Perhaps you have an upcoming trip to the South and want to try Southern dishes for the first time. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to try Southern dishes and want to prepare some yourself. With so many excellent options to choose from, which deserves a top spot on your list?
Southern foods are known for “sticking to your ribs” and making you feel full for hours. Leave room on your plate and in your stomach for these popular dishes.
Shrimp and Grits
Eat enough Southern breakfasts and you’re bound to encounter the life-changing deliciousness that is shrimp and grits. Grits are coarse corn kernels prepared as porridge in water or milk. In the South, you’re likely to have them with butter and salt, but you may dine in a Southern restaurant or household that serves them with other seafood, like crispy shallots.
If you plan to try Southern cooking while traveling in the South, seek out regional interpretations of shrimp and grits. Run an online search for “King Street Alexandria restaurants that serve shrimp and grits” and another for “Downtown Florence restaurants that serve shrimp and grits” and you may discover two very different interpretations of the same dish. One may serve theirs with maple syrup while the other tops it with shredded cheese.
Sweet Potato Pie
You’ve probably heard of pumpkin pie, but have you ever tried sweet potato pie? When the Southern dessert was originally conceived, many Southerners considered pumpkin pie part of Northern culture, which they wanted no part in. Sweet potato pie uses many of the same spices as pumpkin pie — and it tastes a lot like pumpkin pie — but has a lighter filling.
If you have your mouth set on trying this delectable Southern dish, look for it around Thanksgiving. That’s when Southerners bake up their best sweet potato pies to not only impress their family, but also make their ancestors proud and continue a Southern tradition.
Smothered Pork Chops
Anytime you’re in the South and see “smothered” foods included on a menu, prepare to have your diet ruined in the most delicious way possible. Smothered foods are usually fried up in fat like bacon grease and covered with pan gravy made from fat drippings.
Your best bet for enjoying great smothered pork chops is at a soul food restaurant. Southern Black families consider the dish a classic comfort food, and you may too!
Hush puppies are a must-have Southern appetizer that can become your entire meal if you aren’t careful. The fritters are balls or fingers of cornmeal batter mixed with flour, egg, buttermilk, onion, and baking soda. Some hush puppies are prepared with extra ingredients, such as peppers and garlic, before being baked or fried.
While hush puppies are now commonly served as appetizers, they weren’t always. Originally, they were a staple side dish at fish fries, which is why they go great with seafood. If you ever try fried catfish at a Southern restaurant, ask for a side of hush puppies.
One of the best culinary treats to come out of the South is the buttermilk biscuit. Southern buttermilk biscuits are made with soft wheat flour, which thrives in the South’s temperate, moist climate.
Try buttermilk biscuits slathered in butter and paired with preserves. You can also pair buttermilk biscuits with a gravy made from seasoned béchamel sauce and crumbled pork. Thankfully, modern buttermilk biscuits don’t have the same tough texture as they used to during the Colonial era.
There’re popular Southern dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. No matter what you have a taste for, chances are, there’s a Southern dish to more than satisfy your appetite.