Before last week, I had never made real fried chicken. Between the perceived mess and my worry of serving burnt-but-still-raw chicken, I knew I'd need a commanding voice to guide me through my fears and persuade me to give it a shot. The buttermilk skillet-fried chicken recipe in Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart's Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking offered just the direction I was looking for.
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The name "macaroni pie" is confusing on multiple fronts. This recipe, from Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart's Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking is neither a pie nor made from macaroni. It also obscures the fact that the dish in question is actually just custard-style macaroni and cheese. But this old-school title is also a reminder of the history of the dish.
Let's get this straight first: barbecue shrimp is not barbecue in the low-heat, wood-smoked, or whole-hog sense of the term. Barbecue shrimp requires only quick stove-top cooking with no grill in sight. But what it does have in common with barbecue is the spicy, saucy mess than ensues when sitting down to a big bowl of the stuff.
The hot oven crisps and caramelizes thin slices of okra, transforming the contentious vegetable into an addictive appetizer.
Squash casserole is an enduring favorite at Southern potlucks. I know that I ate plenty of the stuff growing up, but it was mostly because the flavor of the squash was covered up by ungodly amounts of cheese and butter. These days, I prefer actually tasting my vegetables. Luckily, Nathalie Dupree's version in Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking contains enough squash, onion, and peppers to taste more of summer produce than bulk cheese.