Yesterday was a day of many firsts all thanks to A Chef’s Life. Over the weekend, we re-watched many of the Season 2 and 3 shows and consulted Vivian’s cookbook to find the recipes. Having never made it before, I decided I wanted to make a pot of greens and sausage and I wanted to try homemade biscuits (East North Carolina style).
I’ve never had greens before. I remember my mom making a pot of greens growing up. She always commented on the smell and said you had to keep your door shut or the horseflies would get in because they were attracted to it. Just the look and smell of the greens reminded me of swamp water though so I never ate them. I was a very finicky eater as a child, but I’m making up for that now. I asked Mom on the phone last night about them and she said she always made turnip greens. We chose collards, which she said she’d never made before but I think she has. I think she called them polk salad though.
As for sausage, back home it was a breakfast item and always served fried; we never had it any other way. As an adult, I’ve had it in gumbo and currently make a dish that uses polish sausage for a cowboy-style stir fry. But we wanted to make Vivian proud so we actually went to our local butcher and got their homemade sausage. We were not disappointed!
I’ve never had pot liquor before either. I didn’t even know what it was until I started watching Vivian’s show. There’s not a section for it in the cookbook but it’s mentioned in several recipes and she writes about how to utilize it. It’s also mentioned in several of her TV episodes. Pot liquor is the water leftover after you cook greens. Lots of nutrients are boiled off and become highly concentrated in the water, so it’s very healthy for you. Vivian’s mother likes to drink it, but Vivian uses it as a broth to flavor soups, stews, rice, or grits. After cooking our greens we ended up with two large jars of pot liquor (pictured above).
At first it had a very bitter taste but after I continued to sip it I really started enjoying the earthy flavor. I can’t wait to cook some grits with it or use it as a base for a soup maybe later in the week when we start recycling those Thanksgiving leftovers. As for the sausage and greens, it was amazing! The sausage had a robust flavor and was almost kind of spicy but it complemented the greens well.
It’s sad that we have such a great butcher nearby that we’ve only visited a few times since we’ve lived here. We’ll definitely be changing that. I’m already making plans to go back to them for a Christmas ham. And I can’t believe how good the greens tasted! I’m glad we bought two large batches of them because I’m going to make them again next weekend and they are definitely an ingredient I’ll be utilizing again when I get to that section in Vivian’s cookbook.
Next up were the biscuits. A few weeks ago, I watched the episode (I think it was all about buttermilk) where Vivian learns from Lillie how to make homemade biscuits with lard. It was such a simple recipe but I was glad to find it in the book yesterday to make sure I was doing it right.
Mom never made biscuits from scratch and admitted to that yesterday on the phone when I told her about mine. I remember the quick flaky layered biscuits from a can that Mom always served at breakfast with jam or chocolate gravy. I rarely ate them because I’ve never been much of a breakfast or biscuit person. Sure, I’ve had homemade biscuits before but I’m not sure where other than M&M biscuits that a neighbor made for a treat, but I think even those were also just canned biscuits with candies on top.
Years ago I bought a small can of Crisco when a cake recipe that I wanted to try called for it. But I’ve never bought or used it again since. So while we were out shopping, I picked up a tub of real lard for the biscuits. Vivian uses lard for everything, so I wanted to stay true to the recipe. We were not disappointed. After our sausage and greens, we had biscuits with homemade cranberry butter and it was the best! The butter was made thanks to another episode of the show and we added my homemade cranberry jam which I had made last year during the holidays.
I need to get back into the cookbook and decide what I’m going to do next. I haven’t checked to see if it’s in there, but last night we watched the casserole episode so today we made Vivian’s neighbor’s hamburger, potato, and cabbage casserole to have for lunches this week. OMG! It’s awesome. But there’s Turkey Day leftovers to deal with so it might be another week before I get back to Deep Run Roots. But I am already planning on a few dishes for when I go home to Tennessee next month to visit Mom for Christmas.