Amanda Stone's Tasty States

It should come as no surprise that South Carolina’s cuisine is as varied as its many regions and landforms. We’re talking mountains, coastal plains, islands and more. In a state where there’s something for everyone, you know the food is going to be good.

As part of the Deep South, South Carolina has a reputation to uphold when it comes to food. The state holds up its end of the Southern cooking bargain by being known for some of the best barbecue and fried seafood in the nation.

The state claims to be the birthplace of barbecue, but they all say that. The states of our nation and their dedication to their own brand of barbecue is really something. If only we could all come together and love each other’s barbecue as we love our own.

South Carolina also works culinary magic with Southern staples such as biscuits, grits, deviled eggs, peaches and pecans. But it is especially known for soups with unseemly names, such as she-crab soup and Frogmore stew.

The she-crab soup is made with crab roe, so it is aptly named because, of course, female crabs make the eggs, or roe. But Frogmore stew, also known as low country boil, is neither stew nor frog. It’s a one-pot meal of crab, smoked sausage, shrimp, corn on the cob and new potatoes, named for the island community where it originated.

Those from the Palmetto State will be quick to admit that their cherished pimento cheese originated in the North, but they do take full credit for making it better and thereby making it their own. They did so by jazzing up the blah cream cheese and pimento spread with the best locally sourced ingredients, including sharp cheddar cheese and their beloved Duke’s mayonnaise. Slathered on soft white bread, that pimento cheese, sometimes referred to as Carolina caviar, is the stuff dreams are made of.

Try these recipes for a taste of South Carolina.

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Southern pimento cheese

  • 1/2 cup roasted pimento, peeled, seeded and diced (can substitute roasted sweet bell pepper)
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the peppers: If using jarred pimento peppers, pat them dry with a paper towel and finely dice. Set aside.

If using red bell pepper, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the red bell pepper on a baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until skin is blistered and blackened in spots and skin has puffed up. Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the pepper cool to room temperature. When pepper is cool, remove the skin, stem and seeds and discard. Pat the pepper dry inside and out with paper towels and chop into a fine dice. Set aside.

For pimento cheese: Use a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer to mix the pimento cheese spread.

Add the shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper. Mix on medium to medium high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese is very well combined. Stir in the diced pimento or roasted bell pepper until the pepper is evenly distributed throughout the cheese spread. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving. Serve with crackers or crudité.

Recipe adapted from www.garlicandzest.com.

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Shrimp and grits

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup corn grits
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth and water to a boil and season generously with salt. Reduce heat to a simmer then whisk in grits. Simmer, stirring often, until grits have absorbed liquid and are very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in butter and cheese, then season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Leave about 2 tablespoons bacon fat in skillet and drain bacon on a paper towel-lined plate before chopping into small pieces.

Season shrimp with oregano and paprika then add shrimp, green onions, and garlic to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Serve shrimp over grits and top with chopped bacon.

Recipe adapted from www.delish.com.

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Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to amandastone31@gmail.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.