Sunday, March 03, 2013

State-by-State Redux: X of X - A Julia Child recipe that does not feature butter, and an Ina Garten recipe that makes up for it

Here it is, the last State-by-State post after more than two years of this project chugging along.  And for this final State-by-State post, I am visiting some American classics that I haven't done for this series, and surprisingly even much in the history of this blog, which you know by now is also ending soon.  I thought it was imperative to visit some of these classics by using recipes from the Queen herself, Julia Child.  Oh, and also Ina Garten.

Snacking State-by-State Redux X of X: The United States

Official Name: United States of America
Nickname: none
Founded: July 4, 1776
Capital: Washington, DC
Other Important Cities: There are a lot of 'em.  Can we just leave it at that? 
Region: North America
RAFT Nations: All of them, except Moose (upper Canada)
Bordered by: Canada (north), Arctic Ocean, Bering Strait & Russia (northwest), Pacific Ocean (west), Mexico (south), Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean Sea (southeast), Atlantic Ocean (east)
Official US Foods and Edible Things: none
Some Famous & Typical Foods: see the previous two years worth of posts for this.  Also: apple pie, barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, fast food, and so on

Of all the famous chefs in American history, it's pretty safe to say that none rivals the importance of Julia Child.  I mean, did the Smithsonian Institution put James A. Beard's kitchen on display in the American History Museum in Washington?  I've been a few times, and I just don't get tired of it.

Child was, among all chefs, a pathbreaker in that she introduced the American public to the pleasures of an intimidating cuisine (French, not American) in as accessible a way as possible.  From her Mastering the Art of French Cooking to her long-standing partnership with PBS, her many books and television shows, and her co-founding of the American Institute of Wine and Food, Child left an important and lasting impression on American food [Smithsonian National Museum of American History (Behring Center), no date]

For my final State-by-State post, I am showcasing one of Child's more American recipes: the ever-popular meatloaf.  Yes, she had a recipe for meatloaf, which she considered it a cousin to the French pâté: "Since they are so closely related, I consider the one a variation of the other" [Child 2000: 53].  I had never thought of meatloaf that way, but I guess it is.  But I also did change this one up, not so much fiddling with the master so much as using a version that was "pre-fiddled with".  You see, I realized when planning this final post that I had used so many different meats over the past two years for this series: beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, shellfish, even buffalo, but not the one all-American bird that deserves extra attention in such a series: the turkey.  I left out any turkey recipes!  Yes, that idiotic bird that Benjamin Franklin would have made into our national symbol had the bald eagle not swayed other people instead.

Fortunately, I found a recipe that swaps out the pork in Child's recipe for turkey plus precooked rice.  I'm not sure of the actual provenance of this recipe.  Various sources attribute a turkey meatloaf to Mark Ladner of Del Posto restaurant, though I don't think this is the version in question.  I did find Child's meatloaf with the turkey and rice swapped in for the pork on, of all places, the CD Kitchen website.  Poster "AmandasMom971" [2012] provides the measurements for what is, otherwise, Julia Child's recipe.  To her credit, she does call it "Julia Child's Meatloaf" and doesn't pass it off has her own.

To further complicate things, I swap out the beef in her meatloaf for that tried and true "meatloaf mix" of beef, pork and veal.  Mixing all of those together still gave me some quite pleasant results.

To go along with this turkified version of Child's meatloaf, I thought I would add two important sides: mashed potatoes - for what is meatloaf without mashed potatoes - also from Child's Julia's Kitchen Wisdon: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking [2000], and a recipe for one more recipe that I have never made for this series or this blog, but has become an important part of the American food landscape: macaroni and cheese.  This time, however, I go with Ina Garten and her "adult mac & cheese" featuring tomato slices, Gruyère and cheddar.  A hearty and wonderful macaroni and cheese on page 202 of Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family-Style cookbook [Garten 2002]

The Recipes: Julia Child's Meatloaf (with Turkey) and Mashed Potatoes, with Ina Garten's Grown-Up Macaroni and Cheese

First, Julia Child's meatloaf that you will certainly not hate.

The Recipe: Julia Child's Meatloaf (with Turkey)

Assemble the following:

* ground beef (or in this case, "meatloaf mix", about $7 per lb at Whole Foods.  Child calls for two pounds of beef, but I settled for 1 1/2, which worked for me)
* turkey (about a pound, about $5 at Whole Foods, mixed with...
* white rice (I just got this in the hot food bar at Whole Foods while I was shopping for the other things)
* toasted bread crumbs (nothing faincy here, just a few toasted slices of plain old white bread pulsed in the food processor)
* onions (three that I got the day before at Waverly - I got about six in all for $2
* beef broth (I swapped that out for chicken broth á la Better Than Bouillon.  Yet another animal added to the mix
* eggs (in case you decide not to swap beef for chicken broth, this will help add chicken to your meatloaf anyway)
* Cheddar cheese ($5 for a block of the XXX Sharp Cheddar from Yancey's Fancy.  I got this at Wegman's.  This surprised me, since I've never heard of cheese in a meatloaf.  But Julia Child put it in there and I'm sure she knew what she was doing.  Don't forget to grate it)
* garlic (had it - again, I used the garlic paste from Trader Joe's that I had in the fridge, but stuck the head of garlic in the photo)
* salt & pepper
* various spices: oregano, thyme, paprika, allspice and bay leaves (had them all)

You will also need oil to sauté the onions, and a tomato sauce to pour over the meatloaf.  Look for more on that below.

First chop the onions and sauté them in a skillet.

Mix your bread crumbs with the onions.

Add the meatloaf mix...

...the turkey and rice (yes, that is rice)...

...the grated Cheddar and the eggs...

...and your chicken broth, salt, pepper and herbs and spices, holding off on the bay leaves which go on top of the whole thing.

Child suggests cooking a little bit of it in the skillet and tasting it to make sure it's right.  It's stuff like this, folks, that explains why her kitchen is in the Smithsonian.

Push it into a meatloaf pan (I used one with holes in the bottom and another pan underneath to catch all the juices) - Child suggests greasing it with butter (natch), though I used baking spray instead - and top it with the bay leaves.  Bake in a pre-heated oven for 90 minutes (until the juices run clear) at 350°F.

While that is in the oven, make the tomato sauce for the meatloaf.  Child suggests the sauce on page 30 of her book, which uses fresh ones.  I used canned San Marzanos instead ($4 per 28 ounce can), with chopped onion and basil, and reduced until thick.

Ninety mintes later, the meatloaf should be springy...

...and the sauce should be reduced and very intense.

Child's mashed potatoes go wonderfully with this: just boil some potatoes, add cream and/or milk alternating with butter.  I just used a hand masher.

The Recipe: Ina Garten's Grown-Up Macaroni and Cheese

As for Garten's luxurious macaroni and cheese (which, unlike the meatloaf, I halved), you should gather the following ingredients:

* macaroni (I got the Barilla variety for about a buck and a half)
* Cheddar (here I thought I'd run out of Cheddar.  I still have a ridiculous amount left over)
* Gruyère (I got the cheaper, mild kind at Whole Foods, about half a pound for $7)
* milk (fresh from the South Mountain Creamery stall at the farmers' market at Waverly)
* flour (had it)
* tomatoes (a few Romas from the supermarket)
* butter (had it)
* nutmeg, salt and pepper (had them all)
* bread crumbs (more than enough left over from the meatloaf)

Start by grating your cheeses.

Boil your macaroni in a large pot.

Melt that butter!

Once melted, whisk in your flour (exact measurements in Garten's recipe on page 202 of the Family Style cookbook)

Add the milk and whisk some more, then remove from heat.

Next, whisk in your shredded cheeses...

...and your nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Drain your macaroni and add this to the mixture, coating thoroughly.

Pat it all down into an oven-safe dish.

Then mix the bread crumbs with a little more melted butter.

Slice the tomatoes and place on top of the macaroni and cheese.

And then spread the bread crumbs over everything.  Yes, all over everything.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for about 35 minutes.

Though the meats were not exactly the ones she recommended, Julia Child's meatloaf still turned out to be lovely.  It's done for me what homemade sauce did for me for spaghetti: it made it taste good again.  As for the mac & cheese: it was good, though distinctly second fiddle to the meatloaf.  But a hot bowl of the mac & cheese alone (and it must be hot - lukewarm really doesn't bring out the flavors all too well) is still a nice thing on a cold day.

- - - - -

And that's it!  Fifty states, one territory, one federal district, plus several regions and an all-encompassing "America" post, and my Snacking State-by-State series is now - pardon the wording - history.  I have enjoyed learning about all the different ways of eating all over this country over the past two years and a handful of months.
  • I've either learned or re-learned how to pick apart a lobster (Maine), a crawfish (Louisiana), a King crab (Alaska) and a shrimp (Florida).   I sought out easier ways to shuck oysters (Delaware, Mississippi and Virginia) and clams (Rhode Island).  Mind you, I already knew how to pick blue crabs (Maryland), duh, and Dungeness (Washington) was something I remembered from back in California.  
  • I learned that Youtube is a great repository for how-to videos, on everything from frying bison testicles (Wyoming) to making Mr. Beer home brew as interesting as possible (Wisconsin), to making sushi rice (California), to mixing up your own Korean potato salad (District of Columbia) and so on.
  • As far as my own state's food goes, I've learned just how much more Southern we are in our culinary history (note: panfried chicken, Smith Island cake) than we are Northern, though we still have that.
  • I was also reminded that Lady Baltimore cake (South Carolina) has nothing to do with Maryland, no matter how hard John Shields or myself want it to be.
  • I've learned a few new-to-me culinary terms: 
    • bizcochito (New Mexico)
    • buckeyes (Ohio)
    • chislic (South Dakota)
    • curtido (District of Columbia)
    • funeral potatoes (Utah)
    • halušky (Pennsylvania)
    • hot chicken (Tennessee)
    • johnny cakes (Rhode Island)
    • knoepfla (North Dakota)
    • mofongo (Puerto Rico)
    • musubi (Hawaii)
    • pemmican (Montana)
    • pork roll (New Jersey)
    • purloo (South Carolina)
    • sofrito (Puerto Rico)
    • St. Paul sandwich (Missouri)
    • tapioca maltodextrin (Illinois)
    • tourtière (New Hampshire)
    • wojapi (Nebraska - this one and pemmican are both Native American dishes)
  • I now know how to smoke pork butt  (North Carolina) in the slow cooker, as well as beef brisket (Texas), and how to smoke pork ribs (Missouri & Tennessee) in the oven.
  • I learned how expedient and how expensive mail-ordering foods can be when you just cannot buy them locally - ahem, huckleberries, anyone? (Idaho)
  • I learned that Miss Paula may claim that gooey butter cake for Savannah, Georgia, but they were making it in Missouri long before she caught wind of the idea.
  • I still never got to make steamed crabs from Maryland or Virginia, Jamaican jerk chicken from New York, or apple pie from all over the country, but I do think I covered most of the bases.
And that closes the textbook on this culinary exploration of America.  It has been enriching, exhausting, expensive and fattening all at the same time.  And with that, I can now go to the supermarket secure in the knowledge that I don't have to root out any specific ingredient for any blog-related reason, anymore.  And to quote the master herself one final time, Bon Appétit!


"AmandasMom971" (poster).  "Julia Child's Meatloaf".  CD Kitchen, posted 2012.  Copyright CDKitchen 2005-2013, all rights reserved.

Child, Julia.  Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking.  David Nussbaum, collaborator.  Knopf: New York, 2000.  Reprinted 2009.

Garten, Ina.  Barefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family.  Clarkson Potter: New York, 2002.

Smithsonian National Museum of American History (Behring Center).  Bon Appétit! Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian.  Rayna Green and Paula Johnson, content and curatorial for website, Nancy Growald Brooks, editor (full list of website and exhibition credits can be found here).  Copyright 2002 - present, Smithsonian Institution, all rights reserved.

Some information also obtained from the United States Wikipedia page and from the Food Timeline State Foods webpage.