We are but a couple of days away from saying adieu to 2017, so it’s time to break out the cookware and ready ourselves for those New Year traditions. Usually we are concerned about good luck and fortune, with my favorite Hoppin’ John and greens.
No doubt those will make appearances as the games begin, but the menu will be augmented this year with wonderful citrus flavors in the form of hangover cures and pickled shrimp. Eating for the season is the way to go, and despite a recent climb in temps after a much-welcomed snow, our citrus is rocking right now.
THE hangover cure
I’ve been in the business of overindulgence for a few years. It started in college with some regularity and crept into my 30s during my rock ‘n’ roll era. Now, a little later, I don’t quite bounce back as well as I used to. These days I have to save those moments for special times, not just pounding drinks because it’s Wednesday. At any rate, I’ve tried the hangover cures. What works the best for me is sweating it out.
Should you awake New Year’s Day with a head full of pounding cuckoo clocks and your underwear on backward, don’t expect some magical elixir to get you clean and sober. If anything will make you feel better, it’s the “hair of the dog,” so to speak. The hangover drink for me is the Sazerac.
Originally this was a cognac drink in the mid-1800s, but when imported cognac became difficult to find in post-Civil War America, rye stepped up to the plate. I just received a beautiful bottle of Knob Creek small-batch rye for Christmas I’ll give a go.
The reason I like this cocktail for a hangover cure is that it cuts to the chase. You don’t just slam this one down. It’s something you ease into. Here’s one very close to the Sazerac Bar’s version.
1 sugar cube
3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
1½ ounces (in this case) Knob Creek Rye, 100 proof
1/4 ounce Herbsaint
Lemon peel for garnish
You’ll need two Old Fashioned glasses. Pack one with ice and set aside. In the other, moisten the sugar cube with the bitters and crush it. Add the rye to the bitters/sugar mixture and several ice cubes. Stir 30 times to get it nice and cold.
With the first chilled glass, discard the ice cubes and coat with Herbsaint, pouring out the excess. Strain the whiskey mixture into the glass and garnish with the lemon peel.
Take it easy.
I love fresh-squeezed lime juice. The idea of cooking shellfish with lime gives me all the good feels. Ceviche is just that, originating in Latin America. If you are allergic to shellfish you may want to try snapper or redfish. I’ve actually had some great ceviche in this town with those ingredients. No matter what you use, you must find THE FRESHEST ingredients for this. Don’t substitute that days-old tuna steak in the fridge you never finished.
1 pound bay scallops
1 cup chopped red onion
½ cup chopped red bell pepper (or mixed peppers for color)
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Basically we just throw all of this into a mixing bowl, mix it well, cover and refrigerate. I give mine a couple of hours. Be generous with the salt.
It’s hard to beat the pickled shrimp at Noble South. Last week before “Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas” I got a little too excited and inhaled something at the Sidecar Lounge, nearly choking to death. Proceed slowly next time, Andy. When Vidalia onions aren’t in season I prefer the sting of the white. When Meyer lemons are around I always want to feature them.
Find a good container with a tight lid and you can keep these in the fridge for a few days. Of course the little single-serving mason jars add charm to your party. If I’m invited, allot me two.
2 pounds boiled shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 white onions, thinly sliced
2 Meyer lemons, thinly sliced
¼ cup capers
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
½ teaspoon sugar
10 bay leaves
½ teaspoon allspice berries
½ teaspoon celery seeds
½ cup canola oil
3/4 cups cider vinegar
The shrimp can be boiled in Creole crab boil or even Old Bay. It just depends on what side of Florida Street you live. Mr. Bubble likes the Old Bay a little too much. All of the other ingredients should be combined and poured over the shrimp. Let this marinate for at least 24 hours.
I know it really is the kissing cousin of ceviche, but ceviche is served with tortilla chips while the pickled shrimp is great with plain white saltine crackers. Don’t get the giggles and breathe in an allspice berry.
I need this lighter fare for my New Year’s Day to be a little more enjoyable. Without it I am likely to overdose on the Hoppin’ John and greens. Speaking of which, this year’s will be loaded with my favorite pork product, tasso. The greens this year may be collards, a departure from my usual cabbage. I’ll also have a few bubbles with Prosecco and blackberry acid to wash down those Sazeracs.
Celebrate our fine citrus right now with any you can get your hands on. Maybe Santa put a Satsuma or a lemon in your stocking. Maybe you have a tree full of the good stuff. Whatever the case, make the most of what you have. This is going to be a great year for food!
(Photo | Wikimedia) The traditional Sazerac was a cognac drink in the mid-1800s, but when imported cognac became difficult to find in post-Civil War America, rye whiskey stepped up to the plate.