Puddin' Me On

Scrambled Eggs with Rice and Country Pudding

There are two types of people in the world: those who fit into a particular type, and those who don't. There are also two other types of people: those who have heard of/eaten/like country pudding, and those who haven't/don't.

What is "country pudding"? It's a far-more-prominent-in-the-South pork sausage-like breakfast staple that adorn plates with scrambled eggs, johnny cakes, slab bacon, and grits! It's the Carolina cousin of Scrapple. And if you grew up eating it and loving it, like I did, then you might be most grateful when your cousin brings some country pudding straight from the Cheeseboro family reunion in Orangeburg, South Carolina and drops it off for you while you're bartending, like a Christmas present for my stomach!

Country pudding—almost every household in SC has some in a freezer somewhere—comes in this packaging:

Yes, so they look like big sausages—brat-like, almost—in casing, and are stuffed with ingredients that fall very nicely into the Southern adage of "everything but the oink": Pork Skins, Pork Snouts, Pork Spleens, Pork Stock, Pork Livers, Rice, Pork Head Meat, Pork Tongues, Pork Ears, Pork Kidneys, Pork Hearts, Salt, Dehydrated Onion, Sage, Black Pepper, Red Pepper, Sugar, Natural Flavoring, Sodium Nitrate, and Spices.

The first few items on that list alone might turn many of you away, but this stuff was good to me when I was a little bot, long before I was aware of "popular" and "unpopular" parts of a pig. Another old adage becomes apropos here: "Most people would never want to know how their hamburger/sausage gets made".

I can't make you "un"-see, those ingredients, but I am hoping that in your future culinary endeavors, I might help you think a little more out of the box. (Remedial classes: No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain or Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.)

Really, it's all about the outcome, and the outcome, to me, is yummy! And the prep is easy. I just slice two 3-inch chunks and throw them on a metal pan and toss them in the oven, preheated to 326°.

Since I was feeling family-nostalgic, I decided I was going to prepare a SC-style egg dish as well. Southerners make rice with every meal, so they make a lot. Leftover rice get tossed into the morning's scrambled eggs, along with anything else that doesn't need to continue taking up space in the refrigerator. For me, it was some char-grilled chicken, which I diced and threw in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, chopped re onion, salt and pepper. I let the onions start to carmelize a little, then add butter and the leftover rice, with just a soon full of water.

Then I whisked some eggs (again, with a tablespoon of chicken stock) and poured them into the pan with the rice, chicken, and onions. I scrambled with a wooden spatula until the were almost fully set and turned off the burner to let the eggs finish cooking from its own heat. I spooned a healthy portion onto a paper plate, and retrieved the country pudding from the oven. The country pudding becomes soft once it's properly cooked through, so I had to carefully transfer it to me plate.

Then, I close my eyes, imagine smelling the South Carolina air coming in through the screen door for a brief second, remind myself to, next time, make sure I have some biscuits to go with this bad boy of a meal, and, with a smile on my face, sit down to this...:

Either this looks inviting or quite the opposite to you, but it brings me back to a time where I'd be washed, dressed, and at my Dad's dining room table a full half hour before breakfast was ready, just in anticipation. Reliving my childhood "comfort food" moment, I then mix everything together into a mound of gourmandizing heaven, like many of you have done with corned beef hash....

Indeed, think of it as a spicy-sweet pork sausage hash, as eating this was, again, indeed, heavenly. As in I thank God for giving me the kind of family who made this and other soul-satisfying dishes for me during my now obviously formative youth, but for thinking of me enough to bring me back some country pudding (and "dinner hash" which I would have pictures of eventually as well but I already ate it all) from South Carolina and driving it down from the Boogie Down Bronx to give to me.

This is how we Cheeseboros express love to each other and to the ones we love. We don't say it with words, we say it with food. And not just by cooking and feeding people you love, but by letting the people you love cook for and feed you too! God is Love is Food in Orangeburg (as I'm sure it is an many other towns in many other states and many other countries...!); what else do you need...?!

Bun Apple Tea!


Scrambled Eggs with Rice and Country Pudding