Meat loaf is an iconic American dish with European origins, which has become one of my favorite meals to make at home because it’s so adaptable. And it has personal significance for me because it’s the first dish Michael cooked for me. My aromatic version offers a hint of heat, a bit of sourness, and an unexpected whisper of sweetness.
Cottage cheese was a favorite of early colonial settlers, who made it at home in their “cottages.” I especially love it with warm egg noodles, a habit formed as a kid in my own home and at the homes of Jewish friends, where it was served as kugel. Over the years, I’ve gussied up the basic concept by adding creme fraiche, leeks melted in butter, and a sizable amount of dill (by far my favorite fresh herb). Lemon zest lends brightness, and a flurry of creamy feta adds salt and soul. My cottage-cheese-and-noodle dish is “good enough for company”—as my grandmother would say—while still satisfying my nostalgic craving.
This hearty Southern take on chicken soup features tender shreds of chicken and chewy strips of pastry in an ultra savory stock. Browning the chicken before simmering it in store-bought chicken broth provided a flavorful base. We opted for chicken thighs rather than lean breasts because they stayed tender throughout the long stewing process. Rolling the “pastry”—which we made from just flour, butter, milk, and baking powder—to 1/8 inch thick before adding it to boiling broth made it fluffy and soft. And cutting the dough into diamond shapes rather than squares added just a little flair to this homey dish. Keep the root ends of the onion halves intact so the petals don’t separate during cooking and the onion is easy to remove from the pot.
This is doro wat, arguably the national dish of Ethiopia, and a dish close to my heart. I once worked in an Ethiopian restaurant called the Horn of Africa in Madison, Wisconsin. This was by far the most popular dish. It is normally done with old chickens, and pheasants or grouse are great alternatives.
White chili is one of those Tex-Mex hybrids that you won’t find in Mexico, or even very often in Texas. It seems to be a Northern adaptation of traditional chili, with white beans and chicken as its base. It’s good with pheasant or any other white meat.
Tarragon was made for chicken and mushrooms. Its muted aniseed flavour is somehow both bold and gentle; the sponginess of the mushrooms just soaks up the tarragon and their earthiness marries with it beautifully. The second wonder of this dish is its simplicity – just throw everything into the pan, place the chicken on top and roast.
Panades are savory bread puddings, but instead of being moistened with egg, milk, or cream, as is traditional, here a Mediterranean mix of grated tomatoes and olive oil does the trick, making for a complex casserole.
These are appropriately yummy morning, noon, and night. Serve them at breakfast, brunch, cocktail hour, or dinner with a homemade aioli, sour cream or hot pepper jelly. You may have your own favorite gristmill for good grits, but we are very partial to Louismill Smoked Yellow Corn City Grits, which lend another nuanced smokiness in addition to the country ham.
Lots of Southern shrimp and grits recipes call for the addition of bacon, but we like the aromatic smell and taste of Louisiana Tasso, a Creole ham that you’ll find as the foundation (along with the Holy Trinity of sautéed onions, peppers, and celery) of any respectable gumbo or jambalaya. This recipe is actually a riff on redeye gravy, an old Southern gravy using coffee and country ham. We serve these to thousands of guests each Derby at Churchill Downs.
Henry Bain was one of the first employees of Louisville’s exclusive Pendennis Club, which was founded in 1881. According to the legend, his first job was to run the elevator, but he ended up as the headwaiter and established himself forever in Kentucky history with his signature namesake sauce. He created it to accompany steaks and wild game. The club eventually bottled and sold the sauce, and today it’s made, bottled, and distributed by Louisville’s Bourbon Barrel Foods. This is the official recipe created by Bain, and it is delicious alongside everything from roast turkey to grilled hamburgers. You can also pour it over cream cheese and serve it with crackers as an appetizer. This recipe makes a large amount, so put it in jars and give it as gifts to friends and family. It’s a wonderful little taste of Kentucky. Serve this recipe when you really want to impress.