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Recipes and Stories

29 August 2015: Mary Randolph’s French Beans

Mary Randolph's French Beans, here finished with a little of her Melted Butter.

A couple of weeks ago, I revisited one of the loveliest and most misunderstood dishes in all of Southern cooking: pole beans slow-simmered with salt pork. With small new potatoes laid on top to steam during the last part of the simmer, it remains one of my all-time favorite ways of cooking these sturdy beans.

But pole beans are not the only ones that I, and many other Southern cooks, bring to the table. While researching for a lecture on the indomitable Mary Randolph, whose 1824 cookbook was one of the earliest printed records of Southern cooking, I was once again taken by her lucid and careful directions for French beans. Read More 

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11 August 2015: Southern Slow-Cooked Pole Beans

Slow-simmered green beans

11 August 2015: Southern Slow-Cooked Pole Beans

 

One of the most misunderstood dishes in all of Southern cooking is green beans slow-simmered with salt pork or ham until they're tender and deeply infused with the pork flavor. It's easy to understand why it has been misunderstood when one sees the misguided mess that all too often passes for this dish in "Southern" style diners and cafeterias: canned or generic hybrid green beans that inhabit most supermarket produce bins, indifferently boiled to Hell and back with a chunk of boiled ham or half a dozen slices of smoked bacon until they're the color of army fatigues and have surrendered what little flavor they had to begin with.

 

However, just because it's often done badly doesn't mean there's nothing wrong with the idea. Read More 

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4 August 2012: More Summer Tomatoes

Young Green beans, which often go by their swanky French name, "haricots verts"--in fresh tomato sauce -- photography by John Carrington, from The Savannah Cookbook
While summer tomatoes are still at their peak, indeed, overflowing in some home gardens, here is another lovely thing to do with them.

I submit this in response to the persistent myth that Southerners historically had no subtlety with the vegetable pot: it comes from a late nineteenth century Savannah manuscript.  Read More 
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