Innovate your holiday menu with recipes from Chef Kevin Mitchell
Chef Kevin Mitchell’s style of blending traditional Southern fare and soul food with other types of cuisine gives him plenty of room to fill out a holiday feast with unforgettable dishes.
Featured in the December 2017 issue of Oxford Magazine, Mitchell shares a few innovative recipes that might become your family’s new holiday staples.
FAIRYTALE PUMPKIN AND FUJI APPLE SOUP WITH PROSCIUTTO CRACKLINS AND CARDAMOM CRÈME FRAÎCHE
*This recipe originally appeared in Charleston Magazine
9 lb. Fairytale or other cooking pumpkin or butternut or acorn squash, yielding approximately 9 cups of roasted flesh
3½ tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 Fuji apples (about 22 oz.), cored and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
7 shallots (about 6 oz.), peeled and cut in half
4 sprigs thyme
1½ qts. low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 tbsp. kosher salt, or to taste
Cardamom Crème Fraîche (recipe follows)
Prosciutto Cracklins (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash pumpkin. Cut off the top, scoop out seeds, and remove strings. Cut into wedges and pierce flesh with a fork multiple times. Rub the wedges with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast them in the oven about one hour to one hour and 20 minutes, or until tender.
Place apples and shallots on a separate parchment-lined baking sheet and toss them with one tablespoon of olive oil. Lay thyme sprigs on top and roast in the oven about 30 minutes, or until tender.
Remove pumpkin and apples from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Once pumpkin has cooled, scoop the flesh from the skin.
Heat the final tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add roasted pumpkin, apples, and shallots. Cook over medium heat for one minute. Add one quart of chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes.
Working in batches, put the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve back into the soup pot. Add remaining 1/2-quart chicken broth. Warm on medium heat for five minutes. Stir in nutmeg, allspice, and salt.
Divide soup between pre-warmed bowls. Finish with a spoon of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of prosciutto cracklings.
For the Prosciutto Cracklings:
3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place prosciutto on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp. Cool. Crumble and reserve for garnish.
For the Cardamom Crème Fraîche:
1/2 cup crème fraiche or light sour cream
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
Combine crème fraîche and cardamom. Stir until blended and smooth. Refrigerate.
BLACK EYED PEAS AND GREENS
Black-eyed peas were a staple in my house growing up. My grandmother would make them for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner as well as the traditional side for our New Year’s Day meal. She also made greens. For this recipe, I decided to bring them both together with curry and coconut milk.
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 pound crowder peas, soaked overnight
2 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil
1 small or 1/2 large onion, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. red pepper flake
2 tbsp. curry powder
5 large tomatoes concassé (instructions follow), or 2 cans of diced tomato
1 tsp. ground turmeric
3 cups or more vegetable stock
2 cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 bunches lacinato kale washed, bottom stems removed, chiffonade (instructions follow)
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Drain peas and place in a large saucepan. Cover the peas with plenty of water, thyme sprigs, garlic cloves, and shallots, and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, over moderately low heat until tender, about an hour.
After about 40-45 minutes, add a generous pinch of salt. Continue to cook until tender then remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes, then drain well. Reserve 2 cups cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until tender, then add ginger, garlic, red pepper flake and salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the curry and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and coconut milk and reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil then simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens a bit, about 20 minutes.
Add the peas to the sauce and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the peas are lightly coated, about 10 minutes. Adjust consistency by adding more stock and/or coconut milk. Fold in greens. Greens will cook from the residual heat. Adjust seasonings. Serve.
*Tomato concassé refers to tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded and roughly chopped.
To prepare, fill a large bowl with ice cubes and water and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Cut an X in the bottom and remove the core of each tomato with a knife. Place prepared tomatoes in the pot of boiling water and cook until the skins begin to peel off, 10 to 40 seconds.
Transfer tomatoes to the bowl of ice water and allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off each tomato.
Cut each tomato in half crosswise and remove and discard the seeds; finely dice the flesh.
**Chiffonade is a French cutting technique where you stack the leaves of kale or other leafy green, roll them and with a sharp knife thinly slice the leaves. Separate the leaves and add them to the pot of peas.
ANSON MILLS WHITE FLINT CORN GRITS
Southerners traditionally use dent corn to make grits, while Italians prefer flint corn to make polenta. This recipe uses an Anson Mills heirloom flint variety for its mineral and floral notes and the way flint holds its texture longer than dent.
Ratio: 3 parts water (or stock) to 1 part grits
Seasoning, fat and/or dairy of your choice (salt, pepper, butter, cream, milk, etc.)
*Optional overnight soak begins conversion of culinary starch, reducing cook time by nearly half
Start the grits in cold water or stock and combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently until the first starch takes hold.*
Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently until the grains are soft and hold their shape on a spoon.
Add a little simmering hot water or stock as needed to loosen grits if they become too stiff. Add seasoning halfway through cooking.
Finish with desired fat and/or dairy and adjust seasoning as desired.
Cook time: around 45 minutes if pre-soaked, 60-90 minutes if unsoaked
*Do not boil at any time or over hydrate at the beginning, or the aromatic oils will emulsify, coating the hard particles of corn, preventing them from softening properly and dramatically increasing the cook time.
Low heat, less liquid & slow cook for great results!
ROASTED RACK OF PORK
While ham and turkey are often the centerpieces of holiday meals, a roasted rack of pork is a simple, flavorful alternative. Chef Mitchell noted a few raised eyebrows when he served it for Christmas dinner, but no one complained once they took a taste.
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup dried herbes de Provence
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp saffron
freshly ground pepper
One eight to ten bone pork rack, cut from the front of the loin section, bones in and frenched*
Mix first six ingredients together.
Rinse and pat dry the rack of pork and place in a baking dish. Combine salt, sugar, pepper, and herbs in a bowl. Rub liberally onto the pork and place in the refrigerator for a half hour. Then turn the pork over and let sit for another half hour.
Center a roasting rack in the oven and preheat to 475°F. Thoroughly rinse the pork with lukewarm water (to wash away excess salt) and pat dry with paper towels. Set the meat on roasting rack. To protect the bones from scorching, wrap the end of each (about two inches) with folded-over tinfoil, lightly brushed with olive oil.
Give the pork a light brush of olive oil and a healthy grinding of fresh black pepper. Roast in the oven for ten minutes. After that “sizzle,” lower heat to 275°F. For a slightly pink center, continue to cook the roast until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the roast reads 135°F, about 15 to 18 minutes per pound, or another 75 to 90 minutes.
Remove pork from oven. Do not slice! Allow meat to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and carve into single portions to serve 8-10 and place portions on a platter with fresh rosemary and thyme. Serve.
*Ask the butcher to “French” the roast (the meat and fat are removed from the bones).
RUM-BRAISED PINEAPPLE AND BLACKBERRIES
For dessert we usually would have an array of cakes and pies. For this menu, I wanted to do something a little different and a little lighter. Pineapple has been one of my favorites growing up, and I think it is a delicious, festive fruit to end a holiday meal.
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup Meyer’s Dark Rum
2 medium pineapple, cored and cut into cubes
2 pints blackberries, washed
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and rum. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook just until the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat.
Cook pineapple pieces until they become tender, approximately 3-5 minutes.
Add blackberries and cook just enough until they become warm.
Allow the pineapple mixture to cool slightly, then serve over slices of cornmeal cake topped with honey vanilla gelato.