PONTOTOC – When Scottie Albrite and his wife Connie moved to Pontotoc in 2019 to look after his mother-in-law, he wasn’t sure he’d like it.
Albrite, 72, grew up in Nokesville, Virginia and ran a gas station and towing service in Manassas, Virginia for 44 years.
“Now that I’m here, I don’t think I’ll ever move again,” Albrite said. “The people here are so nice.”
Albrite was used to cooking meals on Wednesday nights at the church he attended in Virginia. After he and Connie arrived in Pontotoc, she encouraged him to attend the Maple Drive Presbyterian men’s Bible study group.
“I said I wasn’t sure I didn’t know the Bible as well as these guys did, but I went,” he said. “They made breakfast, like cookies from Hardee’s or the Tin Nickel. I started making breakfast casseroles and quiche for her. When I cook, they are very happy. I was amazed that they liked the quiche so much.”
Albrite said his grandmother was a big influence on his cooking.
“When she wasn’t teaching, she was in the kitchen,” he said. “She made the best oatmeal and cookies you’ve ever tasted. She always used cast iron, and she kept a can of fat by the stove. We would can tomatoes and freeze green beans, corn, and lima beans. As children we helped. You did that at a simmer after Bible school was over for the holidays.”
Albrite got into the BBQ business in the late 1980s. He started out with things like steak and worked his way up to smoking turkey.
“My favorite food is anything I can cook on the grill — grilled steaks, cauliflower and asparagus — the whole meal that’s grilled,” he said.
Albrite has found that he, his wife and his mother-in-law Edith Littlefield have aged and do not need or be able to eat as much meat as they used to.
“I might cook up two steaks and slice them up on the cutting board, and then everyone gets what they want,” he said. “Two steaks are enough for four people. Three pork chops, sliced, is enough for four people.”
While Albrite enjoys grilling, he also enjoys preparing casseroles and pasta dishes and gets many recipes from allrecipes.com.
“I make a lot of meals that Edith loves to make and we always have enough for leftovers,” he said. “We love spicy food – even my mother-in-law, who is 95, doesn’t mind spicy food.”
Albrite cooks almost every day and he does it because he enjoys it.
“I like it when people like something I’ve made,” he said. “I call it big head cooking — I get a big head when they say they like it.”
DO YOU KNOW A GOOD COOK? Submit your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, PO Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can call 662-678-1581 or email her [email protected].
SAUSAGE PECAN MORNING CASSEROLE
1 (16 ounce) loaf of raisin bread
10 sausage links
1 1⁄2 cups milk
1 1⁄2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick of butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
■ Grease a 9×13 inch glass casserole. Dice the raisin bread and place in the casserole dish.
■ brown sausage pieces; drain and cut into bite-sized pieces. Mix with the bread in the casserole dish.
■ In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk, half-and-a-half, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon until combined. Pour over bread and sausage. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
■ Combine brown sugar, butter, syrup and pecans. Spoon by teaspoon over the casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
CAJUN CHICKEN PASTA
8 ounces linguine pasta
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
■ Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
■ Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, add Cajun seasoning and place in a ziplock bag. Shake to apply.
■ In a large skillet, sear the chicken in butter over medium-high heat, until almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add peppers and onion. Fry and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat.
■ Add the cream, basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and black pepper and heat through. Add the cooked, drained linguine and toss through. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and serve.
8 ounces of bacon
2 (9-inch) pie crusts, unbaked
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup diced onion
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained
■ Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet and sear over medium-high heat until evenly browned. Drain, crumble and set aside.
■ Place crusts in two 9-inch glass pie plates. Sprinkle bacon on the bottom of each crust.
■ Mix the cheese and flour in a bowl.
■ In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, onion, and green chilies. Add cheese mixture and stir well.
■ Divide the mass between two cake bases. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
EDITH’S CHICKEN POT PIE
2 (12 ounce) canned chicken breast pieces
2 (12 ounce) bags of frozen mixed vegetables
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
2 cups biscuit mix
2 cups buttermilk
1 piece of melted butter
■ Pour off the chicken broth and reserve the broth. Using a fork, press the chicken into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle plenty of black pepper over the chicken.
■ Cook frozen vegetables according to directions and drain.
■ Combine cooked vegetables, cream of chicken soup, and reserved chicken broth in a large bowl. Pour over the chicken.
■ Beat together Bisquick, buttermilk and melted butter until smooth. Pour over the mixture in a casserole dish and smooth with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the top is golden brown.
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp smoked paprika
2 cans of ro-tel tomatoes, mashed
■ Cook macaroni until done; drain and set aside.
■ Fry the ground beef in a large pan; drain the fat. Add the onion and peppers and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, paprika and tomato passata. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked, drained pasta. Mix well and serve.
SMOKED BABY BACK RIBS
3 racks of baby back ribs
Big Bob Gibson’s Dry Rub or your favorite
■ Prepare smoker. If you’re using a grill, prepare for indirect cooking.
■ Bring ribs to room temperature. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Rub both sides of the ribs with dry rub.
■ Place the ribs on the cooking grate. Hold the smoker/grill at 250 degrees for 3 hours. Mist the ribs with apple juice every hour.
■ Once the meat separates from the bone tips, remove the ribs from the smoker/grill and place each rack on a piece of heavy-duty foil. Rub the ribs with barbecue sauce, wrap tightly and return to the smoker/grill. Cook for another 2 hours. Let the ribs rest for 1 hour before eating.