A new cookbook celebrates the contribution of African-American Chefs to America’s Culinary heritage.
Toni Tipton-Martin has collected almost 400 cookbooks with a singular focus. Every one of them was written by or for African-American cooks. When she had collected over 150 of these cookbooks, she wrote: “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks”(University of Texas Press 2015). The title refers to “Aunt Jemima”, a brand of Pancake mix dating from 1889. Despite the extraordinary contribution of African-American women to our country’s culinary heritage, Aunt Jemima represented a demeaning stereotype of African-American women in the kitchen. Ms. Tipton-Martin debunked the myth of the illiterate cook by spotlighting their individual contributions in “The Jemima Code”. And she became the winner of the James Beard Foundation Book Award for the book.
A Celebration of Joyous Cooking
Now that her collection has grown, Ms. Tipton-Martin has just published “Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centuries of African-American Cooking”(Clarkson-Potter 2019). The book takes off where “The Jemima Code” left off. Debunking the segregationist myths about African-American cooking, Ms. Tipton-Martin, takes us into the kitchens of black chefs who are an integral part of so much of what Americans eat today. Their influences came from all over—our immigrant communities and their own rising prosperity. She calls the recipes in “Jubilee” “joyous cooking”, a celebration of the black bourgeoisie, women’s social clubs, and sororities.
A favorite recipe from the cookbook Sam Sifton of the New York Times fell in love with.
Just last week, Sam Sifton of the New York Times introduced readers one of his favorite recipes from “Jubilee”. Lucky Sifton had an advance copy of the book and has spent the summer cooking from it and falling in love with it. Sifton wrote “There you were, making the sort of food you’ve been making forever…But then, suddenly, it’s better: new techniques, new flavors, new narratives…everything so thrilling you want to make the recipes over and over again.” High praise indeed. Today’s recipe is the one he chose to share after his summer of cooking from Jubilee calling it his favorite. It tugged at my heart — not just because I love a great pork chop.
A recipe enhanced by a great restauranteur and personal friend.
Today’s recipe was at least partially ascribed to a wonderful friend, B. Smith. Barbara, the first African-American to grace Mademoiselle magazine, went on to become a restauranteur, then a lifestyle authority and cookbook author. She was often called “the black Martha Stewart”. Today’s recipe was enhanced by Barbara’s 2009 collection of recipes, “B. Smith Cooks Southern-Style” (Scribner). Tragically, in 2014, B. Smith was diagnosed by early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. We still see Barbara out at the beach. She is watched over by her extraordinary husband, Dan Gasby, a man I have infinite respect for.
Additions to this recipe bring it up a notch.
Ms. Tipton-Martin gave credit for today’s recipe to Chef Nathaniel Burton. But her additions to the original were pure B. Smith. Fundamentally, the recipe is a version of Smothered Pork Chops, a southern classic, a link to which you’ll find after today’s recipe. What B. Smith and Ms. Tipton-Martin did was to add lemon zest, lemon juice, and extra butter. Seasoned then the chop is beautifully browned on the stovetop. A sauce is created using a single shallot, a little garlic, some flour, chicken stock, and white wine. You might want to up the quantity of flour from the recommended two teaspoons to a tablespoon to speed up the time the sauce takes to thicken. While the recipe states that the time involved is 35 Minutes, it took considerably longer to thicken the sauce. Once the sauce has thickened, capers, lemon and zest, and parsley add enormous flavor. The recipe has the option of adding hot sauce to taste. I did not do this—solely because I forgot. Apologies. Let us know if you do please! The pork chops go back into the silken sauce to be reheated and finished. Plate and garnish with a little more parsley. Here is the recipe:
Pork Chops in Lemon-Caper Sauce from Toni Tipton-Martin
A wonderful take on an American Classic--Smothered Pork Chops, brought up a notch with a silken lemon-caper sauce
- 4 bone-in pork chops (about 8 ounces each)
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 very small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium, if store-bought
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons juice
- Hot sauce (optional)
- Step 1 Dry the chops with paper towels, and season aggressively with salt, pepper, and the thyme. Swirl the olive oil into a large skillet, and heat over medium until the oil begins to shimmer. Add chops, and cook until well browned on each side and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to a plate, and cover to keep warm.
- Step 2 Drain the fat from the skillet, then melt 2 tablespoons of butter in it over medium heat until sizzling. Add the shallot and garlic, and sauté until the aromatics soften, reducing the heat if necessary, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Whisk in the wine and chicken stock, raise heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered until the liquid is reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Step 3 Stir in the capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and hot sauce to taste (if you’re using it), and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until it’s melted and the sauce looks smooth. Nestle the pork chops into the sauce, and allow them to warm up for a couple of minutes, then serve, pouring sauce over each pork chop to taste. Garnish with more fresh parsley.