Soul Food Dishes And
Cooking Methods

Frying was a popular cooking method for soul food dishes among African American slaves. Fried chicken was normally smothered with paprika, season salt, and pepper and floured in a large, brown paper bag. The same is true for frying fish using a combination of flour and corn meal. Other spices were occasionally added such as garlic salt, and other seasoning.

Soul Food Dishes

Barbecuing was also popular back then and is still popular today. The African American slaves often grill chicken and pork was also popular for grilling.

The best cookware for making a soul food dishes iron pots and cast iron skillets. In the early years, Pineapple Upside Down Cake was originally baked on top of the stove in a skillet. Today many cooks still make this famous icon in a skillet, however many bake it inside the over. My sister, Debra still make her Pineapple Upside Down Cake in a skillet. Another popular skillet dish is oven corn bread. Using a cast iron skillet cooks the bread from the bottom to the outside of the bread, leaving the inside moist and full of flavor.

Hundreds of years ago, slaves planted greens on a little piece of land their slave owners gave them. Some slaves cooked greens in an iron pot. If you were making a "mess of greens" at the time it was called, you were cooking a lot of leaves, water, and meat in a big black iron pot. Greens were mostly served with sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn bread, and ice tea for a real "down South" meal.

Black-eyed peas, another soul food icon, originally came from Africa and was often eaten on New Year Day to bring prosperity. This tradition is still carried out in many home today. Some also believe that black-eyed peas will make you become strong.

Sweet potatoes were often parboiled, sliced and then baked, using sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. This dish was, commonly called "candied yams" also boiled, then pureed and baked into pies .

There's nothing fancy about chicken and dumplings; it's just good old-fashioned home fare. It fills the house with wonderful aromas as it cooks, and nourishes both the body and soul. Leftovers are just as delicious … maybe more so … although the dumplings lose their light texture mostly after the first serving.

Fufu a traditional dish is a staple food of West and Central Africa. It’s a thick paste made by boiling starchy root vegetables in water and pounding with a large mortar and pestle until the desired consistency is reached. It may also be made by boiling flour in water, stirring vigorously with a wooden paddle until thick. Fufu was served with soup, stew, roasted meat, and different sauces.

Another popular food in the rural South was eating chitterlings or chitins. Although chitins are not as common as they once were. In colonial times, hogs were slaughtered in December, and hog maws or ears, pigs feet, and neck bones were given to the slaves. Until emancipation, African-American food choices were dictated by their owners, and slave owners often fed their slaves little more than the scraps of animal meat that the owners deemed unacceptable for themselves.

Soul Food Dishes

Hoecakes was a popular cornbread made of cornmeal, salt and water, which is very thin in texture, and fried in cooking oil in a skillet. It became known as "hoecake" because field hands often cooked it on a shovel or hoe held to an open flame. Corn spoon bread is often used as a side dish because of it’s high content of corn in the batter.

The foods described above are authentic soul foods and are still enjoyed today by many generations.

"I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time being ashamed." Ellison, Ralph Novelist (1914-1994)

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