Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New England

Where to start when it comes to American Regional cooking?  I would answer New England. For my purposes that would be Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  Why start here?  It can reasonably argued that New England is the cradle, so to speak, of American cooking.
     When the colonists first stepped onto Cape Cod in November of 1620, they were arriving in a land that was quite litterly a land of plenty.  But these exhausted Pilgrims didn't see it that way.  William Bradford, who would later become governor, described the new land as "a hideous and desolate wilderness full of wild beasts and wild men."  This opinion however was short lived as about a year later they celebrated the New World's bounty with a feast of Thanksgiving.
     Like most folks these early settlers were not to excited about changing their eating habits.  Had they been able to continue eating a steady diet of roast beef and plum pudding, I'm sure they would have been happy to.
But having no cows or wheat this was not in to be, they quickly learned to cultivate and prepare unfamiliar foods- Indian corn, beans, pumpkins, cranberries, and maple syrup to name a few.
     O.K. history lesson over.  What do we think of when we think of the dishes that typify New England?  Boiled lobster, clambakes, steamed clams, clam chowder, cheese soup, New England boiled dinner, baked beans, corn chowder, wow I'm getting hungry.  Obviously the list could go on and on.
     So what did I choose as my dish from New England?  Portuguese Sausage Soup.  What?  First let's remember that almost all cooking in the U.S. has elements of our immigrant ancestors.  As far as this dish goes,  Portuguese fishermen and sailors settled in New England towns like New Bedford, Mass., just before the Civil War.  They brought with them their spicy Iberian cuisine.  Sausage soup is now one of the best known and popular dishes in the region.

4 oz of hot Italian sausage sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 oz of sweet Italian sausage sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 14 1/2 oz cans chicken broth
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup of beer (use a pilsener or a pale lager)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan cook both sausages and union till sausage is browned and the onion is tender.  Drain fat.  Add the potatoes, chicken broth, spinach, beer, and some pepper.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or till potatoes are tender.

Serve it up with some dark bread, salad and  a beer.
Almost to easy for such a great meal!!

Stay hungry,

This is nuts! .50 for one of the best cooks books on ethnic cooking for the American table?  Get this. You'll love it! 

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