Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Cuisine & Backporch
Welcome to Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Back Porch. Go ahead and find yourself a comfy seat, pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade (or something a little stronger), and let’s get down to cookin’ up some real Americana food for real Americana folks.
Many of these recipes spring from my own imagination and what’s in my cupboards. I’ve spent years making the same down-home dishes for my family and friends- much to their delight- perfecting and tweaking old recipes as I go along. The rest, I’ve culled over time from road trips I’ve taken around this here gorgeous country of ours- whether out for a weekend or two with friends, or on the road with my band. From the vast array of roadside diners, back roads rest stops, and small town eateries, the very best of what’s available locally, and yes, even seasonally, comprises the bulk of my old-style recipe tin at home. I’ve compiled my favorites from that tin here for you to enjoy with your family and friends on your own back porch, kitchen table, and front gallery alike.
What Is Americana Cuisine?
Well, I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not tall, for one thing. And you won’t find any squiggly little lines across your plate. What I call Americana cuisine comes from a mish-mash of all different types of cultures and kitchens, brought together in one place or another all around this vast country of ours, and given one simple way to describe the flavors you’ll find there- Americana. From northeastern chowders to southwest chilis, northwest smoked salmon to southwest BBQ, the dishes and ingredients that go into them are all familiar, All-American, and certainly feel like home.
Some years ago, I started traveling around this beautiful country of ours, taking road trips with friends, and touring with my band. I’d buy up local ingredients wherever we went and throw them into the Dutch ovens I made sure to carry with us. The recipes I developed over that time started a love affair back home in my kitchen- between the flavors I could conjure up, and my friends and family who were able to help me recall and relive the memories those dishes brought to the table. Over time, I added old family recipes in to the mix, reshaping them and making sure everyone approved.
I also write songs about the places I’ve been and the adventures I’ve lived. And just like the recipes you’ll find in this cookbook, my songs are amalgams of all my experiences, distilled down to familiar sounds. Folks call that type of music Americana- music that is comprised of many different places and cultural styles from all over this great big country, all come together under the one general description, if you will, of Americana music. That’s how I describe my songs, and that’s how I think of my cooking. Try a dish or two, and see if you agree. Well, and even if you don’t, that’s Americana too!
It’s been hot here this year. I mean HOT as in somebody turn down the heat on the big ol’ BBQ that is Texas right now. When it gets this hot here in Central Texas, there’s absolutely no way you will catch me in the kitchen, if I can avoid it. I mean, I do all the cooking at home, just not inside and over a hot stove. So I marinate everything I can lay my hands on, and then throw it on the grill.
Just this week, I marinated a whole chicken in citrus, olive oil and herbs, opened up a can of Dublin Dr. Pepper (real sugar!), emptied half of that out and filled the can up again with the remaining marinade, shoved that into the chicken cavity and threw it, standing up, into the grill on medium-low for an hour or so. The chicken falls off the bone just by looking at it when you cook it like this!
Just so long as I don’t have to sweat in the kitchen over a hot stove, I’m happy. And therefore so is my husband.
Which brings us back to my back porch. To start, I like to pour out a pitcher of drinks: that brings us together, gathered around the patio table, and working up a hunger for what’s on the grill. Here’s my Texas Martini recipe you won’t find anywhere else, and an easy, yet incredibly tasty recipe for Lamb Burgers. We grill those up and serve them alongside Sugared Cucumbers and Cool Slaw on warmed corn tortillas for the perfect summer evening meal. Enjoy!
The first time we toured through Austin, we played at the Continental Club on South Congress. After loading in and sound checking, we headed across the street to Guero’s Taco Bar, where we ate some of the best tacos al pastor any of us had had in some time. We washed our tacos down with Guero’s tasty Mexican Martinis, and once we got home, I made up a version of my own. Now that we live in Austin, we make this any time guests stop by. It’s a real Texas thirst quencher!
3 oz limeade (or 1 &1/2 oz lime juice with 1 1/2 oz simple syrup)
3-4 cubes ice
1 1/2 oz tequila
1/2 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz triple sec (or Cointreau or any orange liqueur)
1 stuffed olive of some kind (jalapeno stuffed olives are yummy)
a dash of the olive juice from the jar
- Place the ice cubes in a glass. Add your limeade or lime juice and simple syrup. Add tequila, vermouth, triple sec, and a dash of olive juice. Stir to coat ice cubes. Add olive and squeeze in the 1/4 lime. Sit on the back porch and enjoy.
Lamb Burgers- serves 4
I’d purchased some lamb to make a delicious lamb stew with apricots, garlic and carrots, when some friends called and invited us to an impromptu BBQ at their home. I ground the lamb up, and added a bit of this and that until I felt we had something worth throwing on the grill. The burgers turned out to be incredibly tasty- I even had to write the recipe out for a few folks at the party- so now we make them about once a month.
2 T currants
2 T pinenuts
1 t parsley
1 t mint
1 t lemon zest + 1 t lemon juice
2 cl garlic, chopped
S&P to taste
1/2 t ea cumin, curry powder, cinnamon
1 1/2# lamb, ground
- Place currants, pinenuts, parsley, mint, lemon, garlic and S&P in a processor and process in short bursts until you form a loose paste.
- Place lamb in a mixing bowl and add paste and spices. Blend well by hand until all ingredients are well meshed.
- Form patties and grill over medium-hot fire for about 5 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.
If you like down-home cooking, then you’ll enjoy these recipes for a long time to come. The very idea of this cookbook is to provide you with the basics of my personal recipes- something to kick-start your own imagination and taste buds- and encourage you to head down to your local Farmer’s Market and set you on the road to filling your personal recipe tin with your own tried and true well-loved dishes. I’d like to hear what Americana food is to you, so please, fill me in with comments on your favorite Americana dishes. Now, let’s quit jawin’ and get down to cookin’!
For more information on Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Cookbook, or to contact the author, go to www.rubysjukejoint.com. Also, of course, all the usual suspect places: Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Rubys-Juke-Joint-Americana-Cookbook/183336818364780 and Twitter at @rubysjukejoint. Catch ya in the kitchen!