One Mississippi … Roast

I read the New York Times Cooking story last week about America’s love affair with ranch dressing and immediately started craving Mississippi Roast.

This Pinterest favorite dish is traditionally made in a slow cooker with chuck roast, pepperoncini peppers and a package of ranch dressing. The Times recipe by Sam Sifton calls for making your own ranch dressing, which isn’t hard at all.

The peppery roast is a great Sunday dinner option that might give you leftovers for a busy weeknight. Might. We served it on Sunday with egg noodles and a salad. I planned to have leftovers on Monday with roasted sweet potatoes and red onion wedges and buttermilk biscuits (because the dressing calls for a mere teaspoon of buttermilk, and it seemed such a waste to not use some of the rest of it). That turned out to be optimistic. My family ate it all the first night.

Mississippi Roast

INGREDIENTS

1 boneless chuck roast or top or bottom round roast, 3 to 4 pounds

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 to 12 pepperoncini

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon dried dill

¼ teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon buttermilk, optional

Chopped parsley, for garnish

 

PREPARATION

Place roast on a cutting board and rub the salt and pepper all over it. Sprinkle the flour all over the seasoned meat and massage it into the flesh.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan set over high heat until it is shimmering and about to smoke. Place the roast in the pan and brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes a side, to create a crust. Remove roast from pan and place it in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add the butter and the pepperoncini to the meat. Put the lid on the slow cooker, and set the machine to low.

As the roast heats, make a ranch dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, dill and paprika in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify. Add the buttermilk if using, then whisk again. Remove the lid from the slow cooker and add the dressing.

Replace the top and allow to continue cooking, undisturbed, for 6 to 8 hours, or until you can shred the meat easily using 2 forks. Mix the meat with the gravy surrounding it.

Garnish with parsley, and serve with egg noodles or roast potatoes, or pile on sandwich rolls, however you like.

 

Ricatoni’s Italian Grill is About More Than Just the Food

Every college town has a go-to pizza place. Some might have two or even three. But only one town has Ricatoni’s Italian Grill.

This Italian restaurant in historic downtown Florence has been around for decades serving tasty, homemade food; supporting its community; and employing lots of local students, but the passion of owner Rick Elliott is what makes Ricatoni’s special.

He’s as much of a draw as his dishes—especially when he takes his message to YouTube.

Families with students at the University of North Alabama swear by Ricatoni’s. They usually mention the cheese ravioli and those Ricatoni’s commercials in the same sentence. Here’s another one. And one more for good measure.

Read my entire story here on Alabama NewsCenter.

Then, if you want to go this is what to eat: ravioli with a tomato cream sauce, chicken Alfredo, lasagna Ricatoni and Elliott’s favorite, Rotolo di Pollo.  “It’s a chicken breast that’s rolled; it’s got prosciutto and fontina cheese. We cook it on the grill and put a little lemon butter and mushroom sauce on it. We serve it with our signature pasta, Tagliarini Piace Pellerossa, and it comes with a house or Caesar salad.”

Elliott told me:  “Even with search engines and all this stuff, Ricatoni’s still is. It’s exactly the way it was 20 years ago. People take comfort in the fact that … we are a stable element in their lives. That they can come here and go, ‘Oh yeah, I remember. This is the way it was 15 or 20 years ago when I used to come in with my parents.’”

 

Fox 6 Books: September

Here’s what I brought to WBRC Fox 6 on September 4. I think it’s time to hit the books! Let’s go back to school with a book about sorority rush, another that is taught in colleges right now and two thrillers just for downtime fun.

Rush proves once again that Lisa Patton is good at semi-autobiographical books (her debut Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter was our first clue). In Rush, she mined her time as a sorority member at the University of Alabama. After a chance encounter with one of the sorority’s housekeepers, Patton learned that most sorority and fraternity houses in the South do not provide benefits for staff. So Patton asked herself:  “What if the staff’s story had a different ending?” This work of fiction takes us into Alpha Delta Beta, the premiere sorority at Ole Miss. Lilith Whitmore is the wealthy, conniving House Corp President of the sorority, and she’s desperate for her daughter to be accepted there. Cali, another candidate, is a perfect fit except for the lack of a pedigree. Miss Pearl is the housekeeper and second mother to all the girls (her “babies”). When Miss Pearl is up for a promotion and Lilith gets in the way, the Alpha Delt girls decide to make some serious changes to the sorority and maybe even the entire Greek system. This is a delightful, funny romp that pits tradition against modern ideas.

Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants by Wolfgang Schivelbusch is taught to freshmen students at Millsaps Collge. My daughter passed it along to me after her class where she discovered that before it was banned late in the last century, opium was a staple in most middle-class medicine cabinets. Medieval nobles thought pepper was imported from the gates of paradise and consumed it by the pound. Before coffee became a common commodity, people sipped beer at breakfast. These are just a few of the things you’ll learn in this fascinating book that details the crazes and cravings for various substances (some of which we take for granted today) and how our never-ending appetite for pleasure transformed the economy and social structure of the Old World.

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is delightfully creepy! It’s also a brand-new and highly popular novel with some interesting dark humor and some truly scary scenes. The book also examines nature and nurture and good and evil. Suzette is a devoted stay-at-home mom to Hanna, who is now seven years old and does not speak. Suzette tries everything to connect with Hanna, but ever since Hanna was a baby Suzette has felt that the girl despises her. Older now, Hanna has become a master manipulator. She’s exceedingly cruel to her mother but absolutely loving to her father, who has trouble believing Suzette’s account of Hanna’s behavior. But now Hanna is becoming increasingly dangerous, and Suzette is convinced Hanna is trying to kill her.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is the latest book by Ruth Ware, the author of the # 1 New York Times bestseller The Woman in Cabin 10. This one is another page-turning twisty thriller. Harriett Westaway (Hal) is struggling—with bills, with work, with life—when she gets a mysterious letter saying she is the recipient of a substantial inheritance from her grandmother.  Hal figures this is a mistake since her grandparents have been dead for more than 20 years, but, with options running out, she decides that her cold-reading skills, honed as a tarot card reader, might help her claim the money.  She travels to the sprawling estate Trespassen in the English countryside where the deceased Mrs. Westaway’s family has gathered to pay respects and claim their bequests. But Hal realizes that something is really wrong with the situation, and the inheritance, of course, is at the heart of it all.

link to Amazon to show you exactly what book I’m talking about, but I love to shop locally at Church Street Coffee and BooksThe Alabama Booksmith, Little Professor Book Center, and I often visit my local library.