The holiday season is here! Time to welcome the familiar aromas of savory spices, simmering on the stove and sweet, tempting scents creeping out of the oven. Thanksgiving is the season of sharing warmth, giving love, and enjoying great food! So, gather your friends, family and loved ones and enjoy an incomparable Southern styled cuisine. With a deeply rooted history that blends together a range of cultural influences, Southern food has become a staple in American meals. Here in the lowcountry, you'll find a variety of unique spreads that define the heart of our vibrant community. This year, add some soul to your meal and bring a piece of the south into your home. Most Southerners begin the new year with a distinctive Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry pea and rice dish called “Hoppin’ John” made with peas, rice, bacon and often times collard greens as it’s ingredients. Southerners believe eating this dish on New Year‘s Day will bring luck in the new year. Keep reading for a few recipes from Damon Lee Fowler, a local culinary historian, that will inspire your Southern Styled Holiday.
Click the pictures below to discover a range of recipes to add to your Thanksgiving spread!
Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce
-Makes about 2 cups-
1 12-ounce package cranberries
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon raw (turbinado) sugar
1 tablespoon The Salt Table Cinnamon Sugar
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) bourbon
1. Wash the berries well in cold water and drain in a colander. Put them into a stainless-steel or enamel-lined heavy-bottomed pot. Add half a cup of water and both sugars. Stir well and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Adjust the heat to a steady simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries “pop” and are tender and transparent, about 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the bourbon. Let it cool slightly, then pour it into a clean pint jar or glass bowl. Allow to cool completely, cover tightly, and refrigerate until needed. Let it warm to room temperature before serving or gently reheat over low heat, stirring often, and serve warm.
-Serves 6 to 8-
2 cups dried red peas (see notes)
½ pound lean salt-cured pork, pancetta, or bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 large onion, trimmed, split lengthwise, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed, peeled and minced
1 small pod hot red pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced, or ground cayenne to taste
Whole black pepper in a peppermill
1 bay leaf
1 sprig mint, plus 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 cups long-grain rice, washed and drained
1. Wash and drain the peas. Put them in a large pot with about 6 cups water and bring them to a boil over a medium heat. Do not add salt. Carefully skim off the scum, reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover, and simmer half an hour.
2. Meanwhile, put the salt pork or bacon in a sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Fry until it is browned and its fat is rendered. Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and hot pepper and sauté until fragrant. Turn off the heat and add the contents of the skillet to the peas. Put in the bay leaf and mint sprig and season liberally with pepper, cover loosely, and simmer until the peas are tender.
3. Taste the broth and correct for salt, keeping in mind that it must be highly seasoned since a lot of it will be absorbed by the rice. Drain off but reserve the broth and measure 4 cups back into the pot. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stir in the rice, and let it come back to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 14 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and distinct steam holes appear. Cover tightly, turn off the heat, and let it steam 12 minutes, or until the grains of rice are tender but still loose and distinct.
4. Fluff the rice with a fork: it should be fluffy and fairly dry, but if it seems too dry, moisten it with a little reserved broth. Turn it into a serving dish, sprinkle with chopped mint, and serve.
Old-Fashioned Scalloped Oysters
2 pints standard oysters
2 sleeves saltine crackers (half a 16 ounce box)
½ cup (¼ pound or 1 stick) unsalted butter
Salt and whole black pepper in a mill
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs
1½ cups light cream
Worcestershire and hot sauce, both to taste
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350° F. Drain the oysters, reserving half a cup of their liquor. Pick through the oysters for bits of shell.
2. Roughly break the crackers into very coarse crumbs. Melt the butter over medium heat in pan large enough to hold cracker crumbs. Add the crumbs and toss until they’ve evenly absorbed the butter and are toasty, about 2 minutes.
3. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking dish or 10-12-inch oval gratin dish. Sprinkle a fourth of the crumbs over the bottom. Spread half the oysters over the crumbs, season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the parsley and a third of the remaining cracker crumbs. Spread the rest of the oysters over the top, lightly season with more salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley and half the remaining crumbs.
4. Whisk together the eggs, cream, and reserved oyster liquor. Season to taste with a few dashes each of Worcestershire and hot sauce and whisk to combine. Pour it evenly over the oysters. Top with the remaining crumbs and bake until lightly browned and set, about 30 minutes.