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East Tennessee Food Party: Attention Dead Serious East Tennesse Home Cooks

Throwing a birthday party for my Benton's Country Ham on it's 2 year anniversary of springing to life....by eating it.

To give it it's due I'll be serving 7 or so courses of East Tennessee cuisine.

Obviously we'll be serving lots of Tennesse whiskey [not Jack Daniels as it is not drinkable] as course pairings, so bear that in mind.

It wouldn't be a party without a big kettle of soup beans but what are some other favorites?

Any Junior Leaguers from Grainger County, Tazewell or Knoxville on the board?

Mr/Mrs Shallots, you got your ears on?

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  1. Glad to know George will be there for the festivities!! ;)

    1. Well, cornbread, obviously.

      1. Not from Tennessee, but from south eastern KY. With country ham I always have corn pudding and green beans. Other goodness to serve are Garlic cheese grits, any type of cornbread, Chess pie.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Janet

          I am from Ky but also lived in east tenn I second the corn pudding. Spoonbread maybe?
          And yes yes yes STACK cAKE!!

          Down here in South Carolina I have made bicuits with bits of county ham in them and chesse....divine!

        2. A co-worker of mine is originally from TN and he always speaks about his grandmother's blueberry dumplings. From what he's told me, it's stewed blueberries with long strips of sweetened dough tossed in to cook...think chicken n' dumplings but with blueberries.

          1. Just happened by.

            I wonder if red eye gravy with homemade biscuits would be the way to start the day? Made with the kind of old timers' black coffee that took the hair off their chests.

            (Can you imagine what some of the lesser bits of your ham would do to the red sauce that Puleo's puts on their fresh grits from South Carolina?)

            Apples....got to have apples.....maybe a simple lightly stir fried Granny Smith (my Arkansas Blacks didn't last into winter that well this year so I doubt there are any other locally) and then thin shaves of the driest part of the ham over them.

            Greenbeans with bits of the ham.

            Got to work real black walnuts into the menu somehow.

            Plain corn pudding. No ham, but a good offset.

            East Tennessee: the desert of choice has to be Banana pudding; Home Made Vanilla Wafers and home made vanilla pudding. Only the bananas are foreigners.

            (Mrs.) Shallots

            1. There's another use: canapes.

              take some of the less usable bits- the stringy ones on the outside that are going to dry out too much if you don't use them soonest, and put in the cuisinart with creme cheese. Puree. Serve hoity toity style as squiggles on home made crackers with either a few capers to decorate or some earliest bits of the green vidalia onions (I saw at Food City last week).

              I wonder if a bit of decorative blue cheese on top would be a third alternative? Don't know but an interesting make one and test it.

              Also as a garnish on peanut soup. Again shaved pieces.

              (When I'm at the end of a ham, I make large quantities of the ham/cream cheese spread and freeze it. Except for what we eat on the spot. The texture looses a little in freezing, but it will still spread and the taste is even better with more time to mellow.)

              2 Replies
              1. re: shallots

                At the last Tennessee party a couple years ago I salvaged a nice amount of the outside slice and froze it in a few single serving freezer bags.

                Tenn-Tex-Mex breakfast tacos with shreds of the salty ham, brown eggs, Salvadoran grating cheese and salsa verde-anyone?

                Of course the bone went to a big kettle of Northern Beans in the style of Nellie Sullivan.

                We did banana pudding last party so I was thinking about branching out from it this go round.

                I do have an oil based apple cake with walnuts that's about as southern as you can get [Alabama origin] but I'm not sure how Tennessee it would lean.

                Grits from Falls Mill are a must, if they're good enough for Allan Benton to sell in his store then no more need be said.

                1. re: scrumptiouschef

                  A good long ham bone should stretch to three cookings of beans. Cut the bone into three and use one at a time. (The power of the ham is that strong.)

                  Locally black walnuts are important. When we bought the farm, old timers made sure we knew that one of our black walnut trees made especially dependable good walnuts, the others in the yard, not so much.

                  My husband maintains that Banana Pudding IS the desert of choice, any time, anywhere, and his family goes back (on his mother's side) to times before bananas were known.

                  Do you have the time to make an apple stack cake?

              2. I come from New York and our chicken and dumplings were always fluffy dumplings. In the 70's, I was driving to move down south and I stopped in a little restaurant in Johnson City and I ordered chicken and dumplings and they were fat noodle things, delicious, but I had never had such a thing. I vote for chicken and dumplings. I also had my first meat and three in Tennessee and I have to say from then on, my cooking always leans towards homestyle because you can't beat it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Floridagirl

                  OMG - chicken and homestyle dumplings (potpie, in Amish)
                  String Beans with ham trimmings, onion, garlic and bacon
                  That country Ham
                  Cheese biscuits w/ pimiento cheese
                  Prawns w/ Jezebel Sauce (or variation)
                  Soup beans w/ cracklin' cornbread and lots of honey butter
                  Peanut soup Shooters, with roasted peanut garnish
                  Vinegar and sugar salad on butter or spring lettuce w/ green onions

                  1. re: mamachef

                    That all sounds delish but what is peanut soup?

                    1. re: Floridagirl

                      Honey, it's just a chicken broth base with a peanut butter thickener and some caramelized onions and garlic, and a roasted peanut garnish, and it's OLE-style Tennessee.

                2. How could I forget the standard spring salad: wilted lettuce.
                  In our family it was always Black Seeded Simpson lettuce.
                  Use a bit of ham fat, heat in a skillet, add the lettuce, stir slightly and finish with apple cider vinegar to taste.
                  Minimal heat, but gets the ham/bacon flavor into play rather well.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: shallots

                    We did that wilted salad too but daddy just poured the hot bacon fat/vinegar right over the lettuce in a bowl.

                    Always served with chopped hard boiled eggs and cheese.

                    I'm going to have to round up my Apple cake recipe and see if it passes muster with y'all.

                    There's no poke sallet growing around Austin that I know of so we won't be able to serve it as a course but I grew up loving it.

                    Upthread, I've had peanut soup in South Carolina but did not know it was an East Tennessee dish.

                    Last party we did mini fried baloney sandwiches that everybody raved about, probably replace that this go round with mini pigs burgers.

                    I liked the version at Scruggs my last time through Knoxville.


                    For the city slickers here's a link


                    about poke sallet

                  2. "Obviously we'll be serving lots of Tennesse whiskey [not Jack Daniels as it is not drinkable]"

                    I'm curious about this statement. Pardon my ignorance but I thought Jack Daniels was THE whiskey in the southern states - I've never been anywhere close so have no clue. What is Tennesse whiskey then? I tried Jack Daniels once and I agree with you - it was vile, tasted like charcoal to me.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Lotti

                      Who was it said Jack Daniels is too expensive to use with a mixer and not good enough to drink by itself?

                      I just don't like it.

                      Does anyone remember the article about a former worker at the factory that manufactures it saying occasionally the production team just switches the labelling process and swaps out the green and the black?

                      Logo does look good on a t shirt though

                      1. re: scrumptiouschef

                        which is why we drink KENTUCKY BOURBON!

                    2. I think the key question is: how do you plan to cook the ham?

                      Forget the sides, don't screw up the ham!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: carbonaraboy

                        There's an official method out there titled

                        "How To Breathe Life Into A Cured Country Ham"

                        that I've found is flawless.

                      2. Janet's desert suggestion needs reinforcing.

                        Chess Pie. Nobody makes it at home because it gets eaten so guiltily.

                        But it just may be the perfect offset for quality black coffee at the end of an evening.