Jed Portman

Better Burger Toppers

By Jed PortmanGood EatsAugust 28, 2014

In his professional life, chef Tim Byres spends an awful lot of time standing over hot embers. Smoke, his five-year-old restaurant in Dallas, takes its name from the smoldering arsenal of cookers out back: a smokehouse, a smoker, and a wood-fueled grill. Even when he’s not on the clock he mans the tongs at home and on family camping trips. This is a man who knows how to grill a burger. And the secret to a great one, he says, isn’t the cuts of beef involved, or how they’re ground. It’s a solid roster of quality homemade condiments. Upgrading to a garden-fresh ketchup or a smoky chile mustard is that extra bit of effort that can take a Labor Day spread from run-of-the-mill to something you’ll still be remembering when the long holiday weekend is long gone.

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Make This Now: Korean-Southern Ribs

By Jed PortmanGood EatsAugust 28, 2014

With all due respect for tradition, there's plenty of room for growth in barbecue, as writer John T. Edge noted when he visited Heirloom Market BBQ on his recent tour of Atlanta’s Korean restaurants. The hybrid dishes on the menu at Heirloom Market—one of two Korean-Southern restaurants that chef Cody Taylor runs with his wife, former pop star Jiyeon Lee—are certainly attention-grabbing: Your grandmother probably didn’t dose her slaw with kimchi, and chances are you’ve never seasoned pork butt with gochujang paste, a fermented slurry of chiles, rice, and soy that's popular on the Korean peninsula. Cooked with love by comfort food enthusiasts from different parts of the world, though, the fare makes perfect sense. The ribs at Heirloom Market benefit from a very literal meeting of cuisines: a Georgia-style dry rub and a sweet, Korean-style barbecue sauce flavored with gochujang and Sprite.

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Video Premiere: Lera Lynn's "Out to Sea"

By Jed PortmanSouthern SoundsAugust 25, 2014

The intimate, quivering twang in Lera Lynn’s vocals might bring to mind another, better known Lynn. But the Nashville-based singer-songwriter is not necessarily a country musician, she says, at least not according to the modern-day definition. “Out to Sea,” from her upcoming album, The Avenues (out September 9), is a track that bears some resemblance to her adopted hometown’s famous honky-tonk laments, carried along by airy harmonies and slide guitar, but it's also kin to the independent sounds of Athens, Georgia, where she cut her teeth.

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Cocktail Hour: Bourbon Root Beer Float

By Jed PortmanGood EatsAugust 18, 2014

Rob McDaniel met Will Abner for the first time in a field in southwestern Virginia. They were both at Lambstock, shepherd Craig Rogers’s bacchanalian annual gathering of farmers, chefs, bartenders, and other food-and-beverage types. "I was finding wood sorrel and wild shiso in the fields up there. Will just started making cocktails with it. I thought, 'That’s pretty cool,'" says McDaniel, who runs the kitchen at SpringHouse in Alexander City, Alabama. "When I went back to the restaurant, I said to our front-of-house manager, 'We’ve really got to talk to this guy.' He was just slinging drinks then, you know, at some bar that closed at three a.m."

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Stocking a Farm-to-Table Bar

By Jed PortmanGood EatsAugust 14, 2014

At the beginning of the summer, the bartenders at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore began to run out of verjus, the tart juice of unripe grapes. At nearly any other bar in the country, a shortage of an ingredient like verjus might mean a gentle shift in the menu. At Woodberry, it meant a complete renovation of the cocktail program.

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Why Meatballs are "Texas Mexican"

By Jed PortmanGood EatsJuly 29, 2014

Tex-Mex cuisine has taken its share of slings and arrows over the years. Truthfully, Adán Medrano has no real issues with processed cheese or greasy refried beans. But in his recent cookbook, Truly Texas Mexican, the San Antonio native outlines a different kind of Texas cooking, with recipes that rely upon fewer—and fresher—ingredients. Medrano’s history of what he calls “Texas Mexican” food begins centuries before the first Europeans set foot in the United States, with the simmering beans and roast wild chiles of the tribes that first inhabited the Lone Star State, and continues into the homes of families across the Southwest today—including his own

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Field Report: Hank Williams Comes to Dinner

By Jed PortmanGood EatsJuly 25, 2014

Earlier this week, a couple walked into Seven Sows restaurant, in Asheville, wanting to talk with chef Mike Moore about Hank Williams. They were visiting from England, and they’d heard that Moore, in his capacity as the founder of the Blind Pig Supper Club, had just overseen a rather unusual tribute to the country music icon. “We talked for hours,” Moore says. “They were going on about how they’re so in love with Hank, and asking all sorts of questions about our event. That’s testimony to how far-reaching his legend is.”

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Build a Better Chicken Biscuit

By Jed PortmanGood EatsJuly 24, 2014

Jason Roy makes biscuits. Pulled pork biscuits, country ham biscuits, biscuits loaded with black-eyed pea cakes and green chile hollandaise, and with fried green tomatoes and hunks of halfway melted brie. The two locations of his Asheville, North Carolina restaurant, Biscuit Head, may be two of the only places in the country where a person can enjoy a gravy flight—a selection of several options from a list that includes pork gravy, fried chicken gravy, sweet potato and coconut gravy, and smoked tomato gravy, as well as a changing but reliably eccentric gravy of the day. To garnish further: bananas foster jam, smoked apple butter, chocolate banana butter, and many other condiments from the self-serve jam bar.

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A Meeting of the Barbecue Minds

By Jed PortmanGood EatsJuly 15, 2014

Last Thursday night, at Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, South Carolina, two giants of Southern barbecue met for the first time. As the sun went down, John Lewis, the lanky head cook at La Barbecue in Austin, stepped around the pits where whole-hog veteran Rodney Scott smokes more than a dozen pigs each week. The Texas pit master peppered the South Carolina pit master with questions: How much space do you keep between the hogs and the coals? How do you keep the temperature steady? Lewis helped Scott move a piece of furniture. They walked to the picnic tables across the street, sat down, and ate together.

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Tennessee Whiskey Jam

By Jed PortmanGood EatsJuly 7, 2014

The pairing of whiskey and country ham is one of the most timeless and reliably delicious in all of Southern cuisine. And at the 404 Kitchen in Nashville, Tennessee, chef Matt Bolus has devised a fresh way to bring the two staples together. He serves shaved country ham with biscuits, red-eye gravy, and dollops of whiskey jam, a spiced fruit butter with a base of raisins, apple cider, and corn liquor. It’s strong stuff, and pairs nicely with cured meats of all sorts, as well as cheese and, hell, just about anything else you might enjoy with a glass of brown water.

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