The national appetite for Southern cooking remains healthy, as indicated by the recent crop of fresh cookbooks with titles that emphasize America’s love of the South.
Some of the latest tasty tomes include recipes from storied back-road Southern cafes; cooking with homegrown, farmhouse ingredients; the art of bourbon and bacon (the South’s “favorite food groups”); and dishes for each month of the year from the matriarch of reality TV’s most famous Louisiana bayou family.
We chose recipes from each that call for simple steps while showcasing Southern techniques and flavors. Some are based on old traditions with new twists — like bourbon-infused marmalade and Dutch oven-cooked black-eyed peas whipped into hummus. And some provide a lighter take on classics, such as crispy corn salad with radishes and a healthier version of chicken drumsticks that are “oven-fried.”
Prepare all four for a summertime picnic inspired by the cuisine and friendly hospitality of the South.
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Bourbon & Bacon: The Ultimate Guide to the South’s Favorite Food Groups
By Morgan Murphy (Oxmoor House, $22.95)
Part cookbook, part history lesson and manual, Bourbon & Bacon brings together two of America’s smokiest flavors. The short, chubby volume from Southern Living magazine offers humorous musings from travel writer and food critic Morgan Murphy along with more than 115 recipes, from cocktails and condiments to entrees and sweets.
But only a few actually combine bourbon and bacon, like this marmalade from Cotton restaurant in Monroe, La. Murphy promises that the sweet-and-savory spread is great atop steaks, ribs and hamburgers or simply slathered between two slices of toasted bread.
On the Road Again: More Unforgettable Foods and Characters From the South’s Back Roads and Byways
By Morgan Murphy (Oxmoor House, $22.95)
The third helping in Southern Living’s Off the Eaten Path series, On the Road Again is both a cookbook and highway guide covering 60 restaurants across 18 Southern states. Author Morgan Murphy documents his visits to each family-owned eatery in a ’56 Cadillac while sharing his travel reflections and 150 recipes.
At the Superior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery in Hot Springs, Ark. — owned by a professional tuba player who wanted to restore a national historic landmark with a brewery and restaurant — black-eyed peas, a Southern staple, are whirled with roasted garlic pulp to make hummus. It’s a Southern twist on a Middle Eastern classic.
Southern Made Fresh: Vibrant Dishes Rooted in Homegrown Flavor
By Tasia Malakasis (Oxmoor House, $26)
Tasia Malakasis, cookbook author and owner of Alabama-based goat cheese company Belle Chevre, aims to break the stereotype of heavy Southern cuisine in Southern Made Fresh. There are more than 175 seasonally driven recipes in the photo-filled book, each categorized by breakfast, lunch, snacks, supper and “something sweet.”
Malakasis writes about her grandmother’s influence and her deep appreciation for the food and people of the South while emphasizing that ingredients are only a farmers market away. She says grilling the corn cob for her salad shown here is what makes the dish memorable.
Duck Commander Kitchen Presents Celebrating Family & Friends: Recipes for Every Month of the Year
By Kay Robertson with Chrys Howard (Howard Books, $22.95)
Known for her mouthwatering, home-cooked meals showcased on A&E’s hit reality TV show Duck Dynasty, Kay Robertson, the matriarch of the family made famous for their duck calls and long beards, is back with a new cookbook featuring recipes meant for special occasions.
Duck Commander Kitchen Presents Celebrating Family & Friends is organized by holidays and events, from New Year’s Day to Christmas, with baby showers, Father’s Day and family reunions in between. Each chapter shares a topic to celebrate and stories on the subject from Miss Kay. Her “too easy not to do” oven-fried chicken drumsticks, served cold, fall in the picnics and summer fun chapter alongside recipes for quick refrigerator pickles and mint-infused “watermelonade.”
Bacon, onion and bourbon marmalade
Make 2 cups
▪ 4 hickory-smoked bacon slices, chopped
▪ 5 1/2 cups thin sweet onion strips
▪ 1/2 cup sugar
▪ 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
▪ 2 tablespoons bourbon
▪ Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
▪ 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
▪ 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp; remove and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Add onions to skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring often, about 15 minutes or until onions are caramel-colored. Add sugar, stirring to dissolve.
2. Stir in vinegar and remaining ingredients. Cook 5 minutes or until liquid is consistency of syrup. Add bacon; cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until thickened and consistency of thin marmalade.
Nutritional analysis per 1-tablespoon serving: 30 calories, trace fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 1 milligram cholesterol, 30 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 14 percent of calories from fat.
— “Bourbon & Bacon” by Morgan Murphy
Black-eyed pea hummus
Makes 4 cups
▪ 1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas
▪ 1 garlic bulb
▪ 2 tablespoons olive oil
▪ 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
▪ 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
▪ 1/4 cup tahini
▪ 1 teaspoon table salt
▪ 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
▪ 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
▪ 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
▪ Garnishes: arugula, olive oil, freshly ground black pepper
1. Soak black-eyed peas in a bowl in water to cover for 20 minutes. Drain.
2. Place black-eyed peas and 3 cups water in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and cook 35 minutes or until very soft. (Black-eyed peas are done when they can easily be mashed with a fork.) Drain and cool completely (about 1 hour).
3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off pointed end of garlic; place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Fold foil to seal. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes; cool 20 minutes.
4. Squeeze pulp from garlic cloves into a food processor. Add peas, lemon juice, next 6 ingredients and 1/4 cup water; process 2 minutes or until smooth. Garnish as desired, and serve with pita wedges, pita chips, pretzel chips or fresh vegetables.
Nutritional analysis per 1-tablespoon serving: 39 calories, 3 grams fat, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 35 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 61 percent of calories from fat.
— “On the Road Again” by Morgan Murphy
Corn salad with radish
▪ Vegetable cooking spray
▪ 4 ears fresh corn, husks removed
▪ 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
▪ 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
▪ 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
▪ 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
▪ 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
▪ 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
▪ 6 radishes, cut into half-moon-shaped slices
▪ Garnish: small fresh basil leaves
1. Heat grill to 300-350 degrees. Lightly grease a cold cooking grate with cooking spray, and place on grill. Place corn on cooking grate and grill, covered with grill lid and turning occasionally, 8-10 minutes or to desired degree of doneness. Cut kernels from cobs and place in a large bowl; discard cobs.
2. Add bell pepper and remaining ingredients (through radishes) to corn; toss well. Serve immediately with optional garnish, or cover and chill.
Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 4: 134 calories, 7 grams fat, 19 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 407 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 42 percent of calories from fat.
— “Southern Made Fresh” by Tasia Malakasis
Cold oven-fried chicken drumsticks
Makes 6 servings
▪ 3 tablespoons butter, melted
▪ 1/2 cup baking mix, such as Bisquick
▪ 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
▪ 1/2 teaspoon paprika
▪ 2 teaspoons salt
▪ 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
▪ 12 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pour melted butter evenly over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2. In a shallow dish, whisk together baking mix, poultry seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper. Lightly and evenly coat the drumsticks. Arrange drumsticks in a single layer in the baking dish.
3. Bake 40 minutes, rotating the drumsticks a quarter-turn every 10 minutes with tongs so that they brown evenly on all sides. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate until chilled.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 202 calories, 11 grams fat, 7 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams protein, 74 milligrams cholesterol, 946 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 49 percent of calories from fat.
— “Duck Commander Kitchen Presents Celebrating Family & Friends” by Kay Robertson with Chrys Howard