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Need some examples of soul food

At work we are having crock pot Friday this week, and the theme this month is soul food. Now I am a southern cook, but I am having a problem with this one. I can't seem to think of anything to make except, various beans/peas and rice and greens. There are at least 10 different pots of beans and rice coming, and I wanted to avoid being one of the many. I know soul food originated with families using local vegetables and cheaper cuts of meat... I need some inspiration with one, any help would be appreciated.

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  1. What about grits baked with cheese and garlic - they travel well and are always scarfed down as quickly as possible when we carry them anywhere.

    Other ideas: succotash, sweet potatoes, biscuits or corn bread. Of course any kind of fried vegetable (like okra) would be suitable - but they don't work well unless you can serve them right away.

    1. Collard or mixed Geens with a bit of bacon. Don't make the mistake of cooking them for a long time. Check Alton Brown's recipies for good techniques and times...

      1 Reply
      1. re: KiltedCook

        I have to admit I am old school when it comes to collards and turnips, I do cook them for an hour or two with a couple of hamhocks and chopped onion thrown in to the pot. For me the pot liquor is almost as good as the greens. Just the way I was raised eating them at my mom's and grandma's tables...definitely comfort food for me. Although, this winter I started braising greens and we have eaten quite a bit of swiss chard and others. Thanks for the info...

      2. Macaroni and cheese or chicken and dumplings would be crock-pot friendly soul foods.... Not necessarily for the crock pot, but fried chicken is a good standard soul food.

        1. lots of beans and greens, and no sweets?

          take a chess or buttermilk pie!


          better yet, a pecan pie! see the karo syrup bottle's recipe. ;-).

          sweet potato pie, http://www.chitterlings.com/ppie.html

          or a (real) casserole with the sweet 'taters (not that gooey, sweet, "stuff").

          my fave: pound cake! http://chitterlings.com/pound-cake.html
          here's my own family's recipe for sour cream pound cake: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4642...

          in this wonderful thread on "regional cakes" : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/464253

          welcome to chow, fellow floridian. where are you? i'm from fort myers.

          5 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            I live in central Florida, just outside the unnatural glow of Disney ;-)... thanks for the welcome. I have always wanted to try chess pie, so I might go for that one... or possibly the chicken and dumplings. Thanks, kim

            1. re: snix

              If you want to go wild make chess cake - simply bake three pies and stack 'em. The untimate sugar high!

                1. re: lupaglupa

                  That is a seriously good idea. Dangerously good.

              1. re: alkapal

                I really don't think it's a soul food lunch without sweet potato pie! We had an outstanding banana pudding at a soul food restaurant too.

                  1. re: 1stmakearoux

                    Thye gumbopages is a great website, probably one of the 1st I discovered when I decided that I really wanted to learn how to cook. I will check out chitterlings.com that sounds cool...thanks, kim

                    1. re: snix

                      I was brought up to say "Chitlin's. They are great with greens and cormbread.
                      Crayfish/crawfish, barbequed pork ribs.
                      Sweets: pecan pie

                  2. I was all set to make some suggestions, but all of my ideas were already covered. So since I'm already here, all I will say is that reading this thread has made me very hungry.
                    Need some "Camp Meeting Stew" right now... (Homer Simpson voice: mmmmmmmm)

                    1. Ham Hock and Greens soup - just saw a recent one by Emeril that looked great. Might have been a type of gumbo.

                      1. Fried chicken (make sure it's well seasoned and a little spicy), BBQ chicken or pork ribs, smothered pork chops, potato salad, macaroni salad, cornbread stuffing, red velvet cake, bean pie, sweet potato pie.

                        Here's a good recipe for smothered pork chops (one of my favorites): http://www.whats4eats.com/meats/smoth...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: esstrink

                          I can always count on hounds to have great suggestions, now I just have to decide which one I want to make and take. Of course now I'm thinking smothered chops tonight for dinner...thanks, kim

                        2. Stewed chicken gizzards and hearts with lots of onions.
                          Only thought of that because I keep them in the freezer from all the chickens I roast until they reach critical mass and then cook this for myself. This is on the menu for this week or next.
                          You can buy them for less than $2/lb.
                          A little roux, and they make a terrific flavorful gravy for sopping up with some cornbread.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: MakingSense

                            if they taste like pig hearts, count me out.....WAY OUT.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              They don't. I agree that some pig parts can get a little much.
                              Gizzards are really yummy.
                              Have you ever had fried gizzards? Those are super good!
                              Grilled chicken hearts are fabulous!
                              You're missing out big time!

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                LOVE chicken gizzards and hearts. Husband and I call them "kibbles and bits"! I ate gizzards growing up but then about 20 years ago started finding them packaged with the hearts. Bake in a hot oven with a little oil, Dijon mustard, s&p. And I never tell my doctor :)

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  HA HA, "kibbles and bits!" Both my mom and her mom made stuffing including them. I didn't know what made their stuffing "different" till years later, and by then I was already hooked on the stuff. How could something that sounds so bad taste so damned good? And what our doctors don't know won't hurt them--right there with ya! ;)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Are they bad for you?
                                    Is everything good bad for you?

                                    I am SURE that the fried ones can't be very healthy, but some nice smothered ones with onions (for Vitamin C) must be OK, right?

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Can't make proper chicken and rice without the hearts! I grew up on it and still love it.

                                2. re: MakingSense

                                  Oh, Making Sense you have messed me up:-) I had almost decided on a red velvet cake, but your stewed gizzards sound really good...what's a girl to do...
                                  btw can you post a recipe for them, I would really like to try them out.

                                  1. re: snix

                                    i can't place red velvet cake as soul food. did i miss something?

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      my mom said the same thing also....just another southern cake.

                                  2. re: MakingSense

                                    Oh how I would like to see the looks on their faces when confronted with a mouthful of gizzards. I would dearly love to see mine, but you cannot get them where I live. One more reason to raise chickens.

                                  3. Oh, a plate of 4 or 5 (or 6) little baby catfish, fried in fine cornmeal, so you can munch on the tail. With cheese grits and chopped collards with a big splash of Tabasco.

                                    32 Replies
                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      cheese grits is a modern phenomenon -- plus, i don't think it is considered "soul food." at least when i was growing up.... i don't see cheese grits in older cookbooks and cheese grits still isn't the usual accompaniment for fish. plain grits, yes....or hushpuppies. but cheese grits (esp. with the shrimp topping) is really something i'm associating with charleston cookery -- not even necessarily low country cuisine. and i don't know how far back that dish goes in history.

                                      making sense, weigh in...or low country jon?

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        I think of (a Texas) breakfast... and grits with butter or red-eye gravy.

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          It's a work potluck, not a food history seminar :)

                                          1. re: julesrules

                                            oh, too bad, jules. you actually might have an educational opportunity.

                                          2. re: alkapal

                                            Well we certainly eat cheese grits in Mississippi - and started to do so well before they were made new fangled and gourmet. We don't ever add shrimp in the Charleston way. My 95 year old grandmother - an accomplished soul food cooker - has had them all her life. Is that old soul enough?!

                                            1. re: lupaglupa

                                              I betcha it isn't the $30/lb. Hook's cheddar they are touting in the Chow Tips! Probably "rat trap".

                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                My grandmother swears by cheap yellow cheddar! Some people use velvetta but we draw the line.

                                              2. re: lupaglupa

                                                lupa, ask grandma when that 'came in" -- i'm curious..... <not snarky>

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  Will do - but I have to warn you her memory can be a bit spotty....

                                                  1. re: lupaglupa

                                                    Alkapal - I talked to my Granny this morning. She's on your side - she doesn't think cheese grits is "old fashioned soul food." She says she's had grits all her life - her mother often cooked them - but not as a casserole with cheese. She can't remember when those became popular.

                                                    1. re: lupaglupa

                                                      I can remember a flap over a menu for a late night breakfast following a dance in the mid-60s in New Orleans. The main course was traditional grillades and grits, but one of the mothers in charge wanted to serve grits soufflé, because it was easier to serve buffet-style.
                                                      I can't recall if it included cheese or not, but there was something of an uproar because it wasn't "traditional" in good old traditional New Orleans.
                                                      Regular grits were THE required thing with grillades. I think she won the battle.
                                                      Let's face it. Baked grits, with or without cheese ARE easier for a crowd.

                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                        We often bring baked cheese grits to church for brunches and they are a huge hit - this is in upstate New York with people who have never tried grits - or who've seen the nasty instant ones on breakfast plates and thought they were awful.

                                                        1. re: lupaglupa

                                                          I love cheese grits with a combo of cheese and some parm and then served topped with a spicy gumbo or similar stew. About the only way I truly like them. But yes, much better than those instant white ones for breakfast. Fresh grits are very good.

                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                            OoooH! That sounds GOOD!
                                                            I agree: Piss on instant! Fresh be good!
                                                            You know, grits are damn near hominy, which we love. Plain, with butter, chicken stock, or as posole.

                                                      2. re: lupaglupa

                                                        Maybe they're old fashioned "cracker" food. I've got relatives from GA and FL whose families have been eating cheese grits for at least a hundred years. I talked to one just today that is 92 and she told me her mother made them all her life.

                                                        1. re: Cpt Wafer

                                                          Not likely 100 years, although it might have seemed that way to many because it so quickly became a part of Southern life and foodways during the Depression. They might have gotten sick of it for a few years there.

                                                          Cheese wasn't common in the South until "guv'mint" cheese was distributed as part of farm commodities programs following the passage of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act of 1933 and the Agriculture Act of 1935.
                                                          These programs allowed farmers to forfeit crops to the Feds to repay loans, which forced the Feds in turn to distribute them to domestic and international programs to promote export markets and prevent waste and spoilage. They were also trying to remove price-depressing surpluses from the market so as not to interfere with normal sales.

                                                          Cheese was FREE and everywhere in the rural South, and everybody began using it because they were desperately poor. That's when all the mac/cheese, pimento cheese, etc. recipes started popping up and they helped everyone through WWII. Now they're just Great Food.
                                                          Before the Depression, there was little mention of cheese in cookbooks. The 1950 edition of Charleston Receipts and the 1903 Picayune Creole Cookbook have few recipes.

                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                            Truly it is an awful thing to contemplate - the South without pimento cheese....... Surely one of God's finer culinary inventions.

                                                            1. re: lupaglupa

                                                              Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Even the Great Depression.

                                                              Think how much wonderful Southern food was born of deprivation! Making the very most of humble and ordinary ingredients.
                                                              Picking up pecans from the ground under the trees. A little sugar, flour, yard eggs. Scraps from a ham and frost-nipped greens. Cornmeal - how many ways? Wring the neck of an old chicken past laying age for stewing on Sunday. Always use the bacon drippings for cooking.
                                                              And then the government cheese!
                                                              We may have been poor, but damn we always ate good.

                                                              American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God.

                                                            2. re: MakingSense

                                                              The folks I'm talking about were not desperately poor. They were sucessful grocers, ranchers and farmers with the wherewithal to procure just about whatever it was they desired. I seriously doubt any of them relied on free cheese.

                                                              1. re: Cpt Wafer

                                                                No, but look at the old cookbooks and check old menus and stories. Cheese wasn't a biggie in the South.
                                                                There is little mention of any cheesemaking tradition in the Southern Foodways Alliance until recently, with the exception of Creole Cream Cheese around New Orleans and a little feta among some Greeks on the Gulf Coast.

                                                                Your relatives might have been well-to-do and had access to cheese brought from other sections of the country but most of the South was rural, poor and lacking. What might have been common for your family, or some in major cities, can't be extrapolated to the South in general.

                                                                Until the Rural Electrification Administration in 1935, much of the South had no electricity and no refrigeration. Even stores were far away and few had cars.
                                                                That's why common recipes from the Depression, WWII and before often included shelf-stable products like evaporated milk, Crisco, etc.
                                                                Even after the advent of government cheese, the most common dishes used some variation of "cheddar," which is what that was. There aren't other varieties.

                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                  I think part of this isn't about individual families having a fridge for keeping cheese - it was about there not being a cheese making tradition on the farms. Most food was regional and the South is a very warm climate. Making cheese would have been a challenge. So most dairy products were consumed quickly.

                                                                2. re: Cpt Wafer

                                                                  Even if you weren't poor you could get commodity cheese ....people who got it would sell it or trade for bills they owed. My grandfather was the moneylender of his community so he got paid with all kinds of odd things.We spent days reading his legder when he died. (Our course almost every single person tried to pay the family what they owed when he died but we forgave the loans and wouldn't take the money....he was a great man ...that why I named my son after him!)

                                                                  1. re: LaLa

                                                                    And then, tragedy struck! No more government cheese! The Feds switched to food stamps by 1964.
                                                                    Nobody could get the wonderful stuff anymore and homemade macaroni and cheese, pimento cheese and all the other great Southern staples changed forever.
                                                                    Except for school lunch programs and other civic programs that still had access to government commodities. Those are the only places where commodities are still made available, other than the military.

                                                                    Somebody could probably make money selling branded "Government Cheese" in the South even today to those of us who remember it - if they have the recipe.

                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                      my aunt martha got government commodities (north florida), until she passed away a couple of years ago. she got guv'ment cheese, among other things (including dried cherries!).

                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                        Government Cheese was still given in the 80s in my area....in addition to food stamps.
                                                                        Speaking of food stamps once we had to move to a very poor area when my husband was first starting his career and in the almost two years we were there I never saw anyone but myself pay for groceries.

                                                                  2. re: MakingSense

                                                                    makingsense, you always do! ;-).

                                                                    have you written -- will you write -- a book? please.

                                                                  3. re: Cpt Wafer

                                                                    Cpt Wafer....I know this sounds odd, but I noticed that you may know a man named Lane Phillips. He is a Alfa Romeo fanatic, or was, but he was/is involved in the bike shop scene in Columbia SC for years. You stated that he was in an accident in '06, do you know how to get a hold of him. I moved away in the late 80s and lost contact....I would love to say hello to my old friend. Can you help me?

                                                          2. re: alkapal

                                                            Alkapal, I think you're right about cheese grits being a fairly recent invention.
                                                            I think that because it's so ubiquitous and, for many people, the only way they have ever eaten grits, that they've come to think that it's always been a traditional recipe.
                                                            You're right. Not in older cookbooks. I don't remember it growing up in the 50s and 60s.
                                                            I do remember when it did start showing up on "brunch" menus, but that hardly qualified as "soul food."
                                                            And, NO, never, ever, for a simple country dish like Shrimp and Grits. That was fisherman's food. Plain grits. No cheese. Plain.

                                                            Shrimp and Grits is totally out of control today - far from its roots and heritage. Things are thrown in there that have no relation to the Low Country, that aren't even available in that section of the country, or that no fisherman would have had for breakfast, even if he could have afforded it.

                                                            BTW, the best recipe that I have seen for Shrimp and Grits has recently appeared on the Anson Mills website. I pitched the recipe that I had been using as soon as I tried this one. At first glance, it almost seems too simple, but the flavor is pure Carolina.
                                                            The Anson Mills folks are fanatics about Low Country authenticity and heritage. They get pretty opinionated about it, but rarely steer you wrong. This could be straight out of a good Low Country home http://www.ansonmills.com/recipes-cor...

                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                              This sounds great! Thanks for sharing.

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                That recipe is primo! The shrimp stock has now become my new standard one. Completely wonderful, deep and rich, almost good enough to serve as bouillon, even when made without heads!
                                                                The last time I made the Shrimp and Grits, I made extra so that I could have leftovers for lunch. It reheated well on low power in the microwave.

                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                  makingsense, that recipe looks fabulous. i cannot wait to get those coarse white grits. i've never had anson mills, and this looks like the kick in the arse that i need to order me up a mess o' grits.

                                                            2. re: alkapal

                                                              Actually, a couple of soul food joints I've frequented for years were serving cheese grits long before it became vogue.

                                                          3. cat fish nuggets, sweet potato pie, greens of course. smothered or creamed pork chops. I think they called them smothered chops. Smothered pan fried chicken, pigs feet (ok ... not for me) and isn't there a county ham with red eye gravy. My friend used to make that.

                                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                I saw R.W. do that shtick in Clearwater while he put a lot of air in the scotch bottle-VERY funny!

                                                              2. Kimchee = "Seoul food"........so what if you wind up in the loony bin? Nobody else will bring it, and they'll never stop talking about you! ;-D

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. Honey fried chicken, with smothered cabbage and fried squash. Also old-fashioned salmon cakes are easy and cheap and can be re-heated well.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: kpaumer

                                                                    gosh, i love fried squash. with a little onion and bacon is the way mom does it. that is what people should remember when they have a surfeit of yellow squash in the summer.

                                                                  2. Roast a pork shoulder as barbeque, sauces on the side (mustard, spicy, tomato or [ick] ketchup based).

                                                                    Put on a rub (your choice of dry ingredients, usually salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder--not salt--cayenne, mustard) 2 nights before and roast with a meat thermometer at least 1-2 hours per pound (last one we did was 30 hours/7lb, with the last 14 hours at 160F internal, oven at 220F, but it's winter and we don't mind keeping the oven on for long periods of time). Serve with white bread, untoasted.

                                                                    I haven't done one in the crock pot, but if you want to keep it warm, pull the pork (2 forks is how my husband does it) and put into crock pot to keep warm.

                                                                    1. You could easily do a mustard glazed ham in the crockpot. Also make a lemon chess pie for dessert, deeeelicious!

                                                                      1. I think pound cake is a great idea. Peach cobbler too, but it's more of a pie when it's served as a " meat and three ( sides)".I don't think chittlins is good unless you REALLY know these folks., and they are adventurous. I think it's an acquired taste and smell ( I like them now, but not so much as a kid). If you do mac abd cheese, none of that bechamel stuff; go with the custard.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                          Peach cobbler made with canned peaches in heavy syrup, extra brown sugar.

                                                                        2. Stewed okra, with or without tomatoes. Depending on where you live, this could be educational, as well as highly amusing.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                            You gotta have onions and tomatoes with stewed okra! You know, you don't have to cook them to death till they fall apart. I steam my okra till it is barely tender and it is usually not slimey yet. What about fried okra?

                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                              What about corn bread? When I think of soul food, I think of fried chicken (sometimes with waffles), corn bread, sweet potato pie, green beans... Damn, now I'm getting hungry!

                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                Love fried okra fresh out of the pan, but it's a sorry thing after it's sat around awhile.

                                                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                                                  somewhere, scargo, i heard/read that okra won't slime until it is put with liquid (water only?). i like okra, fried, and with tomatoes, and in gumbo, and indian style. what i won't tolerate is the bogus "sysco fried okra globules" sold by some restaurants as "southern fried okra." yeah......right.....

                                                                              2. Definitely mac and cheese, candied yams. I aslo second chicken and dumplings-that's usually a crowd pleaser.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Luvfriedokra

                                                                                  I third chicken and dumplins!!! Or butter beans or blavked peas and hog jaw....yum.

                                                                                  1. re: Luvfriedokra

                                                                                    My Mammy made the best "drop dumplings"!

                                                                                    1 1/2 c. flour
                                                                                    3 tsp. baking powder
                                                                                    3/4 tsp. salt
                                                                                    pepper, to taste
                                                                                    3 tbs. vegetable oil
                                                                                    3/4 cup milk
                                                                                    Mix and quickly drop heaping tablespoonfulls into boiling chicken stock (with the chicken in it). Turn heat down, cover pot and cook for about 15 minutes. You can also do buttermilk ones.

                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                      and, do not stir the dumplings!!!! (ummm, been there, done that, without momma jayhawk standing there to warn me against it. ;-).

                                                                                  2. I had a friend once make me a recipe she had growing up. She has since moved and not in touch anymore and have never found a similar recipe to hers.

                                                                                    It was a lightly creamed soup, ham hoc based, southern type of seasonings. But the small almost round light dumplings were cornbread and bacon with some herbs I think. It was served with chopped ham on the top. It was really good and hearty but never found a similar recipe. I think it also had okra, carrots but I can't remember. Maybe one day I can find one similar.

                                                                                    1. Red beans and rice or black eyed peas and make sure you use ham hocks or fat back.
                                                                                      Mac and cheese, egg pie, smothered pork chops, sweet potato pie, banana pudding, and chess pie.

                                                                                      1. How 'bout some--

                                                                                        Deb's Louisiana Fried Spicy Cabbage

                                                                                        2 pounds finely diced cabbage
                                                                                        1 pound finely chopped bacon
                                                                                        1 medium onion
                                                                                        2 tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
                                                                                        1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
                                                                                        1/2 teaspoon black pepper

                                                                                        Fry bacon until crisp and well browned.
                                                                                        Add chopped onion and stir until limp.
                                                                                        Add pepper flakes, cabbage, salt & pepper.
                                                                                        Stirring well so that all the cabbage is coated.
                                                                                        Cover and cook over low heat until cabbage is limp and tender.


                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Kholvaitar

                                                                                          Nice! Sounds delicious.
                                                                                          That's one I'll definitely try