Friday, December 30, 2016


The southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck on New Year's day is believe to have started after the Civil War. It was first planted as food for livestock and the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as General Sherman's Union troops destroyed other crops. It became a nourishing food source for the surviving Confederates who considered themselves lucky. For the complete tradition, serve them with either, collard, mustard, or turnip greens, which represents paper money, and cornbread, which represents gold. Flavor them with ham and bacon and the tradition is complete. These legumes are a good source of calcium, folate, fiber, and vitamin A. 

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1 cup diced ham (preferably Virginia ham)
4 slices bacon, diced
1 T unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ t red pepper flakes
3 cups chicken stock
2 t dried thyme or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce

Pour black-eyed peas into a bowl and sort through them to make sure there aren’t any small pebbles.

In a saucepan, add the dried peas and cover with water to 2 inches above peas.
Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit 4 hours or overnight.
Drain the peas and set aside.

In the same saucepan, cook bacon pieces until crisp. 
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Pour out most of the bacon grease and add the butter and sauté the onion for 10 minutes.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes.
Sauté another 2 minutes.
Add chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves, and black-eyed peas.
Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
Cover and simmer slowly for 45 minutes or until peas are tender.

Add the diced ham and bacon. 
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Simmer another 5 minutes.

Add hot sauce, to taste.

Serves 4


"Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file' gumbo . . . " I love Creole food and my daddy loved that song by Hank Williams, but I think he was singing about Cajun-Style Jambalaya. Jambalaya is pronounced "Jum-ba-li-ah". Cajun-Style Jambalaya is more rural and can include a combination of crawfish, shrimp, oysters, alligator, duck, turtle, rabbit, squirrel, venison, and anything that was part of the hunt that day. Cajun-Style Jambalaya does not have tomatoes and has a roux base. Creole-Style Jambalaya has tomatoes. It originated from the French Quarter of New Orleans. This is best if you serve this on the day you make it. 

2 T avocado oil
2 T unsalted butter
4 links of Andouille smoked sausage, sliced
6 boneless chicken thighs or 4 boneless chicken breasts cut into large chunks
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long grain white rice
1 t dried thyme 
2 (14-oz) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes or 1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes, hand crushed
3 cups chicken stock or broth
2 bay leaves
1 T Worcestershire sauce
4 t Creole Seasoning
1 t smoked paprika
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. medium to large shrimp, peeled & deveined

2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
4 scallions (green onions) thinly sliced

Crystal or Louisiana hot sauce, for the table
Sliced French bread, for the table

In a large Dutch oven or large heavy flat bottom skillet, add oil and butter and brown sausage over medium heat. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl and set aside.
Add chicken, and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon to the bowl with the sausage.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the "holy trinity". . .onion, green bell pepper, and celery, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, rice, thyme, and cook another 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaves, Worcestershire, Creole Seasoning, and paprika. 
Return the browned sausage and chicken to the pot.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Briefly bring to a boil then reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  
Stir once and simmer another 5 minutes. 

Add shrimp, cover and simmer 5 more minutes.
Turn off heat, keep covered, and let sit another 5 minutes. . .while you set the table.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and sliced scallions.
Take the pot to the table and serve family style or spoon onto 4 warm plates.

Serve with French bread and hot sauce.

Serves 4 to 6

Monday, December 26, 2016


Growing up in Washington, D.C. I spent a lot of summers in Ocean City, Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay beaches. I love Maryland Fried Chicken or Chicken Maryland. It is pan fried and seasoned with Old Bay. I like to take Old Bay to the table for anyone who wants to sprinkle a little more on their chicken. Chicken Maryland was even mentioned in the movie "Christmas in Connecticut". My mom always had chicken gravy with her fried chicken. Serve this with mashed potatoes and collard greens seasoned with Virginia ham or a smoked ham hock.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
You can also deep fry your chicken for about 12 to 14 minutes total.

1 frying chicken cut into 10 pieces (breasts cut in half)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 T Old Bay seasoning
1 T garlic powder
1 T dry mustard
2 t sea salt
2 t finely ground black pepper
2 t paprika
1 t onion powder 
1 t baking powder
1 t cornstarch
½ t cayenne pepper
3 cups peanut oil, for frying

In a medium bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
Completely dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture and place on a cookie sheet or pizza pan and set aside.
In a Dutch oven, preferably cast-iron, add the peanut oil.

If you have a candy thermometer, place it on the side of the pan, with the tip in the hot oil. 
If you don't have one, place the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and if it bubbles all around the handle, the oil should be hot enough to start frying. 

Heat oil to 375 degrees F, if you have a candy thermometer.
Heat oven to 225 degrees F.

Have a baking sheet fitted with a rack ready for the cooked chicken.

Add 4 pieces at a time and fry on one side for 7 minutes.
Turn over and fry about another 7 minutes.

Using tongs, remove cooked chicken to the baking sheet and place in oven while frying the rest of the chicken. Wings will cook a couple of minutes faster than the rest of the chicken.

While chicken is staying warm in the oven, carefully pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the hot oil into a heat-proof container. Leave the brown bits in the bottom of the pot.

Chicken Gravy
2 T unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half or milk
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper

In the Dutch oven that contains a little oil and the brown bits from the chicken, add the butter and let melt over medium-high heat.
Add the flour and cook, while whisking, until a light golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Whisk in the chicken stock and milk.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4