Good morning to you indispensable ones at the other end of this line.

There was a discussion of hash browns at a certain table this week. How do you cook the frozen or refrigerated variety? "They're no good," said one participant. "The only hash browns are the ones at Waffle House." Is he correct, or are there things we can do with refrigerated or frozen hash browns at home that elevate them to newsworthy?

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Jane Henegar

Another longtime reader is wondering about varieties of vinegar. "Does it really matter which vinegar you use? What about rice vinegar? And what about apple cider vinegar with a mother (the bacteria that convert the alcohol produced by the sugar into acetic acid), as opposed to regular apple cider vinegar?"



We begin the answers this morning with a variety of chicken/bacon/chipped beef dishes, with very different baking temperatures and times.

"My goodness, that chicken, bacon and chipped beef dish has been a favorite for more years than I care to remember," Barbara Mann began, giving a recipe that cooks for 45 minutes, covered, at 350 degrees.

And then Susan McWhirter of McMinnville, Tennessee, arrived with a similar recipe, but in her family, "My mother always called it 'Nervous Chicken' because it bakes at such a low temperature, she was always nervous it wouldn't be done. The recipe I have is at least 50 years old and a favorite of my family, always the request for birthday dinners. I've seen similar recipes called Chicken Sour Cream and Chicken Eden Isle." This one cooks for 4 hours, uncovered, at 200 degrees.

Diane Martin came next from Whitwell, Tennessee, with Aunt Lucy's Chicken. "My mom, Freddy Layne, always made this dish for every covered-dish church dinner, reunion and special holiday meal. People raved about it, and it was always completely devoured." Cook that one for 2 hours at 300 degrees, then an additional hour at 325 degrees. Don't cover.

Chicken, Bacon and Chipped Beef

1 (2-ounce) package Buddig original beef (find at Wal-Mart in lunch meat section)

2 boneless chicken breasts, split in half longwise so you have 4 thin slices

8 slices bacon

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup sour cream

Divide beef into 4 equal portions. Put a breast slice on top of each, wrap with 2 slices of bacon and place in baking dish. Mix together soup and sour cream, and pour on top. Cover and bake about 45 minutes at 350 degrees until done. The gravy has a wonderful smoky flavor and is great with mashed potatoes.

Nervous Chicken

1 jar (2.25-ounce) Armour sliced dried beef

6 to 8 boneless chicken breasts (very large, cut in half)

12-ounce package of bacon

2 cans mushroom soup

2 cups sour cream

Slice the dried beef into smaller, bite-size pieces, and place in the bottom of a 2-quart glass baking dish.

Wrap each piece of chicken with a slice of bacon, and place on the dried beef.

Mix the mushroom soup with the sour cream, and pour over chicken; do not cover.

Bake at 200 degrees for 4 hours.

Serve with rice.

Aunt Lucy's Chicken

1 jar dried beef

Boneless chicken breasts, cut in half, as many as desired

Bacon slices, cut in half

1 or 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, depending on number of chicken breasts

Black pepper

Spread dried beef in bottom of greased baking dish.

Wrap chicken breasts in raw bacon slices, tucking ends under. Place atop dried beef.

Spread undiluted mushroom soup over chicken. Sprinkle pepper on top. No salt is needed.

Bake uncovered 2 hours at 300 degrees, then 1 hour at 325 degrees.



Glenna Johnson sent a soup with the highest praise: "The Best Ever." She was preparing this soup for supper on the day she sent it.

The Best Ever Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons dried basil

3 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes

1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup heavy whipping cream (optional, or substitute 2 cups half- and-half)

Thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (optional)

In large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat oil, butter and pepper flakes over medium heat until butter is melted. Add carrots and onion; cook and stir until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and dried basil; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until flavors have blended, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from heat. Using a blender, puree soup in batches until smooth. Return to heat, and slowly stir in cream; cook until well heated but not boiling. Top with fresh basil. This soup freezes well in serving-size containers.



Buttermilk grits? Yes, indeed. Jamie Cobleigh reported, "Buttermilk ads a subtle creamy tang to the grits. Sometimes I add more cheese to the grits, usually a Gouda and Cheddar mix."

Buttermilk Grits With Country Ham and Shrimp


4 cups water

1 cup whole milk

1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt

1 cup uncooked stone-ground grits

3/4 cup whole buttermilk, at room temperature

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 tablespoons butter

Bring 4 cups water, whole milk and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Add grits, stirring with a whisk, and return to boil. Reduce to medium-low heat, and allow to cook 25 to 30 minutes, until thick and creamy.

Remove from the heat, and stir in the buttermilk, Parmesan cheese and butter. Cover and hold until ready to serve.

Country Ham and Shrimp Topping

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

3/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup cooked chopped ham

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup scallions sliced

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup dry white wine

Toss shrimp with Creole seasoning. In small skillet over medium-high heat, cook butter and ham about 3 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add shrimp and garlic. Continue stirring about 2 minutes. Stir in scallions, chicken stock and white wine. Continue cooking while stirring, about 2 minutes more, until shrimp turn pink.

Serve over warm grits. Makes 4 servings.

Interesting column, this. All spicy, no sweetening. And all good, all good. Do come back next week.



» Homemade hash browns

» Vinegars and mothers



Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750