TND – Not Like 10,000 Spoons When All You Need Is A Knife

June 27, 2013

baked chicken & sauce

In a stunning example of either unfortunate coincidence or blackest irony, in the same week the Supreme Court ruled that a key provision of the 1965 Civil Rights Voting Act was unconstitutional the reigning doyenne of Southern Cooking, Paula Deen, was dropped like a hot potato by just about everyone after a deposition revealed that she had used ‘the n-word’.

On June 25th the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the portion of the 1965 Civil Rights Voting Act that imposed increased scrutiny on nine Southern states in matters of voter regulation was unconstitutional because Congress had failed to demonstrate a sufficient justification for this oversight. In the majority opinion the justices commented that the law did not reflect “current conditions.”

Almost simultaneously the food world watched aghast as a video and transcript of a deposition Paula Deen gave in relation to a workplace harassment lawsuit became public knowledge.  In the deposition she casually said ‘of course’ when asked if she’d ever used ‘the n-word’, and followed up that statement by commenting, “I try to go with whatever the black race is wanting to call themselves at each given time. I try to go along with that and remember that.”  She also revealed that in 2006 she’d contemplated staging an antebellum themed wedding for her brother, complete with all black servants; although apparently she thought better of this idea before it came to fruition.

Unsurprisingly every company who employed her a celebrity spokeswoman has dropped her like a hot potato – the Food Network, Smithfield Ham, WalMart, Target, her publisher . . . the list goes on and on.

My initial reaction to the Paula Deen news (when it was just being reported that ‘at some point in the past’ she had used the n-word) my gut reaction to that was we’re all a product of the time and place we grew up in, and Paula Deen grew up in the deep South in the 1950s/60s.  I’d honestly have been more surprised if she could say that she’d never used the ‘n-word’.  Subsequent revelations suggest that it wasn’t all that long ago, and that more tellingly it was the kind of thing she knew better than to say in public.

Roxane Gay at Salon has a thoughtful response to the issues of racism, language, and what we say in private vs. what we say in public.

Paula Deen’s Racism Isn’t Shocking at All

I’m still not entirely sure what I think of the whole debacle.  On the one hand, excusing Paula Deen her behavior because of the time and place she grew up supposes that an entire generation and area of the country is inherently racist, and I don’t believe that’s true.  Perhaps I’m naïve, but I cannot conceive of my mother who comes from a very similar background to Paula Deen (born & raised in the South, from nice middle class church going families), ever using or thinking in language like that.  And, on the other hand, assuming that we live in the post-racial world that we like to imagine exists now that we’ve elected a black president is, I think, equally naïve.

Chicken with Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
Potato Salad
Sugar Snap Pea & Green Bean Salad with Orange-Basil-Mint Vinaigrette
Spinach Salad with Strawberries & Honey Roasted Rhubarb

Chicken with Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
(serves about 6)

How could anyone possibly expect me to resist a Rhubarb BBQ Sauce?  I mean, really now.  I slathered this on roasted chicken mostly because I don’t have a grill – but it would be awesome on grilled chicken, or on ribs, or any other application you can think of for BBQ sauce (in beans?)

unbaked chicken

Rhubarb BBQ Sauce (makes about 2 cups)
2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 3-4 large stalks)
¾ cup water
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp each – all spice, cloves, ginger
¼ cup maple syrup
1/8 cup brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp grainy mustard

Bring the water and rhubarb to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender.  Pour into a bowl and reserve.

In the same pot heat a little olive oil and saute the onion until it is softened.  Add the garlic, and all the spices.  Cook for about a minute, or until fragrant.  Return the rhubarb to the pan with all the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it has thickened.  Season to taste with salt/pepper.

You can puree the bbq sauce at this point if you want to, I didn’t bother.

Enough bone-in chicken for 6 people (I figure about 1 thigh/person or 2 legs/person)

Slather the chicken with half the rhubarb bbq sauce.  Place on a lined baking sheet and roast in a 400 oven for about 45-50 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is caramelized.

Serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Potato Salad
Dinner this week started with my craving for creamy potato salad, and expanded outwards from that point.

potato salad

Recipe previously given:  You Want Me To Do What?

Sugar Snap Pea & Green Bean Salad with Orange-Mint-Basil Vinaigrette
I have made so much slaw in the last 4-6 weeks that I could not face the thought of slicing up another head of cabbage.  This did, however, leave me with a problem of what to serve with the chicken and potato salad that would bright and fresh tasting.

snap pea salad

1 lb sugar snap peas, trimmed & strings removed
1 lb green beans, trimmed
6-8 large radishes, sliced very very thinly (I went 1/16” – on a mandolin)
Quick pickled onion

Blanch the trimmed sugar snap peas and green beans – I cooked them for about 45 seconds, and then shocked them in ice water.  Cool.  Can be made the night before and refrigerated until needed.

Toss the peas, green beans, and radishes with vinaigrette (you may not need all of it).  Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Mix in the pickled onions.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Quickly Pickled Onions
¼ cup mild vinegar (I used a raspberry wine vinegar that I had on hand)
¼ cup water
(scant) 1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 ½ tsp sugar
½ large red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/16” on a mandolin)

Whisk the vinegar, water, salt and sugar together until everything is dissolved.  Add the onion and allow to pickled for about 30 minutes.  Drain the onion well on some paper towels, and then add to the salad.

Orange-Mint-Basil Vinaigrette
Zest & juice 1 orange
2-3 Tbsp mild vinegar (I used a champagne vinegar)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Handful of basil & mint (about equal amounts of each)
Drizzle of honey

Combine all the ingredients in a blender (or a deep bowl & use an immersion blender).  Blend until combined.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Spinach Salad with Strawberries & Honey Roasted Rhubarb
We’re just all kinds of seasonal this week, y’all.

Recipe for Honey Roasted Rhubarb previously given:  In Which Aphorisms Come True

salad w rhubarb


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