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Soul Food Favorites

I’m always asking people what soul food means to them. The term Southern comes up a lot, as well as words like comfort and homemade. In America, we think of soul food as African-American cuisine, but every ethnic group has comfort foods that bring back warm memories of family meals. However you define it, loosen your belt and enjoy this month’s soul food recipes with your family.

PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN BREASTS
6 chicken breasts, skinned with bone in
1/2 cup butter
3 sleeves butter-type cracker crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place crackers in blender and blend until finer than breadcrumbs. Melt butter completely (I microwave it). Dip chicken in melted butter. Coat chicken in crumbs and Parmesan cheese and place on baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Serves 6.

SOUTHERN TURNIP GREENS
4-5 lbs. turnip greens
1 lb. salt pork, rinsed and diced
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
Dash of crushed red pepper, optional
Apple cider vinegar

Cut off and discard tough stems and discolored leaves from greens. Wash greens thoroughly; drain well. Cook salt pork in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp and brown. Add turnip greens, water, onion, pepper, sugar, and crushed red pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 40 to 45 minutes or until greens are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with vinegar. Serves 6-8.

OLD FASHIONED MAC ’N CHEESE
1 lb. elbow macaroni
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups plus 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni in boiling water for about 10 minutes until tender but still firm. Drain well and set aside. In a deep skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour to make a roux and cook, stirring to remove any lumps. Pour in milk and cook until the mixture is thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 2 cups cheese and continue to cook until melted. Add cooked macaroni and stir.

Preheat oven to 350°. Transfer mixture to 2-quart casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove casserole from oven, top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for additional 5 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serves 6-8.

CHIVE BISCUITS
2-1/2 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 Tablespoons margarine or butter, melted

Heat oven to 450°. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With fork, stir in buttermilk, cheese, and chives just until blended. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons 1 inch apart on ungreased large cookie sheet. Brush biscuits with melted margarine. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. Makes 12.

BANANA CREAM PIE
2-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
5 ripe bananas (about 1-1/2 lbs.), peeled
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups whipping cream
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks, lightly whipped
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 Tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and mashed banana in large bowl to blend. Add unsalted butter and stir to moisten evenly. Press onto bottom and up sides of 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Bake crust until set and golden pale, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy, medium saucepan to blend. Gradually whisk in whipping cream and whole milk, then egg yolks. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add vanilla bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until custard thickens and boils, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Discard vanilla bean. Transfer custard to large bowl; cool completely, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour.

Cut peeled bananas crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Spread 1 cup custard over bottom of prepared crust. Top with half of sliced bananas, then 1 cup custard, covering bananas completely. Repeat layering with remaining bananas and remaining custard. Chill banana cream pie until filling is set and crust softens slightly, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Cut pie into wedges and serve. Serves 8.

Coming Next Month: Rolling Up Roll Cakes

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