They Kill the Lettuce in Carolina

Today we celebrate North Carolina. Ask the people who call North Carolina home what makes the state so special and they are sure to tell you with pride what sets their state apart.

Beaches – The state has a 300-mile coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. Nearly all of the coastline is accessible beachfront. Famous beaches in North Carolina include Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It included a portion of the Outer Bank, with a beach that is nearly 70 miles long, with three Visitors Centers.

Higher Education – North Carolina is among the top ten states with the highest in-state attendance rate of High School Students and is home to some of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the country. It is also home to North Carolina State University, educating some 35,000 students a year. Duke University ranks 8th in the country. Education is North Carolina is a big deal.

First in Flight – December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk. The Wright Brothers achieved what so many others had failed to do – the first controlled and sustained aircraft flight. The brothers choose Kitty Hawk because it was remote, affording them a private place to conduct experiments in flight.

Largest Private Residence – The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is the largest private residence in the country. The estate sits on over 10 square miles of land. Construction began in 1889 and was finally completed in 1895 with 178,926 square feet of floor space. There are 250 rooms, 3 kitchens 35 bedrooms and 65 fireplaces. While still privately owned, it is a tourist attraction today. With good reason. The dining table in the banquet room can extend to 40 feet and comfortable host over 60 guests. The room is so large, it took 3 fireplaces to keep it warm in the winter.

Independence – First State to vote for independence from the British at the first Continental Congress. While North Carolina was the 12th state to join the Union, it was the first to declare independence. North Carolina resisted secession from the Union, but eventually public opinion swayed officials to join the Confederacy.

When it came time to create a menu that featured the best North Carolina had to offer, I was struck by a dish known as Killed Lettuce. Yeah, Killed Lettuce. Turns out this is usually served with pinto beans and cornbread. Seemed obvious that a North Carolina Menu partially created itself. Throw in a few Southern Appetizer Favorites, some barbecue and a Peanut Butter Dessert and you’ve got the perfect celebration of this wonderful state.

Four-Course Caroline Delight

Carolina Stuffed Mushrooms
Sweet Southern Deviled Eggs

Main Course
Smoky Carolina Pulled Pork with Vinegar Sauce
Smoky Pinto Beans
Buttermilk Cornbread

Killed Lettuce

Black Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Carolina Stuffed Mushrooms
2 lbs medium Brown Mushrooms
2 tablespoons grated Red Onion
6 tablespoons butter
1 (8 oz) package Chive Cream Cheese
1 (4 oz) package Goat Cheese Crumbles
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon Minced Roasted Garlic
Italian Parsley, garnish

Clean mushrooms, remove stems. Set caps aside. Chop 1/2 cup of stems, set aside. Finely grate red onion, set aside with juices.

Heat two large skillets over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in each of the skillets and divide the mushroom caps between the two skillets. Cook, stirring the mushroom caps until the edges are slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Place the mushrooms in a colander to drain and cool.

In a mixing bowl, whip together the cream cheese and goat cheese until well blended. Mix in the onions and mushroom stems. Use all of the filling to generously fill each mushroom cap and place, filling side up, in a baking pan.

Heat the oven broiler to high heat.

Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the mince garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat, cook just long enough for the garlic to become aromatic, about 1 minute once the butter has completely melted. Drizzle the garlic butter over the filled mushroom caps. Place mushrooms in the heated oven to broil until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Arrange stuffed mushrooms on a serving platter. Finely chop parsley, sprinkle over caps and serve warm.

Sweet Southern Deviled Eggs
8 Hard-Boiled Eggs
3-1/2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1-1/2 tablespoons Sweet Pickle Relish
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
Sweet Paprika for sprinkling

Place eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and steep for 15 minutes.

Drain eggs, plunge into cold water. Peel eggs, cut in half lengthwise, Place yolks in a food processor fitted with a blade. Place whites on a platter and set aside.

Pulse yolks to crumble. Squeeze excess liquid from the pickle relish, pat dry and add relish to the yolks. Add mayonnaise, mustard and a pinch of salt. Pulse until smooth.

Fill egg white halves with yolk mixture and place on platter. Sprinkle with paprika, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Smoky Carolina Pulled Pork with Vinegar Sauce
Dry Rub Roast

1-3/4 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Celery Salt
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1/4 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
Kosher Salt to taste
4 lb Pork Butt Roast

In a small bowl, mix mild paprika, light brown sugar, cayenne pepper, celery salt, garlic salt, dry mustard, ground black pepper, onion powder, and salt. Rub spice mixture into the roast on all sides. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

2 lbs Hickory Wood Chips, soaked
1 bag Charcoal
2 Disposable Aluminum Drip Pans

Spread wood chips out in 1 of the disposable drip pans. Cover chips in water and let soak at least 30 minutes to an hour. Set up grill for indirect heat, one side for coals, the other side with a drip pan. When ready to begin smoking, light coals. Once light ash has formed, spread the hot coals out on one side of the grill. Sprinkle a handful of soaked wood over coals to begin smoking. Close lid for 5 minutes for the smoke to build.

Place pork butt roast on the grate over a drip pan. Cover grill, and cook pork until pork is tender and shreds easily, about 6 hours. Check hourly, adjusting vents, adding fresh coals and hickory chips as necessary to maintain a low heat with plenty of smoke.

While the pork smokes, make the vinegar sauce.

Carolina Vinegar Sauce
1 cup Cider Vinegar
3/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Ketchup
3 tablespoons firmly packed Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Salt
2-1/2 teaspoons crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground White Pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together cider vinegar, water, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and white pepper. Continue whisking until brown sugar and salt have dissolved. Set aside.

To Serve: Remove pork from heat and place on a cutting board. Allow the meat to cool approximately 15 minutes, then shred into bite-sized pieces using two forks.

Place shredded pork and vinegar sauce in a large roasting pan, and stir to coat pork. Serve immediately, or cover and keep warm on the grill for up to one hour until serving.

Smoky Pinto Beans
16 oz dry Pinto Beans
4 slices Thick-Cut Applewood Bacon
1 small Yellow Onion – diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 teaspoons Chicken Bouillon Concentrate
Water as needed
1 fresh Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon Cumin
Kosher Salt to taste
Parsley for garnish

Rinse beans, sort through and discard any shriveled beans. Pour the beans into a large mixing bowl and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Set aside, soak overnight.

Dice bacon, set aside. Peel and dice onion, set aside. Peel and mince garlic, set aside.

In a six quart stock pot on medium heat, cook bacon bits until nicely browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Leave some of the bacon dripping in the pot. Saute the onions and garlic in drippings over medium heat until aromatic and slightly translucent.

Remove the pot from the heat and add the beans, bacon, chicken bouillon concentrate, bay leaf, cumin and enough cool clean water to cover the beans by 2 inches.

Heat the beans on medium until they come to a light boil then reduce the heat to low.

Stir the beans occasionally and maintain a low rolling boil. Cook until tender, about 4 or 5 hours. Just before serving, taste and adjust flavor with salt as desired.

Remove bay leaf, transfer beans to a large serving bowl. Finely chop parsley, sprinkle for a splash of fresh color.

Southern Buttermilk Cornbread
1 large Egg
1-1/4 cups Cornmeal
2/3 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Sugar
1 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 cup Buttermilk
3/4 cup Canola oil

Remove the egg from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Sift in the flour, baking soda and salt together over the cornmeal mixture. Gently stir the dry ingredients together.

In another bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk and oil. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake in the heated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 minutes or so.

Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Slice into squares, arrange on a serving platter and serve warm with sweet butter.

Killed Lettuce
4 slices Bacon
4 Green Onions
1 head Green Leaf Lettuce

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Place the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate.

While the bacon cooks, chop the green onions and set aside. Rinse lettuce, tear into bite-size pieces and set aside.

Once the skillet is empty, add the chopped green onions to the bacon grease; cook and stir for about a minute or until the onions reach your desired tenderness. Pour the onions and bacon grease over the lettuce and toss lightly. Crumble the bacon and add it to the lettuce. Serve immediately.

Black Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie
Black Bottom
1 1/3 cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips (about 8 oz)
2/3 cup Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 (9 inch) Graham Cracker Crust

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, 2/3 cup cream, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Microwave on medium heat until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Whisk until melted and smooth. Spread chocolate mixture over bottom of crust. Freeze 10 minutes.

Peanut Butter Mousse
6 oz (1 cup) Peanut Butter Chips
1 3/4 cups Heavy Cream, divided
2 tablespoons Creamy Peanut Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Sugar

In another microwave-safe bowl, microwave peanut butter chips and 3/4 cup heave cream on medium heat at 15-second intervals just until chips soften, stirring often. Whisk in peanut butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool to barely lukewarm. Beat remaining 1 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until very thick but not yet holding peaks; fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture in 3 additions. Spoon mousse over chocolate layer.

Chill at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

1/2 cup Chocolate Syrup
1/4 cup Peanuts

When ready to serve, drizzle pie with chocolate syrup as desired. Sprinkle some peanuts around the edge of the pie, slice and serve.

Hope you enjoyed North Carolina!

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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