Tag Archive : Comfort

By now you’ve figured out that I have a serious love of food.

Grandma Ollie used to hypnotize me with the movement of her wooden spoon, creating intoxicating aromas in the kitchen at the ranch with the simplest of ingredients. And, when I wasn’t at the ranch, my smoking, 500-pound, denture-wearing, narcoleptic, poem-reading babysitter (best. babysitter. ever.) would lovingly knead potato rolls then slather them with jewel-toned homemade jelly once baked, all while I sat on top of the kitchen table, anticipating the very moment she would hand over that pillowy-sweet treasure. (more…)

Earlier this summer, one of Dallas’ brightest star chefs, Omar Flores, partnered up with Alec Marshi to open Whistle Britches, a Southern-inspired casual restaurant focused on killer fried chicken, biscuits that only grandma could make, cold beer, and all the picnic fixin’s you could want in far North Dallas.

There’s been quite a bit of talk about it. Having just met Chef Flores at the Chefs for Farmers event last weekend and hearing mostly positive reviews about Whistle Britches, when a friend of mine mentioned her phenomenal experience, I couldn’t put it off any longer.

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My first thought as the doors opened was, “Wow. This is really bright and open!” I loved it. It was a much lighter and inviting atmosphere than its previous space owners had created, and we absolutely loved the outdoor patio. Bright colors, fun fixtures, and natural lighting really make the space impressive and fun. The outside area has colorful chairs and an open deck perfect to enjoy now that the weather calls for outdoor seating. However, for this particular visit, we kept it indoors since e’rybody was showing up. We were celebrating my dad’s birthday!

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To save time while everyone arrived (and mostly because it says it’s a 30 minute wait time), we ordered “The Whole Bird” for the table and some appetizers. Let me tell you; even if you just want a little afternoon snack, get your whistle britches over there and order the “Pickled Jalapeño Pimento Cheese.”

Guuuuuuuuuuuurl, I could eat that entire thing with a spoon and a blanket in a corner all by myself. It was such a comfort food champion; I don’t even know what to tell you. Their saltine crackers are house-made, very on-trend at the moment, but there was nothing “trendy” about how those crunchy chile-flaked wafers of deliciousness worked magic in combination with that pimento cheese to transport me directly into a huge wooden rocking chair on somebody’s grandaddy’s front porch somewhere in the South. North Dallas was not the vibe that app was rockin’. It was a tip of the hat to Southern cuisine in one unassuming countrified bite, and it was amazing.

We also enjoyed their wonderful “Creamed Corn Hoecakes;” however, the hoecakes arrived a little underdressed, as their pats of butter had flown off the side in the journey to the table. So, I didn’t get a great shot of those. They were very light and delicious, but they ain’t no pimento cheese.

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When the main event arrived, the first thing that captured my nose’s attention was the lovely waft of butter dancing across my senses, coming from the ridiculously and generously sized biscuits on the table, alongside sweet local honey butter and a blueberry jam sent from the gods. They arrive as four, but Grandma Ollie snagged one right as I was taking a shot, and I don’t blame her. They were dreamy.

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Immediately thereafter, all eyes were on that beautiful basket of chicken. What I remember before passing out from joy was the hot, crispy herbed crust being so unique. There was a definitive note that really separated this fried chicken from what one would expect. And, I’ve had me some fried chicken, my friends. This was special. The crust adhered so perfectly to the chicken, and the wonderful aromas circling the table were intoxicating. Even thinking of it now, I can recall that herbaceous note of the crust without being heavily crusted with herbs. It was certainly memorable.

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Sides included were their creamy chive potato salad and light vinegar coleslaw. The consensus at the table was that the sides were “okay” while the fried chicken blew everyone away and the biscuits were a soul-touching experience. One side worthy of mentioning though was the macaroni and cheese. Goot Lort, it was mac’daddy delicious. Definitely get you some of that when you go.

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We were most impressed with the pimento appetizer, biscuits, and chicken overall – which is probably how it should be! Their moniker bears the trio ‘Chicken – Biscuits – Beer;’ so, I would hope those would be the highlights! We didn’t get to the beer this time but believe me… there will be a next time.


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Marys VisionToday has been a pretty awesome day. A few days ago, I was notified that I was chosen as one of the top five finalists for Bravo TV’s Best New Restaurant “The Mentorship” contest. And, today, they posted my video submission to their YouTube page. On March 9th, we shall see who gets to spend the day with Chef and Restaurant Entrepreneur, Tom Colicchio. He will be mentoring one very lucky individual, and my friend Mary has advised me to “start packing my bags” because I’ve already won. I love the positive thinking, and I couldn’t agree more with having a winning vision. While I’m a huge fan of Top Chef and Best New Restaurant, this opportunity is way more than just being a fan. It’s an incredible chance to change dreams to reality, as my Bear and I have long dreamed of owning our own restaurant.

At the very same time, the DFW area has been blasted with snow, frozen pellets of ice and other cold weather phenomenons that require copious amounts of hot chocolate and warm food to be consumed. So, this morning, I got the cast iron skillet out, heated up some butter tortillas from Central Market, got some bacon in the pan, and took my already-created Borracho Beans (drunk beans) to task with a masher to make refried beans!

The combination of bacon, beans and Bravo TV’s finalist news was the absolute perfect combination to celebrate while staying nice and toasty inside. I’m also posting today because my friend, Kerrie, has been asking about this Borracho Bean recipe for months now and will hunt me down to kill me if I don’t post sometime soon. So, here we go!

Borracho BeansBorracho Beans

1 lb dried pinto beans
1/2 medium white onion chopped
1 large tomato (or 1/2 package of cherry tomatoes will do)
3-4 uncooked bacon strips chopped
1 bottle of Mexican beer (Negro Modelo or Dos Equis preferably)
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
Salt to taste
Water
6 quart pot (cast iron enamel preferred but not required – the pot will be roomy for the beans)

Separate then discard any broken or unappealing dry beans, as well as possible rocks or inedible pieces from the dry beans. Rinse the beans in a 6 quart pot with warm water, slush around and discard the water, leaving the beans in the pot. Add water to the pot to cover the rinsed beans, then place the pot on a stove top and boil rapidly for 45 minutes. Be sure to watch the pot and add water if it reduces too much. The beans must stay completely covered during this process.

Once the beans have boiled for 45 minutes, remove from the stove top, carefully discard the water only and gently rinse the beans again. (You can use a sieve, but I find that covering the top with the pot cover and being careful over the sink with pot holders usually does the trick.) Add the chopped onion, tomato, bacon strips, and beer to the pot, then cover the rest with warm water until the beans are completely covered with about an inch of water above bean level. Return the beans to the stove at medium heat.

In a separate skillet pan on medium heat, lightly toast the cumin seeds and black peppercorns until they become aromatic. Add the toasted cumin seeds and peppercorns to a molcajete (mortar and pestle). Roughly chop the peeled garlic cloves and add them to the molcajete. Crush the cumin seeds, peppercorns and garlic together until they become a paste. You can add a little water to make it easier once the peppercorns are broken up. Add the mixture to the beans, adding more water to the molcajete to help motivate the paste to leave the surface. Gently stir the simmering beans and leave to cook for another hour.

Towards the mid-end of the cooking process, add salt to taste. This is a controversial thing, as some say adding salt at the start makes the beans hard and others say you can’t add salt at the end because it doesn’t flavor anything. Well, I add right towards the middle of the end and it usually does the trick – happy medium. I’m positive there is a scientific reason for each method out there, but my way works. And, if it ain’t broke…

At this point, if you’d like to add salsa, jalapeños or additional seasonings like garlic powder, cumin powder or onion powder, you can. You can even add roasted green chiles which make a flavorful addition. However, I have found that simple really is best, especially if you want to make refried beans with the borracho beans. And, let them simmer but don’t boil to mush. The flavors must develop but the beans will get too soft if you keep them simmering for too long. Just keep an eye out and a spoon handy for tasting.

Refried BeansTo make refried beans (the right way, in my opinion), fry up some bacon in a cast iron skillet. Remove the bacon, leave the drippings in the pan and add the borracho beans, liquid and all, to the pan and let out all your aggression with a potato masher, creating a creamy, textured, bacony bean to eat with tortillas. The longer they sit on the heat, the thicker the beans will become, and that’s what you want. Don’t serve the beans too runny. That’s never fun for anyone. Add bacon to the bean-smeared tortilla, and you have my very favorite breakfast celebration taquito in your hands, my friend.

Here’s to hoping there’s another celebration taquito in my future. I’ll keep you posted!