Make It at Home: Fire-Simmered Field Peas
- 2 cups dried field peas (crowder or black-eyed), soaked overnight, then rinsed
- 1 quart apple cider (low- to no-sodium)
- 2 cups water
- Small piece of smoky bacon
- Tied bundle of thyme, parsley stems, and bay leaf
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
Add peas, cider, bacon and herb bundle to a Le Creuset French oven. Add water to cover by 1 inch. Gently simmer over fire until tender (30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the type of peas.)
When the peas are almost tender, add salt to taste. Dip out 1/2 cup of hot broth and add the buttermilk to temper. Add buttermilk broth mixture back to the pot. Serve peas with their liquid (also known as pot likker), and offer sauerkraut, pickled ramps and chow chow to top.
Fig Leaf-Infused Sausage
- Fresh fig leaves
- Fresh sausages (lamb sausage works very well)
Steep fig leaves in very hot water for at least 30 minutes. After steeping, extra leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Heat a cast iron skillet over the fire. Slash the sausages on one side in a crosshatch pattern just through the casing (this works best with an emulsified sausage, like mettwurst or knockwurst). Add sausages to the skillet, then cover with the soaked fig leaves. Brown the sausages slowly, turning once. When cooked through, discard the fig leaves and serve the sausages with the simmered peas. The crosshatch pattern makes a nice presentation, and opens the surface area to soak up the peas' pot likker.
Shiitake Mushroom "Bacon"
- Shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
- Grapeseed oil
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of sugar
Heat a generous amount of oil in an iron skillet over a high flame until shimmering. Thinly slice the mushrooms and add to the skillet with the salt and the sugar. Fry, turning often, until they reach the desired crispness. Drain on paper towels, then serve on top of the sausage and peas. The smokiness of the fire, the cut of the mushroom slices, the caramelized sugar and the saltiness will remarkably mimic the flavor of bacon.