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Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Pork Boys Do Christmas, 2012

So with serendipitous planning, as it turned out, I managed to get to my best bud M.P.'s place the night before the winter storm hit this part of Texas, and the roads became impassable. But it made for a lovely Christmas-y setting outdoors, while in the light and warmth of his prettily decorated house we made merry with all sorts of tasty snacks and delicious dishes. This was only the second white Christmas your Head Trucker has ever seen, so that was doubly nice.

A scene in downtown Dallas on Christmas Day

We trimmed the tree on Christmas Eve in between stops at the buffet table, loading ourselves with bites of roasted Cornish hens, ham roll-ups, potato chips and garlic dip, homemade sausage balls and red sauce, Ritz crackers, two kinds of olives, and sliced Cheddar. And listen my children, we discovered something much too good to be shared with grinches and scrooges: you want something that will make all your bells go jingle-jangle, get yourself some of the fabulous new Captain Morgan's BLACK spiced rum and add it to your eggnog. Trust the old man here, you won't regret it. I tell you what.

But hide the car keys before you go sailing with the Captain, because your Christmas will definitely be merry and bright before you finish the first cup.  Other old-timers like me will understand:  it's 95 proof - yet sweet as your first kiss, all tender and vanilla.  Smells good enough to use for after-shave, too.

The best nog for your egg, ev-er.

Is it any wonder, then, that when we finally sat down to Christmas dinner hours later - we planned it for late on the day before because he had to work on Xmas Day - we couldn't finish our plates because we were already too full? But your Head Trucker can report that M.P.'s very tender ham, which he cured and smoked himself, was a delight, covered in fresh pineapple rings and maraschino cherries, just like our mamas used to do. We would have studded it with whole cloves, but alas the only jar of them we could find at the store was $9, which was way too much for country boys to pay, so we did without.

Owing to technical difficulties that two half-drunk old men couldn't surmount,
this is merely an artist's representation of our tender, juicy entree.
Eat your heart out, boys.

And of course there were plenty of good side dishes to complement the ham, like polenta with collard greens, puff pastry with cheese filling, and one I found on the Internet and we improved upon together, which I will share with my truckbuddies:

For the reasons aforementioned, this is an artist's representation
of our cornbread salad - which really would be a great summer dish,
but as you see is festive enough to serve at Christmas too.

The Pork Boys’ Cornbread Salad

Christmas 2012

* 1 pan cornbread (= 1 box of Jiffy mix, prepared according to directions on the box. Tip: let mixture stand 5 minutes before putting it in the oven – makes your cornbread thicker. Let cornbread cool completely before cutting or crumbling into 1-inch chunks.)
* 1 large Vidalia onion, diced
* 1 large bell pepper, diced
* 1 large tomato, quartered, drained, and sliced
* 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
* 1 can Ranch beans, drained
* 1 pound bacon, fried, drained, and crumbled (no, that's not too much bacon, so STFU.)
* 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar
* 1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman's, of course - you have to ask?  Accept no substitutes.)
* 1 cup sour cream
* 1 packet of Ranch dressing mix

Stir the mayo and sour cream together; add the packet of ranch dressing mix, and stir the goo all together till white and creamy. Add a tablespoon of bacon grease and stir some more till all is mixed thoroughly and is slightly runny.

Dump the bacon, beans, onions, corn, and bell peppers in the goo - you will think you have way too much goo, but you don't. 

Add the crumbled cornbread and toss gently so the goo covers everything.  This is highly important, and the key to deliciousness.  Notice that in the picture above, the goo is spread on top but does not penetrate to every part of the salad.  Don't do that - be sure to get every little tidbit nice and gooey.

Pour it all into a large bowl, cover the top with grated cheddar and sliced tomatoes, and chill at least two hours or overnight. Serves 8, maybe 10 if you hide the cutlery, but believe me, you’ll want to keep it all to yourself. And even eat it for breakfast the next day. We did.  For three days running.

Of course, there are a million variations of this on the intertubes, and you could add or subtract any ingredients you wanted. But this here's a real crowd-pleaser, boys. I tell you what.

PS - you fellas living up in the frozen Nawth or in other furrin parts where you can't get no Jiffy mix, and nobody's ever even heard of Ranch beans - I feel for you, buddies, I really do.  I reckon you'll just have to spread your goo over whatever you can get your hands on.


Tim said...

What is it with the Vidalia onions? They are everywhere!

PS Russ me hearty, so glad you liked my gift of shares in Capn' Morgan & Co. Thanks for the ad, Captain M.

Russ Manley said...

Vidalias are sweet, not hot like ordinary onions, so they are great for eating raw, as in salads or on sandwhiches. A southern invention, like most good things - e.g., fried chicken, Coca-Cola, rock and roll.

And you're mighty welcome, Cap'n. I'll be looking for that check you promised.

Davis said...

So glad you had good company and good food for Christmas - may the rest of Christmas ('til the 6th !) and your New Year be wonderful.

Russ Manley said...

Thanks, and all the same to you, Davis.

Ted said...

It's been a while since I've gotten to check your blog, which I totally enjoy, but I am disappointed in this recipe. Jiffy Mix cornbread? You, sir, are not a real Texan. You must NEVER eat cornbread unless it is made from scratch with buttermilk and cooked in a pre-heated skillet, though it's permissible to use oil instead of bacon grease. Let me know if you need a good recipe (my Mom's) and want to experience real cornbread instead of dry corn cake.

Russ Manley said...

Well Lord a'mercy, pardner, use any kind of cornbread you want in this dish. I do know what real cornbread is - my little grandmother, who was born when Goliad and San Jacinto were still within living memory, made it nearly every day of her life - entirely from scratch, in a cast iron skillet. That and homemade buttermilk biscuits were practically the only breads ever seen in her house.

But as good as it was at Grandma's house, I like the Jiffy mix, which is sweeter and fluffier. Grandma's not here anymore, so I eat as I please. You should too. But thanks for checking in, Ted, don't be a stranger.

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