was pioneered by Portuguese Jews during the Inquisition. In an effort not to stand out among their pork-eating compatriots, the Jews invented this chorizo-like link that is actually made from chicken, but looks enough like the real deal that no one could guess they weren’t dining on swine. Apparently, back in the day on the Iberian peninsula, not eating pork was enough to get you burned at the stake. Today, a little bit of pork has managed to sneak into most versions of alheira currently produced in Portugal, but it’s still a superbly rich and flavorful sausage that’s not quite like any other. It’s paired here with an omelet, grilled onions, spinach, and melted mozzarella, for a savory breakfast-y sandwich that is appropriate any time of day.

For a look at City Sandwich’s other inventive, Portuguese-influenced sandwich creations, keep reading after the jump.

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