Having grown up mostly in Texas, Kim is very familiar with the Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas (for luck) and collard greens (for prosperity) on New Year’s Day. Not only have we made one or both of those dishes every January 1 since we got married, we’ve also built on those dishes and created our own tradition of a New Year’s Day Indoor Barbecue. (Aside from having no outdoor space, it’s pretty cold in New York in January!) This was the second year that we invited our friends Sharon, Tom, Alexandra, and Eric (who, unfortunately, was too sick to attend, but did get a to go plate!), so we really wanted to do things up.
Kim’s parents gave us a copy of Lisa Fain’s “The Homesick Texan’s Family Table” for Christmas. Lisa, like Kim, is a transplant to New York City from Texas and has found ways to make her favorite dishes from Texas in her small apartment. We are huge fans of Lisa’s original cookbook, “The Homesick Texan Cookbook,” and we are very excited to jump into the new one.
We decided to do a Homesick Texan-themed barbecue this year and made everything (with the exception of the celery sticks, tortilla chips, and wine!) from scratch. We mostly used recipes from “The Homesick Texan Cookbook”, but used one recipe, for corn sticks, from Lisa’s newer book. Here is the menu below, with links (Please note that while the links take you to recipes very similar to what we made, if you want the exact recipes, you have to buy Lisa’s cookbooks!):
Kim made Chipotle Pimento Cheese, a Southern appetizer staple with a Texas twist with the addition of cilantro and chipotle. Here’s how it went for Kim:
This was my second time making this recipe and I was I really glad I did! It came together so quickly and can be made a little in advance, which really helped with the timing of all the other delicious things that needed to be made. I started by grating the cheese and then the little bit onion. I then added the remaining ingredients–garlic, mayonnaise, pimentos, chipotle in adobo, cilantro, cumin and lime juice–and mixed gently. I picked a nice-sized chipotle to add, so the cheese had a nice kick and only needed a touch of salt and pepper to come together. I transferred the concoction from the mixing bowl to a serving bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and into the fridge it went. Just before our guests arrived, I took it out of the fridge and arranged it on a platter with celery sticks and tortilla chips, as per tradition. Thanks to our friends at Wines by the Flask, we paired this with a 2013 Claudio Morelli Bianchello del Metauro that was delightful and really balanced the creaminess of the cheese.
The first step for preparing the brisket was to put together the rub, which is a mixture of salt, pepper, and other tasty spices and took me no time at all to make. Once the spice mix was ready, I rubbed it on both sides of the brisket until the meat (and my hand!) was well coated. I laid the brisket on a large piece of foil and draped the bacon across the top, then spread the onions and garlic on top of the bacon. I wrapped the brisket in the foil and then wrapped it with a second piece if foil. I placed the packet of meaty goodness into a 325 degree oven where it cooked for the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon. After a 20 minute rest, the meat came out of the foil and was perfect – very tender and juicy, not only from the fat of the brisket itself, but also the bacon, with the spices in the rub all coming through. Thanks to our friends at Wines by the Flask, we paired the brisket with a 2012 Torcicoda Primativo, which stood up very well to the bold flavors in the meat and barbecue sauce. (Tom and Tony stuck to the Shiner Bock the drank with the pimento cheese!)
The barbecue sauce is one of my favorite recipes from either of the Homesick Texan cookbooks. It’s such a unique spin on the usual sauces that I have been known to squeeze some into a spoon and just eat it by itself. It’s very easy to make, as all you need to do is sauté some onion and garlic, add all the wet ingredients (including coffee) and dry ingredients to the pot, and let everything simmer until all the flavors have married and the sauce has thickened. The sauce came out perfectly, with enough sweetness to complement the savory meat and enough heat (and caffeine!) to open your eyes.
Kim always makes something with black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day and this time it was Texas Caviar. Here’s how it went:
It had been a few years since I had made Texas Caviar. I had never made Lisa Fain’s recipe and I was excited to try it. I was also very glad that it had to chill for four hours–it meant I could make it well in advance and not have any last-minute things to worry about. Just before Christmas, I was lucky enough to find canned black-eyed peas at my local grocery story–normally I have to import them from Texas–and scooped up two cans and stashed them away for this very occasion. I love the colorful mix in this dish; the green from the scallions and cilantro, the red from the tomatoes and the yellow from the bell pepper really look spectacular against the black-eyed peas. The lime juice, which gets added to the above ingredients along with olive oil and cumin, added a nice brightness to the dish and while it was very tasty as I put into the fridge, it was even better when I took it out and served it with the brisket.
Last but not least, we knew we wanted to serve some cornbread, so Tony, after investing in a pair of beautiful, cast-iron cornstick pans, made Jalapeño Corn Sticks. Here’s how he did it:
The plan for the corn sticks, which are very similar to cornbread, was to mix the batter and bake them which we were letting the brisket rest. For me, this first meant measuring out the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking soda and baking power, plus jalapeños) in the morning. When the brisket came out of the oven, I mixed together the wet ingredients (egg, buttermilk, and vegetable oil) and combined them with the dry to make the batter. The batter, as the cookbook notes, is very thick; it’s almost closer to a dough than a batter. I used a very small rubber spatula to spoon the batter into the wells of the cornstick pan and to smooth the top of the batter so that it filled each well. The sticks baked for 15 minutes (I turned each of the pans halfway through the cooking time so that the tops would brown evenly) and came out golden brown on top and rich yellow on the bottom. Like everything else, the corn sticks were perfect – moist (and warm!), with just a little spiciness from the jalapeños. With this last dish made, dinner was served!
For dessert, we were lucky enough to have an assortment of home-made Christmas cookies that Kim’s mom was nice enough to send home with us when we returned from Austin after the holiday. We had raspberry jam bars, peanut butter blossoms, snowballs, ginger molasses cookies, and caremelitas, which were everyone’s favorite.
So, we rang in the New Year with a perfect combination of close friends; delicious food, thanks to Lisa Fain at the Homesick Texan; and great wines, thanks to our friends at Wines by the Flask. This hugely successful dinner will set the tone for 2015 and we look forward to writing about more of the great dishes that we make this year at Two at the Table!