Photo by Amy Pezzicara

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4 servings

    Country Fried Smoked Eggplant
  • 1 large Italian eggplant, cut into 2-inch slices
  • Salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups cornmeal breading
  • 2 cups peanut oil
  • Black Pepper Mashed Potatoes
  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed, skin on
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lima Bean and Chow Chow Succotash
  • 2 cups shelled lima beans, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chow chow, drained (recipe follows)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Chow Chow
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage
  • ½ sliced onion
  • ½ cup diced red peppers
  • 3 tablespoons salt, separated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • Tomato Black Pepper Cream Gravy
  • 1 large tomato
  • ½ cup cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Country Fried Smoked Eggplant

  1. Heavily salt eggplant slices and allow them to drain in a colander for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare a smoker to 150-175 degrees. Rinse eggplant, pat dry with a paper towel, and smoke for 1 hour.
  2. Remove eggplant from smoker and set on a baking sheet in a single layer. Allow to cool.
  3. Place buttermilk and cornmeal breading in two separate bowls. In a cast-iron skillet, heat peanut oil to 350 degrees. Bread eggplant slices by first dipping them in buttermilk, then in breading.
  4. Working in batches, carefully place breaded eggplant slices in hot peanut oil and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  5. Serve eggplant with black pepper mashed potatoes, topped with  tomato black pepper cream gravy and lima bean and chow chow succotash.

Black Pepper Mashed Potatoes

  1. Place cubed potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, and season with salt. Boil until potatoes are fork tender. Drain potatoes, return to pot, and allow heat of the pot to dry potatoes for 1 minute.
  2. To potatoes, add butter. Mash until desired consistency is reached (some lumpiness is recommended), then quickly stir in milk until a creamy consistency is reached. (This may take slightly more or less milk, depending on size and starch level of potatoes.)
  3. Season with salt to taste and fold in freshly ground black pepper. There should be a slight burn from the pepper—use more or less to taste.

Lima Bean and Chow Chow Succotash

  1. Blanch lima beans in a pot of salted boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse to cool beans.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium and add butter. Let butter melt, but do not brown. Add lima beans, chow chow, and thyme. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, until hot. Season to taste.

Chow Chow

  1. Combine cauliflower, cabbage, onion, and pepper in a bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon salt and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain vegetables and discard liquid. In a medium saucepan, combine garlic, mustard, coriander, red pepper, ginger, turmeric, sugar, water, vinegar, and remaining 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil.
  3. Place vegetables in a bowl or sturdy plastic container and pour boiling liquid over them. Place a plate over vegetables and allow to cool. Refrigerate for 3 hours before using.

Tomato Black Pepper Cream Gravy

  1. Core tomato, cut into wedges, and place in blender to purée.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add tomato and cream. Simmer until gravy thickens, about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce should be peppery—use more or less to taste. When gravy is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 more minutes, remove from heat.
  • From chef Greg Baker of the Refinery and Fodder & Shine, Tampa, Florida

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