Goodness Gracious, Grits!

Grits. Just the sound of the word brings a warm feeling across the South.

The topic of grits is something of a sacred cow among Southern cooks and chefs. Grits are a staple in many rural Southern homes, and many conversations revolve around the subject. There’s a lot of passion and opinion about the revered grits. We’re a part this Southern foodway history. We have a deep affinity for our beloved grits, and this post is to celebrate them! Be sure to share your own history about this most Southern of foods on our facebook (Greensboro or Cary) or instagram (Greensboro or Cary) pages.

Add a dollop of butter and lots of heavy cream, smother them in cheese or dress them up with bacon, shrimp or red-eye gravy. You would think there’s not much you can do to mess up a bowl of grits—but you can. True Southern grits aficionados will tell you that though there are thousands of recipes, it’s rarely the recipe that makes the grits. It’s the love you put into standing there, stirring the pot: You know you can’t walk away from a pot of cooking grits very long or they stick to the bottom of the pan and scorch (we’ve all done it!). It’s also the right pot plus the right stove temperature (electric or gas factors into this as well). It’s taken some folks nearly a lifetime to get it right.

While it may not seem there are many things more inherently Southern than grits, they were originally a Native American food. History of Grits tells us that Sir Walter Raleigh and his men were likely offered a dish much like today’s grits in 1584 by Native Americans local to what’s now Roanoke, Virginia.

At Lucky’s we take pride in our grits, whether they are deep-fried, twice-baked or just plain creamy. We hope our friends who want to give grits a try for the first time—and those who are already fans—stop by to taste our versions. We don’t just serve them at brunch, you can get them at lunch and dinner too!

As venerable as their history is, our Deep Fried Grit Cakes were inspired a little closer to home (and just a bit more recently!). As Nancy King Quaintance’s mother, Joan King, tells it, laughing:

“On our honeymoon at Holden Beach, I was going to make my first meal. Jim asked me to make grits with dinner, but I didn’t know how to make them and the bag of grits didn’t come with directions. I thought to myself, oh this will be easy, just make them like rice. In the process of learning, I made the mistake of adding way too many grits and not enough water, and Jim had no idea either (we were very young when we got married). Not only did I end up with a LOT of leftover grits, the grits ended up all over the ceiling, walls and cabinets as they bubbled everywhere! There were pots and pots of grits leftover. When I wondered what to do with them all, Jim told me about how his Aunt Fanny refrigerated leftover grits and used them the next day to make grits cakes.”

In fact, Jim King’s family had a long tradition of grits-based cuisine, from the standard porridge-like preparation to fried grits cakes— a family favorite known today as “Fanny Grits.” In times of hardship from the Civil War though the Great Depression, grits—like rice and potatoes—were an inexpensive, filling staple in kitchens across the Deep South. Frugal cooks would not waste any leftovers, but instead re-purpose them in new dishes later the same day or the next.

The most recent addition to the family’s recipe history is courtesy of the late Fanny Nicholson, who was one of Nancy King Quaintance’s grandfather’s cousins—that’s a mouth full. Reportedly a fantastic cook, Fanny concocted her special soufflé-like grits recipe as a way to use leftovers and stretch supplies longer for a large extended family. The recipe is still a staple of King family meals and a frequent and beloved side dish at family gatherings.

Let us note that the Old Mill of Guilford, the local grist mill that we get our grits from, has been around since 1767. The Old Mill has been operating since the 1970s, making it a true Guilford County icon. Folks driving north on Highway 68 through Oak Ridge, NC, can see the mill’s big red waterwheel spinning out in front, and visitors are always welcome. It’s worth a trip up the road to see how the Old Mill operates and pick up some flour, cornmeal, pancake mix or other delectable from the store there. (Old Mill products also are available all over town, too, at places like the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market.)

Now that you know where to get your grits in Guilford County, what do you do with them? Here are a couple of recipes, from our kitchen to yours. We’ll start with our basic recipe for Creamy Yellow Grits, then show you how to deep-fry them or serve them up with shrimp in a way that’ll have the whole neighborhood coming over for a taste!  (And if you’re feeling experimental, why not try the aforementioned Fanny Grits. Yes, they are that delicious!)

Lucky 32 Creamy Yellow Grits

  • 12 fl. oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 3 c. water
  • ¾ stick butter
  • ¾ tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. cracked black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 c. yellow grits
  • ½ c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

Add cream, water, butter, salt and pepper to sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir in the grits. Stir with wire whisk continuously to keep grits from clumping up. Once all the grits are blended, continue to stir for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat and cook for about 15- 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese.

makes 1 quart

Shrimp and Grits wild-caught American shrimp, andouille sausage, onions and tasso ham gravy over Old Mill of Guilford grits

Lucky 32 Shrimp and Grits

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 4 tbsp. chopped green onions
  • 1¾ lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¾ lb. Andouille sausage
  • 1¼ c. Tasso Gravy (see recipe below)
  • Creamy Grits (see recipe above)

Heat oil in sauté pan, then sauté half of the green onion. Add sausage, cook, then add shrimp and cook until done. Add Tasso Gravy, tossing to coat and heat all the way through. Place serving of hot Creamy Grits in pasta bowls and pour a portion of the shrimp mixture over the grits. Garnish each dish with remaining green onions.

makes 4 servings

Lucky 32 Tasso Gravy

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ c. diced onions
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • 1 c. Tasso ham – diced
  • ½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • ¼ c. roux (make with equal parts butter and flour: melt butter in small pan, add flour, stir to thicken, remove from heat)
  • 1 tsp. chopped parsley (optional)

Melt butter, then add onions and thyme, sautéing gently until very soft and caramelized. Add Tasso and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to distribute seasoning. Add chicken stock and salt, bring to simmer, then cook 10 minutes. Stir in roux and simmer 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, stir in parsley. Serve.

Lucky 32 Deep Fried Grit Cakes

  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1½ tbsp. butter
  • 1 c. stone ground grits
  • 1 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 eggs, beaten (1 large or 2 small)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. cornmeal
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tbsp. Cajun spices
  • oil for deep frying

In a large sauce pot, bring chicken stock, heavy cream and butter to a boil. Stir in grits and reduce to medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until grits are cooked and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, beaten eggs, salt and pepper. Spread mixture onto a greased sheet pan or cookie sheet and cool completely. Grits may be refrigerated overnight. When cooled, cut grits into desired shape and set aside. Meanwhile, blend cornmeal, flour and Cajun spices in a shallow baking dish. Heat oil for deep frying to 350º F. Dredge grit cakes in cornmeal mixture and fry in hot oil until brown on both sides. Drain fried grits on paper towels.

King Family “Fanny Grits” Recipe

  • 1 – 1½ c. plain cooked grits (leftovers or freshly made)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ to 1 c. of milk
  • salt
  • approx. 1/2 c. Cheddar or other cheese of your choice

Beat eggs with a beater and add a pinch or two of salt, then add in the grits. The mixture should have a consistency similar to pancake batter. If you want to add cheese, add grated cheese. Pour into a casserole dish and bake as you would a soufflé in a slow oven (around 325º F) until just set. The mixture will puff up, then collapse while cooling.

Makes 4-6 servings as a side dish

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust as to your taste and portion size.

© 1989-2018. This recipe is the property of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants, LLC. Unauthorized commercial use is forbidden.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index. 

Saving Piedmont Carolina Food Traditions

I’ve always heard that Southerners were passionate about their food.  It wasn’t until I uprooted from my Northern home and planted myself in the Piedmont that I realized how inseparable food is to the South’s culture.  After exploring traditional Southern dishes and wondering if there was anything that didn’t go with grits, I came to understand why Southern food is as rich as the history it reflects.

In the fast-paced North, time is a precious commodity, and I never wanted to spend it on prepping and cooking meals.  Convenient, quick meals that required minimal effort were a staple in my cupboard.  Less time in the kitchen means more time for family, fun or work. This mindset is spreading to the South, and many of the region’s rich culinary traditions are getting lost. I can say, though, at Lucky’s we’re proud to do our part in honoring and preserving the culinary legacies that have been passed down from generation to generation, serving the dishes that are near and dear to our hearts…and we hope creating new traditions, too.

While there are certainly exciting culinary developments in restaurant and home kitchens all over the world, in most homes, cooking has become a lost art.  We want to help folks explore this lost art and learn more about the rich Southern foodways that are our heritage in the Piedmont. (In case you don’t know the term, foodway refers to the practices, rituals, and habits of a particular region, culture, or time period.) By taking a look at the first victual adventures of European settlers as they interacted with Native people, plus the food traditions of various slave populations, we can get insight into how we think about nourishing ourselves in the present.

So buckle your seat belts:  We are going back to our Southern roots.

Southern food was the result of many cultures colliding together.  Native Americans planted the seeds (quite literally) that became Southern food’s roots.  When the English settlers arrived, they were ignorant of the ways of the land.  Natives were instrumental in teaching them how to grow, prepare and eat a variety of produce.

In particular, the Natives’ mastery of the many uses of corn saved the settlers from starvation and allowed them to establish settlements.  You can even trace the origins of our beloved cornbread back to the people we now refer to as Native Americans, who combined nuts, berries and water with corn and then roasted it into a cake.  When the Natives passed this technique on, the English experimented with it to create the many versions of cornbread we have today. I prefer the sweeter cornbread over savory, but that’s a debate in and of itself.

Lucky 32 Cornbread

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 fluid ounces cornmeal
  • 3 fluid ounces sugar
  • 3 fluid ounces corn flour
  • 3/4 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup liquid or fresh eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cream-style corn

Combine all dry ingredients and set aside.
Combine all wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.
Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture until just combined.
Pour into greased pans.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden (25-30 minutes).

Makes one 9 x 12″ pan.

Get a hunk of Lucky's cornbread with our Sunday Skillet Fried Chicken!
Get a hunk of Lucky's cornbread with our Sunday Skillet Fried Chicken!

The immigrant Europeans left their own stamps on Southern foodways. The English influenced the baking and pastries of the region: Pound cake is based on an old English recipe. Louisiana foodways have been heavily influenced by French cuisine (see etouffee and jambalaya, just to name two of my favorite dishes). The Scottish brought over their fondness for fried foods; and the Irish, their love of a large, hearty breakfast.

While many European foods earned their place in the new “American” culinary experience, it was African traditions that made the most impact on the flavors and methods of Southern cooking.  In attempting to reproduce the cuisines of their own native cultures, slaves had to learn from the Native Americans’ agricultural expertise to combine local ingredients using African culinary techniques into foods palatable for European tastes. The resulting dishes give us the first snapshot of the Southern food we know and love today.

This unique and evolving cuisine spread quickly simply because slaves did most of the cooking in Southern kitchens: Everyone ate what they cooked.  The food was so popular that by 1824, a few recipes directly from these kitchens made it into the nation’s earliest cookbook, The Virginia Housewife, by Mary Randolph. In fact, cookbooks like this provide a clear view of our Southern foodways. The lives of entire cultures and communities are imprinted across the splattered pages of recipes within them. Southern cookbooks feature dishes that were born from the South’s history of hardships and successes.

Early Americans’ foods define them and tell their stories. So what defines us today? Will we forget years of careful culinary experience and methods passed on from cook to cook through generations and replace it with an easy cup of noodles? Or will we choose to use what has been passed down to us so that the next generation will choose to continue exploring the art of cooking?

At Lucky’s, we are passionate about cooking and exploring Southern foodways.  Join us for a delicious meal informed by what we’ve learned about our region’s culinary traditions, try our recipes (like our cornbread), join us for special events, and share your Southern food stories with us via Facebook (Greensboro or Cary).

If you interested in reading more about the origins of Southern food, visit:


About the Author: Lexus Lomison is a member of the QW Communications Collaborative team (A team of enthusiastic folk that share news, happenings and a lot of fun stuff about Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels). 

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust to your taste and portion size.

© 1989-2017. This recipe is the property of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants, LLC. Unauthorized commercial use is forbidden.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current  menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Recipe Index

Oh, The Places Food’ll Go

Did you know that the average American produce travels 1,500 miles before it lands on your table? The fewer the miles on a car, the less the wear and tear on the vehicle (and the greater its value). Similarly, the fewer the miles fresh produce travels before being consumed, the better it tastes and the less impact on the environment it makes. This is why many Americans are adopting the “100 Mile Diet,” which promotes eating fresh local foods within 100 miles to insure peak freshness and nutritional value.

It’s like we say, the nearer the farm to the fork, the better the flavor.

Here are just a few reasons why:

  • A recent study showed that all locally grown food combined still produced less carbon dioxide emissions in transport than a single imported produce item.
  • Carbon emissions won’t directly influence tonight’s dinner, but how long it takes for food to get to your table can affect its taste. From the moment produce is harvested, it’s a race against time to get it to your table. Produce and raw foods have a short shelf life, which makes the long-distance travel a challenge.
  • Many suppliers have processes that extend the shelf life of fresh foods, but these methods can prevent the produce from developing their full, broad range of vitamins and minerals, making them less nutrient-dense and flavorful than local foods.

So, if you want to consider going on the 100 Mile Diet or reduce your carbon footprint, the Greensboro Curb Market is a great place to start. All of their vendors, such as Smith Farms, are located within 100 miles of the market, ensuring that you have access to the freshest local produce when you shop at the Curb Market.

Every Tuesday through Thursday during their growing season, you can spot the Smith Farms Mobile Market.  They pack up their produce and take it to six different locations across Guilford and Alamance counties, including the Curb Market and Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market, as well as local hospitals and restaurants (like none other than Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro). They feature squash, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, peppers, various field peas, October beans, butter beans, potatoes and tomatoes (even vine-ripened tomatoes up until frost). This fall look for sweet potatoes and soon they’ll have cabbage and broccoli.

Visit Smith Farm's Facebook Page for updated list of available produce

The folks at Smith Farms believe that in order to get fresh produce from the field and onto a plate, you have to move it quickly – which means the farmer needs to have outlet options every day of the week. Some of their produce gets harvested and packaged daily (squash, zucchini and cucumbers), while others are harvested two to three times a week (tomatoes, corn, beans). Smith Farms work diligently six days a week to ensure that fresh-picked produce is available for you to enjoy. At Lucky’s, you can savor a variety of their fresh produce in our menu items that range from a side of Smith Farms’ corn to summer squash with roasted tomato sauce; on your way out, take home their zucchini, squash, tomatoes and pink-eyed peas,  by stopping by our Veggie Cart.

Squash with Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds zucchini
  • 2 pounds yellow squash
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups Roasted Tomato Sauce (see recipe)

Wash squash and slice into ½ inch half moons.
Heat butter (or canola oil) in a large sauté pan. Add squash and gently turn to
coat with butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper, gently turning to combine.
Add Roasted Tomato Sauce and gently turn to evenly distribute the sauce.
Continue to turn until vegetables are just starting to soften.

Makes 8-10 portions

Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 2½ pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2-3 fluid ounces canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash tomatoes and remove the stems. Slice tomatoes in half horizontally and place in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss until tomatoes are well coated in oil, herbs and seasoning.

Place tomatoes on a sheet tray, cut side down. Pour remaining oil and seasoning over
tomatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Remove from oven. Remove and discard garlic cloves. With a whisk, break up tomatoes.

Makes 2½ cups

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust to your taste and portion size.

© 1989-2017. This recipe is the property of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants, LLC. Unauthorized commercial use is forbidden.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Recipe Index.

If you interested in reading more about food miles visit:

Family, Farm and Tradition

Piglets roam, cows graze and music emanates from the barn at Hickory Nut Gap Farm. With its deep roots and long history, this is a favorite gathering place for neighbors, visitors and families.

The 90-acre farm is nestled in Fairview, North Carolina (about a 20-minute drive from downtown Asheville). Visitors are free to explore the extensive property, where they’ll encounter sheep, goats, and even piglets.  You also can shop at the farm store and enjoy a meal at their café.  “Personally, I love their sausages…We had ‘sausage dogs’… and they were amazing,” remarked  Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Executive Chef in Greensboro.  The Hickory Nut Gap Farm also hosts a variety of fun events, from Friday Night Barn Dances to a Summer Horse Camp.

Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to travel three hours to enjoy their food! Lucky 32 serves their breakfast links during brunch on the weekends.  We also use a variety of their pork products, including the pork loin that’s featured on the 2016 Suddenly this Summer Menu (lunchdinner and brunch).

Seared Pork Loin with Peach Chutney
Seared Pork Loin with Peach Chutney
  • 9 ounces pork tenderloin
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 fluid ounces Caramelized Onions (recipe below)
  • 3 fluid ounces Peach Chutney (recipe below)

Season pork loin with salt and pepper and sear or grill on all sides to medium-well.  Slice loin on the diagonal and serve over caramelized onions.  Top sliced pork with peach chutney.

Makes 1 serving

Caramelized Onions

  • 5 pounds of yellow onions
  • 5 tablespoons of canola oil

Remove the peel and slice in half end to end. Cut onions into uniform 1/4 inch thick slices.  Heat oil in sauté pan.  Add onions and sauté until tender.  Reduce heat and continue to cook until onions are caramelized to a golden brown.  Pour off excess liquid.

Makes about 3 cups.

Peach Chutney

  • 1 pound of peaches
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ yellow onion, diced
  • ½ tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon Jalapeño pepper, sliced
  • ¼ granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Peel, pit and ice the peaches. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until syrup consistency is achieved.

Makes  1½ cups

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust to your taste and portion size.

© 1989-2017. This recipe is the property of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants, LLC. Unauthorized commercial use is forbidden.

Visitors can learn about Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s rich history in the education center barn.   The farm was founded by Jim and Elizabeth McClure in 1916 and is still run by the family. “The name and traditions are special, so farming ‘old school’ is just the way it’s always been done. It’s 100 years old. That’s amazing considering so many farms have had to compromise their ways…but they haven’t,” commented Chef McMillan.

The Ager Family
The Ager Family

Jamie and Amy Ager (fourth generation of McClures) now co-own the Hickory Nut Gap farm business and brand Hickory Nut Gap Meats. Chef McMillan says that a relationship with the farm made perfect sense for Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen:  “They have passion and values that are in line with what we do. After speaking with Jamie for just a few minutes, you can tell that he is so close to the farm and really cares about not only what they do, but how they do it.”

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Recipe Index.

Lucky’s Longtime Favorite Recipes

Many of us spent the winter holidays visiting family and friends, eating meal after meal of casseroles, pies, sides and entrees — often made from recipes passed down from generation to generation. We soaked in tradition, and probably a whole lot of butter (especially if you’re from the South), finishing meals with full bellies and recipe cards for taking home to recreate favorite dishes in our own kitchens.

Now, winter is truly upon us in North Carolina, and while we may be weary of Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole recipe, comfort food and familiar flavors still call to us. Enter two of Lucky’s Longtime Favorites: Chicken Tomato Basil Soup and Weaver Tuna Salad. You may think to yourself, What could be so special about tomato soup and tuna salad? Each of these dishes takes a unique spin on a kitchen standby, adding the Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen stamp that makes them, as our proprietor Dennis Quaintance says, “current and traditional versions of classic recipes.”

Longtime Favorite #1: Weaver Tuna Salad

Let us tell you about the Weaver Tuna Salad first. As Dennis tells the story, the restaurant had been open for dinner for just a couple of months when we decided to start working on a lunch menu. We invited one of our dearest friends and partners, Mike Weaver, for lunch; while he was at Lucky’s, he mentioned in passing that one of his favorite lunches was a homemade tuna salad that used Italian dressing instead of mayonnaise to bind everything together, served up on a bed of greens with toast points. Right away, Chef John Jones was charged with creating a version using a mustard vinaigrette. That recipe, which he whipped up in no time at all, has been a hit from day one, and it has never been modified in our 27 years. Talk about a longtime favorite!

 

 


Recipe:  Weaver Tuna Salad 

  • 24 oz. canned white chunk tuna, packed in water
  • 5/8 cup diced cucumber 
  • 1 cup Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • salt to taste

Place tuna in a colander and allow to drain well, pressing on tuna to remove all water. Peel cucumber, remove seeds and dice to ¼ inch. Toss cucumber with a little salt, let sit for 10 minutes, and then rinse with water. In a mixing bowl, toss tuna and cucumber with vinaigrette. Season to taste.

 

Makes 1 quart

 

Recipe:  Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 fl. oz. Boetje Gourmet mustard
  • 2 fl. oz. Gulden’s mustard
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 7/8 cup canola oil

Using electric mixer, combine water, both mustards, red wine vinegar and lemon juice. When well blended, very slowly add oil.

Makes 1½ cups


 

Longtime Favorite #2: Chicken Tomato Basil Soup

Our Chicken Tomato Basil Soup has been with us since 1989, too, and it has been a guest favorite for many years. When asked about the reason behind its staying power, Dennis Quaintance remarked, “I don’t think there’s a person in North America who doesn’t have a childhood experience of wonderful — even canned — tomato soup … [it] is a legitimate comfort food.” He couldn’t be more right, and while ours is a far cry from the red can we all know, it’ll warm you from the inside out.  It’s on its way to becoming a new classic! Garnish this delicious soup with a fresh basil leaf and enjoy it with a hunk of warm bread, (or a grilled cheese sandwich if you’re feeling indulgent!).

Recipe: Chicken Tomato Basil Soup

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 tbsp. chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1¾ pounds chicken breast cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 46 oz. canned tomatoes “chopped in puree”
  • 1/3 cup roasted Roma tomatoes, chopped in food processor
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until slightly tender and lightly golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add cut-up chicken and sear for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add stock and basil and then bring to a simmer for 20 minutes. Combine cornstarch, water and salt. Add canned tomatoes, roasted Roma tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Gradually stir in prepared cornstarch in a thin stream (no larger than a pencil). Turn off heat and stir in cream.

Makes 1 gallon

 

Indulge in these favorites any time of the year at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro or Cary! For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index: http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

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Bounti-FALL Sides

Much of the garden is settling in for the upcoming winter’s rest, but it still shows off some pretty fantastic surprises in late fall, especially during a warmer season. Kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collards, beets, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and more. Leaves turn, drop and accumulate to protect spring growth from winter cold and weeds finally thin (thank heavens!). Fall is a time to reflect and think about what’s to come. It’s also a time for late-afternoon walks, gathering around warm fires, sharing stories, listening to music…and eating special meals with family and friends!

We thought we’d share a couple of our favorite sides recipes that feature in-season garden veggies: our Brussels Sprout Choucroute (featured on our sides menu through January 12) and a Fall Wilted Greens Salad. Need the ingredients? Pick up a fresh stock of local greens from Lucky’s veggie cart on your way home. When the weather’s nice, you’ll find our farm-to-fork veggie cart just outside on the sidewalk. When it’s raining or below 65º, you’ll find it just inside. Pick what you want, and pay by the honor system.

Lucky’s Brussels Sprout Choucroute

  • ¼ pound bacon, cooked and rough chopped (reserve bacon grease). Head to the market for some locally sourced bacon! We’re big fans of Hickory Nut Gap Farm!
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half
  • ½ pound yellow onions – julienne cut
  • ¼ cup bacon grease
  • 1½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp Gulden’s mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • ½ pound small new potatoes, steamed and cooled

Melt bacon grease in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and sweat until golden. Increase heat, add Brussels sprouts and sauté until edges are browned. Add stock, mustard, salt, pepper and thyme. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the sprouts are tender. Add potatoes and cook until hot. Turn off heat and stir in bacon.

 

veggi_cart_oct 22_GSO
Collards and Other Garden-Fresh Goodies on Lucky’s Veggie Cart

Aunt Susan’s Wilted Greens Salad

  • Any combination of greens: kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens or collards
  • One of the onion family: leek, Vidalia or red onion or scallions (plain white or yellow onions are OK in a pinch)
  • Pomegranate seeds (if fresh) or dried tart cherries
  • Any nuts, but walnuts or pecans are best (nuts also are available on our veggie cart)
  • Sections of citrus: tangerine, oranges or grapefruit are best (pears or apples are a good substitute)
  • Olive oil

Make a larger bowl of salad than you think you need: The salad will get much smaller when it begins to wilt! Wash the greens thoroughly. Tear bite-sized pieces into a large bowl, discarding the tough center rib and any stems. Slice the Onions thin and sauté them in a tiny bit of olive oil until they are brown and slightly crispy. Pour the onions over the greens while they are hot. Pan sauté the nuts and add them while hot to the salad bowl. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds or dried cherries over the salad in the bowl. Cut and section your choice of fruit and add that to the bowl. Add the dressing while it is still boiling hot.

Wilted Greens Dressing Recipe

  • ½ cup combined balsamic and apple cider vinegar
  • 1 heaping tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup honey (pick up some Pleasant Bee Honey from Raleigh on our veggie cart)
  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses, blackberry or blueberry syrup (or to taste)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring all ingredients to a rolling boil except the olive oil, whisking the ingredients as they heat. Taste and adjust the balance of sweet and sour. When the mixture is boiling, add the olive oil slowly so as not to stop the boiling. Continue to whisk and boil until the dressing thickens.

Pour as much dressing as needed over the salad. Toss and let sit to wilt for 5-10 minutes at least. Any excess dressing may be refrigerated and used another time. The dressing may be made ahead and brought back to a boil just before dressing and tossing the salad.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index: http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

 

Road trips and picnics!

Summer is finally here! Taking my child to camp in Eastern NC recently brought back memories of the picnics our family enjoyed on many car trips to the coast. Mom always had the cooler at hand for impromptu excursions, and she came up with easy, quick recipes that she whipped up like magic. Our family car was always (and still is) loaded up ready for a picnic at a moment’s notice.

On road trips, we would bypass the many restaurants and rest stops. Instead, we opted for stops at tiny roadside churches — where there always was a picnic table in the shade, welcoming folk and a playground to get the wiggles out — or the beautiful state parks along the way. And boy…Mom was ready to whip up a farm-to-fork snack right there in the parking lot when we happened upon a road-side stand.

We all have fond memories of picnics and tailgating with family, friends or a romantic interest. So we thought we’d share some yummy, fast recipes that incorporate the bounty of summer and travel well to your ultimate picnic spot. Get out there and make your own memories!

Heirloom Tomato Appetizer

  • ½ pound variety of heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 fluid ounce Herb Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • 1 ounce Goat Lady chèvre

Slice tomatoes and place them on a serving plate. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper. Drizzle Herb Vinaigrette over tomatoes, and then sprinkle with goat cheese. Makes 1 portion.

Recipe Tips:

  • Pack recipe ingredients separately in your cooler, and then combine them when you get to your picnic. That way your tomatoes won’t get mushy on the way.
  • Cut your heirloom tomatoes at home, marry the pieces back together again in the shape of a ball and bind with a few rubber bands. Then, combine all ingredients when you get to your picnic destination.

Herb Vinaigrette (make at home and bring in a squeeze bottle)

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dried tarragon
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • ½ cup minced fresh basil
  • ½ cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley

Combine all ingredients except oil and herbs in a saucepan, and heat while whisking until sugar is dissolved and Dijon is incorporated. Pour mixture into a blender and slowly add oil until well combined. Stir in herbs. Makes 1 quart.

Curried Chicken Salad

  • 2 pounds diced roasted chicken
  • 1/8 cup diced red onions
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ tbsp curry powder
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¾ cup lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients (except chicken) until well blended. Add chicken and mix thoroughly. Makes 4 cups.

Another great picnic recipe is our Cucumber-Tomato Salad “Liquor House Salad” (see it on our “Fresh, cold hothouse tomatoes” blog post)

Curried Chicken Salad over baby spinach tossed in Meyer lemon vinaigrette, topped with fresh blueberries and sliced almonds
Curried Chicken Salad over baby spinach tossed in Meyer lemon vinaigrette, topped with fresh blueberries and sliced almonds

Chocolate Brownies

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ¾ cups packed brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, blend flour, baking powder and salt. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips while stirring. In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mixture should turn light brown in color when done (about 5 minutes on medium speed). Add melted chocolate and melted butter to egg mixture and then add that mixture to the flour mixture, blending well with a spatula. Add walnuts, stirring to incorporate. Pour mixture into a greased pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Makes 6 large brownies.

Tips for a fun and easy picnic:

  • Keep the car packed with the essentials: blanket, basket or backpack to carry it all in, wet wipes, paring knife, wine tool, chairs (if needed) and an empty Tupperware container (you’ll use it for something).
  • Think ahead of any road trip — bring along some basic ingredients in a cooler, and supplement them with roadside stand produce. (Here are some of our favorites: hard cheeses, olive oil, French bread, cured meats, capers, smoked salmon, olives and a few basic herbs and/or spices. Take our suggestions or add your own favorites!)
  • Choose an ant-free, soft, grassy spot at a park, church or school. Many rest stops have lovely picnic areas in the shade.
  • Pack a big blanket (the bigger the better — it helps prevent those pesky bugs from climbing on).
  • Bring along a small pillow to lie back on while you watch clouds go by, take a nap or stay late for a romantic star gaze!
  • Flashlights and citronella candles are important for evening picnics. And don’t forget the bug spray, especially when the mosquitoes are out.
  • Be sure to clean up after yourself — leftover foods, drinks and trash can attract wildlife to picnic areas, which isn’t safe for the animals or picnickers!

There you have it: A few of our recipes and tips for delightful and yummy summer picnics. Load up your car with family and friends (or a romantic rendezvous) and take off to explore the back roads and popular destinations near you. With a few simple recipes and a little forethought, you can avoid the fast food trap and enjoy a tasty, farm-to-fork meal while en route.

Contributing Writer: Virginia Phelps

These recipes are available on our Suddenly This Summer menu at Lucky’s through August 4. See the menu.

 

10 “Egg”cellent Easter Brunch Tips

With spring just around the corner, plans for celebrating Easter with brunch at the family breakfast table are in the works.  Of course, the central focus of any brunch menu is eggs, but don’t just settle for the same ol’ bacon and eggs combo. There are countless other ways to prepare this versatile favorite.

Before you get started, here’s a word to the wise: Make sure to use the freshest eggs possible, and use eggs from free-roaming hens, which lay the most flavorful eggs because they eat a natural diet.  The eggs may be a bit more expensive, but like mother used to say, “You get what you pay for!”

  1. Fry ‘em up. Use leftover bacon grease to fry up your eggs. If you ladle the crackling lard over the eggs in the frying pan, you’ll create a fluffy and sinfully delicious version of this classic.
  2. Scramble ‘em up. Try adding a touch of cream, salt, and pepper before scrambling for a less-dense take on this old-time favorite.
  3. Mix ‘em up.Have you ever had a sweet corn and goat cheese omelet?  How about one with fresh crab and pimento cheese?  The great thing about an omelet is that anything goes (in it)!
  4. Don’t be afraid of the “flip.”A second cousin to the omelet is the frittata, which is essentially an unfolded omelet.  Try yours with country ham and scallions, or diced peppers, onions and pepperjack.  Start it on the stove, but finish it in the oven for about 5 minutes to cook the top.
  5. Brunch for two? Individual egg casseroles are a good way to go.  Add a bit of cream, scramble the eggs and bake in the oven in a one-inch water bath for a light and moist result.  Try adding some sautéed spinach and shiitake mushrooms for a twist.
  6. Feeling Frenchy? No, we’re not talking about making French toast; instead, create a traditional quiche. This egg and cheese baked pie is a great way to show off your culinary skills (but it isn’t difficult to make). Try out our mushroom and Swiss cheese recipe below. It’s one of my favorites!
  7. Want less mess to clean up? Try a one-skillet scramble.  Start by frying hash browns in a cast-iron skillet.  Then, add tasso ham, fresh vegetables, whisked eggs and cheese.  Finish with toasted English muffins and a dash of Sriracha sauce.
  8. Feeling even spicier? How about some “huevos rancheros” with a fire-grilled tomato and jalapeno salsa on top.  Add a side of chorizo sausage, and you’ll really be feeling the heat!
  9. Eggs “Benedict Arnold.” You may defect from fried or scrambled eggs once you’ve tried them poached!  Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to your poaching liquid to add flavor and help hold the egg’s shape.  Serve over toast points with country ham and hollandaise sauce.
  10. Sweetie pie. What meal would be complete without dessert?  Try a dried cherry pop-over made of eggs, butter, sugar, flour and sweet dried cherries. This is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Want brunch without the planning? Come see us at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Cary or Greensboro as we serve brunch every Saturday from 11:15 AM-3 pm, and every Sunday from 10 AM-3 PM.

 

Bon Appétit!


MUSHROOM & SWISS QUICHE

  • 6 each fresh eggs, beaten
  • 2 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup half & half cream
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 each unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add mushrooms to a hot sauté pan and sauté until they squeak. Add butter, thyme and garlic to pan and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in flour until well combined. Mix in cheese.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half & half, nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste. Add mushroom mixture to eggs and combine well. Pour into pie shell and bake for 35 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Makes: 1 quiche, 6-8 slices

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust as to your taste and portion size.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

 

Chess Pie … A Southern Tradition, Y’all!

Chess Pie is a Southern staple with historical roots in England. Though its basic ingredients – butter, sugar, eggs and flour – can be found in any Southern pantry, the variations on Chess Pie can seem as far-fetched as the folklore surrounding its etymology.

Many folks believe that its name originated from the closely related English lemon curd pie, which often was called cheese pie; “Chess Pie” allegedly derived from Southerners’ tendency to drawl our words. Another version tells of a plantation cook who was asked what she was baking that smelled so great: “Jes’ pie” (just pie) was her answer. Yet another myth states that the pie’s high sugar content allowed it to keep well in a pie chest at room temperature, so “Chest Pie” turned into “Chess Pie.”

Though basic Chess Pie is remarkably easy to prepare by mixing simple ingredients and baking for 30 minutes, you can get fancy by adding innovative flavorings. Popular additions include zesty lemon juice, earthy nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon, tropical flaked coconut, and toasted, chopped pecans. Some believe a splash of buttermilk makes Chess Pie better, while others swear by a tablespoon of vinegar. If you’d like to double the decadence, just stir in some cocoa powder!

Whether you call it cheese pie, chest pie or “jes’ pie,” there are no boundaries to this traditional Southern confection.

Chess pie is one of our favorite dishes, so you can find it on our menu all year round! Stop on by to see us and make sure to save some room for dessert!

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Chocolate Chess Pie
(makes 1 pie)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp white cornmeal
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt
  • 1⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 pound melted butter
  • 1 unbaked pie crust

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then assemble pie as described below.

In a bowl, sift dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Pie Crust

  • 4 1⁄2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1 1⁄2 cups unsalted butter
  • 1⁄2 cup plus 1 tbsp cold water

Sift the flour and salt together. Freeze the butter to make it easier to handle. Work the cold butter into the flour mix. Add ice to water to make it cold, making sure you don’t pour any ice into the dough mixture.

Add water slowly and mix until just combined. Portion out enough for one shell and begin to roll it into shape on a floured surface

This recipe makes 3 pie shells. Freeze any unused portions.

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch sizes. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust as to your taste and portion size.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

Pork Shank Braised in Red-Eye Gravy

Pork comes in all shapes and sizes. Chops, loins, butts and bellies seem to get the most love in the kitchen, but did you know that the shank can be a dandy piece of meat, too? It’s an excellent, but often-overlooked choice: When properly cooked, it’s full of flavor and super-easy to make.

So what exactly is a pork shank? It’s a cut of meat from the lower leg of a pig. It tends to be leaner because it doesn’t have much fat. As a result, if you cook it the wrong way, you’ll never tear that meat off the bone. Lucky for you, Lucky’s braising recipe will have you going “hog wild” for the pork shank!

Red-Eye Braised Pork Shank (Serves 4*)

  • 4 each pork shank
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • ²⁄3 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 fl oz canola oil
  • 1 ¹⁄3 cup yellow onion – diced
  • ½ pound carrots – sliced
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 3 each bay leaves
  • 2 ²⁄3 cup ham stock
  • 2 cups double strength coffee
  • Salt
  • Pepper

 

Prep veggies, meat, stock and spices. Dredge pork shank in flour. Shake off excess flour, but reserve. Heat oil in a wide, heavy bottomed pot. Sear and brown shank on all sides over medium heat

When fully browned, remove shank from pot and let rest. Add reserved flour to pot and stir well to make brown roux. When brown color is achieved, add onions, celery and carrots to roux.

Add salt, pepper, bay leaves and ham stock, continuing to stir. Stir in coffee. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. You have now made our modernized version of red-eye gravy.

 

Return pork shank to a pot and pour the red-eye gravy and vegetables over it. Partially cover  the pot while simmering until meat is tender, about 2 hours.

*All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch sizes. These recipes have been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust as to your taste and portion size.

Pick up fresh vegetables like carrots and onions from our veggie cart at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Cary or Greensboro! We offer the same local crops that we serve to  you, which means that we have seasonal samplings to spice up your meals!

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/