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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cooking Through the Football Season – Week 3

If you’re not aware of my little personal challenge this fall, I’m cooking my way through the college football season using the Southern Living “Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook.”

The Challenge
Week 1
Week 2

This was an exceptionally exciting week! 


What an exciting time it must have been on campus.  ESPN’s College Game Day was there as was CBS for the broadcast.  A game that has been touted for about 10 months as the biggest game of the 2013 season.  I imagine the scene was just electric on campus and around town the entire weekend.

Around our house, we decided early on (weeks ago) that our daughter would not be running in the cross country meet that day.  And rather than try to leave during half-time to go to a barbeque, we just invited ourselves over before the game.  Being fellow Aggies, our friends didn’t mind one bit.  Or at least they didn’t let on if they did.

And in honor of this auspicious occasion I decided to do something in addition to fulfilling my challenge for the week.

But first, for the challenge, I made one item from the Alabama Crimson Tide menu.  Since Alabama is the first team menu in the book (as they are done alphabetically) it is found in the “Early Morning Warm-Ups” section that includes breakfast type foods.  However, we were playing an afternoon game, so I went with the one item that seemed game-time appropriate.  “Fried Chicken Bites.”

chicken bites

This recipe was interesting because it included bread crumbs in the breading along with the flour.  I’d never seen or done that before and it worked well.  You have to plan ahead though so that the chicken pieces can soak in the spices and buttermilk overnight.  And speaking of the spices, it is a really good spice mix on these chicken bites.  We were very impressed.

I decided to take the recipe and make it a little Aggie in its presentation, so we had chicken & waffles like we might have at Sully’s Grill in College Station.  I tell you what… the spice on these chicken bites is amazing when paired with the sweetness of waffles and maple syrup.  YUM!

Several weeks ago a friend gave me another personal challenge for this football season.  Come up with an SEC themed/inspired pie.  Since we all know my personal feelings toward pie (undying love and affection) I couldn’t pass it up. 

I let the idea mull in the back of my head for several days.  Then, the ingredients came to me… 

peaches & pecans

What could be more perfect to represent the Southeast Conference than peaches and pecans?

So I humbly submit to you my SEC inspired pie… Peach Praline Pie.

  peach praline pie 2

I did some research and found that out of the eleven states represented in the SEC, the peach is the official state fruit of three (Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina) and the pecan is the official state nut of two (Alabama and Texas). 

(Oh, and in case you didn’t know, the Pecan Pie is now the official state pie of the state of Texas as of the 2013 Legislative Session.  See, our Texas Legislature does do some valuable things.)

Considering that both Alabama and Texas recognize the peach and/or the pecan in their official state foods list, I felt it doubly appropriate to make this pie for the A&M vs Alabama game.

 peach praline pie 1

I also found that while other states in the SEC  do not recognize the peach or pecan in their official state foods lists, both are grown widely across all the represented states.  For instance, did you know that the World’s Largest Pecan is located in Brunswick, Missouri?  And did you know that there is, in fact, a recipe for a Peach Praline pie in the Kentucky Derby Museum Cookbook?

The Kentucky Derby Museum cookbook recipe is not the one I used.  This particular recipe was an experiment for me and I did not have time or resources to test and get a recipe just right.  For this particular attempt, I poured a stovetop cooked praline topping on the pie and let it brown in the oven.  However, it didn’t set up all the way. 

As we traveled across town to our friends’ house, I tried to not take it as an omen.  But it did, in fact, turn out as soupy as our defense looked out there on the field.

Ahhh well.  There’s always next year, right? 

And I’ll attempt this pie again some time.  I’ll get it right.  Eventually.

Up next, Spur the Ponies!  Beat The Hell Outta smu!