Shrove Tuesday on the Eastern Shore

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English: Scrapple, served in a restaurant.

Scrapple! (Image via Wikipedia)

Yes, today is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday for you Mardi Gras  aficionados, and if you live on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, you can’t turn around without bumping into a pancake supper somewhere.

Maybe you have the same tradition? Elsewhere my family has had meager meals of bread and simple soup for Shrove Tuesday, but here in the heartland of Eastern Mid-Atlantic America (just coined that, like it?) it’s pancakes with all the trimmings. Which brings us to the point of this post.

 

Scrapple.

 

Trimmings. get it? Okay, for those uninitiated in the culinary compilation called scrapple, let me just say that it is the trimmings and scraps of pork that didn’t make it into a chop or loin. Probably not even into a hot dog. We jokingly say “It’s the rest of the pig.” And we may not be far off.

 

It’s a special treat here, and after a few years of living on The Shore, today I had my first sample. It was perfectly rectangular (which should have been a dead giveaway that this was not a naturally occurring edible) and it was fried. Fried hard. Double, maybe triple fried.

 

But it tasted pretty darned good! Of course, maybe it was the maple syrup I poured on it, but regardless – now I can say with pride:

 

I have eaten scrapple and lived to tell the tail tale!

 

Scrapple. Try it sometime!  (with maple syrup <insert smiley face here>)

 

Photo Credit: (Scrapple, served in a restaurant. Photo courtesy of [http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/133253118/ Stu Spivack] {{cc-by-sa-2.0}}

 

The Eastern Shore has a French Quarter?

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Savory braised chicken and apples, w/ green beans.

Okay. Maybe not, but today is Mardi Gras, the day where thousands of revelers in New Orleans and even more across the globe are working on tomorrow’s hangover as I type. Some of us know Mardi Gras more as Shrove Tuesday, observed by gathering at a church for a meager meal, often either pancakes or a combination of soup and a sandwich.

Unfortunately, the pancakes at church started before I could get there. As a result, I still had to think of something for dinner. Okay, this is a stretch, but go with it: there is a bottle of French wine on the hoosier in the back fourth of the kitchen. “That” is my French Quarter today. And here is a recipe found there:

Braised Chicken with Apples
3 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
3 – 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
To taste Salt and Pepper
2 – 3 Apples (use your favorite type!) – peeled, cored, and sliced to about 1/8 inch thick
1 Shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Thyme, finely chopped. Dried thyme is good, also, if that’s what you have.
1 cup Chicken broth
1 / 4 cup Apple cider vinegar

Directions:

– On the stove top, heat up a large, fairly deep sauce pan.
– Add the vegetable oil.
– Add the chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper.
– Cook chicken for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, to brown.
– Once chicken has browned on both sides, remove to a separate plate and cover to keep warm.
– Add the apples and shallots to the sauce pan. Cook for two minutes or until apples start to get soft.
– Add thyme, chicken broth and apple cider vinegar. Simmer and reduce, for about 8 minutes.
– Put the chicken back into the sauce pan, on top of the apples and shallots.
– Reduce heat, cover and cook until chicken is cooked all the way through. (I use 185 degrees as the magic number.)

Accouterments: Sautéed or steamed green beans and baked fingerling potatoes.

Pairs well with Flourish Merlot ’07, from the Vin de Pays d’Oc, produced in the Languedoc-Roussillon area in Mediterranean France.

Happy Eating!