Vintage Southern Recipes

Like all regional cuisines, Southern food is the product of the people who’ve lived in the region throughout history. For example, Carolina hash originated with enslaved people, while crab cakes reportedly date back to Native American cooking. Taking inventory of a region’s vintage dishes is like taking part in a living history lesson, while also inspiring creativity at the moment.

Southern We hope as you enjoy this tour of 50 of the South’s most iconic recipes, you feel a connection with Southern history. And if you’re inspired to bring some of that history into the present day in the form of cooking, that’s even better.

Flaky Southern Biscuits

Despite the fact biscuits are ubiquitous on Southern dining tables, some fear that honest-to-goodness handmade biscuits are in danger of disappearing amid the many choices now available for ready-made refrigerated biscuit dough. And that, we think, is a crying shame, especially when rolling out biscuits from scratch requires a mere five ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand anyway. We’re talking flour, butter, baking soda, baking powder, and buttermilk. So in the name of tradition and good taste, please give these pillow-light babies a chance.

Homemade Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a staple in many a Southern refrigerator, but if you don’t happen to have any on hand, we have an easy fix, provided you do have milk, lemon juice, and 10 minutes to spare. Use your quick homemade buttermilk in our recipes for flaky Southern biscuits (above), a protein-packed version of the classic buttermilk pancake, and the good ole fashioned Southern fried chicken you’ve been thinking about since you started reading this story.

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Buttermilk Pancakes

A Southern breakfast-table classic, buttermilk pancakes are melt-in-your-mouth yummy, and guess what? They don’t have to be a carb bomb, at least not when your recipe balances the carbs with flaxseeds and Greek yogurt, which amps up the protein power.

Stuffed French Toast

Some say pancakes are the hero of the breakfast table, but there are a lot of French toast fans out there who would disagree, especially when that French toast is stuffed with strawberries, which grow easily in the South. In this case, the cream is actually your choice of ricotta or cottage cheese, which is why you can feel like you’re having a decadent morning meal while actually loading up on the protein.

Breakfast Hash

The word “hash” comes from the French, “hacher,” which means “to chop.” It makes sense considering hash is a one-pan fry consisting of chopped, leftover meat, potatoes, and onions. Traditional Southern hash may have, at one time, been one way to use up all the parts of a pig, but nowadays, you should feel free to use whatever meat you have on hand. Our Southern breakfast hash uses chicken sausage in place of pork, sweet potatoes in place of ordinary spuds, and a shake or two of Tabasco sauce for a quick bolt of heat.

Succotash

This Southern favorite that’s built on a foundation of lima beans and corn (which work in synch to create a complete protein) has an origin story in just about every state where the colonists crossed paths with Native Americans, including Massachusetts, which likes to claim succotash as its own because it was supposedly served at the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation in 1621. But once you dress it up with smoky bacon and a splash of half-and-half, as we do in our version, you’re talking Southern pedigree all the way.

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Maryland Crab Cakes

Because crabs and other crustaceans were available in abundance along the Atlantic coast when the first European settlers arrived on our shores, crabs have long been on the menu throughout the entire East Coast, but nowhere more so than in Maryland, which has become synonymous with crab in all its glorious forms. Savory cakes made from minced crab meat, bread crumbs, and spices, which go back just as far, may have been adopted from English minced meat recipes as a way to make the eating of crab easier or as a way to use every last shred of meat you can scrape from the shell. But it wasn’t until 1930 that the term “crab cake” first appears in print, at which time the term was “Baltimore crab cakes.”

Blueberry Peach Cobbler]

Peaches are as iconic to Georgia as crab is to Maryland. As we mention in 35 Southern Dishes Your Grandparents Used to Make, eating a Georgia peach is a multi-sensory experience of sight, smell, and taste. But the next best thing would have to be digging into a freshly-baked peach cobbler, which is basically a crustless peach pie topped with flaky Southern biscuits. Wanna take things up a level? Throw in fresh blueberries.

Smokey Ribs

While we’re on the topic of peaches, it would be remiss not to mention this smoky ribs recipe, which amps up the sweet smokiness of its barbecue glaze with a genius combination of peaches and bourbon. Slow roasted in the oven and then blasted with hickory smoke on the grill, this BBQ classic covers all the Southern bases: ribs, peaches, hickory smoke, and BBQ.

Glazed Ham

Because you can never really run out of ways to use peaches in a Southern kitchen, we would also be remiss not to mention this quintessentially Southern glazed ham, which is accented with peach chutney and features a smoky bourbon glaze. Apart from the classic Southern taste, what’s remarkable about our glazed ham recipe is how low in calories it actually is. Dig in!