Southern-Style Green Beans

I’m 45 years old and until recently have never really cooked green beans with bacon. I don’t generally think vegetables need meat (or extra fat) added to them, but maybe the years of living in the South have rubbed off on me because here I am adding bacon to my green beans and cooking them until they are super tender. They taste great this way and are a nice variation to the way I usually prepare green beans (toss them into some salted boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until they are crisp-tender).

Southern-Style Green Beans

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube (vegetable or chicken)

Cooked the chopped bacon in a pot until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside. Add the green beans, water, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and then cook for about 1 hour or until the green beans are very tender. Stir in the reserved bacon and serve.

Shown here:  Southern-Style Green Beans alongside baked chicken and hashbrown casserole.

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Corn and Broccoli Chowder with Bacon

Corn and Broccoli Chowder with Bacon

Like much of the rest of the country, South Carolina is experiencing super cold temperatures. When I took my youngest son to school yesterday morning it was 16 degrees and with the wind chill it felt like 2 degrees. So cold. Upon returning home, I needed to warm up so I made this thick, hot chowder. It’s warming, delicious, and visually pleasing. I love the colors of the corn and broccoli in the creamy white. Oh, and it has bacon in it.

Corn and Broccoli Chowder with Bacon

4 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
5 cups chicken broth
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets (save the stalk for another use)
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup milk or half and half

In a soup pot over medium-low heat, fry the diced bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot using a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Increase the heat slightly and cook the diced onion in the bacon fat until it softens. Add the flour, and cook, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the chicken broth, a little at a time, taking care to whisk out the flour lumps. Add the diced potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until tender (but not mushy), about another 10 minutes. Add the corn and milk (or half and half) and heat through. Season the chowder with salt and pepper and serve in bowls with the crisp bacon crumbled on top.


Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp

This is a super fast and super delicious soup.  It is worthy of  a special occasion, but easy enough to do anytime. Pair it with a nice BLT sandwich and you have a great weeknight dinner. This recipe makes about 4 servings.

Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped  onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and saute until the bacon begins to brown and get crisp. Remove about 2 slices-worth of the bacon to be used as garnish later and drain on paper towels. Add onion, celery, and garlic to the pot, and saute for 2 minutes. Add corn, and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth; bring to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes.

Place 2 cups of corn soup mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed corn mixture to pan. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender to partially puree the soup, leaving some of the soup chunky.  You will want to be able to see whole corn kernels.

Stir in shrimp; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp are done. Stir in half-and-half, pepper, and salt. Ladle soup into bowls and crumble reserved bacon over soup.


Shrimp and Grits

We moved to South Carolina in July.  Since moving here, I have been honing my southern cooking skills and trying to learn more about the cuisine of this backasswards state.  Grits is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of South Carolina food.  These people LOVE their grits.  On my baby’s first visit (at 9 months) to his new pediatrician, I was told to go ahead and get him started on grits immediately.  I had never cooked grits before moving here and it has taken me several attempts to make decent grits.  I have found that the key to creamy grits is to use at least some milk when cooking them (I use half milk, half water).  It also helps to add lots of  butter  and to stir often while they are cooking.   Shrimp and grits is the quintessential South Carolina dish and one of the first recipes I tried.  There are countless variations, but we really like this particular recipe.  I serve the shrimp and grits with stewed okra and tomatoes and sometimes collard greens.  Very Southern.

Shrimp and Grits

1 pound medium-size raw shrimp (31/40 count)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 bacon slices, chopped
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
Prepared grits

1. Peel and devein shrimp. Toss shrimp with flour until lightly coated, shaking to remove excess.

2. Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels.  Reserve drippings in skillet.  If you would like to reduce the fat content of this dish, pour excessive drippings into a glass container and only leave 1 or 2 tablespoons in the skillet.

3. Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings 4 minutes or just until mushrooms begin to release their liquid. Add shrimp, and sauté 3 to 3 1/2 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute (do not brown garlic). Add lemon juice and hot sauce. Sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately over prepared grits.

Adapted from the Hominy Grill’s Shrimp and Grits found in Southern Living, MAY 2009