Many of our grand sporting writers from yesteryear wove food memories into their work in a seamless and most satisfying fashion. Read Robert Ruark’s tale of a visit with the Old Man to Cajun country in Louisiana, or to Maryland for a stay with a close friend of his grandfather’s — if they don’t set your salivary glands into involuntary overdrive or leave you with thoughts of “My, how I would have loved such an experience,” then I would humbly suggest your outlook on this life’s good things just might be a bit off kilter.
Similarly, Archibald Rutledge repeatedly refers to earth’s bounty in his tales of life in Lowcountry South Carolina, and nowhere is that more evident than in his stories of Christmas.
A few years back I edited and compiled an anthology featuring Rutledge’s holiday stories. His infusion of food folklore into the tales ran as such a bright thread through the fabric of his writing that I decided to add a chapter featuring recipes for dishes he covered. With ample assistance from my wife, we concluded the book, Carolina Christmas, with a selection of recipes on foodstuffs which graced the Yuletide table at Rutledge’s beloved Hampton Plantation.
This week and next, in recognition of the season, our recipes will come from that chapter, “Feasting at Hampton: The Culinary Aspects of a Low Country Christmas.” Signed copies of the book are available through my website, www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com.
Venison Steak and Potatoes
At Hampton, as in a hunt camp or at a holiday gathering of family after a pre- or post-Christmas hunt, hearty fare was a must. This recipe fits the bill to a “T.”
1 pound cubed venison steak
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (10 ¾ ounce) cream of celery soup
½ cup milk
½ cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
16 ounces hash brown potatoes (buy the prepared kind or make your own)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 (3-ounce) can French fried onions, divided
Brown steak in olive oil in a skillet and set aside. Combine soup, milk, sour cream, and pepper. Stir in cooked hash browns, 1/3 cup cheese, and ½ can of onions. Spoon mixture into a nine-by-thirteen-inch baking dish. Arrange steaks over potato mixture.
Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and onions and bake, uncovered, for an additional five to ten minutes.
Shrimp and Hominy
Hominy seems, in today’s culinary world, to have given way in large measure to its first cousin, grits. Yet this dish, featuring two standards of Lowcountry fare, was, according to Two Hundred Years of Charleston Cooking, “served in almost every house in Charleston during shrimp season.”
At Hampton it was primarily a breakfast dish. When accompanied by other offerings such as venison sausage, eggs, and cathead biscuits, it made a perfect pre-hunt meal. Today it probably makes more sense as an easily and quickly prepared main dish for dinner (in my lingo that’s the midday meal) or supper.
1 pound raw shrimp
½ cup butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked hominy
Shell the shrimp, place in a saucepan in which the butter has been melted, add salt and pepper, and stir until the shrimp turn pink. Serve with piping hot hominy.
For more from Jim and to purchase a copy of his book Carolina Christmas, visit his website at jimcasadaoutdoors.com today!
Cover Image: Thinkstock