Today’s post is one of my absolute favorite kinds.
When I can, I try to make a recipe that the musician(s) I am featuring would enjoy.
Well, today the recipes came from Camille Atkinson and Mark Boquist of the band Empire Beats. This has only happened twice before and both times were recipes from Meg Maryatt of the band 17 Pygmies. Check those posts out here and here. (Meg, I made the wonderful Green Bean Salad recipe that you sent ages ago. I’ll get that post done….hopefully before Isabel turns 1. :-) ).
Back to Empire Beats. Founded by drummer Mark Boquist (also a chef), the five to nine piece rhythm band is fronted by the very sexy and super riveting Camille Atkinson. As Rhythm and Blues goes, the songs I have heard are top notch and make me want to get all sharp dressed and sashay around the kitchen…..
….while I make Gumbo and Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins.
Mark Boquist’s Good God It’s Gumbo is, hands down, THE BEST gumbo I have ever tried. Richly spiced and packed with sausage, shrimp and chicken it will have you shouting “Praise The Lord!!”. The recipe makes a lot, which is wonderful since the gumbo tastes even better a day or two after making it. Leftover heaven.
After reading Camille Atkinson’s recipe for “Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbreads”, I wanted to phone her up and invite her to hang out with me. The personality that flies out of her instructions for the recipe makes you know this is a woman that is fun, fun, fun.
Here is Camille’s original recipe (My boring iteration is below):
“It’s not about the butter. It’s about the errl.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. It says 375 on the box, but they get a little crispy at that temperature. Pour some olive oil in a muffin pan and sop the extra up with a paper towel. Use the paper towel to grease the rest of the tin or tins.
We gonna start with a box of Jiffy, honey. Get some fresh Jalapeno and some in a jar. You want a good brick of cheddar cheese, I like the New York or Wisconsin Cheddars. Sometimes it’s nice to make a chiffonade of dill, or add diced apple smoked bacon. It depends on your audience. Some people don’t eat pork. I will never understand it. If you add the bacon, don’t fry it too crispy or it will overcook in the oven.
You’ll need one egg and a third of a cup of milk per box, (but shhh, I use half and half). Add a crack or two of pepper and stir all of these things together. Let it sit for a bit in the warm kitchen. The texture of the batter will thicken and it’ll look a little lumpy. Grate 2-4oz of cheese into the batter.
Heat-How Hot do you want it?:
Mild: don’t add jalapenos at all just put some finely chopped herbs in it and call it a day.
Lightly Spicy (or as I call it “sweet”): add chopped jar jalapenos and pour in a little of the juice.
Hot: add fresh diced jalapenos minus the ribs of the pepper and a FEW seeds.
Supa Spicy: add fresh chopped jalapenos including ribs, seeds, pour in some jar juice and more cheese.
Let it sit again for couple minutes to rise a little more. Using a wooden cooking spoon, spoon the batter into the muffin pans (don’t use cupcake paper!) filling the cup half-way to three-quarters full. Drizzle the potential cornbreads with olive oil. Sometimes, I put a slice of jalapeno on top of the REALLY spicy ones.
Bake for 14 minutes or longer depending.
Voila! You has cornbreads! Bon appétit!”
1 cup flour
1 cup bacon drippings or butter
1 large onion, diced ¼ inch
6 ribs celery, diced ¼ inch
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb Andouille sausage links, sliced ¼ inch round
3 qts chicken stock
1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes, crushed by hand
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
8 chicken thighs, skinned
4 bay leaves
1 Tbs dried thyme
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs black pepper
1 tsp cayenne
2 Tbs bacon drippings or butter
2 red bell peppers, diced ½ inch
2 (10 oz) packages of frozen cut okra, thawed or 1 lb fresh
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 Tbs white vinegar or juice of one lemon
2 lbs (16-20 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail removed
15 or more drops Tabasco Sauce
1 Tbs filé gumbo powder
Salt to taste and lemon to squeeze
1. Start by making the roux. In a heavy, large pot heat the bacon drippings over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly until the roux turns rich amber in color and smells nutty, about 20 minutes. Add the onion, celery, garlic and sausage to the roux. Simmer until vegetables are tender and roux is dark mahogany, 20 minutes longere. Remove roux mixture to a bowl and set aside.
2. Clean pot and bring the chicken stock, tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce to a rolling boil. Whisk in the roux mixture and stir until thickened and smooth. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add chicken thighs, bay leaves, sugar, thyme, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne. Cook until chicken falls off the bone (or shreds easily if using boneless) about an hour. Break chicken meat up into small pieces and remove bones. If gumbo is too thick, add some water or stock.
3. Meanwhile, in another heavy bottomed pan or skillet, heat two tablespoons of bacon drippings over medium heat. Add the okra and vinegar. Sweat about 7-12 minutes. Add the red pepper and jalapeño. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes more.
4. Add the okra and peppers, along with the shrimp, to the chicken and shrimp gumbo. Allow to simmer over very low heat until the shrimp is cooked through, stirring occasionally.
5. Just before serving, stir in the filé powder and Tabasco. Season with salt.
6. Serve gumbo over rice with a squeeze of lemon.
Serves 20 (recipe halves easily)
Recipe from Mark Boquist
Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins
1 (8.5 oz) box Jiffy cornbread mix
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped fine
4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
Olive oil to drizzle
6 pickled jalapeños to top muffins
1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ degrees.
2. Grease 7 cups of a muffin tin.
3. In a bowl, stir together the cornbread mix, egg and half and add. Season with some cracked pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes so that the batter can thicken.
4. Stir cheese and jalapeño into the batter.
5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups filling half-way. Drizzle with olive oil and top with a slice of jalapeño.
6. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden and baked through.
Makes 7 muffins
Here is Empire Beats performing the positively smoking tune, ‘Hot Sauce’. Oh yes, I want to enter the church of Camille’s Creole Cooking.
Check out Empire Beats on the band’s Website and Facebook, where you can learn of upcoming shows in NYC.