Although September 22nd may be the first official day of autumn—when the Sun finally crosses the equator and our days begin to seem a little shorter—we all know that the unofficial beginning of fall is Labor Day weekend. It may still be 100 degrees outside but sweaters and boots will start to emerge, and a healthy dose of camouflage.
It’s opening weekend of Dove season after all, and here in the Delta that is a big deal, my friend. It’s a signal that it’s time to clean up your cabin and return to the woods—or the field in this case. And for many, it is quite a social event, with friends and family gathering for brunch after the morning hunt or grilling out later in the day.
We’ve rounded up some great recipes to feed your crowd this weekend if you’re looking for menu inspiration. Here’s to the first signs of fall and gathering with friends!
BOURBON SWEET TEA
Nothing could be more Delta than sweet tea and bourbon. And nothing could be easier than making a whole pitcher at once to serve and enjoy.
5 cups sweet tea
15 ounces bourbon
10 lemon wedges
10 fresh mint sprigs (optional)
Mix bourbon and sweet tea in a pitcher and stir to combine.
For each drink, fill a tall glass with ice and fill with the cocktail. Garnish with a wedge of lemon and sprig of fresh mint if using.
Editor’s note: Your favorite sweet tea can be made in advance—or you can cheat like we did and buy a gallon of Milo’s to make it super easy!
Traditionally served in a copper mug and made with vodka, our twist on the classic Moscow Mule blends the richness of bourbon with the spiciness of ginger beer. We kept the copper mug, though, which keeps drinks especially frosty!
1/2 ounces bourbon
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup light ginger beer
1 fresh mint sprig
In a copper mug, combine bourbon and lime juice. Fill cup with ice. Add ginger beer; stir gently to combine. Garnish with mint sprig and lime slice.
2-3 whole duck breasts sliced in thin 1/2 inch strips
1 1/2 cups Hoover sauce
6 fresh jalapeño peppers, halved and seeded
8 ounces cream cheese
6 pieces thick cut bacon cut in half
Place duck strips in bowl and allow to marinate in Hoover sauce about an hour. When ready, assemble by laying pieces of bacon on a platter, add a dollop of cream cheese on each pepper slice, top with a slice of duck and wrap with bacon, securing with a toothpick.
Grill about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes till bacon crisps and duck is cooked through.
SOUR CREAM AND CHIVE BISCUITS WITH HAM
2 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
⅔ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons softened butter
½ teaspoon garlic salt, optional
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons milk or melted butter
Extra melted butter
Heat oven to 450 degrees. In medium bowl, stir baking mix, sour cream, butter, garlic salt, and chives until soft dough forms.
Place dough on surface sprinkled with baking mix. Shape into a ball; knead 10 times. Roll dough to ½-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with biscuit cutter dipped in baking mix. Place rounds 2 inches apart on an undressed cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Brush tops with butter. While still warm, split biscuits then layer ham on bottom halves of biscuits and close with top halves.
ARTICHOKE AND SCALLION QUICHE
1 refrigerated pie crust
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup julienned scallions
1 can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
6 large eggs
2/3 cup half and half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cup swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll crust and press into a 9-inch glass pie dish. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add scallions and artichokes and sauté until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside. Whisk eggs, half and half, salt, pepper and cheese in a separate bowl. Gently mix the artichokes and scallions into the egg mixture and pour into the crust.
Bake quiche about 45 minutes, till set.
Makes 8 servings.
MAKE-AHEAD BRAN MUFFINS
3 cups sugar
1 cup melted butter
5 cups flour
5 teaspoons soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 quart buttermilk
1 15-ounce box Raisin Bran
Beat eggs; continue beating and add sugar and melted butter. Mix flour, soda, and salt. Alternately add dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the egg mixture. Stir in Raisin Bran and store in refrigerator. Fill greased muffin tins ⅔ full and bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Batter will keep in refrigerator up to 6 weeks.
GRITS AND GRILLADES
A classic hearty Louisiana dish that is a favorite from brunch to dinner. Even richer when served over creamy cheese grits.
2½ lbs. beef round steak
salt and pepper
½ cup flour
3 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs. butter
2 large onions, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp black pepper
6 servings grits, uncooked
Pound the beef rounds, cut into 2 x 3-inch pieces, and season with salt and pepper. Dredge meat in flour, and shaking off the excess. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet and brown meat. Remove meat from skillet and set aside. Pour off remaining fat in skillet, add butter, and melt it over medium heat.
When bubbles begin to subside, add onions, green bell pepper, celery and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Stir in stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, covering partially, and simmer for 20 minutes. Return meat and juices to the skillet, stirring well. Simmer, partially covered for about 1 hour or until meat is tender and sauce is thickened. Adjust seasonings.
When ready to serve, cook grits according to package directions. Ladle grillades over grits on a warm plate. Makes 6 servings.
Grillades freeze very well. Allow to thaw and warm slowly up to temperature.
GRAPEFRUIT AND AVOCADO SALAD
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 heads of butter lettuce, washed and torn
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 Hass avocados
2 large red grapefruits
In a small bowl slowly whisk olive oil into the mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh from the skin. Cut each half into thick slices. Peel grapefruits and slice off stem and bottom ends, then cut between the membranes to release the grapefruit segments.
Gently toss lettuce, onion, avocado and grapefruit together in a salad bowl. Just before serving, drizzle with dressing and toss again to distribute evenly.
GRILLED BACON-WRAPPED DOVESWITH BOURBON GLAZE
Season trimmed and cleaned doves or quail with salt and and pepper. Wrap each one with a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Grill on medium-high about 10 minutes and bacon is beginning to cook. At this point baste doves with glaze and continue to turn and baste them till done another 10 to 15 minutes.
So delicious on dove, quail or chicken.
1 cup bourbon whiskey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pinch dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, combine bourbon, brown sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use to baste meat while cooking.
HAM AND CHEESE BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
4 cups day-old french bread, cut into . inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound roughly diced ham
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Grease an 8-inch baking dish (or another 1ó-quart to 2-quart baking dish) and spread the cubed bread in the bottom.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and salt. Saute’ until they are lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another heavy skillet, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and saute’ ham until it begins to get crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set on a paper towel to drain.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, dry mustard, nutmeg, and thyme. Season with about . teaspoon of salt and generous quantity of pepper, or to taste.
Layer the ham over the bread cubes, then spread the onions on top. Sprinkle grated Gruyere on next, and then pour the egg mixture over the entire thing.
Press down on the top gently, so that all of the bread cubes soak up some of the egg mixture. Refrigerate overnight.
Take the casserole out of the fridge allowing it time to warm slightly before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling and the top begins to brown. Check for doneness by inserting a knife; if it comes out clean the casserole is ready. Baking time will depend greatly on the depth of the pan you use.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
BANANA CARAMEL PIE
This recipe is a Coopwood family favorite any time of the year.
Graham Cracker Crust
12 whole graham crackers
1⁄3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crumble the graham crackers by using a food processor or by placing all the crackers in a ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin until broken into fine crumbs. This should make about 11⁄2 cups of crumbs. In a bowl, mix crumbs with melted butter and sugar until evenly blended. Pour mixture into a 9-inch pie pan press evenly along bottom and sides. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, till just brown.
1 8-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
5 to 6 sliced fresh bananas
2 cups whipping cream
1⁄2 cup confectioners sugar
Place unopened can on its side in a large pot, completely covering can with water, bring to a rolling boil. Leave can on a low boil for about 3 hours, making sure to top off with water as needed so the water doesn’t cook out. When it is time to remove from heat, do not open the hot can. It is important to allow can to cool thoroughly before opening, as it will be under pressure.
When cool, open can and stir caramel to smooth out any lumps. Condensed milk should be thick and a deep caramel color. To whip cream, pour cold cream into a large chilled bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners sugar until soft peaks form. Keep chilled. Assemble pie by spreading sliced bananas over cooled crust and pouring caramel evenly over the bananas. Mound the whipped cream on top of the bananas. Refrigerate till ready to serve. Garnish with extra bananas and cracker crumbs if desired.