The term "Healthy Southern Cooking" is the ultimate oxymoron. Folks from up north often comment on Southern Cuisine and how much they love it. They also lament, it just doesn't taste the same "up there". Well there is a simple reason for all this, down here we have three main food groups, Butter, Bacon, and BBQ. (BBQ alone deserves its own post to do it justice.)
Part of southern cooking, let's say the heart of southern cooking, is the flavor. And that flavor is not something you can bottle (short of someones secret BBQ sauce) or put in a flavor packet. The collards taste just right because of the thick pieces of bacon, hunk of fat back, or piece of salted pork you browned in the pot before you threw the collards in.
Biscuits will not work correctly without Crisco or lard. (And for the record, I seriously doubt Bisquick contains dehydrated lard.) OK, you can fry chicken in vegetable oil and it will taste great. But I can assure you it tastes better fried in Crisco.
There is a reason Butter is a food group down here. For instance, a decent biscuit is not decent without a pat of sweet creamy butter. "I can't believe it's not butter" isn't - just in case your mother never told you. Margarine is blasphemy.
And there is little argument that bacon added to anything tastes better. This can be a sandwich, a casserole, or a pot of green beans, to name a few. One of newest fads on gourmet menus is Pork Belly. One again we are way ahead of you. Pork Belly is nothing more than extra thick slabs of bacon.
There are several truths in southern fare: Real Macaroni and Cheese does not come from a blue box. There is no such thing as "Oven Baked Fried Chicken". Powered gravy should be outlawed. Canned collards and boiled peanuts are disgusting. And the words "turkey" and "bacon" should never be associated with one another.
I realize that due to heart health issues some folks need to abstain from the saturated fats. Everything in moderation. However, anyone who knows anything about the south knows moderation is not in our DNA. The only time southern women use moderation is in their words when writing a note of regret to the hostess of a party they did not want to attend in the first place.
Crisco was a staple when I was growing up. We also made butter so there was no such thing as margarine.
Do you remember Oleo?
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