Paula Deen Writes the ‘Good Book’ of Southern Food

A Taste for Travel

Book Cover Paula Deen
Destination: Southern United States

Cooking Books: Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible and Paula Deen’s Kitchen Classics

Post By Brette Sember

One summer we rented a condo on Hilton Head for a week. It sounded perfect – wide beaches, warm water, and an island that caters to vacationers. Unfortunately there were jellyfish in the water, too many people in the pool, and nothing at all to do on the island if you don’t golf. This was a gift in disguise though because it meant we had lots of time to explore the surrounding area, especially Savannah and Charleston.

The result was I fell in love with the South. The tidal creeks, pluff mud, and Spanish moss were not only beautiful, but they had a deep, rich smell that gets in your bones.

Then there was the beautiful Battery in Charleston with its dignified and staid mansions, contrasted with the slave market, today a shopping mecca in what was once a place that scars American history.

Savannah is a lyrical city, with hidden squares, fountains, and the riverfront shopping area, tucked down below sight. Everything about this area spoke to me. And the shopping got an A+. I brought home a sweet grass basket, a rag rug basket, a sweet sourdough starter, and some specialty rice. If you’re in Savannah, be sure to stop in at the SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) gift shop on Bull Street for original crafts and works of art by Savannah students.

One of the highlights of our trip was dining at The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen’s Savannah restaurant. We did more than dine. We stuffed ourselves in a very undignified manner. We repeated this behavior at another Savannah Southern classic Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room (formerly the dining room of a boarding house). As a result, I came home with a list as long as my arm of amazing Southern dishes I wanted to replicate. Real lemonade, sweet tea, biscuits, hoe cakes, fried chicken, creamed corn, stewed tomatoes, red rice, peach cobbler, pimiento cheese, and much, much more. Although I have some Southern roots (Button Gwinnett, Savannah native, who signed the Declaration of Independence, is in my family tree), my family cooking roots are firmly in the North.

Brette's hoecakes

Brette’s hoecakes

Brette's lemonade

Brette’s lemonade

When I came home, I ordered
Paula Deen’s Kitchen Classics: The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook and The Lady & Sons, Too!
a compilation of her recipes that included some of things I was craving. Now, though, she has just come out with
Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible: The New Classic Guide to Delicious Dishes with More Than 300 Recipes,
which has everything you could ever need to cook like a true Southerner. The book not only showcases the Savannah classics and Paula’s restaurant recipes I enjoyed so much, but it aims to offer a well-rounded view of all Southern cooking, so you’ll find recipes like Texas Sheet Cake, Kentucky Walnut Pie, Mississippi Mud Cake, Tennessee Whiskey Bundt Cake, Memphis Dry Rub Ribs, and just about every other Southern classic you could ever want (the book is bliblically thick at 455 pages and more than 300 recipes). I just loved paging through it and finding recipes for only-in-the-South foods like “dumplins,” gumbo, benne seeds, hush puppies, spoon bread, grits, ambrosia, divinity, okra, bog, and even burgoo.

Deen knows Southern food and if anyone is going to create the definitive bible on it, it should be her. Her recipes are easy to follow, as long as you stock plenty of butter in your fridge (Deen’s recipes are notoriously rich and over the top)! With this cookbook, you can enjoy a taste of the South without leaving home.

Brette's fried chicken

Brette’s fried chicken

Here’s my recipe for southern fried chicken, adapted from Paula Deen.

Fried Chicken

One cut up whole chicken, or 4 split (bone-in) chicken breasts

3 cups buttermilk

Salt and pepper to taste

3 sggs

1/3 cup water

2 cups self-rising flour

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Peanut oil for frying

Mix buttermilk with salt and pepper and soak chicken in it, refrigerated, for 2-4 hours, or overnight. Mix eggs with water in a large bowl. Mix flour with salt and pepper to taste, and paprika and garlic powder. Heat peanut oil in a deep fryer (I use an electric fryer but you can use a cast iron pan if you prefer) to 360 degrees. Pat the chicken dry, dredge in egg, then flour, then egg, then flour again. Fry for about 15-20 minutes (smaller pieces such as wings or legs take less time, but bone-in breasts take the full amount of time), flipping halfway. Set chicken on a rack in a warm oven. The chicken tastes best if it is allowed to sit for at least half an hour. It’s excellent cold the next day as well.

ATL Disclaimers. Photographs: The three food photos are the property of Brette Sember. The Amazon links to Paula Deen’s books are included for your convenience if you wish to shop at Amazon. The links give credit to Brette Sember as an Amazon affiliate. If you use the links, she will earn a few cents, but it will cost you nothing extra. 

Brette asks: Is there a Southern food YOU love?

 

Brette Sember

Brette writes often about travel, food, and home arts and is the author of more than 40 books about food, law, health, family issues, business, finance and textbooks. She blogs at Putting It All on the Table and her personal web site is Brette Sember.

Brette Sember – who has written posts on A Traveler's Library.


10 thoughts on “Paula Deen Writes the ‘Good Book’ of Southern Food

  1. I’ve watched Paula Dean on TV and love many of her recipes. This fried chicken looks super yum. Whenever I’m down south, I’m always on the lookout for great fried chicken.

  2. Read this just in time- I do believe I’ll buy this for my daughter’s Christmas gift!!! I’m sure her ‘southern’ husband will be grateful.

  3. as a native southerner, Paula Deen’s a bit too over the top for me but she certainly offers a variety of recipes and has done a lot for Savannah tourism.

    I enjoy hot tea, and I drink it and my iced tea unsweetened, but still recall visiting a place in New England which said on the menu ‘iced tea (in season)’ and thinking to myself there is no season for iced tea! and that bottled stuff they sell as iced tea in Europe? ack. as the song says, take me back to the sweet sunny south.

  4. Y’all need to visit us down here in the south! There is nothing like a piping hot plate of fried chicken but I have yet to attempt it at home. I prefer to go out and have someone else make the mess in their kitchen but I might have to try this recipe!

  5. Coincidentally, I just checked out one of Deen’s books from the library. I have only traveled through the South, I’ve never had time to stop and enjoy the cooking–now I want to go!

  6. WOW, brette – delicious!! i definitely need one of those cookbooks. i LOVE southern food. my favorite? biscuits. i will drop anything for a biscuit. i’ve not yet been to that area – you’ve made me want to go! :)

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