A Hillbilly Revival

Oct 3, 2016 at 2:40 pm
A Hillbilly Revival

When Karter Louis closed the doors of his beloved Appalachian tea cafe on First Street in May 2015, the Louisville food scene mourned the loss of Hillbilly Tea for months. However, much to the delight of locals and out-of-towners alike, Louis reopened Hillbilly Tea earlier this summer in an even grander location on Main Street, just right around the corner from the original location. Though, as its name suggests, Hillbilly Tea boasts a vast variety of internationally collected loose leaf teas, the food served up is just as exquisite.

To celebrate the restaurant’s revival, Louis has shared some of his favorite recipes with Modern Louisville just in time for fall entertaining. From the simple yet unforgettable heirloom tomato salad to the signature and delightfully unique smoked catfish, these recipes are sure to give your fall menu a sophisticatedly hillbilly flair.

Smoked Catfish

2-3 pounds fresh catfish fillets 1/4 cup canola oil 2 tablespoons kosher salt 1 tablespoon white pepper garnish of sweet grass tea

Toss the fish and oil in a large mixing bowl. Lay fillets out on a sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dust the center with pulverized Sweet Grass Tea or your favorite green tea. Smoke over wood chips at 275° for 20 minutes.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

1/8 cup red quinoa 1 1/2 cups water 2-3 pounds heirloom tomatoes 1 small cucumber 6-10 raw green beans fresh mixed lettuce 1/2 cup crumbled herbed goat cheese 6 basil tips sorghum cider dressing

In a medium saucepan, add quinoa to water. Bring to a boil then turn off heat and cover. Let stand for 15 minutes. In the meantime, cut tomatoes into large chunks, seed and dice the cucumber, and slice the green beans very thin. In a shallow serving plate or bowl, make a bed of greens and layer tomatoes, cucumbers, goat cheese and sliced green beans. Sprinkle with cooked quinoa and basil tips. Ladle sorghum cider dressing over salad.

Sorghum Cider Dressing

1 cup canola oil 2 cups apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 cup sorghum syrup 1/2 cup honey 1 teaspoon dijon mustard 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1 cup cooked sorghum grain (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to simmer over medium heat. Whisk rapidly over high for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool and serve warm, or refrigerate to serve chilled.

Smoked Cornish Hen

1/4 cup salt 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup hot water 1/4 cup twig tea 1 tablespoon black pepper 6 rosemary stems 4 cups cold water 3 cornish hens, halved brush of vegetable oil hot sauce or barbecue sauce, optional if you don’t have a smoker, also use 1/2 cup ground Smoked Tea

In a large container, combine salt, sugar, hot water, Twig Tea, pepper and rosemary and let steep for 10 minutes. Add the cold water and split Cornish hens. Leave in the refrigerator overnight or up to two days.

If you are cooking with a smoker: Smoke at 225° for 45 minutes. Let hen rest for at least 30 minutes.

If you are cooking without a smoker: Preheat oven to 350°. Place the hens on a sheet pan and rub them with a little vegetable oil and the Smoked Tea. Roast for 20 minutes until the meat is cooked through. Do not overcook.

For an extra kick – and if you have access to one – place hen in deep fryer for 5 minutes to crisp the skin when ready to serve. Remove and toss in your favorite hot sauce or barbecue sauce.