Southern cooking is from the culinary tradition of the American South. While people often use the term “Southern food” loosely, food from this region is actually very varied, and there are a number of diverse cuisines found in the South. Pit barbecue and other barbecue variants is probably the trademark of the South, although some other famous examples include chow like, catfish, fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, sweet tea, pecan pie, potato salad, buttermilk biscuits, and ham.
The most noteworthy influences to Southern cooking come from France, Spain, Mexico, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, as well as African Americans and Native Americans. Cajun, Appalachian, Tidewater, Floribbean, Lowcountry, and Creole are examples of types Southern food. Recently, fundamentals of Southern cuisine have spread north, having an impact on other types of American cooking. The food of the American South is an inimitable intermingling of cultures and cooking traditions.
There are a handful of sub-categories of Southern cuisine. “Soul Food” is by and large from African cooking traditions, and features a lot of rice, vegetables, and nuts. Creole food has French roots, and is often associated with New Orleans. Cajun cooking is rooted in the cooking traditions of migrants from the Canadian area of Acadia.
Southern Food Restaurants
These are certainly not the only good restaurants that serve Southern cooking fare, but they are all quite famous and well-patronized by locals and tourists.
Husk is set in a Victorian house over at downtown Charleston. The secret to Chef Sean Brock’s ingredients is his sourcing of raw products that are strictly homegrown in the South. In fact he sources some from a farm he established himself just in the outskirts of the city. He is known to produce incredible dishes from his kitchen. Among those are crispy pig’s ear lettuce wraps, or sassafras pork ribs with pickled peaches. It is a well-talked about restaurant and could easily be the most popular in the South.
Food is Good, or FIG for short, is the restaurant of Mike Lata who was at the forefront of the farm to table food scene. He was prominent with this movement for over 10 years. FIG is modern with a very welcoming atmosphere and is often packed with customers. Dishes like Prosecco-steamed inlet clams and a ballotine of chicken and sausage with roasted cherries, or John’s Island tomato tarte tatin are all part of the French flare and what helped FIG garner the James Beard award. Mike Lata is an amazing chef.
Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Hemingway, SC
People, either local or tourists flock to this authentic roadside barbecue restaurant because of their mouth watering pulled pork topped off with crispy skin and a secret sauce. Rodney Scott, pit master extraordinaire, slowly cooks the whole pigs with coals from selected hardwood overnight. The meat is basted generously with marinades that breakdown the meat until they are ready to be pulled apart by hand in the morning. Scott’s Bar-B-Que is definitely one of the best barbecue restos in the South.
Martha Lou’s Kitchen, Charleston
If it’s home-style cooking you want, Martha Lou’s Kitchen is the place to go. It is an instantly recognizable building in downtown Charleston because of its pink color. Classic Southern dishes such as pork chops, fried chicken, butter beans, sweet tea and stewed okra are just simply amazing in their home-style preparation. This place is vintage Southern style goodness all the way.
Southern Comfort Food
Southern Fried Chicken
This is an absolute classic and is deliciously done in the unique southern way. Buttermilk is used to tenderize the chicken meat and then the flour is spiced up with ingredients like paprika, mustard, onion powders and garlic, and ofcourse generous amounts of salt.
Express Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya
Dinner need not be a big extravagant affair. This quick version of jambalaya can be done in 25 minutes. Make use of instant brown rice for hassle free preparation. Go ahead and use kielbasa sausage if you are unable to get your hands on traditional andouille sausage.
Louisiana Catfish with Okra and Corn
Have this seafood dish for a change. The soft flaky catfish is absolutely delicious. Sprinkle the fish with Cajun or Creole seasoning and then sear it to get a spicy flavor. Put together some corn and okra on a baking sheet and then roast them until they brown and sprinkle some grits.
Shrimp and Cheddar Grits
Expect lots of flavor from this low country dish because of the sharp tasting cheddar cheese in the grits. Broil the shrimp and use grits to make sure the cooking is fast. This simple classic will light up anyone’s face with delight.
Classic Southern Biscuit Recipe
Here now is an easy classic biscuit recipe from one of the icons of Southern cooking, Paula Deen herself.
Servings size: Around 35 dozen biscuits
Cooking Time: 12 min
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
8 tablespoons cubed butter
3/4 cup of milk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together. Cut the butter into the mixture until it begins to resemble cornmeal.
Make a well with the flour mixture and slowly pour the milk into the middle. Knead the dough with your fingers and add milk whenever necessary. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to desired thickness. Cut them with a small biscuit cutter.
Butter the bottom of the skillet and place biscuits in a pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
Southern cooking is very much already in mainstream cuisines. You would be surprised with the number of food that are either influenced or inspired by Southern recipes. Go ahead and whip up your own fried chicken, jambalayas or buttermilk biscuits and enjoy Southern comfort food right in your home.