September means a couple of things in the life of a Southerner. For many, it means cooler weather is waiting in the wings, and it means that football is kicking off. It also means that dove season is finally here.
Folks that hunt mostly hail dove season as the beginning of the new hunting year. As such, we were privileged to be part of a “social dove hunt” this past weekend down at Two Brooks farm, the home of Mississippi Blue Rice. Fall on the farm is a magical time: the smells, sights and sounds all work in unison to make an unforgettable impression.
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The weather was perfect, if you like it warm, with a decent breeze that kept things pleasant. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a plume of dust as the combines traversed the adjacent fields harvesting the golden rice. On my last visit, the fields had been lush – a dark green.
Eat Y’all was pleased to partner with the Wagner family on their Two Brooks Farm to host the inaugural Mississippi Blue Rice dove hunt where gourmet food distributors, chefs and retail store owners all came together to spend a day on the farm learning about the ecological methods that the Wagners use to grow their rice. For me, seeing this golden harvest phase of the rice crop reinforced again the immense value for both the land and the consumer of using less water and no insecticides.
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The icing on the cake, perhaps, was Mike Wagner’s artfully prepared Mississippi Blue Rice Paella. While his son Lawrence served as an able dove hunting guide, Mike stayed back at the lodge preparing the soffritto in a large kettle, then arranging his more than three foot wide paella pan atop a wood burning fire pit where he brought water to a simmer before adding three bags of Mississippi Blue Rice’s Beulah Land Tan Whole Long Grain Brown Rice and then mixing in his homemade soffritto – the fresh savory aroma was simply mindbogglingly beautiful. He said we couldn’t stir or touch it again, and with that notice, he began artfully layering black pepper flash fried chicken thigh chunks, browned Country Pleasin’ sausage, capers, olives, Gulf shrimp and thinly sliced smoked pork shoulder atop the simmering rice broth. The flavors married magically over the flames until the thirty or so hungry hunters returned from the field waiting only long enough for the paella pan to be less than ceremoniously moved inside – with some struggle to tilt it without spilling through the doorway – before the feasting began.
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The only thing more talked about than the paella was Chef Jen Lancaster’s chocolate chip cookies. She made them in the farm kitchen using Mississippi Blue Rice’s Delta Belle white rice flour. Those cookies had the perfect crunch on the bottom, a fluffy light and moist top and lasting chewiness throughout. She’s nailed a recipe that contains no gluten, but you’d never know.
The Wagners say that another farm tour – and hunt as the season allows – will be scheduled soon for customers. It’ll be hard to have more fun. If you are affiliated with a blog or media outlet, a food distributor, restaurant or gourmet retail store who has an interest in learning more about Mississippi Blue Rice, please contact us here.