TOPS | Our Favorite Southern Recipes | Sides


A Word On Food

When we were dreaming of the perfect issue to kick off the new year, the first two words that came to mind were “Southern comforts.”

After the trainwreck that was 2020, everyone deserves a little comfort. And no one gets comfort quite like the South.

Cooking is about nourishing bodies and bringing people together around a table. But for anyone who has experienced a proper Southern spread, you know: Southern cooking about so much more than feeding one another. It’s about making the most with the least and transforming humble ingredients into something that feeds the spirit.

Think about your favorite Southern dishes. Your mind is probably dredging up a hearty bowl of chicken and dumplings, a spread of beer cheese and crackers, honey-drizzled cornbread with soup beans or collard greens, bourbon-drenched bread pudding, fried catfish with crunchy hushpuppies, boiling hot burgoo, steamin’ hot biscuits, and a gallon of sweet tea. The thought of each dish is like a balm for the soul, soothing you

with the memory of a full belly and the glow of love.

We can’t help but think of the ways this past year changed our relationship with food. Like Southerners who came before us, we felt the call to stretch the ingredients in our pantries to ease our families through an uncertain time. Getting carryout was no longer a weeknight treat, but instead an important connection to our neighbors, a gift we gave and received from our community. A Thanksgiving without sweet potato pie, sweet potato casserole, and sweet potato rolls reminded us that every gathering around a table is something to cherish and celebrate.

As we head into 2021, let’s hold those lessons close to our hearts. Let’s remember our gratitude for the cooks in our homes and the food industry workers we visit around town. Let’s stay curious about what’s in our cabinets and available on grocery store shelves, finding new ways to create (and savor!) delicious bites. Let’s nourish our communities and share our favorite foods with everyone around us.

Let’s get cookin’!


J. Render's Sweet Jalapeño Cornbread

J. Render’s Southern Table & Bar
3191 Beaumont Centre Cir. | Lexington, Ky

  • 1 c. butter, melted (2 sticks) 1 1/3 c. sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 c. diced jalapeño pepper (2 large peppers)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter and sugar. Add the eggs and whisk until combined. Add the buttermilk and baking soda and whisk to combine. Add the flour, cornmeal, peppers, and salt. Using a spatula stir until just blended. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into a greased 13x9 pan. Bake for 38 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before trying to cut.


Fried Okra

Spicy Cajun seasoning will make these a fish fry Friday favorite!

  • 10 okra pods, sliced
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 c. cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning 1/2 c. vegetable oil

Stir okra into beaten eggs and let soak for 10 minutes. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Dredge okra, coating evenly.

Drop okra gently into hot oil. When okra begins to brown, reduce heat to medium. Cook until golden and remove to drain on paper towels.


Dupree's Poblano & Cheddar Corn Pudding

Dupree Catering + Events |

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 c. + 6 T heavy cream
  • 5 oz. + 2 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 c. fresh corn kernels (or 5 c. frozen corn)
  • 1 small poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced (small like a corn kernel)
  • 4 tsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 5 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 oz. melted butter

Mix 5 oz. cheese with corn and poblano peppers.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

In a food processor, pulse 1/4 of the corn/cheddar/pepper mixture with 2/3 cup of the heavy cream. Then add it back to the original corn mixture.

Whisk the remaining heavy cream with the cracked eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the corn mix.
Whisk in the wet ingredients.
Finish with melted butter.

Pour the mixture into a sprayed 9x13 inch casserole dish.

Bake, uncovered, on 275 degrees for approximately 1 hour, until the eggs are set and it is lightly golden on top. Cover loosely with sprayed aluminum foil if the top browns before the center is set.

Top with remaining shredded sharp cheddar before serving. Enjoy!

*Casserole can be baked a day ahead and reheated, covered, on 350 degrees for approximately 25-30 minutes, then add the sharp cheddar topping and enjoy!


Vegetarian Buffalo "Chick" Dip

From TOPS Staff: Megan Martin

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. buffalo sauce
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar
  • 8 oz. mild/or interestingly seasoned cheddar 1 T onion powder
  • 1/2 T garlic powder 1/2 T paprika sprinkle of pepper

Set out cream cheese to soften for 30-60 mins. Grate your cheeses.
Rinse and drain chickpeas.

Hand mix cream cheese, sauce, and spices. Then mix in everything else, saving about 1/2 cup of one of your shredded cheeses.

Put into pan and bake on 325 for 35 mins. Stir around at 20 min. mark.

Before serving, put extra cheese on top and pop it back in the oven to melt.

Sprinkle paprika on top before serving.

Tips: Can also be made in a crockpot. Put into a different dish before serving if you got it all over the sides of your pan in the oven and it’s not cute


Deviled Tomatoes

From The Rumford Complete Cook Book, originally published in 1908. Some of the steps are a little unclear, so enjoy experimenting with this one!

  • 4 firm tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • Seasoning of salt and pepper 4 level tablespoons butter 2 level teaspoons sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon mustard 1 whole egg
  • 1 hard-cooked egg yolk 1/4 cup vinegar

Peel and slice the tomatoes, season, and cook in the first butter until tender. Keep hot while the sauce is being prepared. Cream the four tablespoons butter, sugar, and mustard; add the hard-cooked and raw eggs, then the vinegar and seasoning. Cook in the upper pan, over hot water, till thick. Pour over the tomatoes, and serve hot.


Devilish Deviled Eggs

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs (see notes) 1/4 c. mayo
  • 2 T horseradish
  • 1/2 dill
  • 1/4 ground mustard 1/4 tsp. salt

Cut eggs in half. Scoop out yolks into a bowl. Mash. Add other ingredients.

Pipe into reserved cooked egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika or pepper.

How to boil eggs: Place them in a saucepan where they’re not crowded: they should have room to move around. Cover with water and add an inch extra, for good luck.

Bring to a rapid boil.

Cover the pan with a lid and remove from heat. Set a timer for 11 minutes.

Fill a large bowl with water and ice.

Move hot eggs carefully into the ice water using tongs. Let cool for 10 minutes and remove the shells gently.

Side note: Making deviled eggs is more of an intuitive sport than a logical one. There is always leftover filling, so get in there and taste it as you go.

One thing to bear in mind is that once they go in the fridge (if they make it there), the filling will suck up moisture. Err on the side of having a filling that’s a touch gritty rather than going too smooth and having soup in your eggs later on.