Teeming with touches of nostalgia and all-things-comforting, Southern kitchens undoubtedly send out some of the tastiest food in the country. Southern chefs and foodies create and recreate recipes for the foods we grew up on – the ones that not just taste delicious, but that bring with them the memory of being gathered with the family around the dinner table. But, they’re quick to credit the inspiration behind some of their most popular dishes to dear old mom. Here, some of the South’s most talented chefs and foodies share the recipes they love that are inspired by their moms. Enjoy!
Southern Baked Pie Company
Braided Ham and Swiss Pastry
“This dish is inspired by my mom’s ham, Swiss and Dijon petite sandwiches. Every time my mom hosted a shower, which was often in the South, as we shower everything, she would make the sandwiches. It was all I could do to refrain from eating almost all of them. This is my version of a classic favorite with a beautiful new twist. It looks every bit as elegant and sophisticated at a baby or wedding shower as it does a brunch. Yet, it’s so beautiful no one will realize it only took a few minutes to assemble.” Click here for the recipe.
Basic Kitchen, Charleston, SC | The Fat Radish, Savannah, GA
Nick’s favorite dish in the whole world is his mother Mary-Ellen’s cucumber salad. He took this dish to The Fat Radish in NYC many years ago, where it has had many different lives, and it even made the pages of The Fat Radish cookbook. This version, with crunchy fried oysters, is the latest and might just be the best. Look out for it on the menu at their new spot in Savannah this summer! Click here for the recipe.
Melissa Ann Barton
Mod Squad Martha
Garlic Shrimp and Herb and Vidalia-Infused Three-Cheese Grits
“My momma was my biggest cheerleader, and she loved hanging out with me while I cooked, just like I did her as a kid. She went to a private girls’ school in the South during the late 1940s where grits were an accompaniment to every meal. She discovered that she loved grits and loved shrimp but did not like ‘the creamy, heavy gravy’ that was poured over shrimp and grits. I wanted to make a version she would love. My momma taught me to cook with alcohol, citrus and lots of herbs, and she made use of lots of Vidalia onions. She taught me early on to buy good ingredients and know where my food came from. It all came together, and she always got excited when my clients would request my shrimp and grits. I loved knowing she had a hand in it! My momma gave me so many gifts … time, love and faith topping that.” Click here for the recipe.
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The Grocery, Charleston, SC
“My mother’s cooking never inspired new gastronomic heights, mainly as a product of when I grew up. The ’70s were the age of tuna noodle casserole (my absolute favorite) and canned pears on iceberg leaves filled with cottage cheese and topped with a cherry. However, two things that I have received from my mother, and another from my great-grandmother, that are used regularly: Her grits casserole has been a staple at Christmas breakfast for ages, and my great-grandmother’s angel biscuits have also been a staple at Christmas breakfast. The biscuits are now a staple at The Grocery’s brunch.” Click here for the recipe.
Squirell’s, Savannah, GA
“My mother actually used to make this vinegar chicken dish, and it’s one of my earliest and fondest memories of her in the kitchen. She would sear a chicken breast in a pan with equal parts butter and peanut oil. When the chicken was done, she would deglaze with red wine vinegar, reduce until almost dry, then add a little chicken stock.” Click here for the recipe.
Tavern at Bobby, Nashville, TN
Pimento Cheese-Stuffed Fried Chicken
At Tavern, Chef Jeff Axline puts his own spin on two classic Southern dishes: pimento cheese and fried chicken. A menu standout, Jeff was inspired by his favorite dish his mom used to make growing up — fried chicken. He says, “My mother’s version of fried chicken is the best I’ve ever had (although, now I’m not sure if it’s because it was my first impression of fried chicken or because it was hers — maybe it’s both!). As a kid, I remember her pulling out the Dutch oven and the delicious smell filling up the whole house! She’d serve the chicken with corn, mashed potatoes and white cream gravy — heaven on Earth!” Click here for the recipe.
The Mockingbird, Nashville, TN
Chocolate Chip Supreme Cookie
“This recipe is the epitome of nostalgia for me. It’s my mom Joan’s Chocolate Chip Supreme Cookie recipe that she has perfected over the last 40 years. It is a pretty classic recipe, but there is the addition of oats that leads to a nice crunch and a balance of whole wheat and all-purpose flour for just the perfect crumb structure and moisture level. They are perfectly soft, not too sweet and loaded with chocolate chips. To me, this is one of the most simple recipes but also one of the hardest to perfect. Straight out of the oven they smell heavenly, and they are on the menu, in part, because it brings such joy to smell them being baked every day!” Click here for the recipe.
Executive Pastry Chef Kayla May
Josephine, Nashville, TN
Memaw’s Peach Cobbler
“We all knew her as Memaw. The kids she kept knew her a Ms. McGrew. She was born in Clay County Arkansas in 1918. There’s so much I can’t tell you about her early life. She passed away my first week of college, and the questions I would ask her now I didn’t think to ask her back then. She was our favorite. She would cook my sister and me Jell-O for breakfast and help us hide it from our mother. (Looking back, I think my mother knew all along. But it was our secret, and I loved her for it.) Every summer we would visit, my siblings and cousins and me, and every summer we would help her pick peaches and blackberries and tomatoes. We would swim in the lake and dig in the dirt. Memaw knew how to grow, cook and preserve food. I figured if she knew how to do all that, there probably wasn’t much she didn’t know how to do. Her cellar where she stored all of her canned food was a favorite hiding spot when we played hide-and-go-seek. She made the best peach cobbler. All of us kids thought so anyway. While this may not be the exact recipe she used (after all, she never measured anything, she just knew the right amount to put in), it is inspired by her. It was created from the memory of eating barefoot on the porch, our hair still wet from swimming in the lake. It tasted like summer, and to me it still does.” Click here for the recipe.
FARM, Bluffton, South Carolina
Lemon Chess Hand Pies
Chef Brandon Carter of beloved FARM in Bluffton keeps one of his mom’s recipes on his menu. He says, “My mom is famous for her pies. We do a fried pie that’s always on the menu, and we use my mom’s pie dough recipe.” Click here for the recipe.
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