1. Banana Pudding
This is a staple Sunday dish for the post-sermon meal. And usually — mysteriously — you’ll often find two bowls of this stuff lying around. That’s probably because it’s easy to make, and maybe that pulled pork you were trying to use on Saturday afternoon didn’t work out. Not to worry! Throw some egg yolks and vanilla into a sugar, salt, flour mix and put it on the stove.
Oh, and when you’re done, throw in a ton of vanilla wafers. This stuff is even better when you can use it as a dip and eat the cookie at the same time.
2. Fried Green Tomatoes
You know how they say fruits and veggies are good for you? Well, we found a way around that. Turns out, if you fry tomatoes in a buttermilk and egg batter, you somewhat negate the health benefits of the tomato. However, fried green tomatoes are a classic in Alabama, offered in most mom and pop restaurants, and even a few larger chains as a regional delicacy.
That’s just as well. Alabamians love ‘em!
3. Southern Cornbread (Hushpuppies, too.)
How do you make a standard cornbread a little more southern? Easy! Grab a cast iron skillet to cook it and follow your usual cornbread recipe. Add bacon grease. (Are you beginning to see a pattern with Southern cooking?). Also a southern delicacy, cornbread is one of those have-anytime snacks that you’ll find at cookouts, family dinners, and any number of large-ish gatherings where food is involved.
Want to take it a step further? Hushpuppies are basically just bite-sized cornbread rolled into a ball with some onions thrown in. (The recipe is a little different, but the result is very similar.) If you’re serving up Southern-style seafood, you’ll need a few of these on the plate.
4. Peach Cobbler
One of the few southern dishes that somehow missed the boat on the “let’s throw grease everything” movement in Alabama cooking, peach cobbler is a sweet tooth’s southern delight. The good news: you don’t have to use actual grease. But you will need a stick of butter (the whole thing) in order to make this work. You didn’t think those peaches were going to get away scot free, did you?
The flavor actually comes from the filling, though. Usually, it’s cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Southern cooks like to dabble. There are dozens of variations in the peach cobbler recipe. Some people use less butter or add maple syrup and coconut milk.
5. Boiled Peanuts
Alabamians go wild for these things at most major sporting and social events. Football and baseball games, the county fair, even movie theatres will have a boiled peanut vendor (who will make an absolute killing, by the way) to dole out bags of peanuts on the cheap.
On the surface, you might think that making boiled peanuts is as easy as, well, boiling peanuts! But, given the chance, Alabamians will do a few things to liven up the recipe. Borrowing from other Southern traditions, it’s not uncommon to see Cajun-boiled peanuts in the pot right alongside the standard version. You’ll also find beer-boiled peanuts and hot sauce peanuts if you look around.
6. Fried Catfish
Alabamians don’t skimp on the catfish. The catfish industry is only second to Mississippi in annual production value. Nationwide, if you want fresh catfish, the closer you are to the Alabama Gulf Coast, the more likely you are to get it!
Unfortunately, just having catfish isn’t enough. You’ve got to break out the eggs and milk and cornmeal so that you can bread it and fry it. Some people say that tuna is the chicken of the sea. Those people never tried fried catfish.
7. Biscuits and Gravy
This combination, originally a Southern delicacy, has been picked up by breakfast chains around the country. It’s no wonder that Alabamians are fans of this classic. It’s simple and tastes great, especially if served with some grits and eggs.
8. White Sauce BBQ
Barbeque is a Southern staple. White sauce barbeque is a little more specific. You’ll find it across Northern and central Alabama. That’s it!
White sauce barbeque competes with other southern barbeque styles in a territorial battle across the south. It’s a confined and unique flavor you won’t find anywhere else. The sauce itself is a mayonnaise base with some vinegar, spicy mustard, and horseradish thrown in. It’s got a tangy flavor that’s wholly different than the sweet-heat flavors you’ll encounter in Georgia and Tennessee.
Whether you agree with cooking them or not, crawfish are a big thing in Alabama. There are dozens of recipes out there, all designed to get a crawfish from the pot to your stomach. Alabama may not hold the trophy on crawfish as a delicacy (Louisiana will take that win) but Alabamians love crawfish all the same.
10. Homemade Ice Cream
Hey, now. Put that deep fryer away!
There’s nothing like homemade ice cream in the middle of an Alabama summer. When it’s so hot and humid you’re wondering how the trees haven’t wilted yet, brewing up a fresh batch of the sweet stuff is a great way to fill an afternoon.
So put away that deep fat fryer and go for something a little sweeter and easier on the stomach! Once you’ve got the ice cream ready to go, throw it in a cone, grab a glass of iced sweet tea, and head to the front porch.
Or just head to Matt’s Homemade Alabama Ice Cream.
Featured image: Alison Dale