We celebrated Husband’s last year in his 20s with a “meat brunch” (his idea, not mine) over the weekend. The party was a fun, casual, backyard affair with meats of every variety and a few brunch standards as well. Husband learned a few new tricks on the smoker, and I learned that you can, in fact, have a meat-induced hangover.
The menu was elaborate, but remarkably simple to pull together:
- Biscuits and spicy sausage gravy
- Smoked peri peri chicken thighs
- Twice marinated garlic buffalo chicken wings
- Smoked pulled pork
- Turnip greens with chickpeas and tomatoes
- Brown sugar and cayenne smoked bacon
- Grilled corn pico de gallo
- Hashbrown, pulled pork, salsa, smoked jalapeno, and cheddar casserole
- Asparagus and mushroom pesto quiche
- Grilled kielbasa
As far as libations, we had a well-appointed bubbly bar for mimosas, bloody marys, and a few other liquors and mixers that we feel appropriate to serve in the morning. I made a poor showing as a food iphonographer, though, and only took three pictures (and not one picture that turned out well).
The smoked peri peri chicken and grilled buffalo wings:
A random snapshot of some things on my counter. Fantastic. Anyone know any food photographers hiring an apprentice? Please send them this photo as indicative of my portfolio:
And the hashbrown, pulled pork, salsa, smoked jalapeno, and cheddar casserole:
Serious scowling going on in that photo.
My contribution to this brunch was minimal. Husband wanted to showcase his skills on the smoker, and I
happily obliged. I was a bit pouty the day before the party. I’m used to micromanaging fretting over portions and prep time. I am an apron-clad dictator of the kitchen, pounding my fist and barking edicts from my granite-topped podium. I thought I was invincible. I should have seen the coup coming.
Power trips aside, I wasn’t used to being the “side dish” cook. But, once relegated to the corner, I got over it and made this side dish inspired by a fantastic interview on NPR I heard the day before the party while running errands. Weekend Edition interviewed Caroline Randall Williams about healthy southern soul food cooking and I felt inspired by her words, although I have not yet seen any of her recipes. Her cookbook, Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family, is now on my “must read” list.
This recipe makes a heaping pot of flavorful turnip greens with unique flavors like paprika, chickpeas, fresh tomatoes, and coconut milk. Due to the almost stew-like consistency, I recommend serving the greens in a small bowl if you’re dishing them out as a side dish, or else you run the “risk” of your whole plate tasting like the rich, flavorful sauce.
I’m not really sure how we will top this year’s birthday party for Husband. As he appears to be slowly edging me out of the kitchen, maybe he’ll have the whole party planned and I’ll get an invitation in the mail. Humph.
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (approximately 1/2 cup)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 pounds turnip greens, coarsely chopped
- 1 16-ounce chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 low sodium vegan bouillon cube
- 1/3 cup half-and-half or coconut milk (or more; adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons each paprika and black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Cajun spice blend
- 5 slices bacon, optional
- Hot sauce, to taste
- Heat a large pot to medium. Add coconut oil, garlic, and chopped onion. If using bacon, add chopped bacon slices.
- Cook for five minutes, until onions are fragrant. Add tomatoes, bouillon cube, and chickpeas. Stir occasionally until bacon is fully cooked.
- Add turnip greens, lime juice, water, hot sauce (optional), and spices. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for about fifteen minutes, then stir in coconut milk or half-and-half.
- For a more stew-like consistency, increase coconut milk to a full can.
- Cook for an additional ten minutes, until greens are tender and the texture is consistent. Serve hot, with hot sauce on the side.