Recipes From the Heart-America Loves Barbecue

There is one All-American food. Barbecue. It has different meanings depending on geography. In the Carolinas, barbecue is usually pork and is mopped with a vibrant vinegar-based sauce while cooking. Memphis is all about pork ribs and pulled pork cooked with a dry rub and served with a tangy vinegar-tomato sauce.

In Georgia, the birthplace of Brunswick Stew, pork and chicken dominate featuring countless variations of tomato-based tangy sauce.

Florida is diverse. North Florida is Georgia’s kissing kin. However, I’ve found distinct, incredibly delicious sauces in South Florida infused with citrus juices and tequila.

Texas is all about the smoke.  Fredericksburg is home to chocolatier, Lecia Duke, a Texas legend known everywhere as the Lone Star State’s chocolate queen. She shared how her husband prepares beef brisket. “Nick mesquite smokes his brisket for hours and hours (like 8 or 9 hours, till it falls off the bone)….with just lemon pepper and garlic salt. It is so savory, people just fall all over themselves just to get more!”

Texas Smoked Beef Brisket

Never minimize the importance of sauces. Here is a sampling of popular styles, all far superior to the industrial potions sold in supermarkets. Vary as you like. They are very difficult to ruin.

Doc’s Firecracker Celebration Sauce

Lynchburg, the Tennessee home of Jack Daniel, is the epicenter of American Barbecue.
Painting by Olivia Thomason

3/4 cup Tennessee whiskey: Jack Daniel or George Dickel. Or, substitute amazing Still Pond C4 Bourbon for a taste of Georgia.
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 onion minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1/4 cup Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


In a cast metal skillet over medium heat, add onion, garlic, and whiskey. Simmer for 10 minutes until the onion is translucent. Blend in the ground black pepper, salt, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, brown sugar, tomato paste, liquid smoke, and Tabasco sauce.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Transfer to Mason jars. Refrigerate overnight.

South Carolina Barbecue Sauce

Chef Linda Rogers Weiss, Charleston

Note: Delicious on slow-cooked pulled pork or barbecued chicken.

1/2 cup yellow mustard
6 tbs sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbs butter

Combine all ingredients except soy and butter and simmer in saucepan for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce and butter.

Pour into Mason jar for serving.

Smoky Coca-Cola Liberty Sauce


1 can (12 ounce size) Coca-Cola
1 1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbs. Dales cooking sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
Tabasco sauce to taste


Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce the sauce to a simmer and let cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the sauce thickens.

Cool and use or store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to a week.

Lone Star Brisket Sauce

2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp yellow mustard


In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not colored, about 3 minutes. Stir in the ketchup, sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and mustard and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Heirloom Tomato Pie

Pam Swanner, Montgomery Alabama

Pam Swanner is an accomplished Southern cook

Ms. Swanner, an accomplished Southern cook, is Director of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association.


Tomato Pie is a heritage dish

3 bunches of green onions
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano
20 leaves of fresh basil
½ tsp salt
Ground fresh pepper to taste
12 oz. yogurt cheese
5 medium heirloom tomatoes (A variety selection/colors has eye appeal and the flavor is interesting)
3/4/ cup of mayo
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ to 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Double pie crust


Slice tomatoes between ¼ to ½ inch thick—spread on heavily paper toweled baking sheet—sprinkle with salt and cover with more layers of paper towels.  Let drain for about an hour.

Chop onions, basil, oregano and toss together with salt and pepper; set aside

Grate yogurt cheese; set aside

Mix lemon juice with mayo; set aside

Preheat oven to 350 degrees making sure rack is in the middle position.

Coat lightly a 9-inch pie plate with shortening.  Place one pie crust in plate.  Thinly layer as follows until the tomatoes are used:  tomatoes, basil mixture, yogurt cheese.

Top with mayo—spread evenly.  Grate a layer of Parmesan on top.  Place other crust on top and seal edges.  With knife, cut several one-inch slices for vents.

Bake 45-60 minutes.  Cool at least 20-30 minutes before cutting. 

Soldier’s Joy Cole Slaw

Big O’s Georgia Kitchen, Atlanta

I medium cabbage, grated or finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 large bell pepper chopped fine
1 Vidalia onion chopped fine
1 Tsp. celery seed
1 package dry ranch dressing seasoning
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

Sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Combine ingredients, chill and serve.

Cold Blackberry Pie

David Hazelwood

Cortner Mill Restaurant, Normandy Tennessee

Blackberries are in season and this Tennessee Recipe is delicious

One of my favorite people on the planet, David Hazelwood is a minister, farmer, innkeeper, gourmet and accomplished raconteur.  His home is conveniently located near two heritage distilleries, George Dickel and Jack Daniel.

(Serves 6 City folks or 3 Farm boys)

¾ Cup sugar
3 Tsp. cornstarch
1 Cup water
3 ½ Tsp  blackberry or raspberry gelatin
4 Cups  fresh blackberries
9” baked pie shell
whipped cream


Combine sugar, cornstarch, and water in saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved. Gently stir in blackberries. Pour mixture into pastry shell and chill in refrigerator until firm. Slice and garnish each slice with a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 6.

Note: This is my favorite Fourth of July dessert. Blackberries have just ripened in Tennessee and this pie is so refreshing on a hot summer day. It’s adequate reward for picking the berries among the thorns and chiggers. In the fall use raspberries instead of blackberries.





Old school journalism describes the style and stories produced by Doc Lawrence. “In everything I do,” he says, “there is a beginning, middle and an end.” One of the top travel writers in the country, Doc is steeped in the heritage of the deep south. Traveling the back roads from Texas to Virginia and on down to Key West inspires stories about local food and wine preferences, community theater, folk art and music often leading to clues for a good story. Heroes include Faulkner, Hemingway, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker and Willie Morris. An Atlanta native, Doc keeps a well-stocked wine cellar and bar and two outdoor grills. He enjoys entertaining and believes that the greatest challenge for a writer is to keep searching for a higher life. |
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