Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tailgating Down South: The Year of Grilling Dangerously Part IV

 Dog Island Grouper Burgers

By Doc Lawrence

Chef Joshua Butler
TALLAHASSEE-Legend has it that this city gave birth to hushpuppies, that fried cornmeal delicacy that accompanies seafood in the Deep South. Florida's capital city is built on rolling hills, with nearby plantations like Ted Turner's Avalon and majestic Pebble Hill. . The Gulf of Mexico is but a few mile south and Wakulla Springs still fascinates visitors with its crystal pure water and Hollywood connections beginning with the first Tarzan movies.

Old South. charm is omnipresent. The living is easy, the locals are friendly and generous and if you look for certain things, the diverse culinary heritage manifests: Native American, African-American, Spanish, Cracker, French all blended in food so truly American.

Dog Island Grouper Butler
The masses gathered here on a lovely autumn Saturday for football. I came for the food and good things to drink. Walking the parking lots outside Doak Campbell Stadium is a tour de force of everything imaginable with meat, fowl and seafood. Fresh, flavorful oysters are abundant. Barbecue has deep roots in the region. Game is standard tailgating fare. Grills, tents and table literally sit on the 500 year-old Spanish Trace, the first and oldest trading road in the New World connecting St. Augustine with New Orleans.  A brief visit to nearby Mission San Luis-a fully restored archeological marvel confirms wine cellars where Conquistadors and monks brought wines from Spain, the antecedents of Riojo we drink today.

There are recipe treasures galore here. The area is rich in muscadines, mayhaw, Pindo Palms, swamp cabbage and St. Augustine’s Datil peppers, a cultural treasue that finds its way into fiery sauces that do wonders for everything from Bloody Mary’s to gumbo.

Chef Joshua Butler got his start here preparing original wonders for three Florida governors. After cooking for presidents and first ladies, Hollywood stars and members of royal families, he relocated in Atlanta and worked stints with movie mogul Tyler Perry and country rocker Zac Brown. Joshua's tailgating recipes are new interpretations of Southern classics.


                Chef Joshua Butler
 1-pound fresh Florida grouper fillet, rough chopped
1/2 pound fresh Florida peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 tsp Whole grain mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 Whole grain, freshly baked buns
Florida Slaw, see recipe.
Tallahassee Tartar Sauce, see recipe
Add the shrimp to a food processor and pulse until it forms a paste. Roughly chop the
grouper into pieces the size of a dime.
In a large bowl, combine the chopped Grouper, Shrimp paste, salt, pepper, onion, bell
pepper, breadcrumbs, egg, mustard, and mayonnaise and fold gently to distribute the
ingredients evenly. Divide the meat into four equal sections. Shape each portion into a
patty. Cover the patties with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Cook the burgers for
4 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 150°F. Place the cooked
burgers on top of the whole grain rolls, then top with Florida slaw and Tartar

            Chef Joshua Butler
1-cup low fat mayonnaise
1 cup Greek style yogurt
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup fresh basil, leaves picked off of stems
1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves picked off of stems
1-cup fresh Mexican tarragon, leaves picked off the stem
1 cup fresh baby spinach, stems removed
1 teaspoon capers, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon chopped cornichon or dill pickle
1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

In a food processor or blender, add the fresh herbs, spinach and lemon juice, then
puree. Add the mayo and yogurt and puree to incorporate the herbs. Pour this mixture
into a bowl and fold in the remaining ingredients. Season with salt, pepper, and
cayenne. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

   Chef Joshua Butler
1/2 head Napa style cabbage
2 carrots peeled and grated
1 small sweet onion, sliced
2 pink grapefruits, sectioned
2 tangerines, peeled and sectioned
2 tablespoons key lime juice
4 teaspoons raw Florida sugar
4 teaspoons Greek style yogurt
1-tablespoon fruity olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place the vegetables in a mixing bowl and toss with olive oil. With a serrated knife, peel
the grapefruits and tangerines and cut out the segments removing the white pith. Cut the
sections into bite size pieces then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix the lime juice and the
sugar together until dissolved. Add the Yogurt and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cover and refrigerate for an hour.


King Estate 2015 Pinot Gris from Oregon's acclaimed Willamette Valley scores big with Chef Butler's blend of flavors and textures. This is a wine that satisfies like it was specially crafted for sophisticated tailgating in any part of the country.

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