Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rod's Rub and Roasted Garlic Grits

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time in the tiny kitchen working on the cookbook. The process goes like this:

- begin with starting recipe
- cook recipe making adjustments
- edit recipe
- retest recipe
- edit recipe
- retest recipe, etc.

Once I’ve gotten a recipe to a place where it is ready for public debut, the tasting round begins, bringing with it another round of cooking. Not only am I working to publish a book of delightful and fully-tested grits recipes, I’m working to publish a book containing menus featuring Grits as the star. So along with every grits recipe in the book, one will find suggested recipes to round out the entire meal. And from where are those suggested recipes coming? My tiny kitchen, of course.

At least every two weeks, I invite over the members of the tasting team, consisting of 10-15 of my friends. There are five “super tasters” who play a larger role in getting this book published and then whomever can make it. These meals give me a chance to see my friends and my friends a chance to offer feedback on the grits recipes, as well as the meal with which they are paired.

A few weeks ago, I had a tasting. The same night I served the Grits and Cheese biscuits, I also served:

Carolina Shrimp and Grits appetizer
Sweet Mesquite Chicken Legs
Roasted Garlic Grits
Steamed Vegetables
Chocolate Cupcakes

This meal was so delicious that I almost forgot about how dry the biscuits were. I’m one of those cooks that doesn’t want to eat after cooking all day. But on that Sunday, there was a moment upon tasting the meal before serving it, that I actually considered shoving my guests out of the front door so I could sit down to a platter of chicken and a 2-quart saucepan of grits all to myself.

As you all know, grits are usually the stars of my meals. But this time, the Sweet Mesquite Chicken legs stole the show. They were delicious and, unfortunately, I can’t take the credit. All of the props go to Rod Brown, a friend of mine from Atlanta.

Rod loves to cook, especially southern cuisine and barbeque. When an Atlanta restaurateur learned of Rod’s passion for creating great barbeque, he asked him to design a custom dry rub for his new restaurant. The restaurant never opened, leaving Rod with three dry rub recipes without a home.

Luckily, Rod is married to my good friend Melanie, the most driven entrepreneur I know. Do you know what happens when a cook and an entrepreneur get married? A business is born – Rod’s Rub.

I’ve used all three varieties in various recipes over the past few weeks, and the Sweet Mesquite is hands down my favorite. It doesn’t hurt that it takes less than five minutes to prepare, compared to the hour is takes to make the grits.

Here are the recipes for the Sweet Mesquite Chicken Legs and the Roasted Garlic Grits. Make them together and let me know your thoughts:

Sweet Mesquite Chicken Legs
Serves 8

Two lbs Chicken Legs, approximately 15-16
Olive Oil (2 -3 tablespoons)
Rod’s Rub Sweet Mesquite variety

Place ½ of chicken in large Ziploc bag. Drizzle olive oil over chicken. Shake rub into bag and shake until well coated. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Place chicken in a baking dish and cook on 350 degrees for an hour, flipping the legs every 15 minutes.

Roasted Garlic Grits
Serves 8

4 large heads garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart vegetable broth
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 cup coarse, white stone-ground grits
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup Parmesan- Reggiano, grated

Slice off the bottom of garlic head, and separate the cloves, leaving the outer covering in place. Put the cloves in a shallow 8-inch square baking dish, and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until the garlic is soft. Cool and remove the skins. In a food processor or blender, add garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Process 30 seconds or until almost smooth, scraping sides occasionally. Set garlic mixture aside.

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the vegetable stock over high heat until boiling. Add the salt and butter. Once butter has melted, slowly stir in the grits, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 45 minutes, whisking constantly until thickened.

Remove from heat. Stir in the garlic mixture, half-and-half and cheese until creamy. Return to heat and simmer on low for an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Mesquite Chicken and Roasted Garlic Grits
Originally uploaded by weezienyc.

1 comment:

matthew said...

A little high quality hot sauce adds some zing to this already great recipe.