Now on newsstands—and online too—Magnolia Journal Spring 2024. Get your copy.

All set to host a memorable spring meal. Shop Easter table.

Dwell in possibility. Shop the spring collection

From the Journal: A Southern Start

by Magnolia
Published on December 5, 2023

story by McGEE NALL

photography by CARSON DOWNING

prop styling by SCOTT J. JOHNSON

food styling by CHARLIE WORTHINGTON

This story was adapted from the winter 2023 issue of Magnolia Journal. For all the recipes, get a magazine copy here or on a newsstand near you.

If you came over for supper at my 98-year-old grandmother’s house in Georgia, I could guess the menu. Corn bread? Probably. Chocolate pie? Absolutely. Black-eyed peas? Highly likely, especially if it’s New Year’s (Southern tradition says to eat them for good luck). It doesn’t matter where I am—one taste of these dishes and it feels like I’m right back at her table. We’ve pulled together a classic New Year’s menu, plus a few year-round favorites—all soulful in nature and Southern in heart. Door’s always open to grab a plate, make yourself at home, and have your fill.

Fried Chicken with Hot Honey Sauce

PREP: 20 minutes

MARINATE: 1 hour

FRY: 12 minutes per batch

MAKES: 6 to 8 servings

2 to 3 cups buttermilk

1⁄2 cup hot sauce

4 lb. chicken thighs and drumsticks (about 6 each)

2 qt. canola or vegetable oil, for deep frying

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornstarch

2 tsp. baking powder

1 1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder

1 1⁄2 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

Hot Honey Sauce

1. Stir together 2 cups buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add chicken pieces and make sure all are submerged, adding additional buttermilk if needed. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

2. Pour oil into a large fryer or deep, heavy pot. Heat oil to 350°F using a deep-fry thermometer.

3. While oil heats, in a large bowl stir together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, and 1 tsp. salt.

4. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip into container. Coat all sides of chicken in flour mixture. Place on a wire rack and let stand 10 minutes to hydrate flour.

5. Preheat oven to 200°F. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet. When the oil is hot, add a few pieces of chicken to oil. Don’t crowd the pot. (You will fry in 3 or 4 batches.) The temperature of the oil will drop, so adjust heat as needed to keep temperature between 330°F and 350°F (let it go to the lower temperature if chicken is browning too quickly).

6. Fry 12 to 14 minutes or until chicken is deep golden and juices run clear when flesh is pierced. (Internal temperature should be 175°F.) Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer to a wire rack to drain 5 minutes. Lightly season chicken with salt. Transfer to the wire rack over pan. Keep warm in the preheated oven while frying remaining chicken.

7. Transfer chicken to a platter and serve immediately with Hot Honey Sauce. (Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.)

HOT HONEY SAUCE: Stir together 3⁄4 cup honey, 2 1⁄2 tsp. sriracha sauce, and 3⁄4 tsp. crushed red pepper in a small saucepan. Cook over medium 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Honey mixture should be very thin and runny. Let cool 10 minutes. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Classic Chocolate Meringue Pie

PREP: 50 minutes

BAKE: 20 minutes

COOL: 1 hour 30 minutes

CHILL: 3 hours

MAKES: 8 servings

1 9-inch Baked Pastry Shell

4 eggs

1 1⁄2 cups sugar

3 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. cornstarch

2 1⁄2 cups whole milk

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 Tbsp. salted butter

2 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla

1⁄2 cup water

1⁄2 tsp. cream of tartar

1. Prepare Baked Pastry Shell. Separate egg yolks from egg whites, placing whites in a large bowl and yolks in a medium bowl. Let whites stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 325°F. For filling, in a medium saucepan whisk together 1 cup of the sugar and 3 Tbsp. of the cornstarch. Gradually whisk in milk; stir in chocolate. Cook and stir over medium-high until thickened and bubbly; reduce heat. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

3. Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot mixture into egg yolks; return to remaining hot mixture in pan and whisk. Return to heat. Bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly; reduce heat. Cook and whisk 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and 11⁄2 tsp. of the vanilla. Cover saucepan to keep warm.

4. For meringue, in a 1-cup glass measure whisk together the water and the remaining 2 tsp. cornstarch. Microwave on high (100% power) 45 to 60 seconds or until boiling, stirring once.

5. Add the remaining 1 tsp. vanilla and the cream of tartar to egg whites. Beat with a mixer on medium until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add the remaining 1⁄2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, while beating on high. Gradually beat in warm cornstarch mixture until stiff glossy peaks form (tips stand straight).

6. Pour hot filling into baked pastry shell. Immediately spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to edge of pastry. Swirl the meringue to form high, decorative peaks. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack 11⁄2 hours. Chill 3 to 6 hours before serving.

BAKED PASTRY SHELL: Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir together 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour and 1⁄2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in 1⁄4 cup shortening and 1⁄4 cup salted butter until pieces are pea size. Sprinkle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time (1⁄4 to 1 ⁄3 cup total), tossing gently with a fork until all of the flour mixture is moistened. Gather mixture into a ball; shape into a disk. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry to a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under pastry; crimp edge as desired. Prick pastry with a fork. Line pastry with a double thickness of foil. Fill with dry beans or pastry weights, if desired. Bake 8 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 8 minutes more or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

OVERNIGHT BLACK- EYED PEAS

PREP: 10 minutes

SOAK: 8 hours

COOK: 3 hours

MAKES: 8 servings

1 lb. dried black-eyed peas

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

4 oz. boneless pork shoulder

2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1⁄2 tsp. paprika

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

3 cups chicken broth

1 14.5-oz. can stewed tomatoes, drained

1 4-oz. can diced green chiles

2 bay leaves

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt

1. Place black-eyed peas in a large bowl and add enough water to cover by 3 inches. Soak at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain.

2. Melt butter over medium in a large soup pot. Add pork; cook 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden brown all over. Add onion, garlic, paprika, and cayenne. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently.

3. Add drained black-eyed peas, broth, stewed tomatoes, chiles, and bay leaves. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer about 3 hours or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally.

4. Discard bay leaves. Stir in vinegar and salt. Serve hot. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Add a little chicken broth before reheating.

SUBSCRIBE TO MAGNOLIA JOURNAL