Dispatch Nashville

by Carol Caldwell
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nashville_night.jpgCole slaw is the side dish of the South, one; and mayonnaise is the glue that holds my people together.  If we neglect to ingest something with mayonnaise binding each and every day we are liable to, and very often do, come unglued.  This is a self-evident fact that holds for my people both individually and as a culture.  When you venture into this area of the world, you will find I am not just whistling Dixie.

I have studied the cole slaw situation closely for a lifetime and may be one of the world’s leading experts on same.  People in the former CSA are extremely jealous of their states’ rights re: the matter of smokemeat, each believing their method to be the last word on the subject.  Much of this barbeque boostering is nothing but bluster without discussion of its indivisible complement and/or topping, the abovementioned unsung cole slaw.  But that’s just one thing.

The other is, virtually all vegetable dishes south of the Mason-Dixon are cooked in hog fat.  This is a true fact, as uncomfortable for us city mice as it is discomforting for our country cousins--into whose business the federal government is sticking its long homeland skurrity nose concerning our obesity problem.  In each of the SEC secessant states, you would be hard pressed to discover green beans, pole beans, Kentucky wonders, red beans, white beans, pintos, field, purple, cow or crowder peas, black eyes, butter beans and so on untouched by streak o’lean or country ham or plain old bacon.

In 1814, we took a little trip
along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
and we met the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.

You would also, in no self-respecting southeastern Meat and Three, find any form of green, including the humble head of cabbage (cooked) not reinforced by pork.  In this list I include turnip greens, collard greens, kale or Swiss chard, beet greens, mustards and/or any newly introduced Chinese varietal like bok choy or kudzu (do not try this at home.) Even the spinach salad is topped around these parts with bacon bits. Oh, yes, and polk salad. 

Polk salad Annie
Gators got your granny.
(Chomp chomp)
Everybody said it was a shame,
‘Cause her mama was workin’ on the chain gang--
Polk salad Annie.

So let’s say a person lived on the West Coast for a while and got shut, as we like to put it, of ham and mayonnaise dependency.  Let’s say this person got broke down to eating “veggies” like the Yankees and the Nips do…and, furthermore, that person on returning to his or her ancestral seat is stuck, like every other incoming carpetbagger, with the Ubiquitous Down Home Pork Product Conundrum—then what?

 

My Own Peace and Freedom Impeach George Bush Chicken and Greens Receipt©

Get yourself a whole chicken, I like a fryer.  Secure a passel of turnip greens from your local farmer’s market.  (A large size paper grocery sack full).  You can also use any other deep green.  Wash off that chix, center it in a roomy pyrex casserole dish with a inch or more of water and a medium chopped onion.  Drizzle olive oil over the top of it, salt, pepper, and run it on in the oven at 400° F.  Now here’s the hard part:

You’re going to have to rinse them greens.  They’s sandy.  So, fill up your sink and rinse them good and plenty.  I fillet them off the center stalk.  I grab a handful, wad them up, and chop them (not too fine.)  This takes a good twenty minutes.  I tune in Jim Lehrer.  Pull out the bird, stuff those greens all the way around it, push them down, squush in more on top of the onions.  Then!  Squeeze a whole lime over the greens and dash soy sauce around them also. (Shake in some Louisiana hot sauce if you like, too.) You can turn your oven down a tad.  Stick it back in.

You will not have used up all your greens and as you know they cooks down considerable.  So after a while, pull it out, squush in more, squeeze more lime, dash a squidge more soy sauce.  Then, ladle that simple and delicious pot likker over that hen.  I’m here to tell you.


 *  *

 

P. S.  You will never eat a better roast chicken, believe me.  Chicken pot likker was made to go with greens, and greens to go with chicken, NOT PIG!

P.S.S.  I thought about including mine and Helen Bransford’s Justly Famous No-Mayo Cole Slaw recipe, but that will have to wait til next time.

 

Carol Caldwell is a screenwriter and journalist who lived in L.A., lives in her hometown now, and whose new play about current First Ladies, My Secret Weapon, won best original play of the year, 2006, in its Nashville and North Carolina runs. 

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