5@5 is a food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
A while back, chef John Currence stopped by Eatocracy to share his list of five Southern dishes that deserve a comeback. Thing is, when a cuisine's bench is that wide and that deep, there are plenty more options to be put into play.
This devotion extends to the region's dishes.
"These recipes are classics: they're the people's recipes," Wallace says. "Southern food as a whole is the people's food, really basic, satisfying stuff. There is no reason why these recipes shouldn't be something we're doing all the time. They're not some big, crazy, complicated undertaking with hundreds of ingredients; they're classics, with little updates to really up the ante on your Southern food game."
Lay 'em on us, Levon.
Five more Southern dishes that deserve a comeback: Levon Wallace
(Note: recipes are included at the bottom. Except for fried bologna, which you can probably figure out how to do for yourself.)
1. Ambrosia Salad
Let’s be honest, while most of us have fond memories of those saccharine salad stand-ins tucked away, I personally enjoy a hybrid of the two, ditching the not-so-cool whipped topping for Greek yogurt and subbing the marshmallows for a homemade fluff of Italian meringue. All that, paired with fresh fruit and toasted pecans, has converted many ambrosia nonbelievers that I’ve encountered. Amen!
2. Fried Bologna Sandwiches
We make ours from our own bison and heritage hogs and serve it on a buttered brioche bun, with a thin schmear of pimento cheese and an unctuous sunny side up egg.
3. Bread and Butter Anything
The best, for me, was a sweet potato version that chef Vivian Howard served at this year’s Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium. Delicious on its own or as a co-star to cured meats, I like to call it "hillbilly giardiniera."
4. Benedictine Spread
There is a delicate balance between the richness of the cream cheese and the brightness from the cucumbers, lemon, and parsley that reminds me of tzatziki, and makes the spread highly addictive.
5. Alabama White Sauce
It is slowly smoked over hickory wood for at least three hours until completely tender with a deep, reddish-brown crust and a generous slathering of this surprisingly sharp, creamy condiment. Miss Myra's Pit Bar-B-Q in Birmingham makes the best, in my opinion, but just north in Nolensville Tennessee, the smoked chicken wings tossed in Alabama white from Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint have earned a place on my "last meal" list. (Editor's note: the plate pictured above is from Saw's BBQ in Birmingham, Alabama.)
On to the recipes!
Combine tangerines or oranges, pineapple, apples, grapes, and pecan pieces in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Using a rubber spatula or large spoon, gently fold the “fluff” mixture in to the fruit. Place in the refrigerator for one hour.
Place your Ambrosia salad in your finest serving bowl (trifle bowls look nice too!) and choose your favorite garnish. Some suggestions: freshly torn mint leaves, 1 cup fresh raspberries, or 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
- Italian Meringue (“Marshmallow Fluff”)
While that’s happening, whip egg whites in a mixer on low speed until frothy. Add salt and cream of tartar. Increase speed to medium, and whisk until soft peaks form, about 8 minutes.
Reduce speed to low, and carefully pour hot syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Increase speed to high, and whip until mixture stops steaming and you have glossy, stiff peaks, about 3 minutes.
Bread and Butter Pickle “Giardinera”
After 2 hours, drain vegetables and rinse well. (Vegetables should still taste of salt), and transfer to a heat-safe mixing bowl. Set aside.
Meanwhile, Bring vinegars, sugar and spices to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and strain over your salted vegetables. Stir well to combine and allow them to cool on your countertop to room temperature.
When cool enough to handle, transfer to a tightly-lidded container and refrigerate for 8 hours.
Alabama White Sauce
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down. And if you haven't gotten enough of Levon Wallace or our previous 5@5 subjects Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, they'll all be cooking together on November 14 at the Hog & Barrel dinner in Louisville, Kentucky.