Internationally acclaimed Chef Thomas Keller observed that “a recipe has no soul. When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy, that is what cooking is all about.” These are recipes deeply rooted in happiness, covering some of the best from Tennessee, Georgia and the Sunshine State.
Dillard House Cream Corn
In 1794, Captain John Dillard was awarded a land grant of 1000 acres in this beautiful Georgia valley for his service under George Washington during the American Revolution. Legend says that Captain Dillard made peace with the local Cherokee Indians by trading a muzzle-loading rifle, a jug of apple brandy, one coonskin cap and $3 cash for all the land between the two mountain tops. The Dillard House, a heritage Inn, serves Southern food to thousands each year, including U.S. Presidents, Hollywood stars, hungry tourists and even journalists.
6 ears fresh corn
Stick of butter
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Pinch of sugar
cup of heavy cream
Heavy iron skillet
Use a sharp knife to split each row of kernels about half their depth. Cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife. After cutting, scrape the cob with the back of knife to get the milky liquid.
Melt butter in the skillet over medium heat. Stir in corn then add salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer the corn until it thickens. Stir in heavy cream and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
Capt. Tommy Thompson’s Second Best Clam Chowder
The charming village of Cedar Key is located off the beaten path on the west coast of Florida. A popular waterfront destination, Cedar Key attracts vacationers who appreciate its unspoiled, hospitable, and laid-back environment. This is Old Florida at its best with no high-rise condos or big chains. Cedar Key is known for its natural beauty, magnificent sunsets, excellent fishing, boating, and kayaking. The town also has several museums, art galleries, shops, and seafood restaurants.
Cedar Key has a year-round population of fewer than 1000 people and its primary industry is clam farming. Capt. Tommy Thompson, a Florida outdoor sports legend, shared his delicious recipe. “When it comes to clam chowder, mine’s good,” the Captain advises, adding that he is “the first to admit that the chowder at Tony’s in Cedar Key is number one.”
6 slices bacon diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup water
4 cups peeled russet potatoes, cubed
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
3 cups half-and-half
½ stick unsalted butter (4 tbsp.)
3 cups Cedar Key clams, chopped
In a large pot, cook bacon until crisp. Then add onion and continue cooking until transparent. Add water, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Add half-and-half, butter and chopped clams (with the liquor) and continue to cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Serves 8.
Milk-and-potato based chowder is generally termed “New England style,” while tomato-based chowder is called “Manhattan style.” The recipe for the less hearty, red Manhattan chowder involves adding finely chopped carrots and celery to the onion and bacon mix, using fewer potatoes and substituting crushed tomatoes and white wine for the half-and-half and butter. The clams are the same in both—and both are worthy of a fine meal.
Judge Don Harris, Brentwood Tennessee
Now retired, Judge Harris earned a reputation as a highly respected jurist and model civic leader. His love of good food mirrors a devotion to his state. Enjoy his with a bottle of Albariño, a delicious white wine from Spain.
¾ pound pork sausage links (we substitute turkey kielbasa sliced into rounds or andouille sausage)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless chicken (cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces)
¾ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup long grain rice**
¼ teaspoon ground saffron**
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
1 pound medium/large raw peeled shrimp
1 (2 oz) jar pimento strips drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
** Because of the expense of saffron, we substitute a brand of “yellow” rice that has saffron in it
In a large skillet or 4-quart Dutch oven, brown sausage over medium heat. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in the pan/pot; set sausage aside. Add olive oil to drippings and heat. Add chicken, onion and garlic, cook until chicken is browned, stirring occasionally.
Add sausage, chicken broth, uncooked rice with saffron, salt, oregano and bay leaf. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 25 minutes. Add shrimp, pimento and parsley. Simmer, covered for 10 to 15 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove bay leaf. Serve with hot, crusty baguette and green tossed salad.
Stay Safe. Eat Well. Love One Another!