Name: John H. Mitchell (Hugh)
Background: I was born in LaGrange and raised in Heard County. I have two younger brothers, Lane and Clint, who also enjoy cooking. I graduated from Heard County High School in 1988, joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school and served four years on board the USS Enterprise and in Newport News, Va.
Family: I met my wife, Kelly, through a mutual friend while I was in the Navy. We married as soon as I was discharged and made our home in Heard County. We have been happily married for almost 20 years and have two wonderful sons, Zane, 12, and Luke, 7.
Job: I got out of the Navy in May 1992. I worked odd jobs until I went to work at the Kimberly-Clark Corporation in LaGrange as a machine operator. In 1999, I was selected to become a maintenance technician and attended West Georgia Technical College in 2000. Upon graduation in 2004, I was promoted to an electrical/mechanical technician. Kimberly-Clark is a great company to work for, with wonderful people who are encouraged to promote safety, health and well being, and community involvement such as supporting the local United Way.
Hobbies, activities: I spend most of my free time with my family. We are members of Ridgeway Baptist Church and enjoy many activities in the church. I am one of several Sunday school teachers for the adult class and I have also recently become involved in a weekly jail ministry team at the Heard County jail. Kelly, the boys and I also like to cook together. We spend a great deal of time in the kitchen or outside around the grill or smoker. Zane likes to bake and Luke likes to make special sauces for chicken.
How did you learn to cook? I got the cooking “bug” from my mom and dad. They were always cooking something. Mom is a fantastic cook and always did the majority of the cooking. Dad liked to smoke barbecue and cook Brunswick stew. He taught me a lot of what I know about barbecue today. I also learned a lot by trial and error while in the Navy. I have been told many times that I make the best gravy. I was living in Virginia and was wanting to make gravy for my friends like Momma did. I could not do it. I called my mom who walked me through each step over the phone until I was finished. I was so excited to get it right!
What is your favorite memory of cooking or being in the kitchen? When Zane was a baby, my wife and I started a tradition of making peanut butter balls for Christmas and giving them to friends and family. Kelly and Zane shaped them into balls, I dipped them into the melted chocolate and Luke does the taste testing. This is one of many reasons we look forward to Christmas each year, because we have so much fun.
What ingredient is always in your pantry or refrigerator? Kelly does all the grocery shopping, although she does make sure I have Kosher salt and turbinado sugar to add to any meat rub I use.
What is your favorite cooking tool? We have several pieces of cast iron: skillets, Dutch ovens and a 20 gallon iron cook pot that I am very proud of. I love to cook outside in them using a gas burner. They are versatile and last forever, a few belonged to past family members. I also used my Thermo pin to check the internal temperature of meats. I find that most people overcook meat.
Do you have a favorite cookbook? I don’t really have a favorite cookbook. I do however spend a lot of time on the Internet at barbecue forums and I use quite a few recipes that I have found there. I also enjoy watching Food Network for ideas.
When you go out to eat, what is your favorite thing to order? I usually try to find something spicy. I love hot and spicy foods.
What recipe is your comfort food that reminds you of home and why? Fried chicken and biscuits remind me of home because I had that a lot growing up.
Do you have a favorite cost-saving cooking idea? My wife only buys things on sale and plans meals around those items. We also eat leftovers and try to come up with ways to make leftovers “new” again.
What was your biggest disaster in the kitchen? My biggest disaster wasn’t in the kitchen, but I was cooking. I was smoking pork Boston butts for about 200 people one night and had a large roll of aluminum foil that I set on the edge of the smoker. Before going back into the house I moved the roll of foil onto the wood picnic table. About an hour later, Kelly saw fire. It was the box of foil and the picnic table! I had to get the garden hose out at midnight to put out the fire.
What is the weirdest thing you ever ate or cooked? While in the Navy in the Philippines I tried the local street food. A balut is a fertilized duck embryo that’s boiled alive and eaten in the shell. Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, balut are mostly sold by street vendors in the regions where they are available.
Final note: I have many fond memories of cooking with my family and friends. I would encourage you to get your whole family in the kitchen or out by the smoker/grill and create some memories that will last a life time. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
(Per pound of rice)
1 pound smoked sausage
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast, cut into bite sized
1 pound Boston butt pork or pork t-loin, cubed
1 pound onions, chopped
Bell peppers, chopped (use 1/4 as much as onion, by quantity not weight)
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 rib celery, diced
1 quart water - a 2 to 1 ratio with rice (I use beef or chicken broth)
Salt, black pepper and red pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce, to taste
1 pound extra long grain white rice
Pour a little oil into the bottom of a heavy pot (cast iron if you’ve got it), add sausage and cook until browned. Add cubed pork and continue to cook until pork is browned, constantly stirring to keep from sticking. After pork is browned, add onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Cook until vegetables are wilted and most of the water has cooked out. Add chicken and cook until done, usually 15 to 20 minutes, continuing to stir. Add water, salt, red pepper, black pepper, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Bring to a boil and adjust seasonings to taste. (It should be over-salted and don’t be afraid to give it a little “kick,” as the rice will absorb much of the seasonings). Add rice and return to a boil. Gently and continually scrape the sides of the pot to ensure that the rice does not stick. When most of the water has cooked out, adjust the flame to very low and cover with the lid. After 10 minutes, remove the lid and gently scrape the sides of the pot. This will tell you if the rice is sticking and will allow any water that has settled on top to flow down the sides and back to the bottom. Replace lid and continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes. Remove lid and taste for tenderness. If done, roll the rice from the bottom to the top and serve. If not completely cooked, replace lid and continue to cook until done.
Smoked Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich
7 - 8 pound bone-in Boston butt
Barbecue smoker (Hickory, Oak or Pecan wood)
Barbecue rub (see note)
Rub the barbecue rub of your choice all over the pork butt. Use lots of it. I smoke the Butt at around 225-250 degrees until the internal temp is around 165 degrees. Wrap the butt with aluminum foil and continue to cook at the same temperature until it reaches 195 degrees internally. Remove from smoker and let butt rest for about 1 hour. Unwrap the butt and place in a large pan. Using two forks, pull the meat apart. We like eating the pork on an onion roll with a little mayonnaise and barbecue sauce.
Note: There are many flavors of barbecue rubs on the market today. I have tried many and although it is not my first choice, I do like Bad Byron’s Butt Rub cut with turbinado sugar. It is available at most grocery stores and is very good.
Fried Pulled Pork Egg Rolls
Pulled pork meat
Egg roll wraps
Oil for frying
Barbecue sauce of your choice
Hoisin sauce (found in the Oriental foods section)
Mix two parts barbecue sauce to one part Hoisin sauce and 1/2 part soy sauce. This makes a great Oriental flavored dip for the egg rolls. Place a couple tablespoons of cold pork into the egg roll wraps and wrap according to package directions, sealing the edges with water. Fry the egg rolls in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with the sauce.
Kelly’s Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Salt, pepper and garlic powder
Olive oil and butter
Buffalo/hot wing sauce of your choice
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Texas Pete hot sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Dash Worcestershire sauce
1 package blue cheese
1 box of deluxe macaroni and cheese(not the powder kind) of your choice or your own recipe
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 sleeve butter crackers (I like Ritz)
1 small container of French fried onion rings
Season raw chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Saute in oil and butter until done. Add buffalo sauce, Texas Pete hot sauce, honey and apple cider vinegar. Layer into the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch casserole dish. Mix the softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, blue cheese and a dash of salt and pepper until smooth and creamy. Spread over the chicken. Cook the noodles in salted water until done. Drain. Add the cheese packet, cheese sou, and cheese to the noodles and mix thoroughly. Spoon over the cream cheese mixture. Crush the crackers and French fried onions in a food processor. Sprinkle on the top. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.
Hugh’s Surprise Twice-baked Potatoes
This will serve about 25 people.
1 full size aluminum serving pan
10 pounds whole potatoes (Idaho’s, russets or others)
1 family size can (27 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1 family size can (27 ounces) cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup barbecue rub
1/8 cup paprika
3 cups shredded cheese (Use cheddar or a blend of Monterrey jack and cheddar.)
1/8 cup granulated garlic, to taste
Wash the potatoes then place in a large pot. (I use a turkey fryer pot.) Boil until fork tender, leaving the skin on the potatoes. Cooking time on the potatoes is about 30 to 45 minutes. When the potatoes are done, drain off the water and pour them into the serving pan. While the potatoes are still hot, crumble the potatoes into pieces. Add both cans of soup, the sour cream, barbecue rub and granulated garlic and mix into the potatoes. Add about half of the cheese and mix that into the potato mix. Spread this out in the pan and top with a large portion of cheese and then sprinkle with paprika. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 225 degrees for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until all the cheese melts. Or put in the pit and melt the cheese on the pit. This recipe can be cut down to a small batch.
No-bake Chocolate Eclair Taste-A-Like
The finished results taste like a chocolate eclair. So good and so easy, you will be surprised.
6 7/8 ounces French vanilla instant pudding (2 small boxes)
3 cups milk
10 ounces Cool Whip
1 (14 ounce) box graham crackers
1 (16 ounce) can chocolate fudge frosting
Place a layer of whole graham crackers in the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan so no portion of bottom of the pan is showing. In bowl, mix together the pudding and milk. Stir in Cool Whip. Layer half the pudding mix on top of graham crackers. Add another layer of whole graham crackers. Add remaining portion of pudding mix on top, then add a final top layer of crackers. Remove lid of fudge frosting and microwave for about 45 seconds, until runny. Pour frosting over entire mixture and refrigerate overnight.
Pecan Pie Muffins
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
Combine pecans, brown sugar and flour in a large bowl; make a well in the center of mixture. Beat eggs until foamy. Stir together eggs and butter; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Place foil baking cups in muffin pans and coat with cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire racks.
This week’s guest cook encourages readers to support:
Motorcycle ride for United Way
Kimberly-Clark will host its fourth annual motorcycle ride and poker run to benefit United Way of West Georgia on June 9 beginning at Kimberly-Clark Corp., 1300 Orchard Hill Road. Cost is $20 per bike and $5 for riders. A barbecue lunch is included and door prizes will be drawn at the end of the ride. Highest poker hand wins $100 gift card. To register, contact Wade O’Neal at 706-883-3254 or Donna Franklin at 706-883-3334 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.