Southern cooking has enjoyed a massive revival in recent years. It incorporates the kind of qualities we are learning to appreciate more in today’s world — things like seasonality, reliance on vegetables, and using the offcuts of meats — and it has benefited from its association with the idea of Southern hospitality. So let them other folks go ahead and enjoy their fancy filet mignon while you sit back and appreciate the flavors of the underdog — or hog, in this case.
Southern cooking all started with the European settlers who were looking for a way to make a quick buck. The only resource they had at the time was the land, and although they learned a thing or two about harvesting maize from Native Americans, Southern cuisine didn’t fully take shape until African slaves came carrying the seeds and techniques to grow sesame, okra, yams, peas, and, of course, collard greens.
It was established pretty early on that breeding pigs was less expensive and required less maintenance than raising cattle, which is why pork plays such a significant role in Southern cooking, especially as barbecue.
The ‘cue has a long, respected history in America which has captured the hearts and mouths of many over the years, and there’s are few more iconically Southern sights than a whole pig roasting all at once in preparation for a church social or volunteer fire department fundraiser. There are many things that contribute to a good barbecue, but the common denominators in the South seem to be the hog, the time, and the temperature, all of which merge to create a trifecta of flavor that often takes years to master.
But before you give in to your inner pitmaster, let’s not discount the role that other main courses (like fried chicken and gumbo) and classic side dishes (like cornbread and collard greens) play in Southern cuisine. We’ve come up with 21 Southern classics that have conquered America and that will deliver some of the flavor of the South with every bite.
Look no further than this classic chicken recipe when you’re craving this indulgent soul food. It’s extra-crispy and is sure to hit the spot.
Don’t be deceived by baked beans. It’s often an overlooked dish, but the Southern way should be the only way to prepare this protein-filled dish. You can never go wrong with a dish that includes bacon anyway.
There’s nothing like tearing apart a juicy rack of ribs with your hands. Whether it’s the Fourth of July or just a Sunday night when you feel like something a little more satisfying, look no further.
Because there were many varieties of corn throughout North America, the cornbread differs by region too. Here’s a classic recipe to satisfy your cornbread cravings.
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Collard greens are among the few healthy dishes to come out of the South — although many like to cook these in bacon fat for extra flavor, as the greens have a strong bitterness.
Mac and cheese is just one of those things we can’t seem to get away from. A taste for it stays with us from childhood, and it may be the ultimate soul food. This mouth-watering recipe will warm your soul.
You don’t necessarily have to use Key limes in a Key lime pie. The Key lime pie is named after the small Key limes that are native throughout the Florida Keys. They tend to be more acidic, more tart, and juicier.
Okra is one of the most versatile vegetables you can work with and has many superb health benefits, including being rich in antioxidants and having a high fiber content. The classic Southern approach to the vegetable is to apply a light cornmeal breading and deep-fry.
Nothing says spice like Nashville. This indulgent, fiery-hot recipe will be your go-to for wings from here on out. If you’re inclined toward a little more heat, double the amount of Tabasco. But be prepared.
This is a buttermilk-coated, Southern-style fried chicken recipe that can’t be matched. What’s better than a thick slice of bacon on a fried chicken sandwich slathered in Dijonaise.
Cornbread occupies a soft spot in everybody’s heart as a comforting, nostalgic treat. But when cheese and bacon are added to it, it takes it to another level. This recipe is best served fresh and not reheated.
There’s nothing low-key about Guy Fieri’s cooking, and this recipe doesn’t disappoint. With hot, bold flavors and a kick of chili, you’ll have your guests coming back for seconds without a doubt.
There are countless different ways to make coleslaw, but this recipe is a classic, old-school version that can be added to any Southern dish to lighten it up.
You can’t talk about Southern cuisine without mentioning pulled pork, and these tacos won’t let you down. The barbecue sauce is exceptional in this recipe, and the rub for the pork will have you labelled a professional in no time!
Shrimp and Grits was always a seasonal fisherman’s dish also known as “breakfast shrimp.” The shrimp is traditionally cooked in bacon fat and served over creamy grits. If you have a Bloody Mary on hand, it’s the perfect accompaniment.
This gumbo is a culinary homage to New Orleans — spicy, saucy, and full of the flavors that best encapsulate the colorful nature of the South. Although the exact ingredients vary from household to household, the complexity of the dish never ceases to amaze me.
It’s been a life-long journey of mine to find the perfect corn chowder. Even people who don’t like corn can get their heads around a warm, comforting bowl of corn chowder — especially when it involves smoky chorizo and spicy poblano chiles.
Potato salad is a staple in the South and if you can get your fingers on a decent recipe it will be the perfect addition to your Southern feasts.
This has got to be the most iconic culinary dish that comes out of Texas. Some say this dish originated from the Weiner schnitzel, a Viennese meal of pan-fried breaded meat, but regardless this dish will have you singing the South’s praises.
There’s nothing like an old-fashioned apple pie. This recipe has all the warmth and sweetness of a Southern summer evening.
Pecan Pie has always been the South’s signature dessert and we have brought you a recipe that encapsulates all the good things about this Southern staple. If you can handle the calorie level — a nice big dollop of cream goes perfectly with a slice of this gooey pie.