Text and photos By Brian L. Lichorowic
As is often the case, our moods, clothing, and activities change with the seasons. Naturally, so does our food. Winter is a time of long simmering burgoos or the all day, all night Crockpot meal. “Set it and forget it” was made for this time of year. Century old simmering bean pot recipes and the always-popular pot of “it can be made once but never again” dish are both established in our culture. Many a dish has gained its delicious life from a cold afternoon, initiated by a rare pillaging through the seldom seen areas of the pantry.
Many recipes at first reading confound us. There’s a point when an ingredients list gives you pause. You’re tentative because your mental palette can’t quite put it all together in your head. Garlic AND honey? Hmm . . . really?
Food is passion and the best old recipes are passed down through decades by friends and family. Recipes on torn and stained pieces of paper, a yellowed newspaper clipping, or a tried and true 3×5 recipe card are treasured keepsakes.
Winter is the perfect time to take a gastronomic flyer and put together something you have no idea how it will come out on the other end when it is finished. Dishes like these are either tremendous or quickly forgotten. Here are three recipes pulled from time-tested archives of family members and culinarians alike. Each is unique, bold, and delicious. Give one or two a try. . . what else you have to do in the long dark winter months?
I’m sure this will come as no surprise, but the Northern Virginia Piedmont area is considered a culinary hotbed for fresh venison. Finding the one recipe for venison that can make everyone at a table happy can be a bit daunting, though. This is a wonderfully unique, all day cooking dish that will fill the house with amazing smells and appeal to all fans of wild game . . . but the secret here is cooking the meat and not overcooking all the veggies. This can be prepared in a Crockpot or Dutch Oven. It truly is a classic, wonderful, cold evening meal. This recipe is “deer” to my heart.
Body Revival Mulligatawny Detox Soup
There are several post-modern versions of mulligatawny each having a small tweak here and there. This is no different. The base flavors are deliciously complex. The quality of your herbs and spices can change the tastes dramatically.
Mulligatawny has been valued through the ages for fostering clarity of mind and solving digestive issues. Its properties for chasing away effects of demon rum have been well-documented. It can be served cold in the summer or hot in the winter.
Mulligatawny is the Anglicized version of the Tamil (a southern Indian Dravidian language) words for “pepper water” or “pepper broth.” It became popular with the British stationed in India (employees of the East India Company) during colonial times, during the late 18th century and later. As a result, his recipe became a staple in the UK.
The chickpeas give it a boost of protein; the apple gives it a sweet-tart kick. Use organic vegetables for maximum detox. Adjust spices if you prefer a milder soup, as cayenne pepper packs some religion.
On a personal note, after considerable testing, I can concur, this is the best hangover cure in the world.
Bupchi’s Christmas Borscht
Gastronomically, this soup is unique because it’s a “white” borscht, not red from beets. My grandmother was allergic to red beets so she created this.
Having given it considerable thought, if I have a family recipe, this is it.
Bupchi made it by the gallon because it would be fed to all the restaurant employees and their families working on Christmas Eve. Its smell is as distinctive to me as holiday mulling spice and pinecones. And for whatever reason, this one dish was served at no other time of the year. Huge amounts were made so there was always enough to have days later. And when it was gone, you went cold turkey for 12 months.
A picture of the soup doesn’t put the recipe in it’s best light. Half of the allure of this gastronomic fusion masterpiece is serving a bowl to your guests and watching their reaction as they stare at a bowl of broth with an egg, Kielbasa coins, potatoes, and a pickles floating in it. The rue is the key . . . that’s the source of this soup’s weird but really nice flavor.
Serve with a good soft rye bread for dunking.
About the Chef:
The 4th of six generations of restaurateurs, Brian Lichorowic grew up in a restaurant that seated 1,500 people. He thought it was normal to clean and debone 500 chickens every Wednesday after school. He was the first to leave the family business and took a different road to success as a technology entrepreneur.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org