Guam diner Bytes: Create a southern-style picnic on Guam
One of my favorite movie scenes is the outdoor feast in “Gone with the Wind” where picnic tables were weighed down with mounds of fried chicken, baked ham, biscuits, salads and more desserts than you could shake a stick at.
While recreating a spread of this magnitude is practically impossible today, a simpler version is quite manageable. The key to success is, as in most entertaining, proper planning, prior preparation and perfect presentation.
This menu features classic southern dishes which will require some effort, but everything can be done in advance to create a plan based around your schedule. The Southern-style fried chicken marinates for one to two days. After frying the chicken, it is cooled and served cold. The mustard & honey baked ham, which will be used by the guests to create simple ham sandwiches with the southern-style biscuits (use the mini-biscuit shape given in the recipe), can also be done well in advance. The same advance preparation is true for the sweet pickle potato salad.
The fried corn and peppers dish can be readied early in the day and cooked shortly before your guests arrive. Even the chocolate mint layer cake with mint frosting can be made a day ahead. In the food preparation area that leaves only slicing the watermelon into wedges and making the lemonade. While not traditional, you can choose to create a nice platter of crudites with your favorite dip for people to nibble on prior to serving.
So, while the food preparation is quite intensive it can be spread out over a few days, leaving time to create the perfect setting for your picnic. You can choose to go with a traditional look of red or blue gingham with complimentary or contrasting plates, napkins and plastic flatware or you can do a more modern approach with a monochromatic theme.
This menu lends itself to a 4th of July party or Labor Day picnic which present obvious design choices. Sturdy plates and flatware are important. Large plastic cups are also good so people don’t have to keep returning for refills. Plenty of ice is essential. Don’t forget to set out condiments such as mustard and mayonnaise for the sandwiches.
Here are some Guam Diner recipes to get your southern-style picnic started:
- 6 cups flour
- 6 tsps baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsps salt
- 6 Tbs shortening
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
- 2 Tbs melted butter
Preheat oven to 450F. In a large bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Using a pastry cutter or 2 table knives, cut in shortening. Add enough buttermilk to make a dough that is not too dry. It should be just a bit sticky.
For regular size biscuits, place on a floured surface and roll out to 1/2” thick. Using a 2” cutter, cut the dough. Re-roll dough scraps and cut additional biscuits. The second batch won’t be quite as fluffy as the first but they are still good.
For mini-biscuits (these are great for southern-style ham sandwiches) pinch off 1-1/2” balls of dough. Roll between palms and flatten slightly.
Place on a cookie sheet leaving some space between biscuits. Brush the tops with
the melted butter. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Yield: Approximately 32 regular size biscuits or 48 mini-biscuits
*You can make buttermilk using a ratio of 1 tsp of vinegar (white or cider) to 1 cup of milk, stir gently and let stand for 1 minute before using.
- 5 or 6 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1/2 cup sweet pickles, chopped
- 2 hardboiled eggs, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup black olives, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped (optional)
- 1 Tbs yellow mustard
- 1 Tbs lemon juice or sweet pickle juice
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
Boil a large pot of water with a teaspoon of salt added. When it boils, add the potatoes. Boil for no more than 15 minutes. When done immediately drain the potatoes into a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool to the touch. Set aside and allow to dry.
Combine all of the remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir until blended. Add more lemon or pickle juice to taste. When the potatoes are dry, add them to the mayo mixture and stir gently until the potatoes are well coated. Adjust taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
If you are serving this at a picnic, place the salad bowl over ice to keep it cool.
Yield: Approximately 10 servings
- 6 large ears sweet corn,
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsps granulated sugar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening for frying
Clean and rinse the corn. Cut the kernels off the cob. Combine the corn kernels, green pepper, flour, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl tossing to evenly cost the vegetables. In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Gently add the vegetable mixture and saute until the corn kernels are tender and just beginning to brown. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Cool and serve.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
The hams readily available on Guam are usually fully cooked and require only that they be warmed through to an internal temperature of 140F. You may also find partially cooked ham and that needs to be baked to an internal temperature of 155F to 160F. Directions for both types of ham follow. Ham can be served warm or at room temperature once it has been adequately cooked. This makes it ideal for a make-ahead main dish.
- 1 7 to 15 lb ham
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (no lumps)
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard (use a country style or Dijon mustard for variation)
- 2 Tbs honey
- whole cloves for studding (optional)
Preheat oven to 325F. Place ham in a shallow roasting pan. Mix glaze in a small bowl until it has a smooth consistency and set aside for use later. The glaze recipe can easily be doubled for larger hams. The above amount will be adequate for a 10 lb ham.
Bake fully cooked hams until an meat thermometer reads 140F when inserted into the thickest part of the ham. Allow approximately 10 - 12 minutes baking time per pound of ham to achieve the desired temperature.
Bake partially cooked hams for approximately 20 minutes per pound of ham. The thermometer should read 155F to 160F when inserted into the thickest part of the ham.
For both fully cooked and partially cooked hams, remove from oven 45 minutes before they will be done. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the ham into a diamond pattern, cutting just beneath the skin (approximately 1/16th of an inch), insert a whole clove into each diamond (option al), then brush the ham with the glaze. Return the ham to the oven and finish baking. When it is done, remove to a cutting board or platter, tent with foil and let stand for 10 - 15 minutes before carving.
Yield: Smaller hams of 7 to 10 lbs will feed 10-12 adults, larger hams of 12-15 lbs will feed up to 20 adults.
- 1 3-lb fryer chicken cut into 8 pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk*
- 2 Tbs salt
- 4 tsps dry mustard
- 4 tsps cayenne pepper (paprika may be substituted for a milder version)
- 2 1/2 tsps ground black pepper
- 3 cups flour
- 1 Tbs garlic powder
- Vegetable shortening for frying
Using a 1-gallon re-sealable plastic bag as a container, put the buttermilk and tsp each of salt, dry mustard, cayenne and black pepper inside. Add chicken pieces and toss gently to coat thoroughly. Squeezing out excess air, seal the bag. Refrigerate, turning occasionally for one to two days.
Whisk flour, garlic powder and remaining dry ingredients in a large baking dish. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Do not shake off excess liquid from the chicken pieces. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture making sure each piece is well coated. Let chicken stand in flour mixture for about an hour turning occasionally to recoat with flour mixture.
Melt enough shortening (over low heat) to come about a 1/4” up the side of a 12” cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. When the shortening is melted, raise the heat to 325F. Do not let it overheat.
Shaking excess flour off of the chicken, place the pieces skin side down in the pan. Put the thighs in the middle and the other pieces around the edges. Cook chicken until a deep golden brown on each side, approximately 8 to 10 minutes per side. The internal temperature should be about 180 degrees. Keep an eye on your shortening temperature to ensure that it doesn’t overheat.
Place cooked chicken pieces on a rack over a baking sheet. This is the classic Southern-style fried chicken served at picnics as it is equally delicious when cold.
Yield: Approximately 4 servings.
Tips for making excellent fried chicken:
- Make sure the chicken is not much more than 3 lbs. Larger chickens will not cook through and the exterior will be overcooked by the time the inside is done.
- Use a cast iron skillet if at all possible and a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil.
- Do not place the cooked chicken on paper towels to drain, use a rack over a baking sheet. Do not put the chicken in an oven as this will destroy the crispy crust. Keep the chicken warm by loosely tenting with foil.
• 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, hot
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, hot
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 15 ½” x 10 ½” x 1” baking sheet with waxed paper. Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk in milk and melted butter, then eggs and peppermint extract. Spread batter in pan. Bake until tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack.
- 3 8-oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in large bowl until blended.
Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto work surface. Peel off waxed paper. Cut cake crosswise in half. Using spatula, place 1 cake half on platter; spread with 2 cups frosting. Top with remaining cake half. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
- 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 (1 oz.) bottles red food coloring
- 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 2 eggs
Mix all cake ingredients together. Pour into three greased 9-inch square cake pans and bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Cool cake and frost between layers and on top and sides.
- 1/3 lb butter, softened
- 10 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 lb box powdered sugar
- 2 cups chopped pecans
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Yield: 8 to 10 Servings