Mississippi Museum of Art Executive Chef and Culinary Curator Nick Wallace is in the kitchen behind The Palette Café at the museum, talking to his staff members as they pass through. In a small pot behind him, pig ears boil in a combination of vinegars, spices and sriracha. Eventually, they'll transform into a fried-green-tomato and pig-ear Panini for the October 'sipp Sourced menu, which he began serving at 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 15, and will serve through Saturday, Oct. 17.
Besides the fried green tomato and pig-ear Panini, the menu for "Scary Good Creepy Cuts" will feature a range of dishes with "scary" types of meat—chicken liver and gizzards, pig tails, oxtails and turkey necks.
It fits, considering the Halloween theme for this month's Museum After Hours. But besides that, Wallace wanted to take less desirable cuts of meat and turn them into something more elevated.
"To me, I think (Halloween) is pretty super, like in the Louisiana area," he says. "I think it's getting there for Mississippi, but I don't think it's there yet. This gives us a way to really embrace October, the Halloween season, all that stuff, which is great. As far as the menu is concerned, with the creepy goodness, all the cheap cuts of meat, that's how I was raised."
He grew up on a farm in Edwards, and says that his family used every cut of meat on the animals they cooked.
"We didn't throw anything away because we just couldn't afford to," he says.
For this month's 'sipp Sourced, he wants to bring that back.
"People that are poor really are the best cooks ever, because they'll take a chicken gizzard and boil it and marinate overnight, then fry it, and you think it's the best thing in the world," he says.
For those who are hesitant to try some thing like pig tails, Wallace will also serve dishes that include meat cuts such as the scaredy-cat seafood po'boy, which has shrimp boudin sausage, lettuce, tomatoes, blood sorrel, sun-dried tomato aioli and crispy catfish, served with fries. And for those who are vegetarian or vegan, don't worry. The menu also includes dishes such as the zombie-fried green tomato panini, which is basil, mustard, onion marmalade, breakfast radishes and Swiss cheese on sourdough bread, served with fries and ketchup. The adventurous eaters can try dishes such as the "no-guts-no-glory" fried chicken livers, which are served with white gravy, whipped potatoes, bread-and-butter pickles, braised greens and hot sauce.
Mississippi Museum of Art's Museum After Hours (380 S. Lamar St.) is Thursday, Oct. 15, from 5 to 10 p.m. The event will include works from artists who learned from, knew or were influenced by Marie Hull, whose art is currently on display at the museum and a showing of the film, "Night of the Living Dead." For more information, visit msmuseumart.org or find 'sipp Sourced on Facebook.