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Fat Tommy's True Grits Recipe

Fat Tommy's True Grits Recipe

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Finding it can be a challenge depending on where you live. Get the best you can in a good local store or anticipate and order stone-ground grits through or direct from one of the sources mentioned in my article. Select yours and follow the directions on the package.

But, here’s what I would do differently. Cook them in low-sodium chicken broth and add no extra salt. The salt in the packaged low-sodium broth will flavor them nicely. Cook the grits slowly. I find almost all directions result in the liquid cooking off before the grits is ready. If it seems as though your grits has cooked too fast, just add more liquid and keep stirring. Al dente is not good with grits unless you like sand in your food. You want it soft and about the same consistency as slightly loose mashed potatoes. When it is about ready, be creative. Add butter and cheese to your taste.

For a large serving or two I use two to three tablespoons of butter and about three ounces of Velveeta. (Yeah, I know, but I believe if you don’t add enough fat to carbohydrates you gain weight on only one side of your body.) I use a lot of fresh ground black pepper and a few dashes of Tabasco. I know the proportions are right when a smile forces itself onto my face. You can use Velveeta or the cheese of your choice. My pre-vegan wife preferred Cabot’s Monterey Jack with Habanero peppers because she’s a hot babe. Here’s a basic recipe:

    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
    • 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)*
    1. Bring first 3 ingredients to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to low simmer until smooth and thick, stirring almost constantly, about 18 minutes.
      • Sold at some supermarkets and at natural foods stores and Italian markets. If unavailable, substitute an equal amount of regular yellow cornmeal cook half as long.


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    PLEASE NOTE: we only test the recipes on this site with the listed ingredients and measurements. If you would like to try a substitution, Please share what you used and how it turned out in the comments section at the bottom of the recipe post. Carolyn loves to hear how others have experimented with her recipes!

    Keep up with all of Carolyn’s yummy food creations via her social media sites! She also has created many quick cooking tip videos that can be easily accessed via her YouTube channel playlist “Carolyn’s Daily Dishes”. 

    5 Comfort Food Makeovers From Ellie Krieger

    Ellie Krieger refuses to believe that anyone has to choose between food that's good for you and food that tastes good. "I want to help people realize they can enjoy the meals they love in a healthier way," says the TV chef, registered dietitian, and former model. She tackles some of America's most cherished&mdashand traditionally indulgent&mdashcomfort foods in her recent cookbook, Comfort Food Fix.

    What's your food philosophy?
    I think very often we see food as either healthy and something we should eat but don't necessarily desire, or decadent and rich that we should feel guilty about. But I don't believe in either of those extremes. My approach is to find that sweet spot in the middle where those two circles intersect.

    Did you mine family recipes for this book?
    Yes, and the strongest example is what I call "Three Generation Chicken Soup." It started as my grandmother's recipe. My dad added more root vegetables&mdashturnips and parsnips. He and I both use chicken feet to make our broth like my grandmother did. She used to leave them in to nibble on, but we remove them before serving! I also strain the soup after boiling the chicken and vegetables and refrigerate it so I can skim off any fat. Then I cook fresh-cut veggies in the clear stock. I think the recipe has taken on the personality and soul of each generation of my family, and I can't wait to see what my 9-year-old daughter does with it one day.

    How do you come up with ideas for your makeovers?
    I think about how I can make something healthier but still hit the spot in terms of taste and texture. In my mac and cheese, cauliflower pairs naturally with cheese, and the small bits of vegetables blend right in.

    Were there times your makeovers didn't turn out well?
    Yeah, for example, I probably made the blueberry muffins eight times. I started with very little sugar and then had to keep experimenting until I found just the right amount. Then I worked on perfecting the volume of the muffin top and how it browned. It's a bit like a science experiment, which really appeals to me as a closeted science geek. All the batches were good&mdashbut I was seeking perfection.

    Any tips for lightening up recipes?
    Don't have an all-or-nothing attitude. You can use salt and butter, but the idea is to add less and then amp up the flavor with other seasonings.

    We know you are passionate about health and cooking, but what gives you joy outside of your kitchen?
    What gives me joy are those small moments of awareness of your blessings. It can be as simple as looking up at the moon on a beautiful night. It may sound crazy hokey, but it's true. What also gives me joy is doing yoga and going kayaking&mdashI love to be outdoors, moving my body.

    You always look radiant on TV. What's your secret?
    Oh, my gosh, getting enough sleep! When I am shooting a show and am forced to work 14 hours a day, I completely notice a difference in my skin and my energy level. It's just amazing to me what a difference getting enough rest makes.

    What do you like about the autumn?
    I love to pick my own apples or whatever is growing at local farms. I remember doing that as a kid with my dad and my mom. We'd go home and make applesauce and apple pie and baked apples. Comfort foods are often the ones that conjure memories, and that's what makes these dishes really special.

    &ndashInterview by Katie Kackenmeister [pagebreak]

    Skillet Mac & Cheese

    Before: 540 calories, 1 g fiber 20 g sat fat 940 mg sodium
    After: 360 calories, 5 g fiber 8 g sat fat 540 mg sodium

    2 c cauliflower florets
    1¼ c fresh whole wheat bread crumbs, toasted
    3 Tbsp grated Parmesan
    2 tsp olive oil
    6 oz whole grain elbow macaroni (1½ c)
    3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    3 c cold 1% milk
    1¼ c shredded Cheddar
    ¼ c shredded Gruyere
    2 tsp mustard powder
    ¾ tsp paprika
    ¼ tsp cayenne

    1. STEAM cauliflower until just tender, 5 minutes. Finely chop.

    2. MIX bread crumbs, Parmesan, and oil.

    3. COOK macaroni per package directions, draining 3 minutes before done.

    4. WHISK flour into milk in large saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking. Simmer until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cheeses, spices, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Whisk until mixture is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cauliflower and macaroni and stir together.

    5. POUR into oiled deep 10" ovenproof skillet and top with bread crumb mixture. Put skillet on baking sheet. Bake in a 375°F oven until browned and bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes.

    Hearty Beef Stew

    Before: 500 calories, 4 g fiber 8 g sat fat 1,200 mg sodium
    After: 490 calories, 8 g fiber 3 g sat fat 340 mg sodium

    ¼ c all-purpose flour
    ¼ tsp paprika
    1 lb lean stew beef (round or chuck shoulder), cut into cubes
    3 Tbsp olive oil
    1 med onion, chopped
    1 sm rutabaga or turnip (10 oz), peeled and cubed
    1 lg carrot, chopped
    1 lg russet potato (12 oz), cubed
    2 Tbsp tomato paste
    1 c dry red wine
    2 c reduced-sodium beef broth
    1 pkg (10 oz) frozen green peas

    1. PUT flour, paprika, and ¼ tsp each salt and pepper in large zip-top bag. Add beef and shake to coat well.

    2. HEAT 2 Tbsp of the oil in large (at least 6 qt) saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to plate, leaving juices in pot.

    3. ADD remaining 1 Tbsp oil to pot. Add onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add rutabaga, carrot, and potato and cook until vegetables soften slightly, about 10 minutes.

    4. STIR in tomato paste and cook 1 minute longer. Add wine, bring to a boil, and reduce 3 minutes. Add broth and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Add peas and cook 5 minutes longer.

    5. REMOVE from heat and let rest at least 15 minutes before serving.

    Creamy Shrimp & Grits

    Before: 660 calories, 2 g fiber 21 g sat fat 1,260 mg sodium
    After: 510 calories, 3 g fiber 5 g sat fat 880 mg sodium

    1 c grits (not quick-cooking)
    3 c 1% milk
    1 Tbsp unsalted butter

    2 Tbsp olive oil
    6 slices Canadian bacon (3 oz), sliced into 1½" strips
    1 lb lg shrimp, peeled and deveined
    1 med onion, chopped
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1½ tsp chopped fresh thyme or ¼ tsp dried
    ¾ tsp paprika
    2 tsp all-purpose flour
    1 c low-sodium chicken broth
    ½ c 1% milk

    1. MAKE GRITS: Bring 2 cups water to a boil in medium saucepan. Gradually add grits, whisking constantly. Add milk, butter, and ¼ tsp salt and simmer, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until smooth and creamy, 40 minutes.

    2. PREPARE SHRIMP: Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, 4 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until nearly done, 3 minutes. Transfer to plate.

    3. HEAT remaining 1 Tbsp oil in same pan over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, 6 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, paprika, and ¼ tsp salt and cook 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture and stir 1 minute. Add broth and milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until sauce thickens, 3 minutes.

    4. RETURN shrimp and bacon to pan. Simmer until shrimp is cooked through, 1 minute. Season to taste.

    5. SERVE grits with the shrimp mixture.

    Better Beef Lasagna

    Before: 800 calories, 3 g fiber 23 g sat fat 1,090 mg sodium
    After: 550 calories, 11 g fiber 7 g sat fat 1,000 mg sodium

    12 oz whole grain lasagna noodles (15 noodles)
    8 oz lean ground beef (at least 90% lean)
    2 tsp olive oil
    8 oz portobello mushrooms, chopped
    4 c Quick Marinara Sauce (1½ recipes) or low-sodium store-bought marinara
    1 container (15 oz) part-skim ricotta
    1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
    1 lg egg, lightly beaten
    Pinch of ground nutmeg
    ⅔ c grated part-skim mozzarella (3 oz)
    ¼ c grated Parmesan

    1. COOK noodles al dente per package directions. Drain well, then lay out on wax paper to prevent sticking.

    2. HEAT large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking up lumps, 3 minutes. Transfer to plate, discarding any fat remaining in skillet.

    3. ADD oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until liquid is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, 5 minutes. Stir in meat, ½ tsp salt, and 2 cups marinara sauce. Simmer 2 minutes.

    4. COMBINE ricotta, spinach, egg, nutmeg, and ½ tsp each salt and pepper in bowl.

    5. SPREAD 1 cup of the remaining marinara in 13" x 9" baking dish. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, touching but not overlapping. Spread half of ricotta mixture on top. Add another layer of noodles and half of beef mixture. Repeat with another layer of noodles, then remaining cheese mixture, more noodles, remaining beef mixture, and finally 1 more layer of noodles. Top with remaining 1 cup marinara. Sprinkle with the grated cheeses.

    6. COVER loosely with foil, and bake in a 375°F oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

    Chicken & Biscuit Pot Pie

    Before: 640 calories, 4 g fiber 19 g sat fat 800 mg sodium
    After: 400 calories, 5 g fiber 6 g sat fat 600 mg sodium

    1½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½" chunks
    4 tsp olive oil
    1 med onion, chopped
    2 med carrots, chopped
    2 ribs celery, chopped
    ½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut into ½" pieces
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1½ c 1% milk
    ¼ c all-purpose flour
    1 c low-sodium chicken broth
    1 c frozen peas, thawed
    1½ Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

    Biscuit Crust
    ½ c whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour
    ¼ c all-purpose flour
    ¾ tsp baking powder
    ¼ tsp baking soda
    3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    ½ c low-fat buttermilk
    2 Tbsp canola oil

    1. PREPARE FILLING: Season chicken with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper. Heat 2 tsp of the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Transfer chicken with juices to bowl.

    2. ADD remaining 2 tsp oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften, 3 minutes. Add green beans, garlic, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper and cook, stirring, 2 minutes longer. Add milk.

    3. COMBINE flour and broth and stir until flour is dissolved. Add to skillet and cook, stirring, until mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 2 minutes longer. Add chicken with juices to pan. Stir in peas and thyme. Spoon mixture into 6 oiled individual casserole dishes.

    4. MAKE CRUST: Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt in food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add butter and pulse about 12 times, or until pebble-size pieces form.

    5. WHISK together buttermilk and oil in bowl. Add to food processor and pulse until just moistened. Do not overmix.

    6. TOP each dish with a mound of batter, spreading out slightly. Bake in a 375°F oven until filling is bubbling and biscuit topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

    The Trad

    Bake shrimp - That's right. Bake it.

    Eat this 'fore it gets cold

    This recipe was handed down to Pat Conroy from his father -- whose love of southern food was only matched by my own father. Colonel Conroy was from Chicago and married to a southerner. His radio call sign, "The Great Santini." My father was from Duluth and married to a southerner. His radio call sign, "The Happy Bachelor." A coincidence? I think not.

    I eat Shrimp & Grits only three -- maybe four times a year. It's beyond rich. I can feel myself gaining weight with each bite. Prosecco cuts through the fat and melds with the cheddar cheese melted in the grits. I always tweak the recipe. Next time I'll try country ham instead of bacon. Here's how it currently works:

    Simmer grits 45 minutes.
    Cook bacon.
    Clean shrimp (These were Gulf shrimp and perfect).
    Douse tray with olive oil and add shrimp.
    Season with sea salt and lots of pepper.
    Bake for 10 minutes at 350. No need to flip shrimp over.
    Plate bowl with grits and add a handful of shredded cheddar.
    Add a tablespoon of bacon fat and stir until cheese melts. About 5 seconds.
    Crumble bacon on top of grits.
    Add shrimp.

    It's a huge pain to cook but good stuff to nibble on while you do. Make this for a friend so they'll do the dishes. This doesn't work for leftovers. Eat all you can until you think you'll burst. Like a tick. Do nothing the rest of the day 'cept wish to hell you knew how to cook this in 1984 and could write like Pat Conroy today.


    Fantastic dish and one of my favorites. Man, I feel heavier from just reading this!

    Interestingly, grits are not groceries.

    That old culinary rule some people adhere to. no cheese with fish or shellfish. well this is a good example of why that rule is nonsense. I love this dish!

    Dang it! Now I'm going to have to make this. I used to think that shrimp and grits was some sort of highfalutin citified "fusion cuisine" having never heard of it while growing up in the South. But finally. I tried it. Verdict: shrimp and grits make a perfect pairing. And adding bacon and scallions the way this recipe does just plain raises the bar a bunch.

    So let's see, where's my chef's apron?

    Looks easy and delish! I think sea salt is key to a lot of good food these days.

    RE: "The Happy Bachelor" Call sign.
    Actual call sign was simply "Bachelor" that I copied from previous team leader to keep things simple. No point confusing radio operators.
    Your mother didn't care for it, (thought it referred to my then "geographical" single status.)Silly.

    One newbie Yankee, eating grits with us for his first time, said it was the best Cream of Wheat he'd ever had.

    This reminds me of the shrimp and grits I had at Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC. only better because they're homemade. Nice work.

    Damn. Salivating over here.

    Never baked my shrimp. Sometimes I just have them near the stove to pick up the residual heat from the cooking grits/bacon. It's almost like seviche without the citrus.

    Plantation makes great grits, but the real trick is learning how to cook them. If you do it correctly, i.e. like a risotto, even shit grits are gold.

    I've been known to make cheese grits with white-meat chicken for the seafood-phobic (despite my best efforts, I know a few).

    Either the shrimp or the chicken version can be slightly enhanced with a wee bit of red pepper sauce. Tabasco or Frank's brands are particular faves at my house.

    Iowa boy in Richardson Texas 1973 sleeps over at Alabama transplant friend's house where he eats southern food for the first time.(What no Braunschweiger?)
    Friend's Iowa born mother explains that yes, you could eat grits like Cream of wheat but nobody ever did that.

    In most of Minnesota its still the rule that milk is a sauce.

    Something popping up at weddings here in the South more and more: the grits bar. Pots of plain and cheese grits, served in a martini glass (a little twee, but it works), and an assortment of toppings (shrimp, cheeses, Benton bacon, etc.) Would work well at brunch at home too, of course.

    Tin Tin, I am so impressed to learn that you are exploring your southern culinary roots! My beloved mother served Shrimp & Grits with an ice cold Miller Lite. "less filling". ME

    Add lemon juice (to taste) for a little lightness and brightness.

    A bloody mary on the side helps too.

    How to make creamy grits without milk or cream. This easy grits recipe only calls for four ingredients!

    I love making grits for breakfast. Nothing is better than creamy grits served with maple sausage, and soft scrambles eggs in my humble opinion!

    I personally am a person that likes my creamy grits with a little bit of butter, salt & pepper.

    When I make grits, I make them the easy way. I don’t use any cream, no milk. None of that fancy stuff! I am just sure to buy a nice quality brand ( I LOVE Albers), and I use water, butter, and salt! I know.. A lot of people think you NEED to add cream of milk to grits to make them creamy. However this is NOT true whatsoever!

    Wanna know how to make creamy grits? Well I’ll tell you my secret. The secret to making creamy grits is to cook the grits for a long time! Yes, even the ” quick grits”! The longer you cook grits, the creamier the grits will be! It’s true!

    The way I prepare these grits is pretty basic. I don’t add a ton of seasoning or etc, simply because some people like to add sugar in their grits, and some people like to add cheese to their grits. As mentioned earlier, I am a salt & pepper kind of girl. What kind of person are you?

    Best Mughlai dessert recipes that rule hearts.

    The dessert recipes that we share in this article form the epitome of Mughlai sweet dishes. Also, what’s true about these preparations is – these dessert recipes need expertise. That’s a Yes and a No both. Yes, because it needs precision and you would enjoy just any, they have peculiar taste and texture. And no, because we share the easiest way, so you cannot go wrong even if it is your first time.

    So don’t wait for Eid to enjoy these delectable Mughlai desserts, you can learn them right now. Prepare these desserts with ingredients that are available at your home, all year round! Let’s go.

    Whenever you are making Sheer Khurma, soak the dry-fruits used in the recipe a night before in water. If you haven’t planned it earlier, then soak them in lukewarm milk for at least an hour.

    Put 3 generous tablespoons of ghee in a pan and melt it on medium flame. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped cashew nuts, 2 tablespoon chopped almonds, 3 tablespoon pista, 2 tablespoon cuddapah almonds (chiroli / chironji), and 3 tablespoons of chopped dried dates. Fry all these dry fruits at a low flame for 3-4 minutes until they are slightly golden brown.

    Now, take them out in a bowl and don’t remove the excess ghee from the pan. Use this ghee to roast a cup of half-cut sewaiyan for about 3-4 minutes on medium flame.

    Boil a liter of full-fat milk in another pan for about 10 minutes on medium flame. Add a pinch of saffron, ½ teaspoon of cardamom powder, all the fried dry-fruits prepared in step 1, and the roasted sewaiyan prepared in step 2. Add a teaspoon of rose water and then raisins. Cook and stir the mixture for about 10-15 minutes. Add ¾th cup of condensed milk and cook for ten more minutes, and your Sheer Khurma is ready to be served.

    Bring a liter of full-fat milk to boil, add 1 cup grated khoya, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp cardamom powder, a pinch of saffron, 1 tbsp chopped pista, 1 tbsp chopped almonds, 2 tsp kewra water, 2 tsp rose water. Let this preparation simmer for good 10-15 minutes on low flame, then add ¾th cup sugar.

    Meanwhile, in another pan, heat ¾ cup ghee on a medium-to-high flame and deep fry few bread slices (cut in half) to make them golden brown, then take them out on a plate.

    Arrange the bread slices on the heated pan again, without any grease. Now, add 2-3 spoons of boiling milk preparation for each slice. Cook on high flame to thicken the milk and let the bread absorb it. You can add some seasonal fruits, such as mangoes or strawberries. Let this cook for good 5-10 minutes until the milk is really thick, and then let it settle to cool down.

    Shahi Tukda recipe is ready! Serve with a garnish of pista, dried rose petals, and chopped fruits.

    Chicago Cut: Pork Shoulder With White Grits

    We’re massive fans of award-winning Chicago chef Paul Kahan’s new cookbook, Cheers to the Publican, out now. Make this pork shoulder with white grits and you won’t even notice five days of marinating have gone by.

    This recipe 100 percent came from Suzanne Goin. We have differing stories, Suzanne and I, but basically we did a farm dinner in Chicago with Gabrielle Hamilton, Wylie Dufresne, and Michael Schlow and Suzanne made this dish, which she has continued to make. She confited a whole sucking pig in duck fat, picked out the meat, and pack it back together into a patty with residual duck fat. Then she cut squares of the pig skin and put them on top of the patties, so it was like a burger, served them with Tuscan kale cooked with shallots and pancetta, and finished it with a simple salsa verde. My first thought was, Oh my God. My second thought was, I’m stealing that. And my third thought was, If I ever write a cookbook, there will be a whole homage to Suzanne. We’ve interpreted the dish a little differently, but it’s got the same fatty, hyper-meaty flavor with tons of texture.

    Cosmo: At the restaurant, we take the picked meat throw it in a hot pan to crisp it up deglaze the pan with jus, stock, and a little knob of butter and cook it down until maybe a touch of juice is left but most of it has gotten to that lip-smacky-tacky place. There’s the crunchiness from what got crisped up and the supple meat and the glaze that it’s all coated in — it’s crazy.

    For home-making purposes, we made it a little simpler though — don’t get us wrong — it’s still a time-consuming project. Don’t worry it just takes time, space, patience, and some help from your local butcher. Instead of cooking an entire suckling pig, you can confit the shoulder — or cook it low and slow in a bunch of lard — then finish it off on the grill with a shellac of tart-sweet verjus glaze, and mound it on a platter with a dandelion green salad and a hot pot of grits. It’s a great recipe for having people over. Oh, and don’t get fancy when it comes to buying grapes. No local, special variety farmers’ market grapes will ever be as good as the ones you get from the grocery store. They might be awesome the first hour after you buy them, but then they get all mushy and don’t keep that great grape crunch. We did a taste test it’s true.

    Cracker Barrel

    You lucky devil. You just found recipes for all your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV Host Todd Wilbur shows you how to easily duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home for less money than eating out. Todd’s recipes are easy to follow and fun to make! Find your favorite copycat recipes from Cracker Barrel here. New recipes added every week.

    • American Coney Island
    • Applebee's
    • Arby's
    • Auntie Anne's
    • Bahama Breeze
    • Baja Fresh
    • Barney's Beanery
    • Baskin-Robbins
    • Benihana
    • Bennigan's
    • Big Boy
    • BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
    • Bob Evans
    • Bojangles'
    • Bonchon
    • Bonefish Grill
    • Boston Market
    • Buca di Beppo
    • Buffalo Wild Wings
    • Burger King
    • California Pizza Kitchen
    • Capital Grille
    • Carl's Jr.
    • Carnegie Deli
    • Carrabba's
    • Cheeseburger in Paradise
    • Cheesecake Factory
    • Cheddar's
    • Chevys
    • Chi-Chi's
    • Chick-fil-A
    • Chili's
    • Chipotle
    • Cinnabon
    • Claim Jumper
    • Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
    • Cosmic Wings
    • Cracker Barrel
    • Dairy Queen
    • Del Taco
    • Denny's
    • Dive!
    • Domino's
    • DoubleTree
    • Dunkin' Donuts
    • Einstein Bros. Bagels
    • El Pollo Loco
    • Emeril's

    The Southern-themed chain famous for its gift shops filled with made-in-America products and delicious homestyle food is also known to have a particularly good meatloaf. This dish ranks high in popularity, right up there with the Chicken ‘n Dumplins and the Hash Brown Casserole, so a good hack is long overdue.

    Making meatloaf is easy. What’s hard is making it taste like the meatloaf at Cracker Barrel which is tender and juicy, and flavored with onion, green pepper, and tomato. I sought to turn out a moist and tender loaf of meat, and one that’s not dry and tough, but my first attempts were much too dense. I wasn’t happy about that, but my dog was thrilled.

    After playing around with the eggs-to-breadcrumbs-to-milk ratios and being careful to use gentle hands when combining everything and pressing it into the loaf pan, the final batch was a winner and I get to pass it along to you.

    It's best to use a meatloaf pan here which has an insert that lets the fat drip to the bottom, away from the meat. A regular loaf pan will still work, but you’ll want to pour off the fat in the pan before slicing.

    Satisfy your Cracker Barrel cravings with more of my copycat recipes here.

    Menu Description: "Made from scratch in our kitchens using fresh Grade A Fancy Russet potatoes, fresh chopped onion, natural Colby cheese and spices. Baked fresh all day long."

    In the late sixties Dan Evins was a Shell Oil "jobber" looking for a new way to market gasoline. He wanted to create a special place that would arouse curiosity, and would pull travelers off the highways. In 1969 he opened the first Cracker Barrel just off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee, offering gas, country-style food, and a selection of antiques for sale. Today there are over 529 stores in 41 states, with each restaurant still designed as a country rest stop and gift store. In fact, those stores which carry an average of 4,500 different items apiece have made Cracker Barrel the largest retailer of American-made finished crafts in the United States.

    Those who know Cracker Barrel love the restaurant for its delicious home-style breakfasts. This casserole, made with hash brown-sliced potatoes, Colby cheese, milk, beef broth, and spices is served with many of the classic breakfast dishes at the restaurant. The recipe here is designed for a skillet that is also safe to put in the oven (so no plastic handles). If you don't have one of those, you can easily transfer the casserole to a baking dish after it is done cooking on the stove.

    Love Cracker Barrel? Check out my other clone recipes here.

    Menu Description:"Two slices of sourdough bread grilled with an egg in the middle, served with thick-sliced bacon or smoked sausage patties and fried apples or hash brown casserole."

    Breakfast is a popular meal at Cracker Barrel restaurants. Just to prove it, the restaurant has some amazing statistics printed on the back of their breakfast menus: "Each Spring 607,142 Sugar Maple Trees must be tapped to produce enough pure maple syrup for our guests" "It takes 5,615,000,000 (THAT'S BILLION!) coffee beans each year to satisfy our guests' need for coffee. Each tree produces only 1 pound of coffee per year, that's 1,560,000 trees."

    This recipe is a classic egg-in-the-hole recipe that I used to make all the time as a kid. I thought my family invented it.

    Find more fun ideas for breakfast here.

    Menu Description: "We use only the 'best of the breast' chicken tenderloin in our recipe. Our dumplins are made from scratch, then hand-rolled and cut into strips before simmering to perfection in chicken stock."

    By 1977 there were 13 Cracker Barrel stores located in Georgia and Tennessee, with all of them based on founder Dan Evins' original concept of a restaurant and store built around gasoline pumps. But with the oil embargo and energy crisis of the mid-seventies, Cracker Barrel started building stores that did not offer gas. Eventually, all of the original 13 stores were converted so you can no longer "filler-up" while you fill yourself up.

    An old-time favorite at Cracker Barrel is the Chicken & Dumplins found on the lunch and dinner menu. The nice thing about this version of the popular classic dish is that it creates its own tasty gravy. As the "dumplins" dissolve, the flour thickens the stock into a creamy sauce.

    Satisfy your cravings for more Cracker Barrel with more of my copycat recipes here.

    Similar to cloning the cole slaw at KFC, the secret technique for duplicating Cracker Barrel's delicious slaw starts with slicing the cabbage into very small pieces. A mandoline works great for this or use whatever slicing contraption you have. Slice the heads of green and red cabbage on the thinnest setting, and then chop those strips into small bits. The carrot can be shredded using a cheese grater. Mix it all up and then let the cole slaw chill out for several hours so the mixture can get its flavor on. An overnight chill is even sweeter.

    No mix that comes in a box tastes as good as macaroni and cheese that's made from scratch. It seems crazy that these boxed mixes are so popular when making really good mac 'n cheese the old-fashioned way is so easy. The 562-unit Cracker Barrel Country Store restaurant chain serves up an awesome version that's offered as a side dish with any meal. We'll whip up this cool clone in a 10-inch skillet and then brown it just a bit on top under the broiler before presenting it to the crew.

    Menu Description: "A Cracker Barrel tradition. Our rich, chocolate cake made with real Coca-Cola is baked right in our own kitchen. It's served with premium vanilla bean ice cream and makes for a warm treat on a cool day."

    Cracker Barrel's signature dessert is moist and chocolaty, with just a hint of Coke flavor. Coca-Cola is added to the batter for our clone, and we'll double up on the chocolate by using melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and cocoa powder. A little more Coke goes into the creamy chocolate icing that's also made by melting chocolate chips. Be sure to slide on down to the "Tidbits" at the bottom of the recipe for a great way to easily get the cake out of your baking pan in one piece. Make sure you have some milk on hand before you take a bite of out of this decadent Cracker Barrel Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake recipe!

    I tried making Guy Fieri's signature recipes for a week, and I didn't love my whole trip to Flavortown

    I recreated seven of Guy Fieri's signature recipes to see if they lived up to their hype.

    The recipes required a lot of ingredients and were more expensive and time-consuming than I thought.

    The Texas French toast bananas foster was worth the effort, but the Texas chili, was disappointing.

    Food Network personality and restaurateur Guy Fieri has established himself as the "Mayor of Flavortown" with his unique brand of down-to-earth humor and non-pretentious, yet elevated, American cuisine.

    Fieri's eccentric style has become iconic, and his twists on classic recipes like mac and cheese and chili are well-known among fans.

    To put some of these memorable dishes to the test, I decided to give two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, and one dessert from Fieri's arsenal a try to see if they were really as good as advertised.

    Read on to see how my week of cooking Fieri favorites went.

    Day one: I tried making his Italian meatball sliders, which are served on Hawaiian rolls.

    At first glance, I was expecting to be blown away by this recipe since Fieri recommended using fire-roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh thyme for the sauce.

    The recipe also requires Panko crumbs, a 50/50 blend of ground pork and ground beef, and grated parmesan, plus garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper for seasoning.

    To start, I cooked onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes in olive oil before adding tomato paste, tomatoes, fresh basil, thyme, water, and some salt and pepper. I let that simmer for about 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, I soaked the Panko in milk for 10 minutes to get it to the right consistency before adding the ground meat, parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, and some salt and pepper to taste.

    I then formed the mixture into eight pretty giant balls and sautéed them for about eight minutes per side before putting them into an oven dish over half of the tomato-sauce mixture. I put the rest of the sauce on top and added eight slices of mozzarella cheese.

    Assembling and eating the sliders was harder than I expected it to be.

    After baking my meatballs in the sauce for 25 minutes, I tried to build the sliders with the help of wooden skewers.

    But the assembly process wasn't easy.

    The meatballs were almost too large to fit on the Hawaiian buns, and I wasn't able to load them up with much sauce. This was unfortunate because the meatballs were surprisingly disappointing when they weren't covered in sauce.

    I also noticed that the ratio of sauce to meatballs seemed off. If I was to make this again, I think I could make half the amount of sauce and still have plenty.

    The toppings quickly made the breading soggy, so I had to eat these quickly to prevent the rolls from dissolving into a mushy mess.

    Unfortunately, I assembled most of the sliders right away, so I had to push away the soggy breading the next day.

    All in all, I'd recommend eating these sliders as soon as they're done and making sure there's plenty of dipping sauce to serve them with.

    The sauce was absolutely my favorite part of the whole dish, and I was tempted to drink it, slurp it, and inhale it by itself once the sliders were gone.

    Day two: I attempted Fieri's "Mac Daddy" mac 'n' cheese, one of the dishes I was most excited about.

    I was surprised by how many ingredients the chef uses to make a classic mac and cheese. In addition to requiring bacon, heavy cream, shallots, garlic, butter, and fresh thyme, Fieri's recipe also needs pepper-jack and cheddar cheeses.

    First, I put shallots, garlic, and olive oil in an aluminum-foil pouch and roasted it for half an hour.

    The directions also told me to use "reserved bacon fat" to sauté the cooked shallot and garlic mixture instead of instructing me to make the bacon first, which I thought was pretty confusing.

    I quickly fried some bacon on the stove, set aside the fat, and used it to further fry the shallots and garlic before adding flour to make a roux. After one minute, I whisked in all the heavy cream and fresh thyme and let it cook until it was reduced by a third.

    I also cooked a pound of penne pasta on the side while I was waiting for the sauce to reduce.

    Next, I stirred in the cheeses, sprinkled in some salt and pepper, and added the pasta. The whole mixture looked creamy and cheesy and smelled like heaven.

    I poured the whole thing into a casserole dish and topped it off with the cooked bacon, Panko bread crumbs, butter, and fresh parsley.

    Finally, I baked the dish at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

    The final result was definitely a bit of a letdown, and it was mushy and unappetizing when I tried reheating the leftovers.

    Surprisingly enough, the mac and cheese was extremely bland. All I could really taste was the heavy cream and the bacon on top.

    Despite the expensive list of ingredients and all the time I'd put into making the dish, I was disappointed that the different cheeses, fresh herbs, and roasted shallot didn't really come through.

    The next day, I quickly learned that the dish didn't improve with time as the pasta got soggy and the toppings hardened.

    I decided to throw the rest of it out after eating it on the second day.

    Day three: Fieri's stuffed, double-cut pork chops seemed intimidating to make.

    This recipe definitely fueled my curiosity because of its unusual flavor combinations.

    To start, I cut a pocket in each one of the pork chops and put them in a plastic bag to brine with water, kosher salt, black pepper, Dijon mustard, dried sage, and granulated garlic for two hours.

    Next, I fried the pancetta in an oil and butter mixture, which seemed excessive with all of the grease the meat generated by itself. Then, in the remaining oil, I cooked mushrooms, shallots, sage, and half of the fried pancetta to the pan for a few more minutes.

    After the filling cooled, I added the fontina cheese and stuffed the brined pork with the mixture then set aside the rest with the remaining diced pancetta.

    While my oven preheated, I beat two eggs in one bowl and mixed Italian seasoning, pepper, Panko, and flour in another.

    In that same sauté pan from earlier, I used olive oil (I didn't have any bacon fat like Fieri suggested) to brown the sides of the pork chops that I'd dipped in the breading mixture. I used tongs to hold them together while they cooked.

    While the pork was in the oven, I made sauce from the shallots, remaining filling, chicken stock, Dijon mustard, and yogurt.

    I finished off the sauce with salt and lemon juice, then poured it on top of the chops along with the remaining pancetta.

    Much to my surprise, the seemingly random flavors and textures were amazing together.

    This turned out to be Fieri's biggest dark-horse recipe for me. The crunchiness of the breading paired with the tender meat and all the different flavor combinations made it a big win in my book.

    I really liked the sauce — the tangy and citrus elements helped cut some of the richness of the dish.

    The chops also held up surprisingly well overnight. Although the breading was a little bit soggy, it still tasted great after I blasted it in the microwave the next day.

    This is a recipe I wouldn't mind making again.

    Day four: The country ham with stone-ground grits and red-eye gravy was definitely the easiest recipe I attempted all week.

    Although this recipe doesn't come straight from Fieri, he has said that it's one of his favorites and he frequently makes it for breakfast.

    I was a little skeptical about how bare-bones the ingredients were and the concept of a so-called "coffee gravy," but I decided to give the recipe a try.

    First, I put a pot of coffee on, then I started working on the grits. After bringing my water to a boil, I simmered the grits for 45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

    While the grits were cooking, I seared the ham for about five minutes per side in a skillet over medium heat until it was browned. Once it was done, I removed it and put a 1/4 cup of coffee with a cup of water in the skillet to simmer until it was reduced by half.

    To serve, I put the grits into a bowl with black pepper and butter, followed by the ham, and finished off with spoonfuls of the coffee-gravy mixture.

    The ham was good on its own, but I wasn't overly impressed by the grits or the gravy.

    Considering I usually have grits served with cheese, I found this version to be pretty bland. I also noticed that the grits hardened pretty quickly, making it difficult to keep them as leftovers.

    The coffee gravy didn't add much flavor to the dish, either. It just made it taste sort of bitter.

    Day five: I made Fieri's Texas French toast bananas foster.

    I'm someone who will always choose a savory breakfast over a sweet one, but I'm looking forward to switching things up with Fieri's Texas French toast bananas foster.

    It's been years since I've made French toast, but I noticed that Fieri's batter looked like a slightly richer version of what I'm used to with its heavy cream, whole milk, and three whole eggs.

    I started by whipping the eggs, milk, and heavy cream in a bowl. I added vanilla extract, Grand Marnier liqueur, sea salt, and ground cinnamon.

    Next, I heated up the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange juice and took it off the burner to add 1/4 cup dark rum.

    The directions weren't clear about how much longer I was supposed to leave it on, so I reduced it to low heat and kept stirring until it got to a caramel consistency. Then, I added the sliced bananas to the warm mixture.

    Meanwhile, I dipped slices of brioche bread into the batter and cooked them for about two minutes per side. Once they were done, I assembled everything and poured the caramel sauce with the bananas on top.

    I was in heaven as soon as the first bite of this hit my mouth.

    The citrus flavors from the addition of the Grand Marnier and the orange juice really come through, and it's hard to beat the combination of brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and fluffy brioche with caramelized bananas.

    I did, however, notice that the amount of sauce was a bit of an overkill, so I'd probably make half of it next time.

    I'd also recommend making a fresh batch instead of reheating leftovers. The brioche kind of deflated after being in the fridge, so it wasn't as good the next day.

    Day six: The Texas chili was easily the most labor-intensive recipe of the week.

    Of all of the recipes I tried this week, Fieri's Texas chili was the one I was most excited to sample.

    Instead of using chili powder to give the dish its trademark flavor, Fieri's recipe calls for a homemade paste using ancho, arbol, and guajillo chilis — which you toast, steam, and purée until smooth.

    After blending the chilis and setting them aside, I sautéed the onions, peppers, Anaheim peppers, and Fresno chilis in a pan with olive oil for about seven minutes.

    Next, I put the chuck and ground beef, which I'd seasoned with salt and pepper, in a separate, deeper pan. I cooked both until they were well browned, then added garlic, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and cinnamon.

    Then, I added the cooked vegetables, beef stock, and blended chilis and brought the whole mixture to a boil.

    After about two hours, I added the beer, paprika, and masa harina (corn flour), and stirred the mixture for about 12 minutes before sprinkling some salt and pepper on top.

    At this point, I noticed that there seemed to be a layer of oil forming, but I tried to mix it up so it was less noticeable. It also looked a lot more watery than the chili I'm used to.

    Meanwhile, I started making the beer-cheddar-cheese sauce by cooking unsalted butter, flour, half-and-half, amber beer, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and Worcestershire sauce. Once everything was melted together, I added salt, pepper, dry mustard, paprika, and cayenne pepper.

    I poured this cheesy mixture on top of a bowl of chili before adding a little bit of sour cream, fresh green onions, and diced red onion.

    Disappointingly, the end result tasted like hamburger soup.

    Although this was one of the dishes I was most excited about, I think it ended up being the biggest letdown.

    Not only was making the chili very time-intensive and expensive, but also the flavor just didn't make it worth the effort at all. Additionally, the beer-cheddar-cheese sauce was very rich and didn't seem to add much to the whole dish.

    The worst part was eating the leftovers.

    I usually think chili improves with time, but there was an unappetizing layer of grease on the top of the mixture that I had to scrape off before reheating. Even then, the whole soup seemed to have an oily texture that made me not want to eat it.

    I definitely won't be making this again.

    Day seven: Fieri's Cin-ful peach cobbler sounded like a sweet way to end the week.

    I've never made peach cobbler using frozen peaches or dried cranberries, so I was curious to see how Fieri's recipe measured up.

    I started the peach filling by mixing brown and white sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt, and tossing the still-frozen peaches in to coat them.

    Next, I made a thickening "slurry" by dissolving a teaspoon of cornstarch into a tablespoon of water and adding the juice of one lemon. This got added to the peach mixture.

    After buttering my baking dish and pouring the peach mixture in, I made the crumb topping by mixing brown and white sugar, flour, oats, almonds, dried cranberries, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt with a stick of unsalted butter.

    I put half of the crumb mixture on top of the peaches before popping the dish in the oven and lowering the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

    After baking this for half an hour, I layered on the rest of the crumb topping and baked it for another 45 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

    This dish wasn't a terrible way to end the week, but the cobbler was a little sweet for my taste.

    I let the cobbler cool down for about half an hour, then served it with some vanilla ice cream.

    The peaches tasted a lot better than expected, but I felt like the dish seemed more like a crisp and wasn't really anything to write home about. I think I'd personally have liked it better if it had a more traditional, flaky crust.

    I'm also someone who doesn't like my fruit pies to be too sweet, and all of the sugar in this dish seemed like a bit of an overload.

    Conclusion: The Texas French toast bananas foster blew me away, but the Texas chili was the most disappointing dish of the week.

    Fieri's Texas chili didn't live up to the hype flavor-wise and featured a lot of ingredients that were expensive and hard to find.

    Honestly, I feel like I won't end up using many of the recipes again.

    However, I can confidently say Fier's French toast made me more of a sweet-breakfast person than ever before and is definitely going to be part of my brunch arsenal. It wasn't too difficult to make, and all of the flavors really delivered.

    Read the original article on Insider

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