Sausage pie: A one-pan dinner as American as Appalachia
Think of the humble ear of corn as “the mountain South’s defining food,” said Ronni Lundy in Victuals: An Appalachian Journey (Clarkson Potter). Settlers of the Appalachians didn’t have wide-open spaces in which they could grow wheat, but they did have the New World’s answer to wheat, and it could thrive on a small patch just outside a farmhouse door. Corn could serve as either vegetable or grain; it “made amazing liquor,” of course; and it contributed mightily to the entire nation’s ethos of self-reliance.
The corn bread crust that tops this “hills and holler variation” on shepherd’s pie is based on the bread my Kentucky parents and grandparents made. Appalachian corn bread is more salty than sweet—it was, after all, folks’ daily bread. This simple recipe “ups the savor” of a shepherd’s pie by using sausage instead of beef or lamb. If you want a creamier crust, feel free to add ¼ to ½ cup more buttermilk. “Just don’t add sugar.”
Recipe of the week
Root and sausage pie
1 lb bulk breakfast sausage
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chicken, vegetable, or beef broth
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp salt
2 cups chopped parsnips
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped turnips
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1¼ cups whole buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425, then prepare filling: Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat and add sausage, breaking it into ½-inch pieces with a spoon as it cooks. When meat begins to release its juices, add onion and stir. Fry until meat has begun to brown and onion has softened and started to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer meat-and-onion mixture to a bowl. Return skillet to medium-high heat and deglaze it with the broth, stirring to dissolve the brown bits. Stir in paprika and salt, then add parsnips, carrots, and turnips. Bring to a simmer, then cover. Cook until vegetables are just tender, about 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in the sausage and onions. Set aside.
In a bowl, blend cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add buttermilk, stirring well. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Starting at outside rim of skillet and moving inward, pour corn bread batter evenly over sausage and vegetables. Use a spatula to smooth over any empty places, covering the top completely with batter.
Place skillet in oven and bake 15 minutes, or until batter is set. If top crust is not invitingly flecked with browned spots, put skillet under broiler for 1 minute. Watch carefully, as it can quickly go from brown to burned. Dish it up hot, straight from the skillet. Serves 6.
Wine: Reds that bubble
Sparkling red wines have more history and character than most people know, said Susan Gordon in Eater.com. Italy’s lambruscos, when made right, are not just dry but also “grippy, bitter, and fragrant.” A sparkling shiraz from Australia can get downright “brawny.” Bottles like the three below can be just what you need when you’re “stretching these fading days of summer into the first warm days of fall.”
Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro ($20). A bonedry organic lambrusco, this “fresh and earthy” wine is “an intriguing mix of tangy red cherries and roasted red pepper flavors.”
Aliança Tinto Bruto Reserva ($14). This Portuguese sparkler, made from baga and tempranillo, delivers “a funky, tart mix of plums, cherries, and thyme.”
Paringa Sparkling Shiraz ($15). This Australian bubbly “tastes of berry jams and dusty spices along with milk chocolate and menthol.”
Boulder: The Rockies’ laid-back culinary draw 0
Boulder, Colo., is “an exceptionally easygoing place to hang out,” said Melissa Coleman in The New York Times. Once crowned by Bon Appetit as “the foodiest town in America,” the city of 100,000 continues to create new ways to serve locals—including university students—who like their food farm fresh but without a lot of pricey showmanship.
Next Door This five-year-old operation is the walk-in, pub-style option in a cluster of three hip dining and drinking spots that Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal launched more than a decade ago. Musk’s flagship, the Kitchen, makes Monday community night, encouraging strangers to share a $35-a-person four-course family meal. At Next Door, the “equally tasty” menu is kept everyday-affordable, and the cocktails alone are worth a visit. 1035 Pearl St., (720) 542-8159
Lucile’s Creole Café At Boulder’s favorite brunch spot, you might have to wait, but there’s nothing wrong with soaking up the Colorado sun in the heart of Pearl Street’s brickpaved pedestrian mall, and “soon you’ll be enjoying New Orleans beignets covered in a blizzard of powdered sugar and the Cajun Breakfast with hollandaise sauce over eggs, red beans, and grits.” Plus a Bloody Mary, no doubt. 2124 14th St., (303) 442-4743
Julia’s Kitchen A “true gem,” this little lunch and breakfast place has to be “the foodiest restaurant in America’s foodiest city,” said Boulder Weekly. “It’s hard to imagine a restaurant taking more care with the quality of their ingredients than they do at Julia’s,” and the staff’s commitment to vegan, organic, and gluten-free is “unparalleled.” 3980 Broadway, Ste. 104, (720) 389-5578