Still Upper Crust

Mac-n-cheese was considered to be upper crust until the end of the nineteenth century. Believe it or not, Thomas Jefferson served mac-n-cheese at a White House dinner in 1802. I am sure his was made from scratch, and not the out-of-the-box version.

I encourage you to make your own. It is very simple and easy to do and can be made ahead. It's one of those dishes that pleases children of all ages. And is a fine dish to put on the menu for numerous occasions; from backyard-BBQ to state dinners at the White House. Just today I encouraged a family member to serve it at their formal wedding, during the reception. It happens to be the bride and grooms favorite one pot dish. Just use fresh ingredients, like good cheese and you can't go wrong. Why not? It was good enough for President Jefferson!

Put your own spin on this one pot dish by adding a variety of ingredients such as:

Vegetables: peas, broccoli, or muchrooms

Meats: prosciutto, smoked baked ham, or pulled pork

Seafood: crab, lobster, or shrimp

For my Mac-N-Cheese Recipe. BTW - this is the one I made on Live with Regis and Kelly

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Divided BY Chowder

Celebrating Chef George's 25th Anniversary on PBS

If there is one thing I have learned as a chef there as many versions of chowder recipes as there are people who enjoy this soup, err..I mean stew..no I think soup?  

George Hirsch Chowder

Each of my cookbooks and TV series has a version of some sort of a chowder recipe. I have judged chowder contests, participated in chef chowder tastings, and been a referee at a few chowder-boxing matches. Well, not really, but people do get heated up over red or white chowder. 

What really is chowder? The word "chowder" comes from the French word chaudiere, or caldron, the vessel in which the dish was cooked. And, derives from the word "jowter," meaning fishmonger, a term that was used in 16th century coastal regions of England.

George Hirsch Seafood

Is it a soup or stew? Early versions of chowder simmered from the New England area and was basically a frugal recipe of pork fat, onions, potatoes, fish, herbs, dry biscuits or flour for thickening, layered in a pot and cooked in water, with a little milk added at the end. In the 1800’s the Manhattan clam chowder was notable because it contains tomatoes. James Beard described Manhattan clam chowder "that rather horrendous soup called Manhattan clam chowder resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped into it." All respect Mr. Beard, but those are fighting words. As a New Yorker and from coastal Long Island, an East Ender we take our chowder VERY serious. See, how a discussion on chowder can turn into a sparring match.

Tomato-based clam chowders came about with the newfound popularity of the tomato in the mid-1800s with the large population of Italians and Portuguese in New York and Rhode Island region. Still, there is no chowder harmony. In 1939, Maine legislators introduced a bill outlawing the use of tomatoes in chowder because it is far more of a vegetable soup. What? 

I can end this entire soup divide right now. Aside from any vegetables, corn, chicken or other non-seafarer ingredient for the stew--here are three versions you can enjoy from my TV series and cookbooks. They have satisfied many and with hope can prevent a nation from future chowder conflict. 

Manhattan vs. New England Chowder N.E. not my fav..

Seafood Chowder Yes, now this is a stew!

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White Bean Casserole as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Join me CreateTV George Hirsch Lifestyle Sat March 9th 6AM/6PM + Sun March 10 12PM

This easy to prepare hearty soup makes for a wonderful mid-week dinner or rustic weekend starter. I have even prepared gallons of this warming soup for tailgates. For a creamier soup, puree half.   

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White Bean Casserole

Makes 6 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge Hirsch Lifestyle 

2 Tablespoons olive oil  

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrot

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes 

1 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped 

3 cups chicken broth 

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed 

3 links Italian or smoked sausage, pre-grilled and sliced  

2 cups Kale, washed, dried and chopped 

Fresh ground black pepper to taste 

Pre heat a large soup or sauce pot to a medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, hot pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are tender, do not brown. Add the potato, sausage, broth, beans and basil. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer, cover and cook about 30 minutes. 

Bring soup back to a boil, turn down to a simmer and add the kale. Cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add pepper to taste. 

For a creamier soup, pulse half of the soup or puree in a food processor. Bring soup back up to a boil until well blended. 

Optional Substitution for Kale: Spinach, Escarole, Swiss Chard, Broccoli Rabe

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