Chapel Hill cook serves up savories, sweets in new book

aweigl@newsobserver.comOctober 30, 2012 

  • Meet the author Cookbook author Jean Anderson has these upcoming book events: • 2 p.m. Saturday, Flyleaf Books, 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill. 919-942-7373, flyleafbooks.com. • Noon-2 p.m. Sunday, Southern Season, 201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill, 919-929-7133, southernseason.com. • 2 p.m. Nov. 11, Regulator Bookshop, 720 Ninth St. Durham, 919-286-2700, regulatorbookshop.com. • 1 p.m. Nov. 15, a lunch at The Granary restaurant in Fearrington Village. Menu based on recipes in “From a Southern Oven.” Cost for meal and book: $60. For details and reservations, call 919-542-3030 or visit facebook.com/mcintyresbooks. • 2 p.m. Dec. 2, Quail Ridge Books, 3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh, 919-828-1588, quailridgebooks.com.
  • Blind Hare You will have to beg your butcher to grind the ham for you or do it yourself in a food processor. From “From a Southern Oven: The Savories, The Sweets,” by Jean Anderson (Wiley, 2012). 1 pound ground pork shoulder; if unavailable, substitute ground chicken or turkey 1 pound ground smoked ham 1 pound ground beef chuck 2 cups moderately fine soft white bread crumbs, about 4 slices 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus a pinch, divided 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 cup moderately coarse soft white bread crumbs tossed with 2 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons pan drippings, or drippings plus melted butter to total 3 tablespoons 1/4 cup unsifted all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups beef broth 1 cup half-and-half, at room temperature Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil, dull side up, and set aside. MIX pork shoulder, smoked ham, beef chuck, 2 cups fine bread crumbs, eggs, salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and cinnamon together using hands in a large bowl. Scoop mixture onto prepared baking sheet and shape into loaf about 8 inches long, 5 inches wide and 3 inches high, patting meat firmly as you shape. Now pat on bread crumbs tossed with butter to form crust, reapplying as they fall on foil. SLIDE loaf onto middle oven shelf and bake uncovered about 50 minutes to 1 hour until nicely browned and an instant-read meat thermometer, inserted in the middle of the loaf, registers 165 degrees. (If loaf is browning too fast, tent it with foil.) Remove loaf from oven and let it rest for 20 minutes. PREPARE gravy: Blend drippings, flour and pinch of nutmeg in a heavy saucepan and cook and stir over moderate heat 3 minutes. Whisk in broth and half-and-half, then cook, whisking constantly, about 5 minutes, until thickened, smooth, and no raw floury taste remains. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve slices of meatloaf with gravy. Yield: 8 servings

Folks could be forgiven for mistaking cookbook author Jean Anderson’s latest book for a volume on baking. Considering Southerners’ love of desserts, it’s an understandable assumption given the title, “From a Southern Oven.”

But Anderson, who grew up in Raleigh and now lives in Chapel Hill, will quickly point out the book’s subtitle: “The Savories, The Sweets.”

It was the oven-bound savory dishes that struck Anderson while researching an earlier book, “A Love Affair with Southern Cooking,” which won one of her many James Beard awards. Anderson found that Southerners were oven-frying, braising or baking chicken, shrimp, cabbage, Vidalia onions and much more. She shares their recipes for breads, appetizers, scalloped vegetables, casseroles and other savory treats.

“Everything we pull out of the oven is not achingly sweet,” Anderson said.

That’s not to say the book, published this month, doesn’t include desserts. It does. The recipes for muscadine clafoutis and Ruby Red chess pie, made with zest and juice from the grapefruit by the same name, are intriguing.

Equally intriguing are the dishes Anderson uncovered that she had never heard of before – no small feat since she has written more than 20 cookbooks. There was Blind Hare, a meatloaf made with pork, beef and ham; Colonial Chicken Pudding, chicken pieces baked in a sauce made with broth, eggs and heavy cream; and Coca-Cola-marinated beef brisket called Atlanta brisket.

That’s a part of her work as a cookbook author that Anderson truly enjoys: “I love to excavate old Southern recipes that need to be rediscovered.”

She hopes that with this book, these recipes will be rediscovered at our Southern tables.

Weigl: 919-829-4848

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