In The Help, the character Minny reveres Crisco, calling it “the most important invention in the kitchen since jarred mayonnaise.” She uses Crisco to fry chicken to perfection, admiring the way the vegetable shortening “bubbles up like a song” as it cooks.
mkgallery’s Emily Kaiser Thelin created these crispy hush puppies—cornmeal dumplings—by adapting a recipe from chef Susan McCreight Lindeborg. Emily serves them with a version of the creamy French sauce remoulade, which she spikes with Tabasco and a little ketchup.
Sweet potatoes grow in abundance in Alabama, where sculptor Sandi Stevens’ family eats them year-round. This casserole is a Stevens favorite: silky pureed sweet potatoes topped with a sweet and crunchy pecan-cornflake topping.
This is the Rushings’ Southern interpretation of French creamed spinach. The collards add a pleasant bitterness to this lush side dish, but it’s important to shred them finely before you simmer them in the cream or they'll never get tender.
Southern red velvet cake is usually a tall layer cake, slathered with cream cheese icing and studded with pecans. In this deconstructed version, the cake is low (like a torte), the pecans are coated in caramel to make pecan praline and the cream cheese icing is transformed into cream cheese-flavored ice cream.
This is a slightly modernized take on the very traditional Southern chicken casserole Jennifer Nettles’s mother likes to make. The recipe swaps out the usual canned cream of chicken soup in favor of a quick white sauce. A dash of hot sauce is the perfect finish.
Corn relish provides all the seasoning required for this slightly sweet corn bread. The relish also adds heft, making the corn bread substantial enough to serve as a vegetarian lunch with a green salad and some sliced tomatoes.
When you slice into this delicious pie, don’t be surprised by the gap between the filling and the top crust. This happens when a pie is baked at high heat because the crust sets before the fruit in the filling has cooked down.
Newspaper columnist and baker Lee Ann Flemming made 53 chocolate pies over the course of filming The Help. Her fudgy version here is as classic as it gets. You can make your own crust, but Flemming uses packaged.