5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
John Currence is the chef and owner of City Grocery Restaurant Group in Oxford, Mississippi. In 2006, he received the Southern Foodways Alliance "Guardian of Tradition" award, and in 2009, he was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as "Best Chef South." The Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association named Chef John Currence the 2010 Restaurateur of the Year.
Currence’s native New Orleans kindled his life-long devotion to Southern-influenced fare, further fueled by a stint under the tutelage of Bill Neal of Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Crook's Corner. With Neal, he pursued a potent blend of classical French technique and traditional Deep Southern American cuisine, now evidenced on his menus at City Grocery, Big Bad Breakfast, Bouré and Snackbar.
Kick back with some shrimp ‘n grits and jump on Currence’s bandwagon to bring these dishes back into regular rotation.
5 Southern Dishes That Deserve a Comeback: John Currence
1. Gumbo Z'Herbes (Green Gumbo)
"Seen from time to time, it's almost always excellent, because the guys who still make it seem to always have a visceral connection to it in their past. This tasty blend of earthy greens and ground pork sausage is frequently served with a side of potato salad rather than rice. It's a soothing dish that requires a little bit of a deft hand to master."
2. Hoe Cakes
"Cornmeal cakes (griddle-style cakes), so-called because they would be cooked on the blade of a field hoe over an open fire, make a really tasty side for any number of dishes. I fell in love with the idea of them after my first trip to Argentina about 15 years ago and remember being completely knocked over with the combination of flavors that the chimichurri’s vinegar and garlic and the juices from the grilled meats brought to these simple pancakes. In Oxford, we make them with fresh corn and red onion to punch those flavors up even more."
3. Tomato Aspic and Homemade Mayonnaise
"I hated aspic as a kid. I had a fundamental problem with anything called 'ass pick.' It simply didn't make sense to eat. As my love for fresh garden tomatoes began to grow 20 years ago, I started playing with anything that would help with the midsummer avalanche of tomatoes. Aspic was a natural for consideration and with a touch of creamy homemade mayonnaise, is one of life's truly great pleasures."
4. Smothered Chicken
"In New Orleans, lunch specials were a city-wide universal. Mondays were for red beans and rice, Tuesday was spaghetti and meatball day and Wednesday was smothered chicken and mashed potatoes. Now, I know some folks might argue that smothered doesn't necessarily carry a Southern provenance, but for the sake of my argument, I'll just say, wherever it originated doesn't matter. There just needs to be more of it."
5. Pimento Cheese
"Sure, there's a little pimento cheese floating around out there, but very little of it is thought over very hard. Linton Hopkins and John Fleer ride atop the heap, in my book (from a professional standpoint). But, this is one folks need to get back to and see what a little experimentation can do for their product. My mom has gone completely off the reservation and her version is loaded with green chilies, jalapeño pepper and chipotle-flavored Tabasco. I can eat it by the pound. It isn't patently 'Southern,' but it is freaking delicious."
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.
For recipes of the comeback kids, scooch right on over here.
Its all good in moderation
love all the foods you mentioned but does anybody remember flaked hominy? My mom used to make it all the time, its dry flakes like corn flakes. She put some bacon grease in the cast iron skillet added the dry hominy flakes then poured boiling hot water over this , adding some salt and pepper then covering it until it was cooked It was so good.The hominy ends up being light and fluffly, is good for breakfast or any other meal. I cant find any place to buy it anymore so if you know of anyone who sells it let me know.
I remember flaked hominy. My Mom made it while I was growing up. I have not found it in the stores for many years. Sure wish someone would make it again.
Was not aware that Pimento Cheese had gone somewhere it needed to be brought back from. Hmmm... Well all I can say is Thank God the tomato sandwich is alive and well!
I just fixed some smothered chicken and mashed potatoes yesterday night!! Mmm Mmm good!!
Actually, in New Orleans, Mondays is Red Beans and Rice, Tuesdays are Poboy nights, Wednesday Gumbo (for the folk who can afford the ingredients) Thursdays is Etoufee, Fridays are FIsh nights, Saturdays any meal with Crawfish or Shrimp and Sundays after Church its time for Beignets :-) New Orleans life is so beautiful!
What about home made beer cheese with celery and crackers, or soup beans and cornbread with buttermilk and quartered onions?.....my Grandmother taught me how to cook and I have made all of the above and still love them all.
Don't forget how good Hog's Head Cheese is. Growing up our cook made the best. Can't find it anymore
I remember my maternal grandmother going into the chicken yard, catching a chicken &wringing it's neck by whirling it round & round, like a softball pitcher winding up. This was Sunday dinner & in those days(1950's,1960's), she still used a wood-fired stove. Best fried chicken in the world! I also miss homemade lime pickles, although my wife knows how to make them & does when we have a good cucumber crop.
I am a Jewish girl from South Florida, but have spent the last six years in Alabama and Mississippi! A lot of these dishes are still served and I can say that Southern food is widely served in these areas! We lived in Selma, Al where there are only fast food joints and local family owned restuarants. The local places all have the one meat and three veggies lunch, it always consists of greens, peas, slaw, cucumber salad, mac and cheese, etc...We also lived in Greenville, MS and experienced Kool-aid pickles, spaghetti with catfish/chicken, Rotell chicken, etc...
I don't personally consider these my fave dishes, but it's definitely available and well done in most places. If anyone is ever in Selma, The Downtowner is a good place to eat and in Greenville you may like Bucks, Does Eat Place, or Fat Baby's Catfish.
Biscuits and sausage gravy!
Ruby Tuesday's has a cheeseburger made with pimento cheese. And cukes n onions are a staple at all the local eateries.
Make pimento cheese with smoked gouda and roasted peppers!
I grew up in and still live in TX and my mom made tons of pimento cheese for me as a child. Now, I make my own, grab Price's, or get Pam's from the deli in HEB (a grocery store chain). I work in an office full of Californians and none of them had ever heard of it. I introduced them and they all love it now. If you've never had pimento cheese spread, get some!
Well I'm not from the South and I was born in a totally different country. I've never heard of any of this stuff, but I do know one thing. Southern food damned sho is good! hyack hyack hyack hyack.
I grew up knowing Hoe Cakes as Corndodgers...yummmm! And I prefer to make my Pimiento cheese with cream cheese instead of mayo..then add real cheddar, seasoning and the pimientos...even yummier!
I don't care how unhealthy it is, I LOVE southern food!
These are great but I really love grits and grillades with hush puppies on the side, mmmmmmm. Crawfish pie, crawfish bisque (the proper way with stuffed heads) and chicken and dumplins! If i weren't living overseas I'd be eating out right now!
and hushpuppies, fried okra, green tomato pickles, fried green tomatoes, any kind of grits, blackberry cobbler, fresh biscuits, homemade rolls, lots of gravy, cream potatoes, chicken stew, fried catfish, many kinds of slaw, white sauce, bourbon sticky ribs, white corn, turnip greens with pepper vinegar, oyster stuffing... mmmm mmmm mmm, we have so many good things in AL!
This article is BS, was the writer out to lunch when this was written? There is no mention about the delicious textures of theses dishes. All he talks about are his personal experiences when having these dishes. He neglects go into the gastronomic experience of tasting these dishes, for example he doesn't say a word about the extacy-like experience of the fried chicken and then smothering that same fried chicken in deliciously thick gravy. This article does not make my mouth water the way the title led me to believe.
pimiento cheese and FGT sandwich sounds great! one of my favorite combos: pimiento cheese sandwich with spicy tomato soup. drool!
LOL I love the smothered chicken one! Wednesdays are for smothered chicken and I agree. It doesn't matter where it's from, we have claimed it as our own in the South!
i'm sorry, but name for dish number will have to be changed to something that's politically correct.
it is politically correct you tool
Spoken like a city boy that don't know a ho from a hoe. :-D Come down south, honey. We'll show you a ho that can hoe your row!
Now those are some hoe-ers! ;>
Great satire. I didn't even get your comment until the comments. I was taught that the 'h' that weeds the row began with the letter h and was a 3 letter work. Now, the 'h' that feeds the ? was always presented to me as a 5 letter word beginning with the letter w. Now as to the question of where hoe cakes would cook faster, hummm, that eludes me.
Chow chow is the best. Fried okra is dang good, too!
Seriously...bring these back. You must live on Mars, or consider Atlanta the deep south. These are still staples in the real south.
Chef John–all I can say is Amen! A Boy from Greenville
Wow bringing back the dishes of the lazy masters of the cotton field. No thanks II still prefer the dishes of the black African slaves like Collard greens Blackeyed peas and Hamhocks because it gives energy and creativity. and stands for endurance and survival and resiliency plus the fact that its more healtheir and has less cholesterol.
Fried green tomatoes, cornbread covered in black eyed peas with purple onion – that is a meal.
hardly lazy masters of the cotton field... seriously? I mean really? your description of collard greens and salted ham are that different? grow up
I hate to break it to you, but collard greens, black eyed peas, and hamhocks are not African slave foods. Those foods are SOUTHERN foods. Whites ate those foods as well...and I am talking POOR whites...people who never had an African to cook for them. Of course if black folks want to claim they invented collard plants, black eyed peas, and pigs....I guess they can.
My family were poor white cotton-pickers. They grew up on greens, beans, black-eyed peas/w hog jowl, and corn bread. On Sunday they had their meat meal for the week and grandma cooked chicken of some kind. It was not just the poor black slaves who were just barley getting by, it was all the poor people who were breaking their backs for a bunch of people without compassion on how those who he had working his land and fields were fairing. As long as the work was getting done and they had all the comforts they wanted. It was not a race thing, poor is poor, no matter the color of your skin.
Amen. Get off the race schtick, please! :P
Kool-aid pickles...Heck yeah! How about hogshead cheese?
I've got some strawberry-rhubarb crumble calling to me from the oven right now!
I grew up in Mississippi and am familiar with all of these. And I love them all EXCEPT tomato aspic (which, naturally, my mother loved and forced on us). Sorry, I'm not willing to give aspic another chance.
You know, Ed, I had forgotten about cucumbers and onions in vinegar. Yum. Thanks for the reminder!
And, everybody, properly made pimento cheese is simply out of this world.
Grandma used to make pimento cheese with cheddar and she would cook up some macaroni noodles and make a cold pasta salad with the pimento cheese. I still love that stuff but it never turns out as good as grandma made it.
Hoe cakes are still served at all the noon buffet restaurants in SW Georgia. Each restaurant is a little different, all good. The fried chicken and greens aren't bad either. Pretty much a staple at 'Dinner' in our part of Georgia.
OMG Pimento Cheese, I'm in heaven. But you forgot the watermelon pickles, truly a southern specialty. mmmmmmmmmmm
My mother and grandmother used to make pickled watermelon rind, I grew up in western MI. When my grandmother died in 1970, bang. No more watermelon pickles; takes two days to make. I do miss them. ALOT.
Cucumbers and onions pickled in vinegar with salt and pepper. MAke a sandwich with that, peanut butter and mayo, on wheat bread. It is slap yo mamma good...
I do need some Pimento Cheese.
There is lint in my belly button.
Thank you for all the kind comments. If anyone really wants recipes for any of the dishes we've included here, please visit the City Grocery site, navigate to contacts and send me an email. I'll be happy to send you our recipes for any of the above.
Thanks for checking in...
My grandmother used to do "fried bread" she'd make bread dough, pat out a small amount flat, hold it up, make a few slits in it with a knife, throw it in hot grease and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on it when it just started to get a little crunchy on the edges....mo one realizes how delicious childhood really is...until they are an adult.
YUM!!!! I grew up on this. Try it with butter and salt – oh so yummy!
My mom made this and call it dough dodgers. We called it fry bread. Cinnamon sugar or just fresh butter is great.
I still have fried bread when we have run out of others. Actually I prefer it but I am no longer dependent and have to rely on other to cook for me. I realllllllly missss cooking! I have never had the fried bread w/cinnamon and sugar but that sounds good.
Chef, it just killed me that the year you had okra hush puppies at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, I couldn't get anywhere near your rig. Very much hoping to get some of your food in my paws in Oxford one of these days.
Thanks so much for doing 5@5. I've been looking forward to that and you surely did not disappoint.
Okra hushpuppies?!?! Wow, now that sounds good and very interesting. I love okra, any way it is cooked, from gumbo to deep fried. It is all good. I hope you do get you hands on some of that, tell me how it is!
Pimento Cheese Spread
1 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese (you can use American, I prefer Colby)
1/2 cup or 4 ounces cream cheese (regular...do not use fat-free!)
1/2 cup Miracle Whip (original recipe called for Mayo but I like MW better)
1 (2oz) jar of chopped pimento
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix it all together and spread on crackers, fingers or whatever tastes good to you:)
fg1 – you got it right. It's the cream cheese!
I've never had these specific dishes, mostly because I've never visited the south (unless being born in Florida counts). I'm not a fan of mayo (though I'll have a bit in a sandwich) but if I ever have the chance I'd like to try some home-cooked southern cuisine.
I really miss my mother's Smothered Chicken. She would tell me over the phone how to make it, but I would end up with a splattering mess! Smothered Chicken is the ultimate comfort food!
please tell me......wtf is it smothered with?
this is the only thing on the list i would willingly eat....tried all of that other barf like stuff.....never again...but i loves me some chicken and gravy...
what about, CHa Cha (soulfood chutney), chicken & dumplins,
blood sausages, hoghead cheese..blackberry cobbler, apple jelly cake...OMG!
Do you mean chow chow?
Oh yes! Chow chow. My mom has been making and canning the stuff for years. Fantastic on brown beans, hot dogs, by the spoon. And, pimento cheese? Makes an amazing grilled cheese. The key to great pimento cheese is very little mayo, hand grating your sharp cheddar and adding just a touch of cayenne. Ok, now I want some. Great list!
I didn't try pimento cheese until my 30s, and now it's kind of essential to my well being. First time I ever tried making it, I brought it to a party. How the heck did I know John T. Edge was gonna be there? I hid in the kitchen all evening, but my husband said he kept diving in, so I guess it was okay!
My mom and dad live on what they call "hedgehog," which is headcheese. She accidentally went into the little country store and asked for hedgehog one time and it just stuck. She always orders it as hedgehog now and they fill the order accordingly with headcheese, LOL. My grandma use to make it, I hated it when she boiled that hogs head! Disgusting! My favorite food is southern food, was raised on it. Fried yellow or zucchini squash w/onions. Cabbage fried in oil and butter w/little brown sugar just to caramelize a bit. Yum, yum. Nothing healthy about it but good eats.
Kat– If JT Edge likes your pimento cheese, you are good to go! Oh, and head cheese? A true delicacy that reflects the "waste not" philosophy of the South. Take a bunch of natty bits, press and congeal them, and voila! Lunch.
kool-aid pickles, please
I love City Grocery. Their food is delicious along with other restaurants on the Square in Oxford. If anyone gets the opportunity to visit Oxford or Mississippi, please check out the good food, beaches(when it's cleaned completely lol), and historic sites. The South isn't as bad as you think, only hot and humid. :D
1 lb. Velveeta or similar cheese product, shredded
1 lb. finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 jar (14-16 oz.) pimentos or roasted red peppers, drained and diced
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. Texas Pete (or your favorite hot sauce)
Put all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and start blending on the lowest mixer setting until combined, scraping frequently. Very gradually increase mixer speed, scraping as needed, until the mixer is at its highest setting. Beat at highest speed for at least five minutes until creamy. Cover bowl (or transfer to a tightly covered container) and chill overnight, allowing flavors to meld. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before spreading.
Traditionally, in North Carolina at least, this would be spread evenly on white bread, crusts trimmed and cut into small triangles, often joining chicken salad sandwiches prepared in the same fashion. I do use a good thin white bread – Arnold Brick Oven White Big Slice or similar – but unless it’s going to be part of a platter for serving to guests I don’t bother trimming the crusts, or for that matter cutting it more than in half.
--– ---- ----------–
1 pound cheddar cheese - shredded
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablepoon grated onions
1/2 cup diced pimentos
salt & pepper to taste
mix all ingredients, enjoy.
add your favorite sauce for mo zing.
I love pimento cheese on hot dogs. Yeah, I said hot dogs. A pimento cheese and fried green tomato sandwich is delicious. i need to know where i can get soe of that green gumgo, Gumbo Z'Herbes, that sounds great. I love me some potato salad. The south definitely doesn't get enough credit food wise.
pimento cheese and FGT is a seriously delicious combination....good call
WTF is FGT?
FGT = Fried Green Tomatoes. Never thought of eating them with pimento cheese. But it sounds really good. Here's another one for you – pintos smothered in collard greens. Takes 2 days to cook right – but SO worth it!
OK now you made me hungry gonna have try that
My favorite is grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. My husband may decline them, but I think pimento cheese makes the best grilled cheese sandwich you can get (and I am a cheese-aholic)!
I love Hoe Cakes. We often have them instead of pancakes for breakfast. My kids call them Po' cakes because I only started making them after my husband was laid off.
Po' cakes. LOL That's awesome. At least they don't call them the Po' Ho' cakes ; )
I grew up in Texas (arguably a different kind of southern), but in the South nonetheless, yet I can't say I've ever had pimento cheese. Is it similar to pepper jack?
Not even close, it was that awful stuff that your grandmother told you to eat on bread or that mean baby sitter lady that was really poor but in actuality you were poor too but could afford Kraft slices so you thought you had more money. ;) Oh that was me, sorry.
You MUST be speaking of that nasty "pimiento" cheese spread that comes in jars. The REAL thing is a pure delight...shredded cheddar cheese, mashed pimientos, mayonnaise...and select seasonings and flavorings.
I'm with you on this! That stuff was disgusting.
I have to admit that, as a child, I thought the idea of pimiento cheese was disgusting–and I didn't know it was a southern thing until I was in my 20s–but now I love it. It is especially good as a grilled sandwich with (of course) tomato soup. Also, I notice below that someone mentions "cha cha." Surely you mean "chow chow."
I grew up in Texas as well, and my grandmother made pimento cheese all the time. It was also sold in all of the supermarkets.
They still make it here and sell it at my local supermarket. And! Surprisingly it is not a South only thing. I'm in PA. They call it Pimento Spread here. Yum-Yum!
@Neil: Not at all. Please see my response to yrowe. I LOVE making pimiento cheese. I love making it with different spices, and I love it plain. I love eating it, too – and so do a lot of people who either remember it from years ago, or see it as an oddity and decide to try it "just once." I think I'll go make some now!
Ah-ha! Thanks for the enlightenment! I was trying to imagine some sort of loaf in the deli section, not an actual recipe, but based on your description and some of the recipes farther down the page, I believe I'm going to have to go experiment. Thanks!
I have to agree. And right with that...pimento loaf. barf
I am Texan all the way, and I couldn't imagine not growing up eating pimento cheese. I love making it, sometimes with jalapenos or chilies to spice it up. The thought of it is making me crave.
Oh, my goodness, how empoverished my life would have been without Price's Pimento Cheese. My grandmother would try to outdo it, but finally gave up in resignation. On bread, on a cracker, on an apple slice, on a knife, on a finger, there was nothing like it. And hoe cakes – the latkes of the South. You just brought back half my childhood!
I loves me some pimento cheese!
Haha basically all the local, non-chain restraunts round here (Kentucky) still serve this. I never knew pimento cheese was a regional thing. =p
I want my green eggs & ham...my man....I want my buckwheat cakes too..but I still wants me green eggs & ham cause that's the kind of macho man I am...
Bologna and pimento cheese sandwich yum
What about chicken livers, biscuits and gravy, pinto beans with cabbage, country fried steak, collards, mustards [well any type of green really : ) ]
this is all neworleans cooking. you need to go visit appalatia in order to get some real down home comfort food
Chicken livers. deep fried. New England, Griswold Inn "The Gris" Essex Connecctict. Nothing better.
Pimento cheese is rarely seen outside of the south in my experience, but boy, it is some tasty stuff! I saw someone who made little fried balls of it (similar to the Wisconsin fried curds)...that looked terrific. I definitely need to try some of those.
Chicken and waffles
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