It’s a busy May over here and I’m looking forward to mid-June for my fourth annual “retreat” with 16 girlfriends from my hometown of Athens, Georgia. We’ve met at Sea Island, Georgia; Smith Lake, Alabama; and Lake Lure, North Carolina. This year we head to north Georgia near the town of Blue Ridge. It’s going to be an extra special treat because my oldest friend (since babies) will be joining us for the first time from Nanaimo, British Columbia. I’m so thrilled that Pooh can come.
As usual, I’ve divided the group up into cooking teams for supper each night. I was put in charge of the menu for my team of Peggy, Pooh, Penny, Gina and me, and you’d think I was serving at the White House for all the thought I’m giving it. It’s a weakness of mine that I have a hard time deciding on the perfect meal for guests. It needs to be palatable for a group of women who are all very unique. And not too fussy. And it’s best if leftovers can be eaten for lunch the next day on a salad, or in a sandwich. So I decided on a recipe I had hanging around for a Korean pot roast using gochujang, a mild, slightly sweet and spicy red chili paste I happened to have and need to use. But then I thought of Mississippi Roast! We are having a mini book club for anyone who has read “Dispatches from Pluto” by Richard Grant. Several have finished the book and are fascinated by the portrayal of the Delta and Yazoo City. So Mississippi Roast seemed to fit the bill. I thought I had shared the recipe in this column, but I can’t find it in my files so I’ll share it again, or for the first time. Don’t know.
I had never heard of Mississippi Roast until I saw an updated version in The New York Times where the author made the ranch dressing from scratch, etc. I poked around and found that Robin Chapman from Ripley first made this 15 or so years ago as a version of one her aunt had made. A friend had it and it became part of her meal rotation. Then the friend put it in a church cookbook and others made it, and it grew and spread and eventually became a recipe on Pinterest called “Mississippi Roast.” I thought I’d make it the day before I go to Blue Ridge and then heat and shred it for sandwiches the next night, along with slaw and a black bean and corn salad. Peggy oversees dessert, and Penny and Pooh will buy buns and make slaw. Gina will do some appetizers. It would be fun, but is it too complicated? Now I’m leaning toward a chicken enchilada casserole with homemade tomatillo salsa and a green salad. I’m stressing out on this; obviously, I need a hobby or have too much time on my hands.
I do want to make Dole Pineapple Whip for dessert if I can talk Peggy into it. Supposedly this is a big deal at Disney World and last weekend, while there with family, I looked and looked for a vendor, but nary a one in sight. Probably OK, as it would have been $10 for a cup as was everything else in the parks. But I found a recipe and it’s very like making the frozen banana whip. I found a couple of variations, but chose one with three ingredients. I have not made it yet so let me know how it is. I don’t think it can go wrong.
Don’t forget that the farmers’ market is open. Please stop by and support the growers.
Anne Freeze of Columbus is a former gourmet food store owner and restaurant general manager.
1 roast (3-4 pound), your choice of cut
One stick butter
1 package au jus gravy mix
1 package Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix (dry)
Pepperoncini peppers, number to your liking, and a little juice
(Note from Anne: This is the original recipe, verbatim)
MISSISSIPPI ROAST “GOURMET STYLE”
1 boneless chuck roast or top or bottom round roast (3-4 pounds)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon buttermilk, optional
Chopped parsley for garnish
(Source: Sam Sifton, New York Times)
THREE-INGREDIENT PINEAPPLE SOFT SERVE
4 cups frozen pineapple
1 frozen banana, halved.
1/2 cup coconut milk, chilled
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.