…And We’re Back!

photo(6)What a month November was, and what a month December has turned out to be! Jess and I got married, Jess found a new job, and we moved from our tiny apartment in Bryant to a much larger place in the heart of Little Rock. Moving into the city has long been a goal for us, and while I’m happy we’re here, I hope I don’t have to do the move thing any time soon — it’s complete and utter torture. And while we’re still unpacking boxes, we’ve got our new kitchen up and running, so I figured I’d share with all of you some of the things we’ve been making. I’ve traded in my crummy old electric stove for a gas range, and while our new place doesn’t have a dishwasher, that’s a small price to pay for the convenience and quiet of where we are living. And as you can see by the Chicken Parm pictured above, it hasn’t stopped us from whipping up something tasty. The parm itself is easy: take 1 cup shredded Parmesan, 1 cup Panko, and season with herbs of your choice and fresh pepper. Cut strips of chicken breast, dip in a beaten egg, then coat in the Panko/cheese mixture and fry until golden. Serve with wide egg noodles and a chunky sauce.

photo(3)The second meal we cooked in our new kitchen was a classic Southern feast: country-fried venison, green beans, and mashed potatoes. We make green beans like grandma used to: salt, pepper, and some thick cut pork belly. Oh, and a little secret ingredient known commercially as Accent (which is pure MSG). Just a pinch or two of MSG really sets off the flavors of these beans. To prepare, throw everything in the pot with some clean water and just cook the ever-living hell out of them. By most standards, these beans are overcooked, but a long, slow simmer allows the pork (and monosodium glutamate) to work its magic and create a richly flavored dish of beans with a nice, hearty pot liquor.

As for the deer steak, we dipped it in egg an dredged it in a mixture of seasoned flour and cornmeal. And the mashed potatoes were simply that — with far too much real butter in them. All-in-all, it’s been a tasty first week in our new place, and we’re excited to be posting again. Stay tuned for the delicious conclusion of our Seattle series, and a look at Little Rock’s newest trendy taco joint Local Lime. Stick around!

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8 thoughts on “…And We’re Back!

    • There are a lot of factors that can influence the taste of wild game — the two biggest are age of the animal and diet. So an older deer that hasn’t had enough to eat will taste “wilder” than a young deer that’s eaten its fill of, say, acorns or muscadines (or preferably both).

      The cut of meat is also important; the backstrap (which is what we made here) is the mildest and most tender part. Steaks cut from the hams can be tougher and require different cooking techniques than our deep fry (braise the heck out of tough cuts for tender meat and to mellow the flavor).

      My favorite way to calm down the wild flavor of venison (which works for rabbit or any other game) is to first soak the meat overnight in clean water, making sure to get as much blood out of the meat as possible. Change the water 2-3 times if needed. The next day, pour off the water and pour on enough buttermilk to cover the meat. Let the meat sit in the buttermilk for another day or so. The acidic milk will tenderize the meat and do a lot to cut the gaminess that can ruin deer steak. Buttermilk is your friend with meat!

      • Great to know, Michael! We cook quite a bit of venison as well as wild duck around here, so that solves the mystery of the differences in gaminess! And I will try that water & buttermilk trick next time!

  1. Where did you find pork belly? I saw on Thanh’s blog she found it at K Oriental, but I’m wondering if there’s another source in case they’re out. I’m planning to try my hand at home-smoked bacon and am having trouble finding pork belly. You’d think it would just be laying around Arkansas!

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