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Help with a Southern Menu

Hi everyone I'm working on a southern style menu for a big party that I'm having in November. Here is what I'm having so far:


Fried Chicken
Fried Catfish
Slow Cooked BBQ Pork (?)

Mac & Cheese
Collard Greens
Candied Yams
Beans & Rice



As you can see I need some help with Apps, I just want some good finger foods with a southern touch. Also what kind of Dessert would be good? We are having a birthday cake but we would also like some something else.

For the entrees we were thinking of adding a slow cooked BBQ Pork dish, but I'm still looking for one more suggestion.

We want a signature drink and my wife doesn't like Mint Juleps so we need something besides that. We would like to serve it in a punch bowl so we were thinking of something like planter's punch or lynchburg lemonade.

I'm just looking for some advice to tidy up the menu, this is going to be a serve yourself buffett type of dinner. Any other suggestions are welcome too.


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  1. I see pork BBQ but no coleslaw. I think that to serve one without the other might be against the law. As for apps. For some reason pigs in a blanket popped into my head as soon as I read the post. Or maybe fried okra.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bolivianita

      Oh yeah - pigs in a blanket are great! I get the "Little Smokies" miniature sausages and then just cut up bits of crescent roll pastry.

      Another thing I thought of was pimiento cheese spread on crackers or celery sticks.

      1. re: bolivianita

        "FRIED GREEN TOMATOES" for an hors d'oeuvre

        Biscotti-encrusted fried green tomatoes with a goat cheese mousse, smoky-flavored corn salsa and a blackened poblano pepper and scallion-spiked cream. The tower of Southern/Mediterranean/Mexican ingredients melds into simple lip-smacking deliciousness. <GRIN>

      2. Definitely need some slaw -

        for apps:
        Fried Okra
        Fried Green Tomatos

        Pecan Pie
        A good Fruit pie

        Sweet Tea - This is a must you can not get this anywhere but in the south
        Mint Juleps - really anyhting with bourbon

        1. For appetizers fried okra and hushpuppies are a must. Paula Dean has a great recipe for hushpuppies, and I like Alton Brown's recipe for fried okra.

          Pecan Pie is a must for dessert, especially with Bourbon added to it :). I would also check out Paula Dean's books for dessert recipes. She has great Southern dessert recipes.

          For drinks...What's a great Southern meal without Sweet Tea??? Lemonade is also a good idea. What's wrong with Mint Juleps? Your wife doesn't have to drink them, but I bet your other quests would appreciate them.

          Also, I see cornbread, but no biscuits??? Gotta have biscuits.

          1. stuffed eggs, or deviled eggs, for appetizers?

            1. Thanks for the suggestions so far they've been great We are going to make sweet tea for sure I just forgot to add it to the original.

              We are not having a bartender, is it possible to make a large scale mint julep?

              1 Reply
              1. re: BobMack

                Yes, you can make it by the pitcher and all people will have to do is put mint and ice in a cup and pour.
                Deviled eggs are a must but they need sweet pickle relish in them. Very southern where I go.


              2. A couple of other things to serve:

                Country ham biscuits
                3 bean salad (my grandmother's church dinners wouldn't be complete without at least 3 versions!)
                pickles- sweet cuke, watermelon rind, beet
                sliced cantaloupe
                coconut cake
                banana pudding
                pound cake
                bourbon & gingerale

                And I agree with all of the above suggestions!

                Definitely do pork bbq- Joy of Cooking has an easy & delicious recipe- do a dry rub on a Boston Butt (pork shoulder, either with or without bone), sear the meat, then slowly roast in the oven several hours. Shred & serve with 3 (or more) kinds of sauces- hot mustard South Carolina style, vinegar based Easern NC style, tomato based Western NC style. Serve with plain hamburger buns.
                Fried chicken can be made in the morning & served at room temp.

                1. A couple of dessert additions - Banana Puddin' and Peach Cobbler serve with vanilla ice cream

                  1. RC Cola and Moon Pies are easy additions and there some other regional soft drinks like Cheerwine and Sun Drop

                    1. Forget the pulled pork and do a ham. Have biscuits abvaliable too. Pimento cheese, pickled okra (the hot stuff is good) pickled shrimp, roast some oysters if you can ge them in the shells, great stuff. Instead of beans and rice, how about some long slow cooked green beans with new potatoes cooked up with some flavorful pork hock?

                      Lane Cake is very southern and very good.

                      1. What about fried pies? Doesn't get much more southern than that. And banana pudding is a must-- make your own pudding or make cook-and-serve; having the pudding warm when you assemble it is essential. You could also try a bread pudding with bourbon sauce-- more seasonal. Pepper jelly on cream cheese or benedictine (cucumber and cream cheese spread from KY) are also good, easy apps.

                        1. I'll second the banana budding, cole slaw, and sweet tea.

                          Since you're frying fish, consider hush puppies as well.

                          Have fun!

                          1. Cheese grits, cheese grits souffle or jalapeno cheese grits souffle.
                            Carolina low-country red rice or Cajun dirty rice.
                            Lemon bars.
                            Coconut cream pie.
                            Hey! Funny thing. Notice how few Southern traditional desserts are chocolate, chocolate, chocolate? Too hot down South?

                            1. Even though I've never tried them personally, I see quite a few menus popping up with fried pickles. I agree with the grits definately, but if you're going to do them as a dinner or lunch item, you might as well make it shrimp and grits - oh so good. Or call it polenta for the northern brethen. Also black-eyed peas cooked with a ham hock, are always a welcome side. All this talk makes me want to go to grandma's house for Sunday dinner. She always saved her bacon drippings in order to cook her fried chicken. Talk about heart healthy. And the chicken, I seem to remember, she could cut up from whole to pieces in just under 10 seconds.

                              1. As an aside, there are some differences between "southern country" food and some more refined versions of southern foods, much the same as the differences between creole and cajun cuisines. Depending on your taste, you can use the elements of southern food that you have mentioned , but in a more sophisticated platform. Frank Stitt's Southern Table is a good example of a cookbook that highlights a very traditional but sophisticated take on southern food.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: WCchopper

                                  I know banana pudding has been mentioned serval times but you want the best, and that is paula`s not yo mamas banana pudding recipe . it is the best there is. bar none.

                                  1. re: WCchopper

                                    Thanks for the reminder, WCchopper. These stereotypes of Southern food are so shallow. The South has a tradition of elegant food and entertaining that extends far beyond finger-lickin' good pulled pork and hoppin' John. There have been beautiful tables set for generations in the Tidewater, Low Country, along the River Road, in Atlanta, throughout Florida, in Nashville, the Chesapeake, and other areas, that showcase regional foods and sophisticated cooking.
                                    Craig Claiborne's fine Southern taste brought style to the pages of the New York Times for years. The Inn at Little Washington ranks as one of the top restaurants in America. There are some of the oldest and most interesting cities in America with culinary histories to match.
                                    It's time for people to take a new look at a region that has kept its traditions alive and has never forgotten the value of local foodways.

                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                      Southern cooking can definitely be some of the most elegant regional cooking in the country, that's for sure. Southern hospitality has introduced me to wonderful parties and delicious meals. But when people throw theme parties, they usually paint with a broad brush catering to archetypes to convey the sense they want.

                                      Case in point, I threw a Chicago-theme party and decided to recreate recipes from Moto and Alinea showcasing sous-vide, foams and gelatines. One of the guests, when I bent her ear, vetoed me in favor of stereotypical hotdogs and pizza. "No one will get that it's a Chicago party if you do fancy food." The same can go for Southern.

                                      1. re: JungMann

                                        Always the case when people broad-brush foods for theme parties about regions they don't know.
                                        Your friend was closer to accurate about food for a Chicago-theme. Not sure many would have gotten that Alinea's food was connected to that city in particular since it's audience is very small. The recent Saveur issue devoted to Chicago's vibrant food culture barely mentioned it. Still there were possibilities that could, possibly should, have included Alinea-style presentations plus hot dogs, pizza and other terrific ethnic foods that make Chicago what it is.
                                        Southerners routinely throw parties that include regional specialties beyond the few that constantly pop up on CH as the standards that everyone goes to as knee-jerk Southern foods. Some are simple party foods and others are elegant sit-down dinner fare, all of which have been around for generations.
                                        Just as there's more to Chinese than egg rolls or more to Chicago than hot dogs and pizza, there's more to Southern food than fried chicken and corn bread.
                                        Are we scared that people "won't get it" if we add a few new dishes? If the food is great and the party is wonderful, we'll introduce them to something they didn't know about before. Do we have to stay stuck in the same old stereotypes?

                                    2. re: WCchopper

                                      That is one of my favorite cookbooks and I have a lot of southern cookbooks. I thought there was discussion of making it the cookbook of the month this summer. His technique is very sound and polished. He did train in France and some of that shows. Almost everyone in my dining group has the book. Try that sweet potato tart this Thinksgiving. It is unbelievably light. The cocoanut crust and the rum creme anglaise that goes with it is amazing.

                                      1. re: Candy

                                        I just looked it up... I think I might try it based on your recommendation. (and the picture)

                                        1. re: WCchopper

                                          You could certainly wow some Thanksgiving guests with it. It is the restaurant's siganature dessert. We love the restaurant and often plan our trips down to Atlanta to go through Birmingham to dine at his place. It is worth going a little ways out of our way

                                    3. The only suggestions I have that has not been mentioned is a summer squash casserole and green beans with pot likker. For apps pickled onions and anything with shrimp.

                                      1. Appetizers: Corn cakes with shrimp, ham and cheese biscuits, sausage biscuits, deviled eggs, deviled crab cakes, pimento cheese and crackers (or as a tea sandwich), andouille in a blanket, fried okra (fried green tomatoes are difficult as "finger food") and pickles, etc.

                                        If you're looking for another main, I'm very fond of chicken fried steak with gravy. It's hard to find up North, as well, so it could be a bit of a novelty. Also, with pork and catfish, I agree with many others: you must have cole slaw and hushpuppies.

                                        Desserts: Banana pudding; pecan pie.

                                        Drinks: Iced tea with peach schnapps and pineapple juice is the only thing I can add to your list. Personally I think planter's punch or lynchburg lemonade are capital ideas.

                                        1. Now how can you have a Southern meal with fried chicken and not have mashed potatoes with cream gravy?

                                          As far as appetizers, fried pickles, or jalapeno poppers stuffed with cheddar cheese. Or a good corn relish on crackers. Fried okra is usually a side dish. Also the salsa and chips is a good one, but that's more tex-mex. The red beans and rice is more cajun. I make mine with sausage in it so it actually could be served as an entree.

                                          Dessert - Pecan pie, or Texas sheet Cake!

                                          1. for desert do a trifle my favorite one is done with pumpkin bread but there r lots of different variations

                                            1. Apps - Texas Rockets (I got this from my Southern Living Cookbook and they were a hit at a party)
                                              marinate 1/2 lb. ck in italian dressing and grill it, then shread it
                                              mix ck with 8 oz. cream chz and salt and pepper
                                              stuff it into some deseeded jalepenos (the rounder kind, about 3-4" long, these are more mild and easier to stuff than the long skinny ones)
                                              wrap with uncooked bacon, hold together with toothpicks or skewers
                                              grill till bacon is cooked

                                                1. I recently had a few old college freinds in for the weekend & since they're all "Yankees," I decided to present some of my favorite Southern Fare - here's what I served:

                                                  *** SMITHFIELD HAM & CHEDDAR BISCUITS !

                                                  *** PAULA DEEN'S SHRIMP & GRITS !

                                                  *** PEACH COBBLER & HOMEMADE FIG NEWTONS

                                                  *** FIG PRESERVE MARTINI !
                                                  3.5 ounces Fig-Infused Vodka (my staple is unflavored Stoli)
                                                  11/2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
                                                  Garnish: orange curl

                                                  Combine the vodka and orange juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well combined. Strain into a chiled martini glass. Add garnish. Yield: 1

                                                  Fig-Infused Vodka (I did this process 1 week ahead & it was perfect!)

                                                  2 cups orange juice or water
                                                  1 pound dried figs (preferably Turkish or Calimyrna), chopped and pitted
                                                  2 cups or so vodka (Stoli)

                                                  Bring the liquid to a boil and remove from the heat. Prick the figs with a fork and add to the liquid. Cover and let the figs plump in the hot liquid for about 10 minutes. Drain.

                                                  Let the figs steep in the vodka in a clean container for a week or two (the longer the better), shaking occasionally.

                                                  Using a fine-mesh strainer, coffee filter, or clean T-shirt, strain the infused vodka into a clean container, leaving the small seeds behind. Keep refrigerated for several months. Yield: about 2 1/2 cups

                                                  1. Since this post was just a little under a year ago, maybe we need BobMack to report back on what he served and how it all went.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                      Country ham and Beaten Biscuits
                                                      Beer Cheese
                                                      Chicken and Dumplins

                                                    2. How did it go? What were the biggest hits? You have inspired me!

                                                      1. You need a big batch of sweet tea.

                                                        The trick is, put some backing soda in the boil (make a concentrate first) as it eases the tannins hugely.