Friday, July 17, 2009

Smoked Mullet

smoked mullet

Only mad men and Floridians eat mullet, or so I'm told.

Most people consider mullet a trash fish; it's bony and a bottom dweller, so most don't even bother with it, or use it for bait while catching crab. That's alright. We Floridians know what to do with it. More mullet for me!

I admit I never had smoked mullet until I met my future husband. Our first date, actually, was me going to his house while he smoked some mullet. Once I got over the heebee jeebees of having to drive through miles of dirt roads to get to his house, all the while hearing banjo music in my head, I was able to enjoy it - quite thoroughly, too, I might add.

I don't smoke it too often because well, it's a pain to pull out the grill, remember to get the charcoal, soak the wood, brine the fish, etc etc, and by the time you go through all that - well you might as well just pay someone at a local restaurant to make you some.

But it occured to me that some of you might not have a local restaurant you could just go to and get some smoked mullet, so I thought I'd show you how.

First stop - the fish monger. I bought two mullets - rather on the small-ish side, for $2.50/lb. It ended up being - oh about $5 for the both of them. Let them fillet it. It's messy and you really don't want to ruin your appetite before you eat now, do you?

Next - brine your mullet. I forgot to snap a pic of this so you're just gonna have to use your imagination! Get a gallon freezer bag, fill it about half full with water, add salt and seasonings. How much salt? Ummm I dunno - couple of tablespoons, maybe. Seal and stick in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

While that's brining, get your grill going.

I actually do have a smoker, which is ancient - but it doesn't have to look pretty to work well. Get your brickets going, and when they're good and caught - add your wet wood.


You can use wood chips bought in the store of course, but I prefer to use what's free - which happened to be fallen limbs from my oak tree, wet from rains and soaked for a few hours in the kitchen sink.

You can also use hickory or apple wood. If the wood is green you won't have to soak it, just add it on top of the fire.

DO try to avoid wood that has poison ivy growing on it. You laugh, but I've heard of it done before. Needless to say - this is not a good thing. If you don't know what poison ivy looks like, well buy your chips at the grocery store. It's cheaper than a trip to the E.R.

Next - spray the grill part with some PAM or brush it with oil, and add your brined mullet, SCALE SIDE DOWN. Sprinkle with paprika and brush with oil.


It should be about 6 - 8 inches from the fire. Cover, and let smoke!

We're smokin now, baby!

After 15 minutes or so, go back in, take your spatula and move them a bit, so they don't stick to the grill. Check them about every 15 - 30 minutes until it's golden on top and flaky. These only took about an hour; your mileage may vary, depending on your grill.


Now - this is how you EAT smoked mullet.

You eat it with your fingers, so go wash your hands! And you eat it with homemade tartar sauce and sliced onion.

Homemade tartar sauce = mayo, and pickle relish.

Scoop out some meat, dip it in the tartar sauce, stick it in your mouth - and take a bite of onion. Mmm! Good eat'n.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

shepard's pie

So I asked my daughter recently, which foods I cooked that she liked best of all while she was growing up. She thought for awhile before stating "I don't remember you cooking that much!"

I felt like banging my head on the table. My head or her head, I couldn't decide which.

Sure, her dad cooked a lot - he's the better cook, and really and truly, he's the only man I know who can go into a kitchen, where I SWEAR there's nothing to eat, and pull together an excellent meal out of random items in the pantry and leftovers. I just don't have that kind of talent.

But I did my fair share of cooking, too. I think she just blocks some of it because we did a lot of stir fry, and she didn't like that. But she did come up with one or three things she did remember, with Shepherd's Pie being one of them.

This tickles me to no end, because I never even considered it. Shepherd's Pie is just one of those things you can cook without even thinking of it. It's easy, fast, and yummy (see a trend in my cooking here?)

Now just like with any other recipe for a favorite dish, there are hundreds of different recipes, all of which include mashed potatoes and some kinda ground up meat, either beef or lamb - but I'm gonna tell you how I make it, sorta kinda like how my momma made it.

Mashed potatoes
1/2 chopped onion (I use vidalia)
1 pound of ground chuck
1 can of peas
shredded cheddar

preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Melt a pat of butter in a pan and cook your chopped onion until they're starting to turn brown, then add your ground beef. Cook until it's well, cooked.

While that's cooking - make your mashed potatoes.

You can use left over mashed potatoes, or start from scratch. But really and truly - I use a package of Idahoan Yukon Gold Instant Mashed Potatoes. I can't tell the difference between theirs and mine, to be honest, even down to the occasional lump and pieces of skin.

Cook it up according to the package directions - 2 cups of water to one package and stir - easy! Or, just use 2 cups of mashed potatoes.

Liberally butter a pie plate, and dump the mashed potatoes in, using a spoon to flatten it out and work it up the sides, making a thick mashed potato crust. Dump the browned beef in the middle, piling it up in the middle. Drain a can of peas, and pour them between the mashed potatoes and the mountain of ground beef, like a ring.

If you're feeling Martha Stewart-ish, you can grow & use your own peas & potatoes, and it will taste fantastic - but I wasn't feeling very motivated today.

Shred some cheddar over all of it, and stick it in the oven until the cheddar is melted and the peas are hot; shouldn't take more than 15 - 20 minutes. Take out, and serve. Salt & pepper to taste. It should feed four people generously, 6 if you're scraping by.

That's it! Cost me - MAYBE - $5 to feed 4. Not a bad deal.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Blueberry Buckle


This has enough sugar to put you in a diabetic coma. So all you diabetics out there, don't look.

Most recipes for cobbler call for pints of blueberries, and that's all well and good if you have an army to feed. But most of the time, it's just me, myself, and I, and I would get sick of it long before I ever finished it. I have a poor attention span when it comes to food. Leftovers, even blueberry cobbler leftovers, bore me after one or two servings.

But this will feed two or three happily, before it's all gone.

Why is it called "Blueberry Buckle?" I don't know, but I suspect it's because the berries underneath cause the crust to "buckle" when they start to bubble up.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take a pie pan, spray it with PAM.

1 pint of blueberries
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of flour

Mix them up well, and pour them in the pan. Using the bowl you used to mix up the blueberries, combine:

1/4 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 stick of butter, softened

Take your fork and work the butter into the sugar/flour mixture, until it's about the size of peas. Pour over the blueberries and set in the middle of the oven, and bake until it looks like something you want to eat - about 30 minutes.

Best served warm, with vanilla ice cream.