Southern Artisanal Grocer’s Larder

 

Southern Larder

  • Butter: Buy the best quality butter you can find, Yes its that important. Unless otherwise indicated, I  use unsalted butter because it’s generally a superior product. Also salted butter has an unpredictable amount of salt, it’s easier to control the overall salt level in a dish by using unsalted butter.  This should go without saying, but I never use margarine as a substitute for butter.
  • Buttermilk: If you’re buying it at the grocery store know what you’re getting, it’s more than likely just cultured milk and bears little to no resemblance to the tart liquid that runs off a batch of fresh butter. Seek out  the real thing from a local dairy if possible, your biscuits and cornbread will thank you.
  • Cane Syrup: Once a Southern staple, cane syrup has mostly fallen by the wayside.  Now the best known syrup is unquestionably Steen’s from Abbeville, Louisiana. Steen’s Syrup has been around for over 106 years bringing to mind hot glazed hams, popcorn balls, pecan pies, biscuits, pancakes and syrup. Golden brown, sweet, molasses-like flavor without the bitterness, not too thick with an almost maple syrup viscosity.
  • Duke’s Mayonnaise: If you’re going to use prepared mayonnaise use the best. Invented in Greenville, South Carolina. Duke’s is the only big-name mayonnaise with no added sugar, which means its vinegar tang sings loud and clear when slathered on a tomato sandwich.
  • Family Size Teabags: A family-size tea bag, of basic black tea, not green, is the equivalent of three or four regular tea bags and perfect for making gallons of sweet tea to keep in your fridge in case guests stop by. 
  • Hot Sauces: Hot sauces are an institution in the South with many people extremely devoted to their variety.  Louisiana–made Crystal on fried seafood po’ boys.  Bayou Tabasco in a Bloody Mary. Texas Pete, which is actually from North Carolina, is perfect for North Carolina barbecue, both eastern or western. This isn’t to mention the small-batch options around, made with unusual regional chiles like Chesapeake fish peppers and datil peppers from St. Augustine, Florida.
  • Jarred Pimento Peppers: One 4-ounce jar of diced pimentos is all you need to make a batch of pimento cheese if guests stop by. It’s worth keeping a few jars on hand at all times. 
  • Panko Breadcrumbs: Japanese panko bread crumbs produce a lighter, crispier crust on breaded foods.
  • Peanut Oil: I prefer peanut oil (or grapeseed oil) and it’s high smoke point (440 degrees) as compared to canola oil and especially olive oil.  If you think this doesn’t matter fry some chicken or a small bird  in canola and peanut, the peanut oil fried chicken will have a much less oily and “greasy” taste.   I still have olive oil on hand for other uses.
  • Quality Stone Ground Grits: We are talking about the real thing here, not instant grits that have nothing in common with stone ground grits.  I’ll use quick grits on occasion if I’m making a grits casserole, but whenever possible take the time to use the real thing, the ones your grandmother remembers.Invest in grits milled from good crop, like those from South Carolina’s Anson Mills or Alabama’s McEwen & Sons. Store yourgrits in the freezer to keep them nearly as fresh as the day they were ground.
  • Quality Cornmeal: Much Of the same rules apply to cornmeal as do to grits. Buy the best quality ground cornmeal  and store in the freezer.
  • Sorghum Syrup: Chances are if you don’t live in the South you’ve never heard of this absolutely delicious concoction. Sorghum is cane syrup’s darker, more complex cousin.  It is the pressed juice of sorghum cane, reduced into a sweet syrup. Pour over buttered biscuits and use as a substitute for cane syrup or honey, you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t live in the South the internet is a wonderful resource.  So what do I do with it once I have it? Sorghum butter is a must! Mix the two up together and spread it on fresh biscuits or a warm square of cornbread. Glazes for ham, sweet potatoes, carrots. Drizzle on toast and ice cream. Pair it with cheese and use it to sweeten cocktails.
  • Southern Sodas: Nehi (Originally Columbus, Georgia), Blenheim Ginger Ale (Blenheim, South Carolina), Cheerwine (Salisbury, North Carolina), Grapico (Birmingham, Alabama), Ale-8-One (Louisville, Kentucky), Dublin Vanilla Cream (San Antonio, Texas)
  • Winter Wheat Flour: This is all about making biscuits, well not only but that is reason enough.  Few, if any, other brands can compete with White Lily of Memphis, Tennessee.  Made from low-protein, low-gluten soft winter wheat flour, which gives Southern buttermilk biscuits that light-on-the-inside, crisp-on-the-outside texture.  Buy a bag you won’t be disappointed.