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Here’s a Delicious Taste of Chef Jesse’s Post Modern Southern Cooking
Chef Jesse Jones has been cooking and serving the North Jersey culinary scene for almost thirty years. Now, he finally pauses to write it all down and create a cookbook. I’ve been helping him. Lord the man can cook, he can serve, he can photograph. And he can make people who dine with him say POW! That was good.
This weekend, I made his recipe for Chef Jesse’s Black-Eyed Pea Cassoulet with Cornbread Crumb Topping. Using everything he learned in his nine years studying classic French cooking with Chef Dennis Foy, adding that to what his grandmama taught him in visits to her North Carolina farm when he was a boy. Put those two together and you get it. Post Modern Southern Cooking. Pow!
From his years with his own restaurant in South Orange, Heart and Soul, to his current gig as a media star and teacher, Chef has got it all. You can find a few of his favorites here from time to time. He uses the classic technique of the cassoulet, which varies from French farm to farm and adds his own little Southern twist. Black eyed peas and corn bread crumb topping with D’Artagnan duck leg confit, pork and plenty of vegetables makes this. All I can say is yum. Make that YUM!
Chef Jesse’s Black-eyed Pea Cassoulet with Cornbread Crumb Topping
Makes 16 servings (can be cut in half)
There are as many cassoulet recipes as their cooks in rural France. And Now comes Chef Jesse putting his little twist on it to further the cause for Post Modern Southern Cooking.
Starting with the iconic black eyed pea, then using traditional French ingredients and technique, including the D’Artagnan Duck Leg Confit and finishing with a lovely corn bread crumb topping, Chef Jesse makes it his own.
The process is long but not difficult. First you soak the black eyed peas overnight in water, then rinse and drain.
On the day you’re going to serve, get out your biggest stew pot + a dutch oven and a sharp knife and a cutting board and prepare to be amazed. You’re going to sear the meats, one at a time, in the stew pot, then add stock, soaked beans and diced vegetables. Simmer until beans are soft, about 2 hours.
Build the dish in the Dutch oven by sautéing bacon until crispy then sauté sausages and duck leg confit on the whole thing once it’s assembled.
Slow cook in the oven until beans are tender and dish is well married. Lift out the duck leg confit and remove the skin and bones. Replace duck meat in the mix and add more stock as needed.
Top with the corn bread crumb topping, pop it back into the oven to finish a few minutes then serve.
The night before, soak 1-1/2 pounds black eyed peas in water to cover. Rinse and drain the next morning.
Meanwhile, sauté 1-1/2 pounds pork shoulder cut into ¼-inch cubes in a little olive oil in the bottom of the stew pot.
Make a bouquet garni:
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves (or ½ teaspoon ground)
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
Tie these into a piece of cotton cheese cloth, tie with kitchen string, then drop it into the stew pot.
Add 4 quarts stock (see Chef Jesse’s pork stock recipe below OR use good quality stock)
Soaked black eyed peas
Simmer until beans are tender, about 1-1/2 hours, adding stock as needed to keep the level of stock to the top of the beans.
Then, in a large Dutch oven, heat a teaspoon olive oil and sauté 1 pound thick, smoked bacon cut into lardons until crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain.
Next brown 1 pound Country Sage sausage (remove casing, then break up in the bottom of the pan. Remove to a dish.
Brown the vegetables in the bottom of the Dutch oven. As you cut the vegetables add them to the bottom of the pan over medium heat:
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks with leaves, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced fine
Next stir in 2 tablespoons tomato paste plus sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste and cook about 5 minutes.
Pour beans and meats on top of the veggies. Top with 4 duck confit. Chef chooses D’Artagnan available from their website, www.dartagnan.com or in fine grocery stores everywhere. Cover and let it cook until the duck can be separated from the bones. Discard skin and bones.
Chop duck and add it along with everything else back into the pot Add any necessary stock to cover, then finish in a 275▫ F. oven, or stove top, covered, on simmer.
Stir from time to time.
Once the cassoulet is cooked and meltingly tender, add Chef Jesse’s Cornbread Crumb topping. Run it under the broiler to brown and serve.
How to make Chef Jesse’s Cornbread Crumb Dressing
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cup Chef Jesse’s cornbread, cubed small (make your own or use Jiffy)
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
In a medium skillet, cook garlic in oil over low heat about 1 minute, then toss with corn bread, seasonings and parsley. Stir until crispy and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle over cassoulet. Brown and serve.