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Susan Puckett

Technique: Little Tart Bakeshop’s Sarah O’Brien on making perfect pie crusts

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Sarah O'Brien pecan pie
Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Sarah O’Brien uses a standard recipe for making her irresistibly flaky crusts. So how come hers taste so much better than ours? “It’s all about the little things,” she says. Weigh your ingredients for optimum accuracy. Keep them ice-cold. Allow ample time for resting and chilling the dough in between steps. And move fast once it’s out of the fridge. Below, O’Brien walks us through the steps for making the crust for her toasted pecan tart (or two 9-inch pies).

The technique
1 Weigh 226 grams (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, and 340 grams (2 ½ cups) all-purpose flour. Refrigerate in separate containers until ready to use.

2 Whisk 4 grams (¾ tsp) kosher salt into ½ cup ice-cold water “until there are no pockets of salt, and it distributes evenly.” Refrigerate.

3 In a large bowl, toss butter with flour. Using your hands, break up butter into pea-sized pieces, with some larger chunks. Mash some pieces flat between your thumbs and fingers. “You want to make a shaggy mess of butter and flour without warming up the butter too fast.”

4 Drizzle salted ice water evenly over flour-butter mix. Toss with a fork until dough starts to come together. A few dry patches are okay, but if the mixture appears too dry, sprinkle in ice water.

5 Quickly combine dough in bowl, then place on a work surface and form into a ball. Divide in half and form into two balls.

6 Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

7 Remove dough from fridge and unwrap. Dust a dry surface with flour. Flatten dough slightly and form into a round or rectangular shape, depending on the pan’s shape. Lightly dust a rolling pin with flour, then roll dough to about 3/8-inch.

8 Briefly lift up dough and set it back down again, giving it a second to retract.

9 Lay dough across top of the pan and gently press it into bottom and sides, tucking it into crevices. (Crimp or trim overhang as desired.) Cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least one hour.

10 Before pouring in filling, line crust with parchment, fill with pie weights, and partially bake for 25 minutes (or until edges turn golden) at 350°F.

11 Remove weights. Prick crust all over with a fork to prevent puffing. Bake until bottom is set, about 5 minutes. Add filling and bake as directed.

Weight class
O’Brien recommends a food scale from Escali. Available at amazon.com, $25

Bonus recipe: Sarah’s Toasted Pecan Tart (or Pie)
Makes 8 servings

In this recipe, which may easily become your next holiday tradition, Sarah O’Brien creates a traditional pecan pie without the cloying sweetness. She bakes it in a narrow, rectangular tart pan, so that everyone can get an ample chunk of her ultra-flaky crust. (You can also use a 9-inch pie plate—just increase the cooking time). She subs in granular, creamy-textured cane sugar for the plain old white variety and adds smoothness with heavy cream and a shot of bourbon. Toasting the nuts “brings out a savory, meaty,” flavor, she says. Finally, she tops the pie with a sprinkling of flaky Maldon salt just before baking. If you’re making the tart, you’ll have a good bit of the custard filling leftover. Either plan to make two or pour the extra sauce over a scoop of ice cream.

Ingredients
For filling:
• 170 g (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp) light corn syrup
• 100 g (1/2 cup) organic cane sugar (granulated sugar works, too)
• 75 g (6 Tbsp, packed) light brown sugar
• 15 g (1 Tbsp) bourbon
• 1/2 tsp kosher salt
• 55 g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
• 3 g (1/2 tsp) pure vanilla extract
• 3 large eggs
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 160 g (1 1/2 cups) toasted Georgia pecans, coarsely chopped (O’Brien is a fan of Pearson’s)
• Maldon salt

For crust:
See recipe above.

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place corn syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, bourbon, and kosher salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking occasionally, for about 1 minute, just long enough to dissolve sugars and salt. Remove from heat.

Add butter and vanilla; whisk until butter melts. Let cool slightly. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and cream. Add to sugar mixture; whisk until combined. Fill prebaked crust with pecans. Pour filling over pecans; sprinkle lightly with Maldon salt. Bake until filling is set: 45 to 50 minutes (for tart pan); 55 to 60 minutes (for pie pan). Serve, or refrigerate up to four days.

Sarah O'Brien
Illustration by Joel Kimmel

About Sarah O’Brien
O’Brien’s grandmother gave her a rolling pin on her 10th birthday, and she’s had an unflagging pastry obsession ever since. She first sold her baked goods at farmers markets before opening the Little Tart Bakeshop in Grant Park in 2011, followed by an outpost in Krog Street Market.

This article originally appeared in our November 2015 issue.

Cheddar-Jalapeno Bites

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These tender, cheesy little biscuits are hard to stop eating. My running buddy, Beth Floyd, brought them to a party recently, and when I asked her for the recipe she recited it on the spot. She adapted it from one she got from a cookbook called “Table Talk” compiled by a relative’s bridge club in Macon, Georgia. They’re incredibly easy to make and freeze well.

Ingredients
1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
8 ounces sour cream
2 cups self-rising flour
3/4 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper

Instructions

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray mini muffin tins with nonstick vegetable spray. Set aside.

Place butter in a medium glass bowl. Microwave for 1 minute or until melted. Whisk in sour cream until well blended. Stir in flour, then fold in cheese and peppers. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Technique: Little Bacch’s Joe Schafer on roasting the perfect chicken

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roasted chicken
Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

No Atlanta bird commands as much attention (or money) as the whole roasted chicken for two at Little Bacch in the Westside Provisions District. The $52 entree is roasted whole with foie gras breadcrumbs piped beneath its skin. But even without the decadence of foie gras, a roast chicken prepared with precision can be a Michelin star–worthy feast. Here, Little Bacch executive chef Joe Schafer breaks down the basics.

1 Go organic and free-range. For birds with the most natural flavor and juiciness, start with chicken from White Oak Pastures (sold at Whole Foods) or GrassRoots Farms (sold at Freedom Farmers Market). A bird that’s 3 ¼ to 3 ½ pounds will amply serve two.

2 Remove moisture. For a crispy crust, dry the skin first. Unwrap the bird, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it uncovered on a baking sheet to chill in the refrigerator overnight (or up to three days).

3 Ensure even cooking. Convection heat allows air to circulate around the whole bird. Place your roasting pan (equipped with a rack) on a convection oven’s center rack and preheat to 375°F.

4 Stuff with flavor. Schafer seasons the cavity with about 3 Tbsp. salt then adds half a lemon and half a head of garlic, pushing them deep inside to help prevent hot air from getting trapped. Fill the rest of the cavity with fresh herbs like thyme and sage.

5 Season the skin. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, loosen the skin and gently separate from the breast all the way down to the wing joint, being careful to avoid tears. Tuck gobs of softened herbed butter under the skin of each breast. (To make the butter: Mix 2 sticks softened unsalted butter with 3 Tbsp. minced parsley, 2 Tbsp. minced chives, 1 Tbsp. minced thyme, 2 Tbsp. minced garlic, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper.) Run your hands over the outside of the skin to distribute butter evenly, then brush with a little olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

6 Truss the chicken. To keep hot air from circulating in the cavity (and overcooking the breast meat), tuck the wings under, cross the legs, and tie them together tightly with twine.

7 Roast, then rest. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a thermometer placed into the leg joint reads 160°F. (Increase cooking time to an hour or longer if you’re using a conventional oven, rather than a convection.) When done, let rest for 15 minutes before carving to allow juices to settle.

Bonus recipe: Whole Roasted Chicken over Tomato-Bread Salad
Serves to 2 to 4

Herbed Butter (recipe follows)
1 (3 ¼- to 3 ½-pound) whole chicken, giblets removed
½ lemon
½ head garlic
3 Tbsp. salt, plus more for sprinkling
8 to 10 sprigs thyme
8 to 10 sprigs sage
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Tomato-Bread Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette, optional (recipe follows)

Make the Herbed Butter

One day ahead, pat chicken completely dry using paper towels, and set it on a sheet pan. Refrigerate to allow the skin to dry slightly. Set a roasting pan (equipped with a rack) on the center rack of oven and preheat to 375°F. Salt the cavity of the bird and stuff with lemon and garlic, then add thyme and sage.

Using the handle of a wooden spoon, loosen the skin and gently separate it from the breast all the way down to the wing joint, being careful to avoid tears. Tuck gobs of softened herbed butter under the skin of each breast. Evenly distribute butter by patting the skin with your hands. Brush with olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Truss the chicken tightly to ensure even cooking. (Or simply cross the legs and tie them tightly together.)

Place chicken on hot roasting pan and cook for 30 to 35 minutes in a convection oven, or until a thermometer placed into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160°F. (Cooking time may increase to an hour or more in a conventional oven.)

Remove chicken from oven, and let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the Tomato-Bread Salad. To carve, slice legs from body, then separate legs from thighs. Slice breast from body, then slice each breast half into 2 to 3 pieces.

Place bread on a serving platter, arrange chicken pieces around slices, and top with salad. Add more vinaigrette if desired.

Herbed Butter
Makes 1 cup

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 Tbsp. minced parsley
2 Tbsp. minced chives
1 Tbsp. minced thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. finely minced garlic
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl. If made ahead of time, bring to room temperature before using.

Tomato-Bread Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette
Makes 2 servings

3 or 4 Tbsp. Brown Butter Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4 to 5 thick slices sourdough bread
½ to ¾ pound fresh tomatoes of various sizes, sliced into desired shapes
2 to 3 ounces raw pole beans or any tender beans available (optional)
¼ cup parsley leaves
2 to 3 Tbsp. dill fronds

Make Brown Butter Vinaigrette. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add bread slices, one or two at a time, and toast on both sides. Assemble salad: Combine tomatoes, beans, parsley leaves, and dill fronds in a mixing bowl. Coat with a few tablespoons of dressing; season to taste with salt and pepper. Set bread slices on a platter; top with tomato mixture and chicken.

Brown Butter Vinaigrette
Makes 2 ¼ cups

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter
¼ cup sherry vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
¾ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and cook until slightly browned, taking care not to burn. Set aside to cool to room temperature. In a blender, combine vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, and mustard; puree until smooth. Reduce setting to low to slowly drizzle in butter and oil. When emulsified, season with salt and pepper.

Joe Schafer
Illustration by Joel Kimmel

About chef Joe Schafer
Of course he can roast a chicken. The Griffin native grew up with a yard full of birds that eventually became dinner. Previous kitchen stints include Murphy’s, Parish, King + Duke, and Abattoir.

This article originally appeared in our October 2015 issue.

Technique: Wrecking Bar’s Terry Koval on making the perfect BLT

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BLT
Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Everybody knows that a ripe tomato is essential, but it’s the details that make for BLT perfection, says Wrecking Bar Brewpub executive chef Terry Koval, who never lets his tomatoes see the inside of a refrigerator. Koval brines his own pork from Riverview Farms, but home cooks can turn to a local butcher for thin bacon slices, then use the oven (not a skillet) for more even cooking. The bacon’s done when it’s slightly chewy but still has some snap. You’ll want snap and crunch in your lettuce, too. Koval rinses a head of iceberg under cold water to crisp the leaves, then shreds it (whole leaves tend to slide). And the bread? Koval goes for a sturdy, artisanal-style white bread like bâtarde or pain au levain. “I love the holes of pain au levain; the pockets of mayonnaise squeeze out the top when you bite into it.” He then (heavily) butters and toasts each slice on one side only. Once assembled, take a sharp knife and cut the sandwich on the diagonal. “I like to bite right into that crunchy, buttery triangle on the end. That just tastes like a mouthful of summertime to me.”

The Breakdown
1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Lay bacon slices flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 10 to 20 minutes or until crispy.

2 Remove outside leaves and core a head of iceberg lettuce. Rinse under cold water. Pat dry. Quarter the head, then cut into chiffonade strips.

3 Thickly slice a ripe tomato; place on a paper towel–lined plate. Season each slice on both sides with salt and pepper; drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (Koval prefers Agrumato lemon extra virgin olive oil). Sprinkle with finely minced flat-leaf parsley and thyme.

4 Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. butter. When melted, add a slice of bread and toast on one side only. Remove to a plate, untoasted side up, and repeat with other slice.

5 Generously spread mayonnaise over each untoasted side of bread. Add lettuce; sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Add tomato slices then bacon. Top with the other slice of bread. Using a sharp sandwich knife, cut on the diagonal and serve.

Mayo
To bind the ingredients together, Koval is unapologetically loyal to Duke’s Mayonnaise, which is ultra-creamy and free of starches, gums, and sweeteners.

Terry Koval
Illustration by Joel Kimmel

About Terry Koval
This South Carolina native might be best known for the burgers he designed for Farm Burger—now boasting five outposts, including one in California. Today you can find him at Wrecking Bar Brewpub, where a well-crafted sandwich gets the same level of attention as the beer brewing in the back.

This article originally appeared in our September 2015 issue.

Tupelo Honey Cafe’s Technicolor-Rama Asian Slaw

826SlawRecipeThis vibrant and bold slaw comes from The Tupelo Honey Café: New Southern Flavors From the Blue Ridge Mountains by Elizabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2014). It’s the second cookbook from the popular Asheville, NC, restaurant, which will be opening a location in Sandy Springs early next year.

The slaw is a refreshingly light switch from the more predictable ones laden with mayonnaise. It doesn’t even contain a speck of oil (though a drizzle of sesame oil wouldn’t hurt). It goes well with barbecue, burgers, or pretty much any simple entree. For extra crunch, try adding a handful of sunflower seeds or sliced, toasted almonds.

Technicolor-Rama Asian Slaw
Makes 12 servings

Ingredients
6 cups shredded green cabbage
3 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced bok choy
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots
1 cup julienned jicama
1 cup finely diced Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Dressing (recipe follows)

Instructions
Place the shredded cabbages, the bok choy, carrots, jicama, apple, and cilantro in a large bowl. Pour the slaw dressing over and toss well. Cover for an hour and refrigerate, stirring occasionally.

Dressing
Makes 1 3/4 cups

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
Combine the sugar, vinegars, soy sauce, ginger, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper in a jar. Cover and shake to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Technique: Little Alley Steak’s Tony Manns Jr. on grilling ribeyes

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Ribeye
Photograph by Greg DuPree

“I like a steak with personality,” says Tony Manns Jr. To him, no slab of meat fits that profile better than a ribeye, characterized by a generous marbling of fat that adds rich, robust flavor and juiciness. At the butcher, Manns chooses cuts at least one and a half inches thick (anything thinner will easily overcook).

Before grilling, let the steaks sit unwrapped at room temperature for at least 10 minutes—“it’s like opening a fine wine,” Mann says; “you need to let it breathe”—then season with salt and pepper (¾ to 1 teaspoon of salt per pound). He grills with a combo of charcoal and wood (pecan and hickory are his favorites) for a fire that burns hotter than standard home gas grills. Don’t press down on the steaks while they sear; you’ll skew the shape and dry out the meat.

Manns finishes his steaks with a garlic-thyme butter. For six steaks, melt two sticks of butter over low heat. Slightly smash the unpeeled cloves of a head of garlic and add to the pan, along with six sprigs of thyme. Cook until cloves are softened, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Drizzle over steaks, mounding some of the cloves atop each.

Is dry-aged worth it?
Wet-aged steaks are vacuum-sealed for weeks, giving the tissues time to soften. But if you can afford to spring for a dry-aged, bone-in cut, go for it. Dry-aging beef in a temperature- and humidity-controlled room tenderizes and concentrates the flavors and brings out a funky, blue cheese–like umami.

The Breakdown
Difficulty: 2 out of 5 Ribeye 1  Clean the grill grates and light a charcoal fire, arranging coals and wood chips on one side.

Ribeye

2 Liberally season steaks on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper, patting the seasoning gently into meat.

Ribeye

3  To achieve diamond grill marks, start the meat on the hottest side of the grill with the steaks at a 45-degree angle to the grate. Cook for 2 ½ minutes, then rotate steaks 90 degrees and cook for 2 ½ minutes longer. Keep the lid closed with vents partially open while cooking. Flip steaks. Cook for 2 ½ minutes with the meat at a 45-degree angle to the grate. Rotate steaks 90 degrees and move them to the side with lower heat; cook 2 ½ minutes longer (or until done).

Ribeye

4  Grill masters know medium-rare by touch. Not as confident? Use an insta-read thermometer—the internal temperature should be 135°F. Never check by cutting into the steak; you’ll lose essential juices.

Ribeye 5  Transfer steaks to a platter, and let rest for 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb into meat. Finish with garlic-thyme butter.

Bonus Recipes

Spice-Rubbed Filet Mignon
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup onion powder
6 sprigs thyme, roughly chopped
6 filet mignons

Thoroughly clean grill grates. Remove meat from refrigerator and unwrap at least 10 minutes before cooking. Light a charcoal fire, arranging coals or wood chips on one side.

In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme. Sprinkle mixture liberally on both sides, and pat gently into meat.

To achieve diamond grill marks, start steaks on the hottest side of the grill with grates pointing to 11 o’clock; cook for 2.5 minutes. Rotate steaks so that grates point to 5 o’clock, and cook for 2.5 minutes longer. Keep lid closed with vents partially open while cooking. Flip steaks. Cook for 2.5 minutes with grates at 11 o’clock. Move to side with lower heat; cook 2.5 minutes longer (or until done) with grates at 5 o’clock. Use an insta-read thermometer to test for doneness—the internal temperature should be 135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter ,and let rest for 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb into meat.

Makes 6 servings

Grilled Marinated Hangar Steaks
1 cup olive oil
1 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh garlic
1/4 cup sriracha sauce
6 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3 to 4 pounds hangar, flank, or skirt steaks

Place steaks in a nonreactive container. In a food processor or blender, combine olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, sriracha, and thyme leaves; puree until blended. Pour over steaks, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove, blot off excess liquid, and let steaks sit at room temperature at least 10 minutes before grilling.

Thoroughly clean the grill grates, then light a charcoal fire, arranging coals or wood chips on one side. To achieve diamond grill marks, start steaks on the hottest side of the grill with grates pointing to 11 o’clock; cook for 2.5 minutes. Rotate steaks so that grates point to 5 o’clock, and cook for 2.5 minutes longer. Keep lid closed with vents partially open while cooking. Flip steaks. Cook for 2.5 minutes with grates at 11 o’clock. Move to side with lower heat; cook 2.5 minutes longer (or until done) with grates at 5 o’clock. Use an insta-read thermometer to test for doneness—the internal temperature should be 135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter, and let rest for 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb into meat.

Makes 6 servings

Tony Manns Jr.Tony Manns Jr.
Atlanta native Manns is executive chef of Roswell’s Little Alley Steak, part of the F&H Food Trading Group that has taken hold of the North Fulton dining scene over the past three and a half years. Since opening in 2011, this charming steakhouse has carved out a devoted following thanks to its wide selection of wet-aged, dry-aged, and USDA prime cuts. Before running Little Alley, Manns earned a degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Tucker and later made the rounds in kitchens like Veni Vidi Vici and C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar.

Illustrations by Joel Kimmel

This article originally appeared in our August 2015 issue.

Hugh Acheson’s sauteed catfish with cantaloupe, lime, and cilantro salsa

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sauteed catfish with cantaloupe, lime, and cilantro salsa

Photograph by Rinne Allen

Here’s a great idea for what you could do with that half-cantaloupe lurking in your fridge: finely chop the flesh and mix it in a salsa, as Empire State South’s Hugh Acheson suggests in his beautiful new cookbook, “The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruit” (Clarkson Potter). The melon’s musky, floral notes—balanced with citrus and spice—perk up crispy sauteed catfish fillets in minutes without overpowering the delicacy of the flesh. Unable to find a red Fresno chile pepper, I substituted thinly sliced hot long green pepper instead. Jalapeno would work as well. A little sweet red pepper mixed in for color wouldn’t hurt a bit.

Ingredients

1/2 cup finely minced cantaloupe
1 fresh red Fresno chile, thinly sliced on the bias (or jalapeno, Serrano, hot long pepper, or other moderately hot chile)
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Kosher salt
4 catfish fillets (5 to 6 ounces each), trimmed of any connective tissue
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 sprigs cilantro

Instructions

Place the cantaloupe, chile, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the lime juice, and kosher salt to taste in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Pat the catfish dry with paper towels and season all over with kosher salt. Dredge the catfish fillets in the flour, shaking off any excess. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is shimmery-hot, place the catfish in the pan and cook for 5 minutes on one side. Then add the butter, let it foam, and baste the fillets with it, using a spoon.

Turn the fillets over and continue cooking the catfish until just done, about 3 minutes, depending on how thick the fillets are. Catfish should be cooked through but still be very moist.

Transfer the fish to individual plates, and top them with the cantaloupe salsa. Garnish with the cilantro sprigs, and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Technique: Matthews Cafeteria’s Michael Greene on fluffy biscuits

Matthews Cafeteria Biscuits
Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

“I can feel it. These are going to be good,” says Michael Greene, bouncing the palm-sized disc of dough in his hand before setting it atop a jumbo baking sheet. “These biscuits are lighter than they appear.”

Greene grew up on these old-time fluffy “cat-head biscuits” that have been a Matthews Cafeteria signature for six decades. He learned to make them by watching the cooks mix, roll, cut, and bake some 300 to 500 a day in a sprawling old basement kitchen where he has spent much of his life.

The recipe calls for three ingredients: self-rising White Lily flour, a commercial lard-shortening blend for flavor and flakiness (at home, you can use a combo of both), and buttermilk (Greene uses fat-free because he says milk fat is more prone to burn at high temperatures).

As for technique, it’s all about the hands. A big bowl, a biscuit cutter, and a large baking sheet are the only equipment he needs; his hands do the blending, the stirring, the shaping, and the patting (no kneading and rolling, which toughen the dough). Any scraps become a thin pastry topping for the daily cobbler. When the timer goes off, Greene removes the golden-brown biscuits from the oven. “These are money,” he says, beaming. “I can tell by the dimples on top.”

The Breakdown
Difficulty: 2 out of 5

Biscuits

1 Place 5 ½ cups flour in a large bowl. Mix together 5 Tbsp. lard and 5 Tbsp. shortening; add to flour. Mix until texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with some pieces the size of a small pea.

Biscuits

2 Form a well in the center of the bowl. Pour in 2 cups fat-free buttermilk. Pull in the flour from the sides of the bowl toward the center, turning the bowl as you go. Fold until fully incorporated. Mixture should be slightly sticky.

Biscuits

3 On a generously floured work surface, gently pat the dough with your fingers from the inside out to form a round disc about 1 to 1 ½ inches thick. (Thinner will yield a smaller, crispier biscuit.) Brush off excess flour.

Biscuits

4 Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Cut out biscuits with biscuit cutter. Gather scraps into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate or freeze.

Biscuits

5 Arrange biscuits on the baking sheet so that they’re barely touching. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes at 475°F, until lightly browned on top. Remove and serve. Makes 9 to 12 large biscuits.

Flour Power
Like many a traditional Southern baker, Greene swears by White Lily flour. It’s milled from pure soft red winter wheat and has a lower gluten content than most other flours, yielding lighter, flakier, and more tender products. He uses self-rising flour, which has added leavening and salt, to ensure a consistent flavor and texture.

Bonus Recipe: Matthews’ Peach Cobbler
1/2 recipe biscuit dough
2 pounds peaches, peeled and sliced (fresh or frozen, thawed)
1 1/3 cups self-rising flour
2 cups sugar, plus 2 to 3 Tbsp for sprinkling
3 cups cold water
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove biscuit dough from refrigerator, unwrap, and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.

Place peaches in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with flour, 2 cups sugar, and water; toss well. Stir in 1/2 cup melted butter and spread mixture evenly in dish. Cut a piece of dough large enough to fit over the top of the pan (or cover with strips of dough for a more rustic look). Brush with butter, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 1 hour, until browned and bubbly.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Michael GreeneMichael Greene
As a kid growing up in Tucker, Greene used to grumble about spending summers working at Matthews Cafeteria—an old school meat-and-three that his maternal grandfather, Bill Matthews, opened in 1955. But even then he felt responsible for the family legacy, and after graduating from the University of Georgia, he joined his parents, Charles and Alice Greene, at the restaurant.

Although Greene likes to experiment with new flavors when he’s off duty, his steadfast adherence to the tried-and-true recipes—and an unwillingness to alter the proudly unhip red-and-white-checked-tablecloth ambience—is a point of pride.

Illustrations by Joel Kimmel

This article originally appeared in our July 2015 issue. 

Technique: One Flew South’s Tiffanie Barriere on making festive punch bowls

punch bowl
Photograph by Greg Dupree

Whether you’re planning a formal wedding reception or backyard cookout, a festive bowl of punch can serve as both a striking centerpiece and a tasty thirst-quencher. Tiffanie Barriere’s big-batch concoctions are more refined than the empty-out-the-refrigerator “hunch punch” she’d make for family get-togethers back in Texas. She starts with top-shelf spirits (almost any type of liquor will do), fresh produce, and natural flavorings, and aims to balance citrus, sweetness, and spice.

Her other rule of thumb: Don’t be afraid to, well, pack a punch. (Remember, the ice will dilute the alcohol over time.) Barriere likes to use large ice molds that melt slowly throughout the festivities and flavor them with fresh fruit and just a touch of sugar. Anything from Solo cups to Bundt cake pans can double as ice molds, but Barriere finds that muffin tins work especially well. Taste after you’ve added the ice, and if the mix is still too potent, pour in some sparkling water. One of Barriere’s favorite recipes is for a brightly flavored pastel concoction she’s dubbed the Connector. “It’s both feminine and masculine, and goes well with barbecue and other spicy flavors,” she says.

The Breakdown

0615_technique01_jkimmel_oneuseonly1 Place several pieces of fruit in each of 12 muffin cups. Pour water over fruit to cover, sprinkle with sugar, and freeze until ready to serve.

0615_technique02_jkimmel_oneuseonly2 In a punch bowl, combine 2¾ cups tequila, 1¼ cups Saint Germain elderflower liqueur, 1¼ cups dry rosé, 1 cup vermouth, and 1¼ cups fresh lime juice.

0615_technique03_jkimmel_oneuseonly3 Add 10 shakes of angostura bitters; stir.

0615_technique04_jkimmel_oneuseonly4 Spoon a few drops of the mixture onto the back of your wrist, taste, and adjust ingredients if needed.
0615_technique05_jkimmel_oneuseonly5 Dip pan in warm water and pop 6 ice molds out of their cups; add to punch. Add additional ice molds or dilute with sparkling water as needed. Makes 12 to 18 servings.

Recommended Reading
Barriere is a big fan of cocktail authority Dave Wondrich, whom she met when they both enrolled in the same bartending certification class. If you’re looking to expand your punch repertoire, grab a copy of his 2010 book, Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl ($18.46), which mixes personal stories, historical tidbits, and practical recipes.

Tiffanie BarriereTiffanie Barriere
Barriere has been building her own brand of cheer as head bartender at One Flew South since it opened in 2008 on Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s Concourse E. Born in Houston but also raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, Barriere was a server at LongHorn Steakhouse in Marietta when she had to fill in for a bartender who called in sick. She eventually met One Flew South’s executive chef, Duane Nutter, and has been behind the bar ever since. In 2011 GQ called it one of the best bars in America.

Illustrations by Joel Kimmel

This article originally appeared in our June 2015 issue.

Skillet Berry Cobbler

518PuckettCobblerYou can’t beat a cast-iron skillet for corn bread and fried chicken, but those aren’t the only reasons to haul it out. I love the crispy edges it creates in this simple, buttery, down-home cobbler, inspired by one in Rebecca Lang’s outstanding volume, Around the Southern Table: Coming Home to Comforting Meals and Treasured Memories (Oxmoor House, 2012). It’s incredibly fuss-free, calling for only one mixing bowl. The hint of cornmeal adds an appealingly rustic layer of flavor and texture. Hers calls for a combination of half blueberries and half peeled and sliced peaches (cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices.) Since fresh, ripe peaches weren’t available at the market, I used a mixture of summer berries instead. When peaches come into season, you can bet I’ll make it her way. Serve this with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Leftovers are great warmed up for breakfast.

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup plain yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
4 to 5 cups mixed fresh summer berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven as it preheats. Remove from oven when melted.

Whisk together flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk and almond extract, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over melted butter in hot skillet.

Sprinkle berries over batter.

Bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

8 to 10 servings

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