The comeback kids: southern recipe redux
August 17th, 2010
08:00 AM ET
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On Friday, southern culinary connoisseur John Currence stopped by Eatocracy's 5@5 to decree the "Five Southern Dishes That Deserve a Comeback." And whad'ya know - gumbo groupies and aspic aficionados popped up in the comment section to show support of Currence's platform to bring these dishes back into the down-home repertoire.

You asked for recipes, and in true southern hospitality form, Currence obliged. Time to spread the pimento cheese gospel one gallon at a time.

Tomato Aspic
Makes about 1/2 gallon
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cored, seeded, chopped
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup shallot, minced
1/2 cup celery, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
2 springs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
3 tablespoons horseradish
2 packages gelatin

Combine above ingredients (except for gelatin, lemon juice, horseradish and Worcestershire) and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Remove bay leaf and blend. Force purée through a chinois/strainer and return to low heat. Dissolve gelatin in 1/2 cup of cold water and set aside. Stir Worcestershire, lemon juice and horseradish into warm tomato liquid. Whisk in gelatin and dissolve. Mold, chill and serve.

Pimento Cheese
Makes about 3/4 gallon
4 cups shredded cheddar
4 cups shredded Havarti
1 1/2 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 cup bread and butter pickles, minced
3/4 cup pickle juice
2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons Tabasco hot sauce
1 cup pimentos, minced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
salt and black pepper, to taste

Combine cheeses, mayonnaise, pickle juice and Tabasco in food processor and pulse until combined. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Hoe Cakes
Makes about 30 cakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, lightly whipped
1 egg yolk, whipped with the whole eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons lard (or bacon fat), melted
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup roasted corn kernels
4 tablespoons red onion, minced
salt and black pepper, to taste

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, lard and butter until fully combined. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ones until fully combined. Blend in corn and onion and combine well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cook cakes two tablespoons at a time in melted butter in a cast iron skillet. Brown on one side and flip to finish - like pancakes.

Gumbo Z'Herbes
Makes about 2 1/2 gallons
3 bunches collard greens, washed thoroughly, chopped
3 bunches mustard or turnip greens, washed thoroughly, chopped
1 head green cabbage, chopped
1 bag spinach, chopped
3/4 cup bacon fat
3 yellow onions, diced
1/2 cup garlic purée
1 1/2 gallon chicken stock
1 1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup flour
2 pounds Andouille sausage, small dice
1 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 1/2 tablespoon dried tarragon
6 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons gumbo filé
salt and black pepper, to taste

Make a medium brown roux with the butter and flour. Stir in onion, celery and garlic - sauté until tender and set aside (careful not to burn). In a large soup pot, wilt greens and cabbage with bacon fat. Add chicken stock and simmer until completely tender. Blend with immersion blender until smooth and temper in roux mixture. Bring to a simmer and stir in Andouille, herbs, bay leaves and cayenne and simmer for 20 minutes. Temper in filé powder and simmer for another 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Smothered Chicken
Serves 4
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup bacon fat
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 cup seasoned flour
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 cups yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 whole bay leaves
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock

Season chicken with salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika and lemon pepper. Set aside in refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least two hours. Melt butter and bacon fat over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour, knocking off the excess, and brown lightly in hot oil until browned on each side. Remove chicken from oil and reserve. Stir garlic, onion and celery into chicken pan and sauté until vegetables are tender. Stir in thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Add white wine and chicken stock and blend until smooth. Return chicken to pan in a single layer and slowly return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve straight from the pot on mashed potatoes or rice pilaf.

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Filed under: Bite • Celebrity Chefs • Cheese • Cuisines • John Currence • Make • Pimento Cheese • Recipes • Southern


soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. beatsdrea8

    Hi,happy to understand everyone for the very first time! It's good forum, I had been looking for something like this.

    July 10, 2011 at 3:02 am | Reply
  2. RFW

    Some food fetishist has distorted the recipe for pimento cheese all out of recognition. You may be sure that decades ago when this was a real dish made by real people and served to real people, they didn't use havarti cheese, nor did they needlessly complicate the recipe to what's given here. Food fetishists can't leave well enough alone, and they think simplicity is a sin, so they invariably gussy up recipes to the point that whatever the modified recipe makes, it isn't what it is supposed to be.

    Grated cheddar cheese mixed with chopped up pimento: that's all it takes. Add a little of the juice from the jar of pimento if you need to make it softer. A few drops of tabasco or a sprinkle of cayenne (not both) is permissible, but using both is redundant and the quantities stated are complete overkill. Southern cooking isn't a hot cuisine, people, nor is it complex cooking. Trust me on this: in the 1950s my grandmother's black cook was making superb food (fried chicken from birds that were killed only hours before eating, for example) and she was a simple country woman, quite possibly illiterate, but she sure knew how to cook! None of this fancy-pants nonsense for her.

    Looking over the other recipes given in this article, it's clear that they too have been altered in the interests of food fetishism. But what else would you expect from a self-proclaimed "southern culinary connoisseur"?

    September 11, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  3. AntBee

    Hoe Cakes came out of SLAVERY!

    Slaves had to make tasty food from whatever scraps they had. They made the batter and then baked them on the metal part of a HOE over a fire!

    Please check the history of where the hoe cake originated, which was mainly in the South!

    September 10, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  4. Becky in Ga.

    I also make pimiento cheese as my grandmother taught me, with grated sharp cheddar cheese, diced pimentos and Dukes mayo. My other grandmother preferred using Hellman's., or Hellman's sandwich spread.
    On a hot day, there was nothing better for lunch than pimiento cheese sandwiches, sliced tomato sandwiches, and sliced pineapple sandwiches. She would sometimes serve an salad made of chilled sliced cucumbers layered in a a jar and covered with vinegar and a tiny bit of sugar. Or potato salad if anyone was really hungry. Usually the sandwiches served with sweet tea or lemonade were sufficient. If my grandmother got fancy, she would serve one of 4 desserts: homemade ice cream (vanilla, banana, or peach) , strawberry shortcake, fruit pie, or a cake...caramel layer cake (usually 12 layers) or lemon cheese cake...also 12 layers or thereabouts.
    Pimiento cheese is enjoyed all across the South and across its social strata, too. I've eaten it at the homes of my Ga. and Fla.farmer relatives and the NC country club set, too.
    Now that I've married into a German family, I've learned to love radish sandwiches on rye, with Dukes mayo. And I've created my own favorite...Claussen sandwich sliced dill pickles on any kind of bread with, you guessed it, Dukes mayo!

    August 23, 2010 at 10:06 am | Reply
  5. John in TX

    I lived in NJ and NC and never heard of anything called a hoe cake. But if you google it, it brings up johnny cake. I did attempt making them after I saw an episode of Diners Drive Ins and Dives when they went to Rhode Island. They turned out ok. But cornmeal pancakes aren't terribly appetizing to me and they didn't cook in the middle very well.

    My grandmother and mother still make and eat pimento cheese in NC. I won't touch it.

    August 20, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  6. Chris C

    I am from MS and it has ALWAYS been Blue Plate Mayo. Never heard of Dukes and wouldn't go within a mile of Miracle Whip–>NASTY.

    August 20, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  7. welike2bike

    Conrad Hinkles in NC the ONLY brand that's fit to eat!

    August 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  8. Brenda

    Aspic is in every old church cookbook I own but I've never personally given it a try. However, pimiento cheese and hoecakes have both been eaten my entire life and are homemade from traditional, simple recipes learned in the KITCHEN by watching or were passed down from generation to generation. These chef-altered overdone recipes that have more ingredients in them than I have cabinet space in my mobile home certainly do not represent the true spirit of southern cooking. Oh...and DUKE's mayo is KING!

    August 20, 2010 at 11:31 am | Reply
  9. Swamprattler

    in the south there are NO chefs, but a truckload of great COOKS and this clown should lock up his briefcase and find another job

    August 20, 2010 at 7:03 am | Reply
  10. Swamprattler

    in the south there are NO chefs, but a truckload of great COOKS

    August 20, 2010 at 7:02 am | Reply
  11. Swamprattler

    where does this author get it, the foods he's talking about are not the staples of the south, he talks like a blue bellied yankee, no real biscuits and gravy, no fried chicken, no greens with salt meat in em. throw that bum out

    August 19, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  12. Carondelet

    I live in New Orleans and don't think any of the above are outdated recipes. Had tomato aspic last Thanksgiving. I don't think my grandmother's had all those ingredicents but she has made it every year since I can remember. I know the Hoe Cakes but do you have to call them 'Hoe'. How bout Corn Cakes....sounds better, tastes better too especially with cane syrup. To the lady from Mississippi inquiring about Blue Plate Mayonnaise. There is a jar in my refrigerator. If you miss it, drive to a grocery store near New Orleans. It's in every grocery store I shop. One last thing. How can anyone prefer store bought pimento cheese from home made? I really want to know why.

    August 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Reply
    • Pearl Nelson

      Thanks for the info. I live in NC now and Duke's rules the roost, though it tastes oily to me. I use Kraft for most things now, especially potato salad.

      A day old slice of buttered white cornbread in a bowl, hot butterbeans cooked with ham hocks ladled over the cornbread, and a dash of tabasco. Eat with a spoon and add more cornbread to sop the leftover juice. Sure better than that Healthy Choice thing I ate tonight.

      August 19, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Reply
  13. SusieO

    Just had to weigh in here after reading all these comments. Nothing gets a bunch of Southerners riled up like adulterating our native cuisine! My momma made fried corn bread – we called it 'hushpuppies' but it bore no resemblance to those little wads of dough some restaurants try to pass off. Good as it was dripping with melted butter, it was manna from heaven when crumbled into a glass of buttermilk. Oh my goodness......

    August 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    • Pearl Nelson

      And white cornmeal, White Lily self-rising flour, eggs, milk, salt, stirred up with fat melted in the cast iron skillet it is baked in. It's 10:30 and I'm dying of hunger reading this blog.

      Better hit the sack before I hit the pantry.

      August 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Reply
    • sockpuppet

      no wonder the the southern states are the fattest states....wipe the slobber off your chin

      November 22, 2011 at 4:27 am | Reply
  14. bamanana

    Sugar in Southern cornbread of any type is a mortal sin in the South...like serving "pimmna cheese" with anything other than cheese, mayo (i prefer Kraft), and chopped pimentos, unsweetened iced tea, and chicken fried in anything but lard – or Crisco in a pinch.

    August 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Reply
  15. Bill-Bo

    Whar's the Muscadine Jelly ?

    August 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Reply
    • christine

      Muscadines are wild grapes that grow in the south... we live in the upstate of SC and they can be found here I know and also in the mountains. My mother-in-law makes jelly with them. They are similar in taste to a red grape.

      August 19, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  16. Margaret

    The best Pimento Cheese is made from VERY SHARP CHEESE and your own roasted peppers. Forget the "Bubble Gum" cheese as my mother would say and get something with some zip to it. Grilling the "samich" makes it so much better witht the melted cheese running out of it. YUMMY!!!

    August 19, 2010 at 9:57 am | Reply
  17. Sodium Addicts

    What are the sodium numbers per serving?

    August 19, 2010 at 6:42 am | Reply
  18. Aaron Walker

    The Gumbo recipe is absolutely the worse one I have ever seen. The call for 3/4 cup of bacon fat is unusual for a soup and I have never heard of using taragon (a strong tasting mint) in Gumbo nor spinach. Okra would be a more traditional vegetable however Gumbo's are typically filled with meat (Chicken, seafood, sausage) not vegetables.

    No self respecting southerner would make a Gumbo like the author recipe dictates.

    August 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Reply
    • KeithTexas

      If it doesn't have okra it isn't gumbo. It may be sorta like gumbo, it may have been made with a roux but it isn't gumbo. Okra is gumbo; they are two words for the same vegetable. There are younger folks with different opinions but in Southern Louisiana in the 60's that was told as the truth.

      August 18, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  19. HeartofNC

    I have been in a room having a discussion on how to make "pimmna cheese" with ladies with a combined talent of at least 200 years – NO cream cheese, NO relish or pickles NO havarti cheese. Chedda or velvetta (*possibly even just american – in a pinch – shredded) only. There was a polite yet heated discussion for Hellmans vs Dukes mayo – NO miracle whip ! will call it a draw on which to use. Mind you this was at a "covered dish" meal where this subject item was being served.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Reply
    • Pearl Nelson

      In Mississippi it was Blue Plate mayonnaise. Anybody else remember Blue Plate?

      August 18, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  20. Virginia McClarney

    Agree with those on the no-pickles team (and no olives either!!) Just cheese, pimento (or pimiento – either spelling is acceptable) and mayo or Miracle Whip salad dressing. My family adds black pepper for heat – I sometimes shake in a few flakes of cayenne pepper.

    August 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  21. Ecka

    I would rather eat pimento cheese sandwiches than corned beef ones any day.
    Smothered Chicken? how about good ol' fried, and aspic is only served at country clubs, now jello with fruit is what I'm talking about.

    August 18, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  22. Jim

    Having lived in the South for 54 of my 66 years, I can tell you that the recipes above are not Southern recipes. They're chef created knock-offs with Southern names. Southern recipes are no nearly as complicated as the ones above nor do they use nearly as many ingredients. Pimento cheese is a case in point. Original recipes for that include only the cheese of your choice (usually cheddar or American), mayonnaise, and pimentos. What you see above is a high-brow knock-off using the name of the original.

    August 18, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  23. JuanitaBeasley

    Thanks to all who contributed the simple recipes. Pimento cheese sounds pretty easy. Maybe I can make it with lower-fat mayonnaise, or nayonaise or something. Personally, I LOOOVE mayonnaise...but it doesn't love me. Freezing the sandwiches also sounds like a great idea!

    I'll have to commit another crime and make them on that extra thin whole wheat bread...My figure won't forgive me for eating white bread, sorry. :0}

    I also agree, he should have listed the original recipe ingredients and then maybe listed his "jazzed-up" recipes.

    August 18, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Reply
  24. Georgia

    Tomato Aspic is delicious...but why is there thyme in it?! Also, where is the tobasco?

    August 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  25. ccpgritz

    You should try the pimiento cheese with a dash of roasted red peppers. Just a little kick and it so good. Also good with Fritos and Doritos.

    August 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  26. Floridagranny1

    Currence uses some mighty fancy products in our common Southern food! Havarti cheese and pickles in Pimento cheese spread....never heard of that! The massive quantities he makes are fine for a restaurant but how many people here want to make 2 1/2 gallons or even a half gallon of anything? If y'all are going to post recipes, how about some user-friendly good down-home recipes, not trendy new-age restaurant food! Thanks, Granny feels better now:)

    August 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  27. Tom

    I enjoy this blog but recipes can be confusing. Your hoe cake recipe sounds good but a hoe cake has only three ingredients; cornmeal, salt and water. It is cooked in a skillet with a small amount of oil and browned on both sides.
    It is a native American recipe called Ash cakes and was adopted by European settlers who cooked them on their garden tool, the hoe...so the name.

    August 18, 2010 at 11:11 am | Reply
  28. stacey

    WHO MAKES REAL PIMENTO CHEESE LIKE THAT??? THAT MUST BE A YANKEE RECIPE!!!!!

    _GEORGIA GRANNY

    August 18, 2010 at 9:03 am | Reply
  29. Barbacoa

    I would not eat any of these so called 'recipes'. All that fat in bizarre mixtures? No thanks. Pimiento cheese?I swear that no matter what cheese I ate in US, it was absolutelly tasteless, whatever the name...Velveeta, Cheddar, Harvati. I guess Wisconsin cheese used to be good, but now all of them have the same cardboard taste. I prefer an honest slice of Eropean cheese than a pointlessly complicated mixture called Pimiento Cheese. And aspic is perfect but not with tomatoes...but country raiesd coq or pork.

    August 18, 2010 at 3:02 am | Reply
    • sockpuppet

      wow you mean you've tried all American cheeses? There are hundreds if not thousands of Artisan cheeses in this country, and most of them are delicious. I can almost guarantee that you are just a snob, with no discernment whatsoever.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:32 am | Reply
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