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What's the ideal southern brunch menu?

I must qualify that I am not from the south and I have no history with southern cooking. However, I thought I might try to cook a southern style breakfast. What would be your typical menu for brunch? Is there a typically southern way of cooking any particular dish? Links to online recipes would be appreciated as well.

It's been posted that there are different regions to southern cooking. What southern cooking I've had in restaurants were labeled as "southern" cuisine, nothing else. I had no clue there were muliple regions. As stated above, I am a southern cooking virgin. That said, I think I'd be mostly interested in creating a menu from the "biscuts and gravy" or the "shrimp and grits" variety. (Thanks to Lemons for specifying the possible regions.)

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  1. You're covering a lot of territory when you say "South". Biscuits and gravy? (Appalachia and beyond) Eggs Sardou? (New Orleans) Bagels and lox? (Miami and Boca Raton) Shrimp and grits? (South Carolina and beyond) Give us a few more hints.

    7 Replies
    1. re: lemons

      I wouldn't consider shrimp and grits to be a typical breakfast dish. Breakfast grits are usually eaten solo with butter/pepper/hot sauce or with some cheese mixed in during cooking.

      1. re: Naco

        Shrimp and grits are very common on brunch menus in SC and GA.

        1. re: onrushpam

          I checked a couple of the usual haunts in Charleston, and you're right. I can't remember ever having gotten them or been with anyone who did, though- not at that hour, anyway.

          1. re: onrushpam

            I think it shows up in many Southern coastal areas that have historically had some shrimping nearby. Here's the brunch menu from a local Southern and New Orleans-influenced restaurant:


          2. re: Naco

            >>"I wouldn't consider shrimp and grits to be a typical breakfast dish"<<

            On the contrary, it's so traditionally associated with the morning meal that it's also known as "breakfast shrimp." Here's a sample recipe:


            1. re: alanbarnes

              Not a term I've ever heard before, although I haven't been to Charleston in a few years, and the South Carolina branches of the family are from the Midlands, not the Low Country.

          3. re: lemons

            Lemons, Thanks for your input. I've specified above....

          4. I'll say right off the bat - I am a Yankee, born & bred. I currently live in New England again, but I did spend 6 years in Kentucky ( & miss it dearly!). In my (transplant's) opinion, a good Southern breakfast or brunch would have: biscuits with sausage gravy, buttery grits (maybe with cheese, but more likely without), bacon, eggs scrambled with cheese, a hashbrown casserole (we used to have a great one with sour cream & cheese), and ham (often country ham, which is incredibly salty and good). Not a fancy meal, but a very filling one, with a big emphasis on the meats & carbs.
            I was back there visiting recently, and had the best breakfast of biscuits & gravy and a bowl of buttery, salt & pepper grits. I rarely eat like that (I'm a yogurt for breakfast person now) and it was HEAVENLY.

            1. It depends on what part of the south you are talking about. I'll give you what I think is a list of dishes typically seen in North Carolina.

              Country Ham w/ Red Eye gravy
              Eggs fried or scrambled
              Sausage gravy
              Apple Butter
              Sliced fresh tomatoes when in season
              Hash Browns

              I'm sure some of you other good North Carolina folks can add to this list as I'm sure I have missed many things.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lutherben

                Yep -- This list is spot on for a traditional NC breakfast/brunch. All served with a big glass of tea, of course (always iced and "sweet" presumed not stated). You're making me homesick up here in NY!

              2. Biscuits for sure, but you don't necessarily have to serve them with gravy. Homemade preserves -- say, peach and blackberry -- and real butter go great on biscuits. For a real southern touch, serve blackstrap molasses too. 8<D

                I'd want to see some grits too!

                1. Biscuits & Gravy Brunch
                  Buttermilk biscuits with red eye gravy
                  Country ham
                  Mixed vegetable "hash browns"
                  Soft scrambled eggs with roasted red pepper and cheese
                  Buttermilk pie

                  Shrimp and Grits Brunch
                  Fried bacon
                  Bacon fried shrimp with smoked cheddar grits
                  Poached eggs on split English muffins with roasted green chilis and spicy hollandaise
                  Hot sauce on the side

                  1 Reply
                  1. I found this amazing menu a few years ago, developed by Scott Peacock, who was my hero Edna Lewis' protege. All recipes are available; just ask. What I liked about it was that it represents several of the regional specialties that you mentioned.
                    Champagne Punch or Mint Juleps
                    Pimiento cheese toasts
                    Ambrosia (the real kind, not the stuff with cool whip)
                    Braised-pork hash
                    Creamy stoneground grits w/ Lowcountry breakfast shrimp
                    Eggs with creamed spinach and country ham
                    Slow-roasted tomatoes (or scalloped tomato casserole with croutons)
                    Crisp winter lettuce with warm sweet/sharp dressing
                    Buttermilk biscuits
                    Spoonbread (pan, or indiv. muffins)
                    Sugared berries w/ cream
                    Warm sweet-potato pudding with apples and chestnuts
                    Bourbon-pecan sand tarts
                    Boiled coffee, juices
                    And as I said, if you'd like specific recipes, just ask. I'm not a Southern gal either, but it is totally my favorite American cuisine to cook and eat, and I've got a million of them. Two you might also be interested in are Grits n Grillades (small steaks, with gravy) or Calas, which are Cajun rice fritters; ethereal, delicious. Both are total La. specialties. (Edit.) And fried chicken for breakfast is very very traditional in TN.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: mamachef

                      Wow, and here I thought I didn't care for Southern cooking.

                      So, brunch at your house this Sunday?

                      1. re: gaffk

                        Do please come and bring a bottle of good champers, k? And bring +1, or come alone....we's a frenly bunch up in here!

                        1. re: mamachef

                          When the nieces\nephews turn 21 I usually do Moet with 2 crystal flutes--will that suffice? (You'll have to add the other flutes.)

                          Major sweet tooth: I'd love the recipes for bourbon-pecan sand tarts and the warm sweet potato pudding with apples and chestnuts.

                          1. re: gaffk

                            Oh, fluteses we gottses, so c'mon down!
                            I'll be happy to post those recipes either this evening or in the early a.m. And I've made the sand tarts and they are divine. Best recommend.

                            1. re: gaffk

                              Warm Sweet Potato Pudding w/ apples and chestnuts:
                              4 med. sweet potatoes (roughly 2 1/4 lbs.)
                              1 c. bottled cooked chestnuts
                              3/4 c. dried apple slices, in 1/3 inch dice
                              3/4 c. apple cider or juice (pref. without added sugar)
                              2 T. melted unsalted butter
                              1/4 c. + 2 T. granulated sugar
                              1/4 c. lightly packed brown sugar
                              1/4 c. honey
                              1/2 t. grated nutmeg
                              1 t. good cinnamon
                              2 lg. eggs, lightly beaten
                              3/4 c. heavy cream
                              3/4 c. whole milk
                              4 Medjool dates, chopped coarsely
                              Preheat oven to 350 w/ rack in middle. Bake about 1 1/2 hours; they need to be very soft. Meanwhile chop chestnuts coarsely; set aside. Put juice/cider into small saucepan w/ apple slices; bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover and let steep about 20 minutes. Drain and save juice for another use, chop apples coarsely. Peel potatoes and mash well. You'll need two cups of potato; transfer to bowl. Increase oven temp. to 375. Whisk butter and sugars into the potato, along w/ ingredients up to eggs. Whisk in eggs, vanilla, cream and milk, then dates, chestnuts and apples. Bake in a buttered 1 1/2 qt. baking dish, until set; 40-50 minutes. Cool to warm to serve.
                              And the Tart recipe will come in the a.m.!

                              1. re: mamachef

                                Bourbon-Pecan Sand Tarts
                                You'll need a stand mixer and 9 tart pans (4 1/2 in.) with removable bottoms.
                                4 sticks diced unsalted butter
                                4 c. unbleached AP flour
                                1/2 c. sugar
                                1/2 t. salt
                                3 lg. eggs
                                1 c. sugar
                                1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
                                1/2 c. dark corn syrup
                                1/2 c. light corn syrup
                                3 T. best-quality bourbon
                                2 t. pure best-quality vanilla extract
                                1/2 t. kosher salt
                                3. cups pecan halves
                                Make crust: put baking sheet on middle rack of oven and preheat at 375. Mix crust ingredients in mixer at low speed until crust forms; 6-7 minutes. Press 1/3 c. dough into each tart pan, making sides just slightly thicker. Chill while you:
                                Whisk together eggs, sugar, butter, syrups, bourbon, vanilla and salt. Divide pecans among tarts; then add filling. Bake on hot baking sheet in oven until filling is just set and crust is golden brown, 30-35 minutes generally. Cool completely on racks before you remove bottoms.

                                1. re: mamachef

                                  Thanks mama! I'm going to try these this weekend. (And they'll make a nice addition to my Kentucky Derby party this year ;)

                                  1. re: gaffk

                                    Oh man - if you're doing a classic KD party, you might want to consider tenderloin with Henry Bain sauce and mini Hot Browns......ooooooohhhhh
                                    And prawns with Jezebel sauce, and ham biscuits.......
                                    I could go on but I won't kill you with unsolicited advice. : )

                                    1. re: mamachef

                                      OK, I don't want to derail this to a cooking thread . . . but feel free to e-mail me any KD-related recipes. I do the party every year, and don't like to serve the same dishes all of the time (except, of course, the mint juleps ;)

                                      1. re: mamachef

                                        DROOL!!! Consider yourself solicited!!! I'm preparing brunch for a group of southern women next month and thought about using the pork tenderloin in my freezer. I'm sure they'd LOVE a KD theme! Please provide ALL the recipes you mention in this post and if you happen to be in Austin, TX next month, stop on by!

                          2. re: mamachef

                            Was in SC recently and had homemade ham. It was so good and nothing like the Baked Ham I'm used to. It was very juicy and tender and more "pulled" than sliced. Was it the cut of ham or the way it was cooked? And it was definitely a smoked ham.

                            1. re: flfoodie2

                              Sounds like you got to eat a true home-cured ham, flfoodie2. And the fact that it was smoked, probably without nitrates in the cure, lends greatly to the tenderness and juiciness. The next part of the equation is the way I suspect they sliced it; thinly with the grain? And except for the highest-quality mass-produced baked hams on the market, most are injected with a little something they think will make it juicy but in fact gives it a weird, waxy texture. At least IMO.
                              At any rate, lucky you. Yum.

                            2. re: mamachef

                              Oh my...this is amazing. I think I will plan a Southern Brunch now! It would be great on a snowy weekend morning here in frigid Colorado! Could you please post the recipe for the Braised-pork hash and the Bourbon-Pecan sand tarts?

                              Thanks mamachef!!

                              1. re: Squint

                                I'll be glad to do that Weds. morning!
                                You're welcome, Squint!

                                1. re: Squint

                                  Above: Sand Tart recipe. And here's the hash
                                  If you don't care to cook with alcohol, you can sub. in chicken broth, or play with the proportions and use both if you just don't want to use as much alcohol as this calls for. It's also better and more conveniently made the day ahead of the party. And you'll need a 6-8 qt. heavy, nonreactive pot, and some parchment paper.
                                  Braised-Pork Hash
                                  1 5-6 lb. pork shoulder, pref. w/ bone and skin
                                  1 1/2 t. dried thyme
                                  2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
                                  4 halved California Bayleaves
                                  2 Med. onions, halved lenthwise and thickly sliced
                                  3 c. dry white wine (or broth or combo of both)
                                  1 T. unsalted butter
                                  3 T. AP flour
                                  Preheat oven to 325, rack in middle. Cut 8 deep slits randomly into pork and season with thyme. Insert a garlic slice and a bayleaf into each slit. Sprinkle any remaining thyme, 1 1/2 t. salt and 1 t. pepper over pork, and place into pot. Scatter onions and leftover garlic around and over meat. Add wine; bring to boil. Cover w/ sheet of parchment paper, then lid, and braise in oven until meat is shreddably tender, 4-5 hours. Cool, covered, 30 minutes. Transfer meat to lg. platter. Strain braising liquid, but keep onions. If you have more than 2 c. liquid, reduce; if less add a little more wine, water or broth. When pork is cool, remove bay leaves. If pork has skin, peel and reserve skin. Trim excess fat from pork; remove meat from bone. Cut into 1/2 inch. pieces; return to pot; add onions. Bring braising liquid to simmer in small saucepan and keep hot, covered. Heat rest of butter to foaming over med. heat; stir in flour, and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Season w/ salt and pepper, Remove from heat and slowly whisk in hot braising liquid until thickened. Reheat meat and onions in enough sauce to coat. Should not be soupy. Serve extra sauce on table.
                                  To use cracklins' as garnish, brown pork skin in a nonstick skillet over medium low heat until very crisp, about 10 minutes. Cut into small crackly pieces. If you're making cornbread, use half the skin to make cracklin' cornbread. Not the healthiest thing ever, but OMG one of the best. To do day ahead, or even 2, chill meat w/ 1 c. sauce, covered. Chill rest of sauce separately.

                                  1. re: mamachef

                                    Thanks mamachef for this recipe and the tarts. They both look so good! I told my friend that I was going to plan a Southern Brunch and she said "I'll bring the bourbon" LOL!

                                    Had to laugh at "if you don't care to cook with alcohol"...It's generally one of my main ingredients! Love to cook with wine!

                                    Thanks again for the recipes and great suggestions for brunch!!

                              2. A special brunch item, from Georgia to south Texas, would be smothered quail.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Does the recipe involve live birds and a pillow?

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    Just at the start, when the alarm clocks go off for the 6:00 AM hunt.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      get all rural 18th c. and have a mattress party with the birds the night before.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        We don't use a pillow, we just pick out the buckshot,

                                        Then the cooked carcass is served up as finger-food.

                                        Tiny in comparison the farmed Cornish hens.

                                        Normally reserved as a feature of lunch,
                                        in a pinch it will serve as a pretty good brunch.

                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                          Skip the buckshot - #71/2 will give you the best shot string and spread. But you have to pick all of them out while dressing the bird - they can do a nasty bump and grind on your molars.

                                          1. re: FoodFuser

                                            Buckshot on quail is a recipe for bird pudding. I won't go over #8 unless we're talking about 50-yard shots, and prefer a #9 "flyswatter" for close work with good dogs. Less penetration = (relatively) lead-free game.

                                            As far as size goes, dove are maybe half the size of quail; it takes four of 'em to make a respectable serving. We're short on most species of wild upland birds here in NorCal, but the doves are plentiful. I'm still kicking myself for missing the whole last season.

                                            Next step, ortolan...

                                            And to keep this on-topic, either quail or dove are classic brunch fare.

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              Ohh - bacon-wrapped, either way. Or the dove made into a beautiful gumbo, with a little rice at the bottom of the bowl. Yum.

                                            2. re: FoodFuser

                                              A tradition that seems to be these days now lost
                                              is still kept in enclaves by the bestest of hosts.

                                              Anytime wild-shot game is part of the brunch
                                              on each setting is also a flat-bottomed thimble.

                                              That thimble, though tiny,
                                              can keep things quite tidy
                                              to serve as discreet receptacle
                                              for diner-found lead shot.

                                        2. If you're going to go the gravy route, a really spicy (sausage) pork gravy can be wonderful and the gravies are typically on the light-colored side - nothing really saucy and brown, but you want simmered-down loads of flavor in it and fat.

                                          Were you to bake any cakes for this occasion you may want to look into boiled icing, which is what they did a lot when the weather was so hot buttercream would slide right off.

                                          I think you should try several brunches, personally, concentrating on a different part of the South each time!

                                          1. did I skim this too fast? (btw all sounds great and I generally don't anything before dinner) but has no one, no one? mentioned a good bloody mary?

                                            gotta start the mix the night before (at least) I prefer to start with V-8 and put in chopped onion, garlic, coupla bay leaves, more horseradish than hot sauce, peppercorns, sliced lemons, strain when pouring (but if a few chunks get in who really cares, right?).

                                            I know, this all sounds obvious, but the 12-24 hours of soaking really rounds out the flavor and blows pre-made mixes out of the game. personally I prefer pickled okra over celery for garnish, but it's a big wide world.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: hill food

                                              A very complete list but I skimmed too. Did I miss white gravy? White gravy with crumbled sausage pieces over biscuits. Heck, one plate with white gravy and biscuits and one with red-eye gravy and country ham. And any variation of Bananas Foster for dessert, even banana pancakes or french toast with rum sauce syrup.

                                              1. re: hill food

                                                Mmmm...think I'll make myself one right now! Your recipe sounds great...I like to use celery salt too. And to transform it into a meal - garnish with crispy bacon or a Slim Jim if you're entertaining truck drivers!

                                              2. Country ham and spoonbread (preferably the old recipe from the Boone Tavern Inn in Berea, KY).