Vino or Moonshine? Both, please. Memphis chefs, Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman’s new cookbook, Collards and Carbonara: Southern Cooking, Italian Roots published by Olive Press, showcases their distinctly Southern-Italian dishes—or is that distinctly Italian-Southern dishes? Either way, it’s fusion cuisine with an accent.
The two chefs and best friends opened the upscale Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis back in 2008. After much acclaim, they opened a more casual sister restaurant, Hog & Hominy, right across the street in 2012. The two attended culinary school together in Charleston, South Carolina, and refined their skills in Italy. They compare their partnership to the dynamic of being in a band; they feed off one another for ideas and are always discovering inspiration together. The cookbook is a manifesto of sorts that establishes the greatness of duplicity in heritage cooking. At the root of their success is the fact that they simply love to play and work and learn and cook together. They share their stories revealing the secret to their success and the gospel of food according to these good Italian boys.
Each dish represents a new discovery and a step on their culinary pathway. The funky fusion dishes are as beautiful as they are humble. Warm pig’s ear salad with pears and Gorgonzola, fried green tomatoes with blue crab and bacon jam, gnocchi with caramelized fennel and corn; the pairings may seem unusual, but the flavors make sense together. Recipes for basic dishes like their famous boiled peanuts and pizza dough each have unlikely nuances that bring Italian and Southern American cuisines together.
Collards and Carbonara praises the men’s influences, like the Southern Foodways Alliance and, friend and Florence-based designer, Billy Reid. The gentlemen tip their hats to many inspirations, from the band Mumford and Sons to their Maw Maws (Grandmothers for those of you not raised in the south). Readers will take away great techniques, great stories, and encouragement to discover your own cuisine path. And cocktails. Because what’s a Southern/Italian celebration without one (or two)?
GIN & HOMEMADE TONIC (from page 9)
Our recipe for a homemade tonic is the result of much research and practice. Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Add 3 tablespoons gin, 4 1/2 teaspoons Tonic Syrup (page 22), and 1/4 cup club soda. Garnish with a lime slice.
HOMEMADE TONIC SYRUP (from page 22)
Makes about 3 cups
1 each orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit
1/4 cup powdered cinchona bark
1/2 teaspoon each allspice berries, cardamom, and sea salt
Honey as needed
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Cut the citrus fruits in half crosswise. Juice the orange, lemon, lime and half of the grapefruit. In a saucepan, combine the zests, juices, cinchona bark, allspice berries, cardamom, salt, and 4 cups water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Pour the mixture into a French-style coffee press and plunge to press the solids to the bottom. Line a fine-mesh sieve with a paper coffee filter and place over a glass measuring pitcher. Pour the liquid into the sieve and let stand until all of the liquid passes through, about 1 hour. Check the measurement of the strained liquid, then pour the liquid into a clean saucepan. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons honey per 1 cup of liquid to the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring, until the honey is well mixed. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.