Food Fidelity is about evolving traditional soul food cooking to reflect contemporary times. Just as original music is recycled, remixed, and reinterpreted my family strives to preserve traditional soul food culture with a contemporary perspective by experiementing with recipes that meet the weekday meal needs of busy families. We explore "neo-soulful" meals that though grounded in traditional soul food cooking are now convenient, healthy, diverse, and most importantly GOOD.
This is a recipe for Watermelon Steak. I decided to post a video version to highlight the simplicity. We eat watermelon many different ways in our house, but this savory version is one of my favs. The look is more ahi tuna, but texture is more buttery soft beef filet. It's also a great way to show off if you're entertaining guests.
Summer's of my childhood were always dominated by the latest hit from Whodini so what better way to enjoy watermelon than paired with "One Love".
When I was 8 years old my mom used to sell designer jeans from a Good Times Van in the parking lot adjacent to Good Luck Hamburgers and Washington's Bar BQ (later it became Ponderosa's and now Two Podners) in Oak Cliff off of Loop 12. Good Luck known for its Link Baskets and shakes was a lesson in operations. It made no sense, but then again it made perfect sense. You would order at the "burger window" but if you wanted a shake you had to walk to the other end of the restaurant to the "shake window" only to be served by the same person from the aforementioned burger window who just walked down to meet you.
Since I didn't grow up with my mom, I would walk to this parking lot after school to be around her. Mrs. Washington and my mom became good friends and she would offer me link sandwiches during my visits. I spent so much time there on "quality control" her pitmaster Mr. Man (note I don't know his real name but Mrs Washington called him "man" all the time as in "Man, you take yo sugar pills, Man you gone burn my cornbread, Man add so mo fat to dem greens". Since she called him man, I called him Mr Man.
Mr Man taught me the ways of the smoke as well as how to make his secret sauce, as well as greens, red beans, and Mac and cheese. We would listen to lead belly blues while he bragged about how "you don't need no meat for my sauce". He was an East Texas cat as most Dallas black folk are so hot links and ribs were king. Brisket was for chopped beef sandwiches then and played the secondary role. I can remember Mr Man or my grandfather for that matter, cooking a nice brisket and then chopping it up with a meat cleaver and serving it with buns and sauce. Mr. Man would reserve the burnt ends for me.
Washington's was one of the few spots in Dallas where you could get East Texas' finest Pittsburgh Links where you specified if you wanted squirters or not. You had to be careful with the squirters because a heavy bite into one could project that juicy goodness from one of those pockets of grease into an eye or worse somebody's finest white threads.
I was never one for verbal instructions, which I'm sure has frustrated a few teachers, coaches, and my spouse, but that year of watching and experimenting with Mr. Man served as my culinary foundation and was the Genesis for my food passion. There was even a two week period where I transferred to the neighboring Maynard Jackson Elementary to be close to moms and Mrs. Washington. Despite my myriad food tastes and interests, deep down I am an East Texas BBQ dude who loves the taste and texture of smoked encased meats. I am glad to know that there are still some places in Texas holding down the tradition, despite losing their shine to hipsters and not getting their propers from the masses. Like all the other art forms out there, cueing ain't no different in terms of the marginalization of pioneers.
As I often do, I try to introduce all in my circle new healthier ways of eating. I'm especially passionate about this with my immediate family. I recall the first time I cooked quinoa for my mom and her friends a crew that would remind you of Marla Gibbs, Jacke' and the rest of the 227 women. In an effort to get them to try it, I described it as this new grits. My people are grits people so had to keep it relative.
It was the first time I made this quinoa recipe. It wasn't until after they had gone for seconds that I gave the true reveal, that in fact it was an ancient grain called quinoa that the Aztecs ate. The look from all their faces said to me "what is an ass tech?" A few months later as my mom tried to explain to one of her customers the grits dish I had made previously, she asked me with no hint of sarcasm, "what was it called, Kay Y?" I recovered as best as I could in that situation and responds "oh you mean that keeeeen wa."
So with a hard to pronounce name, bland natural taste, weird texture, blah blah, blah...I get the bad rap that quinoa gets. However, with its excellent nutritional content and because it such a good protein source for vegetarian meals, I had to find a way to make it beyond palatable. I love eating healthy, but I'm not compromising on taste.
This quinoa dish works. It's easy to make, quick, and has a complexity of flavor that even a grits lover appreciates.
This is probably my favorite way to cook and eat chicken. No chopping, no fuss, and no mess. It's great if you want the crunch of fried without the calories. Plus from a flavor profile there is so much more you can do with a pan roasted bird. For this recipe I marinated overnight using buttermilk which adds to the juiciness of the thigh meat. After marinating for a day, I seasoned with a jerk spice mix, but by all means do you and use whatever seasonings you prefer. You can keep it really simple and just go with your basic salt and pepper which will get you a nice golden brown color typical of fried chicken. This is the approach they take at epicurious.com which is where I got the inspiration. The jerk seasoning Garners a really dark black crust which I love since of course black is beautiful. You will get a crispy exterior with a juicy interior holding depths of flavor.
For those of you who prefer to multitask when making gumbo or just prefer to save that forearm workout for the gym, this roux is for you. The end product is nearly identical to the more traditional cooktop stir for a long time process, so if you value convenience more than classic process try this. I tend to be a gumbo geek/snob for my personal consumption but admittedly have used this method for larger catering gigs to achieve maximum efficiency. Taste, color, etc. is not sacrificed, I promise. All you lose is the ability to brag about how much elbow grease and sweat equity you put into your roux.
We don't eat much fried food in our house for obvious health reasons, however when we do we are all in! At heart I'm a guy who likes to eat all my food at one time and thus enjoy platforms that support this. Forget courses or plates just throw my veggies, protein, and fruit all together in a sandwich, smoothie, burrito, pizza, or stew. So this sandwich is a riff on a frequent Sunday night meal (roasted chicken with greens and a starch) in our house. Since it was my birthday I went fried on the chicken and prepared the greens as a slaw. I wanted a sandwich so stacked everything on a bun, but you could easily go sans bun and have fried chicken thigh with a side of slaw.
For my birthday and this MLK holiday I wanted my sandwich to be the anti chick fil a - Chicken thigh meat, bold flavors, and most importantly created in the spirit of love for my fellow brothers and sisters and recognizing that my love for one group is not a zero sum game nor an affront to any other group. Hence we call it the Big Moopbrownski to honor the dao of that dude known as Moopbrown a servant to others, positive beacon for betterment of society, and most of all grateful for the life and gifts I've been blessed to share with others.
As I was in the kitchen reflecting while cooking, I was listening to Curtis Mayfield's "We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue" as always touched and moved by the lyrics:
We people who are darker than blue
Are we gonna stand around this town
And let what others say come true?
We're just good for nothing they all figure
A boyish, grown up, shiftless jigger
Now we can't hardly stand for that
Or is that really where it's at?
We people who are darker than blue
This ain't no time for segregatin'
I'm talking 'bout brown and yellow two
High yellow girl, can't you tell
You're just the surface of our dark deep well
If your mind could really see
You'd know your color the same as me
Pardon me, brother, as you stand in your glory
I know you won't mind if I tell the whole story
Get yourself together, learn to know your side
Shall we commit our own genocide
Before you check out your mind?
I know we've all got problems
That's why I'm here to say
Keep peace with me and I with you
Let me love in my own way
Now I know we have great respect
For the sister, and mother it's even better yet
But there's the joker in the street
Loving one brother and killing the other
When the time comes and we are really free
There'll be no brothers left you see
3 Chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
3-4 cups Brown rice flour (feel free to use plain flour if that's what you have on hand, but I find five flour to be lighter and provides a better crunch)
12 oz Buttermilk brine (buttermilk, pepper, garlic powder)
Egg wash - three beaten eggs, milk, tsp of cider vinegar). Note you can keep it simple with just the eggs and buttermilk if you don't mind a darker color to your bird.
1/4 cup Seasoning mix (do as you like, but I used a mix of paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, thyme and lemon peel)
1 tbs Corn starch
Canola, peanut, or vegetable oil
Refrigerate the chicken in the brine overnight
Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse the buttermilk away
Season the chicken with your spice mix, then set the chicken aside until it reaches room temperature
Make coating mix - (combine flour, corn starch, and remaining spice mix in a brown paper bag)
Heat cooking oil in a cast iron skillet to 370 degrees
Dredge chicken in egg wash and then coat liberally with flour mixture by shaking it in the bag.
Place chicken in the skillet being careful not to overcrowd the skillet. Give the piece ample space to breath. Fry for 6-8 minutes. Pieces will begin to float when they're ready
Remove chicken and place on a wire rack that sits over a baking sheet. Let chicken cool and air out for at least 5 minutes to achieve optimal crispness
Toast your bun. Dress the bun with spicy mayo then add chicken topped with slaw and pickles
Black Kale Slaw Recipe
Chop kale and red cabbage into thin long strips.
Combine cider vinegar, mayonnaise, salt and pepper and whisk mixing it to nice consistency
Add vinegar mix to kale and cabbage,mother toss thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight.
Growing up in my grandmother's house, okra was a regular on the meal rotation, but it was mostly served stewed. I never heard my late grandmother sing, but I imagine she'd sound like the late great Minnie Ripperton. her voice was so nice, even her anger was beyond pleasant for me.
So with both my Ma Dear and Minnie on my mind, okra mde its way on this yea's Christmas menu. Of course it didn't hurt that okra is also a wifey favorite.
I am a member of The Hatchery Tasting Box, which is a monthly subscription based service that sends small batch unique foodie items (sauces, seasonings, jams, etc.). This month's box included a spice mix which I decided to use as a base for okra chips which is fancy for sliced okra baked at high temps.
For both an additional layer of flavor and color, I added smoked paprika to the mix. This gives it an exotic bbqesque quality. I implore you not to skimp on the paprika; make sure it's nice and smokey.
Whole okra sliced in half lengthwise
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp spice mix of your choice (simple sea salt and black pepper works well, but
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Toss sliced okra in mixing bowl with olive coating well.
Add the spices. Use liberally to make sure all the okra is well seasoned.
Place okra on a baking sheet with exposed inside facing up. Roast on top rack for about 15-20 minutes or until the edges turn dark golden brown in color.