Alton Brown: 'Feasting on Asphalt,' Town by Town

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Alton Brown, host of the Food Network show Good Eats, found regional specialties like "koolickles" during his road trip up the Mississippi River. Jean Claude Dhien hide caption

toggle caption Jean Claude Dhien
Author Alton Brown

Alton Brown, host of the Food Network show Good Eats, found regional specialties like "koolickles" during his road trip up the Mississippi River.

Jean Claude Dhien
Feasting on Asphalt Book Cover

For food commentator and author Alton Brown, the best roadside food ranges from alligator tail to "koolickles" — dill pickles soaked in cherry Kool-Aid.

Brown found his eclectic picks after he spent 26 days on a motorcycle, tracing the course of the Mississippi River. Along the way, Brown and his crew visited big-city restaurants, small-town diners, barbecue joints and even an alligator farm, where he discovered Louisiana-style grilled alligator tail served with lemon and butter.

His book about the journey, Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run, is a companion to the six-part Food Network series that aired last fall.

Part cookbook, part diary and part memoir, Brown's book features 40 original road-food recipes, along with stories about the people who dish out the flavorful fare. Brown and his crew start the 1,000-mile journey in the Mississippi Delta on the Gulf of Mexico and end near the river's headwaters in Minnesota.

Liane Hansen spoke with Brown about his delicious discoveries as he motored through the country's heartland.

Koolickles - Road Inspired

Jean Claude Dhien

Make up a jar and keep them on your counter or, better yet, in your fridge. I promise that unless you live in the Delta you'll be the first in your neighborhood to serve them. Strange though they are, these bright pink beauties are extraordinarily refreshing on a hot summer day.

1 gallon jar kosher dill pickles

2 packages unsweetened cherry Kool-Aid

1 pound sugar

Drain the liquid from the pickles into a large container. Add the Kool-Aid mix and the sugar to the liquid and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the pickles from the jar, slice them in half lengthwise, and return them to the jar. Return the liquid to the jar of pickles. Not all of the liquid will fit, but make sure the pickles are completely covered.

Place in the refrigerator and let sit for 1 week before eating.

Yield: 1 gallon Koolickles

Nana Deane's Pecan Coconut Pie

Pecan Coconut Pie
Jean Claude Dhien

Courtesy of Ray's Dairy Maid

Barton, Arkansas

10 1/2 ounces sugar

3 large eggs

2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

4 ounces buttermilk

3 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

3 ounces chopped pecans (about 3/4 cup)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Prebaked 9-inch pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, butter, buttermilk, coconut, pecans, flour, vanilla, and salt. Pour into the pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown and the center is barely set.

Let cool for 40 to 45 minutes before serving.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie

Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Jean Claude Dhien

Based on a recipe from Kalmes Store & Restaurant St. Donatus, Iowa

1 (20- to 24-ounce) pork tenderloin, trimmed

1 tablespoon Kalmes Steak Seasoning*

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Vegetable oil

6 hoagie rolls


Lettuce leaves

Tomato slices

Cut the tenderloin into 4-ounce hunks and tenderize each piece until it is 1/3 inch thick. Place the meat in a large bowl and toss with the seasoning and pepper. Add the bread crumbs and toss to combine. Place a griddle over medium-high heat and brush with a little oil. Once the griddle is hot, add the meat and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve on rolls with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato.

*Kalmes Steak Seasoning contains salt, sugar, paprika, celery seed, onion, chili powder, curry powder, garlic, papain, MSG, and other spice oils.

Yield: 6 sandwiches

Reprinted by permission from Feasting on Asphalt by Alton Brown. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

Books Featured In This Story

Feasting on Asphalt

The River Run

by Alton Brown and Jean-claude Dhien

Hardcover, 208 pages |


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Feasting on Asphalt
The River Run
Alton Brown and Jean-claude Dhien

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