A month of Soul Food and what a tasty category to look at! Being as I was a bit of a JunkFood Junkie, it’s hardly surprising that I love Soul Food so much, but I’m also well aware of the risks of over indulging, if you’re not careful you can quickly pile on the pounds with some of those recipes.
So, with an eye on restoring some balance, I’m going to switch to some salad recipes for the next week or two. I have a some salad dressings for you and some ideas for what we like to call “clearing out the bits in the fridge” salads.
After that we’ll be sharing some of my barbecue (as opposed to BBQ) recipes as we’re coming into summer and hopefully we’ll have the weather for some outdoors cooking in Ireland.
If you’re a meat eater, I reckon there is a fairly good chance that you’re going to like barbecued meat. Now I don’t mean meat grilled over flames I mean hot, juicy, sticky BBQ ribs, wings, drumsticks, pork chops and the like.
Most of us, I think it’s safe to say have bought a jar of BBQ sauce and followed the instructions and been somewhat disappointed with the results, I know I have.
BBQ is probably the best loved gift that Soul Food has given us and I for one would not like to live in a world where it didn’t exist. I guess it’s a primal thing, man likes to eat his meat off the bone and use his hands doing it. It’s one of life’s great pleasures, it’s fun and there is nothing else like it, that’s why I’ve saved this unholy trinity of recipes to wrap up this month of Soul Food recipes.
Why an unholy trinity?
Like someone once sang “everything good is bad”.
The secret to really great BBQ is actually not the sauce, although it is essential, no the real secret is in the preparation of the meat, which is why the first recipe is a fantastic rub that flavours the meat and gives it a wonderful colour.
The second recipe is the sauce which is used like a glaze to give that sweet, sticky, yum, yum, yummy outer layer.
The final recipe is the mother of all BBQ dishes, BBQ back ribs. Now, I know what you might be thinking, “it sounds like a lot of work” well remember what I was saying up above about disappointing results from packets and bottles? Trust me it’s more than worth the effort, in fact if you like BBQ and you don’t try this once I have no problem saying that you are missing out, big time.
Ah and just in case you’re worried I will be doing some recipes for the barbeque (type with flames) in the coming weeks.
I do like a lot of Soul Food, but then I’ve been a Fried Chicken Fan since before I ever tried to cook anything But strangely that’s not where I first encountered it. Believe it or not it was in a movie. A movie that I still think of as one of my all time favourites, The Blues Brothers.
It’s hard to believe that it’s 30 years old this year! I can’t have been 10 years old the first time I saw this and it’s stuck with me all these years. The Soul Food Cafe sequence was my introduction to both Soul music and food. The great John Lee Hooker set the tone, playing in the middle of a street market, something about that smouldering Blues just grabbed my ear while my eyes were caught by the cafe in the background.
Once the brothers entered and ordered their “4 fried chickens and a coke” and “some dry white toast” from the waitress (none other than the great Aretha Franklin), a ‘domestic’ ensues culminating in what can only be described as a spine tingling, hair on the back of your neck standing on end, performance of a truly epic song…
While the music blew me away, I was curious as to what Soul Food was and it took a while (there was no internet back then) but I found the closest thing available in Ireland at the time was what we now call KFC. Imagine my disappointment when I walked in for the first time – where was the band? and why couldn’t I have 4 fried chickens?
Obvious? maybe a little but what the heck, this track also acts as an introduction to the next month’s recipes.
In case you haven’t made the connection yet, I’m diving into the world of Soul Food. A style of cooking most associated with the American deep south, however it is, what I like to call, a hybrid cuisine whose roots can be traced to Africa, the southern Indian tribes and even has hints of the Cajun and Creole styles.
It’s also a style that “inspired” a lot of junk food, think deep fried chicken and fish, in particular. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that it doesn’t really sit right on a site called Not Junk Food, but you’d be wrong. With a little care in the ingredients and the cooking, even deep fried food can be part of a healthy balanced diet. That said, these recipes are (mostly) best kept as treats and for special occasions.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of Soul Food I’d strongly recommend this Wikipedia article. Either way, I’ll be posting some of my thoughts and memories of Soul Food over the next few weeks.