It's Holy Week here in North Carolina, a time of traditions like Palm Sunday pageants, egg hunts, and Easter brunches. So I was thrilled when Amazon delivered this book about food traditions in the South on Sunday (yes, a Sunday, apparently our area is full of people who can't wait til Monday).
I heard about The Edible South on The State of Things on a program which discussed the history of food in our state as well as the growth and changes over time in our cuisine -click here to take a listen.
Marcie Cohen Ferris does an excellent job of covering everything from early basic ingredients to the place of food in the Civil Rights movement to the cuisine influence of New South immigrants
and the challenge of hunger in the region.
I LOVE reading about food in books. Southern girl I am, when I read a food description, I always circle back to the foods I loved growing up visiting my Nanny's farm in the hollers of Southwest Virginia or Grandmother Hilton's home in small town Bristol, Tennessee. Canned goods, recipes, and stories about relatives always made it back to our home in Washington DC, a town folks don't realize is a Southern town! Food, family and history just seem to go together in my mind. If you are an author and put food descriptions in your book or make a dish a centerpiece of a scene, I'm your fan for life.
I'm also a big fan of make-ahead breakfast casseroles especially around Easter because I'm Southern. Again, tradition, tradition, tradition but a relatively new one. I can remember Mom making them but not further back. Were they a 1970s invention? Or earlier? Googled. Nothing. Hmm. That rabbit hole took me to the history of eggs. When did folks start eating them? Why are they in a dozen? I knew about their symbolism for Easter (New Life) but I wanted to know more. Tah dah! I found a great article here on foodtimeline.org
Important announcement: For anyone who wants to know the history of a certain food for a certain time period, Foodtimeline.org is one great research site that even includes recipes.
This year Dear Daughter requested one for her birthday celebration that fell on Palm Sunday. DD was actually born on Easter so if her birthday doesn't fall on it, it falls near it. A busy time.Thanks, DD, for making it easy for me. Sort of. The ingredient list sure didn't.
Most breakfast casseroles have bread cubes or processed hashed browns as the carb ingredient. Sausage is an add-in. But bread's out for me because of the allergies and the texture of gluten free bread just doesn't work for this recipe. Most gluten-free recipes used pre-made hash browns and regular sausage. So we're good, right? Nope, still a problem. With cornstarch to prevent sticking, MSG, and other preservatives, I can't tolerate those ingredients either. So I decided I'd make my own sausage and use roasted potatoes instead of frozen hash browns. I always use small farm or imported cheese. Adaptation here I come.
Gluten-free, preservative free Breakfast Casserole
The Night Before:
1) Roast three to four pounds of Yukon potatoes cut into one inch cubes (coated in two tablespoons olive oil and dashed with sea salt) at 425 for 40 minutes in a 9X13 pan, stirring midway. After cooling for 15 minutes, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
2) Combine 1.5 pounds of ground pork, 2 tablespoons of Penzey's Breakfast Sausage Seasoning and 1 tablespoon salt (optional) in a medium saucepan or skillet. Cook over medium heat. Drain when fully cooked and refrigerate overnight. You can also add a bit more sage if you like.
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Pour cooked sausage mixture over roasted potatoes in their 9x13 pan. Mix sausage and potato cubes until evenly combined and level in the pan.
3) Mix the following with a whisk in a large mixing bowl until fully combined:
16 ounces sour cream
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
4) Pour over potato/sausage mixture. Shake until egg mixture fills around the sausage and potatoes. Then stir to make sure fully coated.
5) Cover with aluminum foil and cook for one hour at 350 degrees.
6) Uncover and cook fifteen more minutes until lightly browned.
7) Top individual squares with roasted red peppers or other garnish.
Folks went back for seconds. I was lucky to get the shot above! I have a feeling we have a new tradition that will go down in Steele history.
Have you thought about the place of food in history? Do you have a breakfast casserole you love? Or a special food tradition for Spring or Easter?