The 50 Best Southern Foods: Meats

Chalkboard Lettering: Dana Tanamachi; Photo: Peter Frank Edwards
Oct/Nov 2011

Some of the best in Southern meats

Click here to return to the 50 Best Southern Foods main page.

Braised Rabbit Leg 
with Red Quinoa 

Knife & Fork

Spruce Pine, NC

Residents of this tiny mountain town scoffed when they heard Nathan and Wendy Allen planned to serve streaky meat and call it pork belly, but the couple has won over skeptics with thoughtful dishes like their braised hind leg of local rabbit. Nathan infuses the braising liquid with smashed seasonal berries and fresh thyme before pouring it over the lush meat, slender carrots, and a pile of quinoa. “And it’s done,” he says, “a rabbit surrounded in death by all the earthly pleasures of its previous life.”

Border Springs Farm 
Lamb Saddle

Cakes & Ale

Decatur, GA

Regulars keep their eyes out for this recurring special, a veritable monolith of meat that’s sure to elicit gapes as it crosses the dining room. Equal to two full lamb racks and displayed like the centerpiece of a Tudor banquet, it amply serves a party of four—particularly when you factor in family-style sides of basil-and-onion-infused polenta and “summer ratatouille” enlivened with the pinprick flavor of vinegary currants.

Boudin and Cracklings

Best Stop 

Scott, LA

An immutable law of the South, less known but more palatable than the silly ones about white clothes and holidays, is this: Convenience stores are culinary cathedrals. The Best Stop is Notre Dame. It sells ice, New Orleans Saints T-shirts, all sorts of Cajun meats, and, of course, boudin and cracklings. If you’ve been living in a cave (or New Jersey), boudin is rice sausage and cracklings are, basically, fried fat. Dieu soit loué.

Buckboard Bacon Melt

Cochon Butcher

New Orleans, LA

In a town where po’boys and muffulettas call into question the sanity of any soul who opts for a sliced-bread sandwich, Cochon Butcher’s Stephen Stryjewski and Donald Link fight back hard with this Southern spin on grilled cheese. Slices of Swiss and house-cured, uncrisped bacon made from shoulder meat hold their own, but it’s a careful layering of vinegar-laced collard greens cooked al dente that nudges the bacon melt onto the bucket list.