LOOKING for: Calling our Southern cooks ..help this Yank!

eileenlaunonenSeptember 28, 2008

Im having a dinner on October 18th....approx 25 people,a celebration dinner for my 13 yr old who is making Confirmation. There will be 20 Adults,my 4 children & my 2 year old niece. While pondering what to serve I thought a theme dinner would be nice. Im thinking of Southern style food, but I only tried cheddar grits for the first time last month (might I add i LOVE THEM!!!) I make a great rib but Im stumped i even thought of that Cajun Shrimp over grits. Id like to serve a couple of dishes not just one...Please help. TIA PS Im open to another theme if someone thinks of a better idea.

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Shrimp and Grits would be a great dish to serve and definitely something very different! If your dinner is in the evening I would recommend any of the following be added to the menu:

Shrimp and Grits (recipe link follows)
Louisiana BBQ Shrimp and Baked Cheese Grits Casserole (Cindy's shrimp recipe) with French bread to sop up the shrimp marinade

24 Hour Salad

Woodie's Green Beans with Hazelnuts

Fruit salad of pineapple, citrus fruits and coconut

Corn Muffins and Sally Lunn bread

Special Cake to mark the occasion or trays of small desserts: Pecan Tassies, Chess tarts - plain, lemon, and chocolate, Petit Fours, Pound Cake slices, Chocolate Cake Squares (Tex Mex style with a dash of cinnamon)

Here is a link that might be useful: Bill Neal's Shrimp and Grits recipe

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 9:29AM
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southern fried chicken with cream gravy, country ham (as in dry cured) bananna pudding, greens with bacon, cat head biscuits, pecan pie, hush puppied, jambalaya, etouffe, bignets sweet tea...
Just for a few ideas from this Yankee!
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 9:32AM
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I have had this saved for a long time to make. Paula Deen's Jambalaya

Jambalaya Mix, recipe follows
2 1/2 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 pound fully cooked smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 to 3/4 pound medium, fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
In a Dutch oven, combine mix, water, tomatoes, tomato sauce and smoked sausage. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until shrimp are pink.

Jambalaya Mix:

1 cup long-grain rice

3 tablespoons dried minced onion

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

In a small bowl, combine rice, onion, parsley, beef bouillon, thyme, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and bay leaf.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 10:34AM
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You can't do Southern without fried chicken. Do the ribs too if you are comfortable with that. Slaw, baked beans, crusty rolls, corn on the cob goes well with this. The chicken is a good choice because you can make it ahead and it is good served at room temp. For dessert-- Pound cake or banana pudding.

My Southern Mama's Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken

Buy cut-up fryers or whole chickens (3 lbs. or under is best)
Cut up and wash chicken-- soak in salt water overnight
(about 5-6 big tablespoons salt sprinkled over chicken (roll it around a little) and just barely cover the chicken in water)

Rinse chicken and drain
Put about 1/4 cup CRISCO (not oil) in large skillet
(Best to use electric frying pan)
Heat oil to medium high (Chicken should sizzle when it hits the pan)
Dredge chicken in all purpose flour - shake off ecxcess
Put in pan and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Turn when browned on first side. After turning, season other side with salt and pepper.

Cover and continue to cook-- checking every 5 minutes or so and turning as needed. This should take about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your chicken. A 3 lb. chicken should be done in about 40 minutes.

Drain on paper towels.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 4:09PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Crowder peas, sliced tomatoes, squash casserole, bbq pork butt, fried pies, sweet potato casserole and pimento cheese are a few more.
I definitely think New Orleans food and coastal food are in sub categories and not indicative of the majority of Southern cooking.
I would look for Edna Lewis's cookbooks, probably at your library, the recipes are great.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 4:48PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I forgot, they do have Edna Lewis' recipes on Epicurious along with traditional southern recipes.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 5:03PM
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I think of pan fried chicken or chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, cream gravy, black eye peas and biscuits with a tossed green salad. Fried pies, chocolate cream pie or banana pudding for dessert.

This is a favorite meal for my family. In the summer I will substitute fresh sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions or whatever is in the garden for the salad. Also the black eye peas can be whatever vegetable I have in the garden at the time.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 5:52PM
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Don't forget the buttermilk cornbread.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 8:33PM
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I lived in NC for 22 years so I'm a little familiar with what southerners (friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc)served for special occasions. I think you'd be safe going with your ribs, a really good potato salad, tossed salad or layered salad, Ambrosia, iced tea (some can be sweetened to be authentic!!), and home made coconut cake (the kind you make 2 or 3 days ahead and saturate with the sweetened coconut milk). North Carolinians would also have pimiento cheese sandwiches available :) If you're not an expert at fried chicken, I wouldn't try it for company...it's tricky! Ann

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 10:42PM
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I guess I should have said skillet fried. I was trying to say not deep fried.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 10:46PM
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Sorry to disagree with many of you....but we do not see fried chicken as a special occasion food anymore. And crowder peas, baked beans, and blackeyed peas don't fit the bill either. Pimento cheese sandwiches are great for a picnic or tea party. Squash casserole is a good vegetable side dish anytime.

Baked ham or a beef tenderloin or standing rib roast would make it a special occasion. Baked chicken pieces would be nice, but nothing too messy like BBQ chicken or any hand held chicken recipe.

Just my opinion - Teresa

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 7:28AM
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Thanks to all...great suggestions and information!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 7:48AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I don't think they're special either Teresa, just southern.
Shrimp and grits, baked ham, ambrosia and fried turkey would be though, at least to my family.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 8:11AM
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OK. I'm in South Georgia and I can tell you that every event we attend has boston butt and fried chicken. Actually, I also see a lot of quail and frog legs too. If you attend Rotary with my husband, the men are mad when they substitute baked chicken for friend chicken.

The fried chicken and BBQ route is what I'd go with if I was trying to serve a southern casual meal. But my favorite southern food is shrimp and grits. I like it served with andouille and red, green, yellow peppers and lots of onion.

But since this is for your daughter, I'd pick something she was happy with. If you are unsure about frying chicken and you don't have a place you can purchase it already prepared, there are several baked fried chicken recipes that are good, and while not authentic, is better than a cooking disaster. Also keep in mind that I think odors from frying last longer than other smells.

I think for a crowd, I'd lean toward ribs, chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, rolls, maybe some potato salad, ambrosia, definately SWEET Tea (when you think it is sweet enough - add another cup of sugar) and some banana pudding for dessert. Actually, instead of ambrosia, I'd make a pineapple gelatin molded dessert (yes - like in the 50's) that is similar to Millionaire Pie but served in a special mold. (I have a recipe if you are interested).

I tend to offer too many options when serving a crowd, so I'd probably have corn on the cobb, some sliced ham, and some slow cooked (with country ham) butter beans as well.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 9:29AM
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Cornbread salad is also great!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 12:17PM
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I don't think of a fried chicken dinner as special occasion either, but I do think it is southern. We have prime rib and whole tenderloin for Holiday meals, but I don't think of either as being southern.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 2:42PM
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Welll, Fried chicken is probably the easiest thing in the world to cook and the first thing you think of if you're going with a Southern theme. However, if you want fancy or sophisticated southern-- we here in the South can do that too. Prime rib would work nicely, wrap some asparagus in proscuitto (which is really just plain old country ham sliced real thin) and grill just until crisp tender. Serve a nice green salad with baby greens and rasperry vinagarette with shaved parmesean on top. Twice baked potatoes would be a nice addition and your starch dish. And for dessert, what about a nice apple pie with vanilla ice cream--- or the coconut cake that Ann mentioned (I've made it many times) BUT------ if you're going for a true SOUTHERN theme--- it will not be recognizable as southern.
Just another opinion. -

Southern born and bred.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 3:39PM
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It almost seems that what I use to think of as "authentic southern" has evolved over the years, like most other things. I guess there is a time and a season for everything.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 11:41PM
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Authentic Southern food is still alive and well! There is a time and place for everything - certain dishes that will be found on the family dining table during the week and special menus for holidays and celebration dinners. And there are no food police in the South that say some foods can't migrate back and forth from "everyday" to "special occasion." But be prepared for Aunt Alma to show up with deviled eggs and potato salad for Christmas dinner! (this does happen in some families, but not mine!) LOL!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 7:13AM
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Maybe we are thinking "authentic southern" is a little different from what the other is thinking.

I learned the basics of cooking from my mother in law, many moons ago. She was raised by her grandparents who were sharecroppers. The original "authentic" southern cooking that I spoke of was of this origin. There was a lot of straight up grease involved. Absolutely delicious, but very unhealthy. Just a simple pot of butter beans and peas had a lot of bacon grease. Of course, my mouth waters just thinking about it.

I still have a lots of southern dishes that I cook, but for me, I have evolved from the origin of my cooking basics.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 7:06PM
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Teresa, my family loves deviled eggs.

We always have them at Thanksfiving and Christmas.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 11:20PM
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Make that Thanksgiving! LOL

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 8:18AM
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DH is Georgia born and bred and every family dinner we attend has to have banana pudding--homemade with vanilla wafers. There is also always a few pecan pies.

If you want to serve grits, we love a restaurant in Forsythe, GA that serves a Grits Martini. It's cheese grits with chopped shrimp and a touch of apple smoked bacon served in a martini glass with a whole shrimp dangling on the rim of the glass. I don't know what kind of cheese they use, but it's very pale and super good. This would make a good appetizer for the adults if you are planning to have one.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 6:12PM
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Grillades and grits, shrimp creole, crawfish pie or jambalaya are all good possibilties that could be done largely ahead of time. I'd not want to be trying to fry chicken for 20 people at a party..... to me it's great for a family meal, but not something I want to be doing while guests are over.

For side dishes: butter beans, sweet potatoes, corn pudding, okra, biscuits or cornbread

Dessert: Pecan pie or red velvet cake

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 11:51PM
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Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet Potato Casserole (just mash the potatoes, add brown sugar and pecans, stir in some melted butter - all according to taste). This can be made in advance.

Biscuits or cornbread should definitely be the bread.

Iced tea, including Sweet Tea

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 10:46PM
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I would be interested in knowing what you finally decided on for your celebration menu. After all the praising and dissing of fried chicken, what is southern and what isn't, I would probably have said forget it to the southern menu. Don't get me wrong, I love fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, fried okra etc and as far as I'm concerned you could hardly go wrong with it, but it might have been difficult to prepare it for the type of gathering you were having and it must have been very confusing for you with so many different opinions of what was "southern".
Southern to the core, Jude

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 6:16PM
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Well unfortunately I had to revamp the menu as I was informed 6 of the adults were on restricted diets due to medical and weight issues....so I thought that going a high calorie meal would not be nice for those who couldnt enjoy I went with Shepherds Pie (one was made with turkey chop meat and low fat mashed potato) and i made sauted cabbage and salad with soda bread ...It went over very big and the guest were pleased that I took there situation into consideration. I did keep the ideas from this post for the future when entertaining others.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 9:36AM
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I'm so glad it went well Eileen and you were very nice to take your guests problems into consideration.

For any future southern style meals you may wish to have and from my deep south vantage point, I can tell you Cajun and Creole cooking may be in the deep south geographically, but is another totally different catagory from southern cooking. Southern cooking is also not a diffent ethnic catagory as I've seen suggested in other areas. Fried chicken isn't a special dish here although it does seem to be a southern dish, as is fried pork chops, fried corn, corn on the cob, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens and cornbread (usually without sugar). ; ) Also southern are summer squash casserole, fried green tomatoes, string beans cooked for hours in chicken broth with ham hock and onions, crowder peas, and purple hull peas. Okra, either boiled or fried, lima beans, fried or mashed potatoes and potato salad are a few more. In the winter usually pinto beans and large white lima beans show up quiet often. BBQ pork which is pulled, though not even close the same as the pulled pork recipes you see now all over the place. The staple here is cooked extremely low for twelve or more hours over an open pit, usually over hickory wood. It has no ketchupy or sugary sauce on it at all, mainly a little vinegar, water and cayenne pepper.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 11:35AM
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Eileen, you were so good to be considerate of your guests. Sounds like you had a very tasty meal. I agree with beverlyal that Cajun and Creole are categorically far from southern cooking as a whole and so are the foods from the east coast. Shrimp and grits etc. are very popular nowadays but that has come about, I thnk with the advent of Food TV programs and the media in particular. There's so much more out there for us now and that's a good thing. You'll enjoy trying some of the foods that were suggested. I'm so glad everything went well for you.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 12:38PM
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I certainly will try some of these recipes and look foward to it! I love all types of deep south foods...so im sure ill find a few favorites.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 7:48PM
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Hi, I'm in the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. I know the date has come and gone for when you needed southern recipes, Eileen, but I wanted to share one of my favorite southern cooking sites with you just the same.


Here is a link that might be useful: About.com: Southern Food

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 11:31AM
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Hey Patty.

I'm coming your way on Wednesday. My DH and I are going to Carver's orchard to get a few apples but mostly for lunch in their restaurant and to see the beautiful fall color from their dining room windows. What a treat !!!!!


    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 8:17PM
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I guess it's too late Jude, but if not be sure to go the the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant in Sevierville. Just the apple fritters, apple butter and apple julep make it worthwhile.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 11:12PM
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You're right, Patty about Applewood Farmhouse but since we live in Knoxville we just went up for apples and lunch and weren't there long enough for another meal. My STRONGEST memory, not my best was when we went there for dinner in the summertime. I had on a snow white blouse with a collar and a v-neck. I stuck my fork in a killer grape tomato and when I started to cut it with my knife a kajillion tomato seeds went all over my blouse and my neck. Fortunately no one was sitting near us but I spent the entire time picking tomato seeds. My DH kept saying "Honey there's more under the collar" etc. It was so embarassing.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 4:04PM
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