The late Jim Sanders was one of a kind: a well-educated man with a Master’s in English, a rural Georgia childhood, a wounded WW II veteran, a French-trained chef, wine importer/retailer, acclaimed restauranteur, wine educator and a skilled raconteur.
His wine store in the Buckhead district of Atlanta not only stocked his fine French wines but served wonderful food to patrons in a rear room he called “Poor Jim’s Canteen.” Sanders often said it was “the safest place on a Saturday in America to have a heart attack,” a nod to the cardiologists who regularly came to drink fine wines and enjoy his bountiful dishes.
Warm weather holidays-Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day, were special. Jim’s store was closed but his private room was packed. Jim’s barbecued pork and his Brunswick Stew were devoured with unlimited pours of Cru Beaujolais. Peach Melba was the usual dessert.
Sanders authored a fine cookbook and I have used recipes-Deep South and French- over the years. Not just another good cookbook, mind you, but one with a wine and food pairing chart that to my knowledge, has no equal.
Sanders had many friends (“wine will do that,” he’d say) and once, by accident hosted a historic tasting with a Georgia segregationist governor, a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper editor and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Knowing the historic implications, Sanders typed his memory of the event on his old Underwood and prior to his final illness, entrusted it to me.
Brunswick Stew is a perfect accompaniment to barbecue. It originated in Georgia and Jim Sanders recipe has deep roots in culinary culture that go back to the days when Revolutionary War hero, Marquis de Lafayette visited the state and attended a barbeque in his honor attended by several thousand grateful Georgia citizens.
JIM SANDERS GEORGIA BRUNSWICK STEW
1 four-pound baking chicken
4 pounds ground pork
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1-tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup red wine, preferably Rhone style
3 to 4 tablespoons bacon drippings
36 ounces tomato juice
4 ounce tomato catsup
3 cups cut shoepeg corn
Kosher salt and black pepper
Boil the chicken until it is very tender, cool, de-bone and chop the meat finely. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, braise the pork until half done. Add half the chopped onions, one chopped garlic clove, chili powder, thyme, cayenne pepper and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper. Continue to braise until the meat is well browned, stirring every few minutes to break up any lumps and combine with chicken. Add the tomato juice and catsup and simmer for 11/2 hours. Add the rest of the chopped onions, another chopped garlic clove and simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste for salt and spoon off the fat before serving.
A Cru Beaujolais is delicious with this dish as is sweet Iced Tea.