Favorite Southern Recipes

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

It’s just about prime porch season in Savannah, so it’s time to whip up some Southern classics to share for a family supper or lazy lunch.  Southern comfort food is a great way to showcase some of our oldest culinary traditions as we pack big flavor into hearty meals.  So, whether you can’t find your family recipe, want to experiment with a new version, or you simply want to know more about it, we will introduce you to three test kitchen favorites…

Okra-laced hoecakes

First up, hoecakes with thinly sliced okra inside – it doesn’t get much more southern than these two quintessentially Southern gems combined in one recipe!  Similar to a pancake in appearance, but made from ground cornmeal, salt, and water, hoecakes get their name from their agricultural lineage; farmhands typically cooked them over an open flame on the face of a hoe. But lace hoecakes like this recipe incorporate much more water into the batter so that a thin, crispy hoecake is fried on the griddle. Watch Paula fry hoecakes in her kitchen!

The Lady and Son’s Restaurant has transformed hoecakes into one of Savannah’s specialties, though similar versions of these patties served with maple syrup and butter are popular all over the South and beyond, where they will likely be prepared differently and known as Johnnycakes. The addition of okra to the hoecake batter is great way to consume your greens without deep-frying them; okra (which probably came to French colonial America via Ethiopia) lends the perfect vitamin-rich, heritage-steeped twist to this indulgence…

Country Fried Steak with Biscuits and Gravy

Country fried steak refers to cubed or simply tenderized beef steaks, dredged in flour, fried in hot fat in a heavy skillet, and simmered in seasoned liquid until a gravy forms.  The preparation probably derives from 19th-century German immigrants bringing wienerschnitzel to America.  Country fried steak is a favorite all across the South, but Texans are known for (and some claim to have invented) their own incarnation, chicken fried steak.  (Check out Paula’s version of a basic chicken fried steak!)

Paula’s country fried steak offers the best of the South, using her own House blend to season the standard cubed round steak and a white, buttermilk-based, sauce for the gravy.  Steaks are dipped in buttermilk (often preferred due its tenderizing effects) that is later combined with a roux to create the simmering liquid, which eventually becomes your smooth, rich buttermilk gravy – perfect to soak up with Paula’s signature buttermilk biscuits!  And if that’s not enough to make you hungry, we love to bake our biscuits buttered top, on a buttered cast-iron skillet for that extra-crispy crust.  Bake them while your steak simmers so you can serve them fresh and hot out of the oven together!

Aunt Peggy’s Meatloaf

We have to include meatloaf, a consistent American comfort food, with one quick loaf offering ample portions for a family dinner and a couple of sandwiches for the week.  While meatloaf’s predecessors date back to the Roman Empire, with delicious ancestral variants evolving across Europe, today’s American meatloaf is generally a combination of ground beef, veal, and/or pork, green pepper and onion, egg, breadcrumbs, seasoning, tomato product, and sauce baked in a loaf pan or formed into a loaf on a baking sheet. 

Aunt Peggy’s use of oats instead of today’s more typical breadcrumbs harkens back to the Great Depression, when cereal grains made for a cheap filler in ground meat dishes.  Calling for lean ground beef and oats makes this a relatively low fat and nutritious meatloaf, too!  Some southerners prefer theirs smoked with barbecue sauce, include some bacon, spice it up, or sweeten it with cola.  Aunt Peggy’s meatloaf is mostly traditional, slathered with a ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard glaze, and of course, we like a Vidalia onion for regional flair and a little extra southern sweetness!

And there’s three of our favorites, from our family to yours, y’all!

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Reader Comments:

54321

What ever you do is so very gooooood.

By Anonymous on May 14, 2013

54321

hoecake sound very good i want a bit.

By Donna marie Eichhorn on November 02, 2012

54321

my family just loves your grandmothers pound cake. i cant keep it in the house. if i make it one day it is gone the next. i love all your recipes they are so simple and good. keep up the good work send lots of love gayle

By gayle west/ westgm1@gmail.com on April 17, 2012

54321

HEY MISS PAULA, HOW ARE YOU DOING TBESE DAYS? GOOD I HOPE ABD ADJUSTING TO ALL THE CHABGES IN YOUR LIFE. I'M WISHING YOU WELL. ANYWAY I WANTED TO SHARE A STORY ABOUT BOILED CUSTARD. I WAS RAISED IN NORTHERN OHIO AND I WENT TO COLLEGE IN NASHVILLE, TN. I MET MY HUSBAND TOBY, A NATIVE TENNESSEAN MY FIRST DAY THERE. WELL DURING OUR FIRST HOLIDAY SEASON HE TOOK ME HOME TO MEET THE FAMILY. WELL HI GRANDPARENTS OWNED A TOBACCO FARM IN GALATIN TN., WHERE THE FAMILY GATHERED. AFTER THE BELT BUSTING DINNER MAMMIE, TOBY'S GRABDNOTHER. GOT OUT A PITCHER AND STARTED POURING THIS CREAMY FLUID, THE LIKES MY YANKEE BUT HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE AND PASS THEM OUT. I LEANEE TOWARDS MY NOW HUSBAND, THEN NEW BOYFRIEND, AND ASKED WHAT IS IT. WELL HIS MOMMA WHO HAD BEEN LISTENING IN QUITE INTENTLY, PIPES IN, WELL ITS BOILED CUSTARD, EXCEPT IN THE SOTHERN WAY, WHICH MADE IT "BOLD CUSTART". SO AS A CURIOUS COOK EVEN THEN I NAIVELY ASKED WHAT MAKES IT BOLD. SINCE I'D SAID IT RIGHT ACCORDING TO THEIR SPEAK, SHE LOOKED AT ME QUIZACALLY AND PROCEEDES TO TELL ME HOW HIS GRANDMOTHER MADE IT. NOWIT WAS MY TURN TO LOOK CONFUSED. I HAD FOLLOWED THE RECIPE ALONG AND I NEVER HEARD ABYTHING ABOUT ADDING BRANDY OR WHISKEY. SO I FINALLY ASK, OKAY SO WHAT MAKES IT BOLD, NOW ALL THE WOMEN WERE STARING AT ME...AND HIS MAMMIE SLOWLY SAYS WELL YA PUT THE PAN ON THE BURNER AND SLOWLY BRING IT TO A BOIL A LITTLE SLOW ON THE UPTAKE, I SAID I FOLLOWED ALL THAT BUT WHAT MAKES IT SO BOLD? NEVER LET IT BE SAID THAT WE ALL SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE. LOVE JEN

By JEN SMITH on April 03, 2012

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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 7:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 3:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm