Tuesday, June 2, 2009

TBG Eats: Paula Deen's Italian Sausage Soup

Current Weight: 165.8 lbs.

The Recipe

If any of you ever make it out to San Diego, feel free to invite yourself over to Stately Bootleg Manor.

Y'see, I live in what's called "North County", which means my house is the single farthest point from anywhere else in the city. On the plus side, you'll get to see all of San Diego on your 30-60 minute drive from the airport to my place.

Our house isn't really anything special. I mean, it's quiet, comfortable…a little small…but, it's home. My biggest beef is with the abject lack of character that infuses every room. Sure, the boy's room looks like a five-year-old sleeps there and the garage – like every other garage in California – serves as our de facto attic, basement and storage shed. But, there's really just ONE room in the entire house that clearly represents my family: the master bathroom.

Every night, the boy takes his baths up there while one of his parents stand watch/wash his ass. Jalen's been playing with the same sack of bath toys for years. They provide a nostalgic snapshot of his assorted phases, like the "Curious George" phase (culminating in a rare head-of-the-household veto from me when Mrs. Bootleg wanted to dress up our African-American son as this cartoon monkey for Halloween a few years back).

For the record, I dropped a similar veto when Mrs. Bootleg wanted to buy Jalen several NASCAR-related t-shirts, recently. As I told my wife, "I'll play with him and his cars, I'll watch the ridiculous Sunday races on TV with him, but I'm not willing to advertise my kid's enjoyment of the [here I made the air-quotes pantomime] 'sport'. Between this and my love of baseball and craft beers, we're losing enough 'Black points' as it is."

And, while Jalen is bathing, the national pastime for the grown-ups is reading. Between Mrs. Bootleg and myself, we have over a half-dozen magazine subscriptions and our master bathroom is one of the only places in America where you'll see Essence and Oprah commingled with Maxim and Consumer Reports.

Mrs. Bootleg also subscribes to Cooking with Paula Deen. I don't mind saying that this old broad – Paula Deen, not Mrs. Bootleg – creeps me out. I don't know what it is about her, either.

Maybe it's the way she poses the exact same way (head tilted, repeatable plastic smile) in every publicity photo. The late Missy Elliott had the same affliction.

Maybe it's how her handlers always have enough make-up to completely cake her face, but run out before her septuagenarian hands, chest and neck can be Avon'd over.

Maybe I'm just jealous of her spot-on Joker impersonation.

Now, for those of you who don't know, Black women are extremely prideful of three things – in this order: (1) their hair; (2) their butts and (3) their kitchen skills. And, when it comes to Paula Deen, even Mrs. Bootleg concedes, "that b*tch can burn". ("Burn" being an old Negro euphemism for "cook really well".)

The wife whipped out this recipe last Sunday and…it was good. Can we all agree that anything with Italian sausage is going to be delicious? Bacon deservedly gets all the mainstream man-love, but in the "pig meat Olympics", Italian sausage is the perennial silver medalist. (Does breakfast sausage get the bronze? Baby back ribs? I can't decide!)

I loved the contrast in textures between the beans and the pasta, too. This is very much one of those "stick to yo' ribs" kind of soups that's thick enough to be an entrée all its own. Even better, the measurements for the vegetables (carrot, celery, onion) are just enough to keep from impeding on the meat and turning this into a "girl's soup", like lentil or "________ with wild rice".

As a rule, Mrs. Bootleg always ignores the recommended seasonings and comes up with her own spice combination. Much like the backyard "chef" who adds one or two things to a bottle of KC Masterpiece, Mrs. Bootleg believes this artistic license now makes the recipe her own.

Tonight will make night #3 for Paula Deen's Mrs. Bootleg's Italian Sausage Soup. It reheats very well and, according to my tongue, tastes better than the first night. Hell, even Jalen – he of the pizza, hot dog and hamburger wheel of three dinner options – finished his bowls. More or less.

Grade: 4.5 (out of 5)


that mexican guy said...

I wouldn't worry about your black points Cam. You earned an infinite supply when you married [Mrs. Bootleg's first name].

Tom said...

Mrs. Bootleg believes this artistic license now makes the recipe her own.

I whole-heartedly agree. I shamelessly stole Neely's BBQ Sauce -- but replaced the ground mustard with Gulden's and the lemon juice with honey. That makes it Tom's BBQ Sauce.

I also yoinked their bbq turkey meatloaf and took out the chopped green peppers because they're a bane on life. Mine now!

That Bootleg Guy said...

According to Esquire's "The Rules", rule #657 states:

"For BBQ sauce to be "YOUR" BBQ sauce, you are required to combine at least six ingredients. If the first one is Kraft Spicy Honey Barbecue Sauce, that number jumps to ten."

Man Law?

Man Law.