Eggplant Fritters

Eggplant …yuk – As kids eggplant was something my mother made once in a great while but never considered putting it on the menu at the Casa, it was just for family. We kids would run the other way. See, she didn’t make Eggplant Parmesan as most people are used to. She would fry it and serve it with lemon, cut it in half and stuff it with a bunch of herbs and spices, bread, cheese, and garlic. I could tolerate the stuffing, but the skin and bottom of the eggplant? No chance.

  • 3 large eggplants
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 9 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 9 tbls chopped mint leaves
  • 1 ¼ cups freshly grated imported Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¾ cup freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and bake it in a preheated 375°F oven until it is very soft. Trim away the stem end. Chop the eggplant very fine and place in a medium bowl. Add the egg, garlic, mint, bread crumbs, grated cheeses, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. If the mixture is very soft, add additional bread crumbs.
  2. Flour your hands and shape the eggplant mixture into small dumplings about 2 inches in diameter, place on a tray. To cook the fritters, pour olive oil to depth of ¼ inch in a heavy sauté pan. Heat the oil to very hot but not smoking. Roll a few of the eggplant dumplings in flour and gently lower them into the hot oil. Cook until golden on all sides. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle while hot with salt to taste.

Mrs. Tom’s Secret

Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

Here’s a great way to get the kids to like eggplant – don’t tell them what it is until they’ve tried it. I now love the stuffing AND the bottom of the eggplant.

Black Pepper Encrusted Mustard Fried Venison

I suppose you need a good hunter in the family or a good beggar like we do every season. Actually no real southerner is caught without a freezer full of Venison most all year and in true Southern Hospitality they are willing to share especially if you promise to invite them over when you cook it.

It sure helps to get the most tender parts but if not, pound it as you would veal, not too much just enough to break it down. HOW MUCH YOU ASK? It’s never enough. I eat two portions while I’m frying it to make sure I don’t get left out, my boys eat it until it comes out their ears. The pieces should be about 1 and a half oz or 2 oz at the most pounded lightly.

  • Oil for frying in a iron skillet if you have one
  • As much Venison as you can get your hands on covered in course black pepper really covered well
  • A whole container of French’s yellow mustard
  • Cover the venison with the pepper and gobs and gobs of mustard make sure it is totally covered with the mustard and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4-5 hours
  • All purpose flour
  1. Heat about a 1/2 inch of oil in the skillet and dredge the venison in the flour still coated in the mustard. Fry about 2-3 minutes on each side place on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil

Mrs. Tom’s Secret

Serve with:
Your favorite warm red cabbage and warm homemade applesauce. Just writing this is killing me…I’m ready to start begging.

Dirty T-bone with Hot Fanny Sauce

Prep time 45 minutes (approx)
Grilling time 15 mins (approx)


  • 4 16oz T-Bone Steaks
  1. Place a large iron skillet with a bed of charcoal on the grill, light the coals. Heat the grill under the pan on a high heat.
  2. When the coals are ready set your steaks on top of the coals two minutes on each side. Remove the steaks and shake off any excess coals that may be stuck to the steak.
  3. Place the steaks on the grill and finish cooking to your desired temperature.

Hot Fanny Sauce

Sauce Base

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 pounds onions, minced (7 to 8 cups)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ teasp kosher salt
  • ⅛ cup medium-dry sherry

Finishing the Sauce

  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 green bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeded
  1. Preparing the Sauce Base: Measure the sugar into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring often and watching carefully until the sugar caramelizes, turning a rich mahogany-brown—6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Stir in the onions and jalapeño pepper; as they release their juices they will blend with the caramel.
  3. Let them cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft and brown—8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Reducing the Sauce: Add the stock and the salt, and bring to a boil over moderately high heat.
  5. Reduce by a third—to about 1 ½ cups—10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Stir in the sherry, (no sipping) cook another minute, and remove from heat.
  7. Pureeing and Finishing the Sauce:Transfer the sauce to the blender and, holding the top down firmly to prevent accidental burns and splatters, turn the machine on to moderately slow.
  8. With the machine running, add the vinegar and the green pepper through the hole in the top. Close the top and puree at high speed for a moment.

Mrs. Tom’s Secret

Pour sauce back into the saucepan, and reheat when needed. Ahead of Time Note: Cover and refrigerate when cool; the sauce will keep for several days. Or freeze it for several weeks.

Use a USDA choice or prime steak and keep your grill as hot as you can to sear in the juices. The hot coals will help, let your steak rest for about 7- minutes before cutting it. Don’t pour the sauce on top of the steak just drizzle it along the side so your guests may have as much or little as they want.

Grilled Italian Chicken

Prep time 40 minutes (approx)
Grilling time 30 mins (approx)

  • 12 crushed garlic cloves
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 anchovy fillets packed in oil and patted dry
  • ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 12 boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 shallots chopped course
  • hot oil for drizzle
  1. Combine the garlic, 1/2 cup of oil, anchovies,and parsley in a food processor and give it a zap until slightly smooth. Dredge the chicken in anchovy mixture and set aside.
  2. Place the chicken in a bowl and cover both sides with the bread crumbs coating them evenly and place on a flat platter and refrigerate for about 1/2 hour.
  3. Prepare your grill on a medium heat. Place the chicken on the grill and cook slowly for about 15 minutes on each side turning only once.

Mrs. Tom’s Secret

Mrs. Tom was not sure if she had reached the Rasta Mon as he appeared to be engulfed in smoke at the time. However in the spirit of détente she left him with a secret used by gas griller’s who still were purist at heart. She told the Rasta that he could obtain his favorite flavor profile by taking his favorite wood chips, soaking them in water for about a half hour, wrapping them in aluminum foil. Then, poke holes in the foil and place the packet right on top of the grill and close the top creating an additional smoky flavor.

Fresh Herb Salmon with Eggplant Olive Relish

Prep time 25 minutes (approx)
Grilling time 6 ½ to 7 mins

Fresh Herb Salmon

  • 2 ½ lb piece of salmon (skin removed)
  • ¾ cup Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ cup fresh parsley (course shaved)
  • ¾ cup fresh dill (course shaved)
  • ¾ cup fresh basil (course shaved)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Place the salmon in a shallow baking dish season with salt and pepper. Pour the oil and lemon juice on the fish, place the chopped fresh herbs on top of the fish put it back in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, spoon the lemon and oil mixture over the top of the fish 2 or 3 times while it is marinating.
  2. When the fish is ready heat the the grill and place the fish herb side up on your grill and close the lid do not flip the fish. Grill about 6-7 minutes basting the top of the fish a few times with the lemon olive oil…don’t get too much oil at one time to cause a flame-up.

Eggplant Olive Relish

  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 eggplant peeled and cubed (½ inch cube)
  • 1 Red pepper diced ¼ inch
  • ¼ cup rough chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup fine chopped shallot
  • ½ bunch finely chopped green onion
  • 1 cup calamatta olives (coarsely chopped)
  • ½ bunch Italian parsley
  • 5 large basil leaves (chopped)
    salt & pepper to taste
    ¼ cup marinara sauce
  1. Pour 1/4 cup the oil in a medium sauté pan
  2. Lightly sweat (sauté) garlic, shallots, peppers & green onion
  3. Increase to medium high heat and add eggplant
  4. Mix & sauté 2-3 minutes to give good color, add more oil if needed
  5. Mix in olives, herbs and marinara fold together 2 minutes
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  7. Remove from heat and transfer to flat pan to cool under refrigeration

Mrs. Tom’s Secret

Pull your relish from the refrigerator and serve at room temperature or just warm. Ask your fish monger to skin the fish for you as it will be hard to cut once it comes off the grill.

Grill Roasted Prime Rib Au Jus

Prep time 15 minutes
Grilling time 2 ½ to 3 hr

  • 1 8lb bone in rib-eye about 4 bones
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Montreal Steak seasoning (optional)
  • 2 large handfuls oak wood chips, soaked in water for 30 mins
  • meat thermometer (optional)
  1. Stand the roast on its side and remove the rib bones all together.
  2. Trim the fat to 1/4 inch, with the very tip of a sharp knife make a small cuts into the roast …do not make a large incision as it will cause the juices to run. Slide the garlic cloves into the meat. Season evenly with salt pepper and steak seasoning. Take the bones and with kitchen twine tie the bones back on the rib. Let the roast come to room temperature.
  3. Heat your grill to a medium heat. Place the soaked wood chips in a metal bin on your over shelf inside the grill. Make sure your grates are clean and brushed well. Sear the rib on the grill on all side turning every few minutes until it is nice and browned all over about 10 minutes. If flare up occur just remove the rib until they settle down.
  4. Once you have browned the rib back your temperature down a little and place the rib bone side down on the less hot place on your grill. They all have hot and cooler spots. Close your lid on the grill and let the rib roast slowly. Rotate the rib 2 or 3 times until it reaches the right temp. Use your thermometer to check doneness. Medium Rare 125 degrees. Check the temp often so you are in touch with the cooking and it doesn’t get over cooked.
  5. Let the rib sit covered at room temp for about 20 minutes, you can wrap it in foil. The juices will redistribute. The foil will hold some wonderful juices so capture those and drizzle on the meat when you serve it.
  6. Untie the roast and remove the bones (Uncle Jimmy will want those). Slice and enjoy there is no flavor like cooking on your outdoor grill.

Chef’s Tip

If you are not comfortable removing the bones close to the meat with out slicing into the rib ask your butcher to do it for you, just make sure he gives them to you.