The Southern table

by J. Allen Shults
Personal Chef & Food Critic

Growing up in East Tennessee and having learned how to cook from my mother and grandmother are some of my favorite memories; ones that I will cherish forever. I have learned so much about southern cooking in the last couple of years. About how simply items can be prepared, and how truly delicious they are.

Now it’s summertime and it’s only fitting that I give you some truly southern recipes and tips on how to prepare them. Herb Roasted Chicken, fresh corn on the cob, fried green tomatoes and cornbread are just a couple of things on the menu. Also save room for the best blackberry crisp you’ll ever have!

I urge everyone to check out their local farmer’s market and roadside stand. You will be amazed at what you can find and how delicious and inexpensive they can be. The juiciest peaches and strawberries are just waiting to be picked. Try to find your own strawberry or blackberry farm. Just make sure you pick enough to put some in the freezer for a later date.

Herb Roasted Chicken

  • 1 organic whole chicken 3 to 4 lb 
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 springs of rosemary
  • 8 springs of thyme
  • 5 flat leaf parsley
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Prep the chicken by washing thoroughly and drying off with paper towels. Chop rosemary and thyme finely then set aside. Rub the bird down with butter and olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper then cut the lemon in half; stuff inside with the parsley sprigs and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator over night so the chicken can marinate.

About two hours before dinner, place the bird in a 350 degree preheated oven. Bake for approximately one and a half hours or until a thermometer placed in the side of the thigh meat reads 165 degrees.

Remember to baste with the pan juices every 20 or 30 minutes. Serve on a platter garnished with fresh herbs and lemons.

This next recipe will invoke thoughts of Cathy Bates yelling “Towanda” and ramming her car into someone else’s, or at least it does for me. Fried green tomatoes are a staple of the southern table and will be for many years to come. Just close your eyes and you will be at the Whistle Stop Café.

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 4 firm green tomatoes
  • 2 cups of buttermilk
  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground white pepper

Heat oil to 350 degrees; use a thermometer to stabilize the temperature. Slice the tomatoes into about quarter-inch slices. Discard the tops and bottoms of the tomatoes.

Soak the slices in buttermilk for about two hours. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix. Dip the tomatoes in the seasoned flour mixture and coat them thoroughly. Dip into the buttermilk again just to get them wet and place into the seasoned flour mixture again, and let them stay there until you are ready to fry them.

Dusting them again with the seasoned flour until there well coated. Place a kitchen towel on a cookie sheet and set on the counter next to the heated oil. Drop the tomatoes into the oil, one at a time. Fry until golden brown. Remove the fried green tomatoes with tongs and place on the kitchen towel to drain. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, and enjoy.

Fresh Blackberry Crisp

  • 6 cups of blackberries
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup of butter

For the topping:

Place flour, butter and one and a half cups of sugar in a bowl and combine with a fork until completely mixed.

For the blackberries:

Pour blackberries, the remaining sugar, ginger and red wine in a bowl and mix together. Place in a buttered oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle the topping on top of the blackberries. Bake until the top is golden brown or for about 45 minutes. Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Everyone will enjoy this recipe, so make plenty!

Just about everywhere in Tennessee you should be able to find cornbread on the menu. It has been a southern table essential forever. You would never set down at my grandmother’s table and not find some there. This simplistic recipe is so delicious and truly southern.

Southern Corn Bread

  • 2 cups of self-rising cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • Or bacon renderings
  • 1 extra-large egg

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a greased nine-inch baking dish or seasoned cast iron skillet. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. The top should be golden brown and slightly cracked.

When you’re at the farmers market, purchase some corn on the cob. Shuck the corn and remove the silks with a dry kitchen towel. Place into a pot of boiling water for about 20 minutes. If you have any heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers cut them into slices and serve them along with the rest of dinner. All you will need now is sweetened iced tea and dinner is served.

I love to share what I have learned over the years. Working and cooking with some terrific professional chefs has given me the chance to learn so much. Now I want to share that knowledge with my community. If you would like any recipes just email me at

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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