Saving Piedmont Carolina Food Traditions

I’ve always heard that Southerners were passionate about their food.  It wasn’t until I uprooted from my Northern home and planted myself in the Piedmont that I realized how inseparable food is to the South’s culture.  After exploring traditional Southern dishes and wondering if there was anything that didn’t go with grits, I came to understand why Southern food is as rich as the history it reflects.

In the fast-paced North, time is a precious commodity, and I never wanted to spend it on prepping and cooking meals.  Convenient, quick meals that required minimal effort were a staple in my cupboard.  Less time in the kitchen means more time for family, fun or work. This mindset is spreading to the South, and many of the region’s rich culinary traditions are getting lost. I can say, though, at Lucky’s we’re proud to do our part in honoring and preserving the culinary legacies that have been passed down from generation to generation, serving the dishes that are near and dear to our hearts…and we hope creating new traditions, too.

While there are certainly exciting culinary developments in restaurant and home kitchens all over the world, in most homes, cooking has become a lost art.  We want to help folks explore this lost art and learn more about the rich Southern foodways that are our heritage in the Piedmont. (In case you don’t know the term, foodway refers to the practices, rituals, and habits of a particular region, culture, or time period.) By taking a look at the first victual adventures of European settlers as they interacted with Native people, plus the food traditions of various slave populations, we can get insight into how we think about nourishing ourselves in the present.

So buckle your seat belts:  We are going back to our Southern roots.

Southern food was the result of many cultures colliding together.  Native Americans planted the seeds (quite literally) that became Southern food’s roots.  When the English settlers arrived, they were ignorant of the ways of the land.  Natives were instrumental in teaching them how to grow, prepare and eat a variety of produce.

In particular, the Natives’ mastery of the many uses of corn saved the settlers from starvation and allowed them to establish settlements.  You can even trace the origins of our beloved cornbread back to the people we now refer to as Native Americans, who combined nuts, berries and water with corn and then roasted it into a cake.  When the Natives passed this technique on, the English experimented with it to create the many versions of cornbread we have today. I prefer the sweeter cornbread over savory, but that’s a debate in and of itself.

Lucky 32 Cornbread

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 fluid ounces cornmeal
  • 3 fluid ounces sugar
  • 3 fluid ounces corn flour
  • 3/4 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup liquid or fresh eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cream-style corn

Combine all dry ingredients and set aside.
Combine all wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.
Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture until just combined.
Pour into greased pans.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden (25-30 minutes).

Makes one 9 x 12″ pan.

Get a hunk of Lucky's cornbread with our Sunday Skillet Fried Chicken!
Get a hunk of Lucky's cornbread with our Sunday Skillet Fried Chicken!

The immigrant Europeans left their own stamps on Southern foodways. The English influenced the baking and pastries of the region: Pound cake is based on an old English recipe. Louisiana foodways have been heavily influenced by French cuisine (see etouffee and jambalaya, just to name two of my favorite dishes). The Scottish brought over their fondness for fried foods; and the Irish, their love of a large, hearty breakfast.

While many European foods earned their place in the new “American” culinary experience, it was African traditions that made the most impact on the flavors and methods of Southern cooking.  In attempting to reproduce the cuisines of their own native cultures, slaves had to learn from the Native Americans’ agricultural expertise to combine local ingredients using African culinary techniques into foods palatable for European tastes. The resulting dishes give us the first snapshot of the Southern food we know and love today.

This unique and evolving cuisine spread quickly simply because slaves did most of the cooking in Southern kitchens: Everyone ate what they cooked.  The food was so popular that by 1824, a few recipes directly from these kitchens made it into the nation’s earliest cookbook, The Virginia Housewife, by Mary Randolph. In fact, cookbooks like this provide a clear view of our Southern foodways. The lives of entire cultures and communities are imprinted across the splattered pages of recipes within them. Southern cookbooks feature dishes that were born from the South’s history of hardships and successes.

Early Americans’ foods define them and tell their stories. So what defines us today? Will we forget years of careful culinary experience and methods passed on from cook to cook through generations and replace it with an easy cup of noodles? Or will we choose to use what has been passed down to us so that the next generation will choose to continue exploring the art of cooking?

At Lucky’s, we are passionate about cooking and exploring Southern foodways.  Join us for a delicious meal informed by what we’ve learned about our region’s culinary traditions, try our recipes (like our cornbread), join us for special events, and share your Southern food stories with us via Facebook (Greensboro or Cary).

If you interested in reading more about the origins of Southern food, visit:

About the Author: Lexus Lomison is a member of the QW Communications Collaborative team (A team of enthusiastic folk that share news, happenings and a lot of fun stuff about Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels). 

Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch size. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust to your taste and portion size.

© 1989-2017. This recipe is the property of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants, LLC. Unauthorized commercial use is forbidden.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current  menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Recipe Index

Lucky’s Longtime Favorite Recipes

Many of us spent the winter holidays visiting family and friends, eating meal after meal of casseroles, pies, sides and entrees — often made from recipes passed down from generation to generation. We soaked in tradition, and probably a whole lot of butter (especially if you’re from the South), finishing meals with full bellies and recipe cards for taking home to recreate favorite dishes in our own kitchens.

Now, winter is truly upon us in North Carolina, and while we may be weary of Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole recipe, comfort food and familiar flavors still call to us. Enter two of Lucky’s Longtime Favorites: Chicken Tomato Basil Soup and Weaver Tuna Salad. You may think to yourself, What could be so special about tomato soup and tuna salad? Each of these dishes takes a unique spin on a kitchen standby, adding the Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen stamp that makes them, as our proprietor Dennis Quaintance says, “current and traditional versions of classic recipes.”

Longtime Favorite #1: Weaver Tuna Salad

Let us tell you about the Weaver Tuna Salad first. As Dennis tells the story, the restaurant had been open for dinner for just a couple of months when we decided to start working on a lunch menu. We invited one of our dearest friends and partners, Mike Weaver, for lunch; while he was at Lucky’s, he mentioned in passing that one of his favorite lunches was a homemade tuna salad that used Italian dressing instead of mayonnaise to bind everything together, served up on a bed of greens with toast points. Right away, Chef John Jones was charged with creating a version using a mustard vinaigrette. That recipe, which he whipped up in no time at all, has been a hit from day one, and it has never been modified in our 27 years. Talk about a longtime favorite!



Recipe:  Weaver Tuna Salad 

  • 24 oz. canned white chunk tuna, packed in water
  • 5/8 cup diced cucumber 
  • 1 cup Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • salt to taste

Place tuna in a colander and allow to drain well, pressing on tuna to remove all water. Peel cucumber, remove seeds and dice to ¼ inch. Toss cucumber with a little salt, let sit for 10 minutes, and then rinse with water. In a mixing bowl, toss tuna and cucumber with vinaigrette. Season to taste.


Makes 1 quart


Recipe:  Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 fl. oz. Boetje Gourmet mustard
  • 2 fl. oz. Gulden’s mustard
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 7/8 cup canola oil

Using electric mixer, combine water, both mustards, red wine vinegar and lemon juice. When well blended, very slowly add oil.

Makes 1½ cups


Longtime Favorite #2: Chicken Tomato Basil Soup

Our Chicken Tomato Basil Soup has been with us since 1989, too, and it has been a guest favorite for many years. When asked about the reason behind its staying power, Dennis Quaintance remarked, “I don’t think there’s a person in North America who doesn’t have a childhood experience of wonderful — even canned — tomato soup … [it] is a legitimate comfort food.” He couldn’t be more right, and while ours is a far cry from the red can we all know, it’ll warm you from the inside out.  It’s on its way to becoming a new classic! Garnish this delicious soup with a fresh basil leaf and enjoy it with a hunk of warm bread, (or a grilled cheese sandwich if you’re feeling indulgent!).

Recipe: Chicken Tomato Basil Soup

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 tbsp. chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1¾ pounds chicken breast cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 46 oz. canned tomatoes “chopped in puree”
  • 1/3 cup roasted Roma tomatoes, chopped in food processor
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until slightly tender and lightly golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add cut-up chicken and sear for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add stock and basil and then bring to a simmer for 20 minutes. Combine cornstarch, water and salt. Add canned tomatoes, roasted Roma tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Gradually stir in prepared cornstarch in a thin stream (no larger than a pencil). Turn off heat and stir in cream.

Makes 1 gallon


Indulge in these favorites any time of the year at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro or Cary! For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:


Join The Lee Bros. for a book signing Thursday night: Celebrate the cookbook they “intended to write the first time.”

Ask anyone who’s met them, and you’ll hear, “I just love the Lee brothers. Those boys are so sweet!” They are at the populist forefront of this new southern food movement that we find ourselves in; with people like Linton Hopkins, Hugh Acheson, and Sean Brock earning all of the critical accolades. Because of all of these folks, our southern food tradition is alive and growing.

Lee Brothers Cook Book
The third cookbook is the self-proclaimed “book they intended to write the first time.”

5:30 to 6:30 pm Thursday March 28, the Lee brothers will be hanging out and signing cookbooks in the bar at the Greensboro location. Books will be available for purchase. No admission charge. Tweet it up: Meet me in the bar Thursday, March 28 with the Lee Brothers.

Speaking the same language

Let us draw a parallel for you. Food is language. Latin can be studied and understood, and Latin is key to understanding lots of other languages, but there are no new words. It’s a classical language, but it’s not alive.

Well, there are folks who want you to believe southern food is a carved-in-marble type of work, where there are platonic ideals of what southern classics should be: Chicken and Dumplings is “x” and Fried Chicken is “y.”

The beauty of the Lee brothers — and this new wave of Southern cooks — is that it’s not just about recreating classics, it’s about reinventing things, coming up with new combinations of southern staples. The new “Charleston Kitchen” cookbook by the Lee brothers gets to the heart of this new southern foods movement.

Telling a good story

The first book came out in 2006 to critical acclaim. Our CEO, Dennis Quaintance, recommended the book right away. It was this immense compendium of updated recipes of southern classics: Catfish Muddle, Devilled Ham, Fried Chicken, and Collard Greens.

This coincided with a time in 2007 when we were casting about here at Lucky 32 for a new identity for the restaurant. We needed inspiration. We knew we were rooted in the North Carolina piedmont, but we didn’t know we were going to be a southern kitchen.

With food, you have to figure out what language you’re speaking when you create dishes. Agree on the lexicon, and use the vegetables, traditions and touchstones within that lexicon, and the menu will tell a story.

The Lee brothers helped us tell that story, by showing the world how inspiring their own story was.

They started out selling boiled peanuts by mail order to homesick southerners (as they realized they were) from New York City.

Boiled Peanuts

They started out selling boiled peanuts by mail order to homesick southerners (as they realized they were) from New York City. Matt and Ted Lee went on to write about wine and travel for Martha Stewart Living and Travel + Leisure, before publishing their doorstop of a first book, which went on to win the James Beard award for cookbook of the year, as well as the Julia Child award from the IACP, in 2007.

Charleston Kitchen

Charleston Kitchen is the self-proclaimed “book the Lee Brothers intended to write in the first place.”

The first book was more of an overview of contemporary takes on southern traditions. The second book was a lighter, fresher approach to southern ingredients. This third book is more about the comfort food surrounding the brothers, as they grew up in Charleston. They reference the legacies of Charleston, talking about Clementine Paddleford and Edna Lewis and the legendary Charleston Receipts book, which strikes close to my heart.

It really is sort of recapturing their youth in book form. Seafood, like Shad Roe (fish egg) Low-Country Gumbo, She-Crab soup, and a Venison Dish with Mulberries that I look forward to creating for our dinner here.

Cheesecakes, Grapefruit Chess Pie, the cornbread pudding I look forward to making, peach upside down skillet cake sounds yummy, I’m also gonna make the sorghum marshmallows.

We’ve been looking forward to this new book of theirs for a while, so that we can invite the boys back to see the restaurant that they helped inspire, and to introduce them to a new legion of folks who love what we do.

Won’t you stop by next Thursday? Join us in the bar.

Tweet it up: Meet me in the bar Thursday March 28 with the Lee Brothers.

The Lee brothers in their natural habitat.

More about the Lee brothers.

Siblings Matt and Ted grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. When they left to attend colleges in the Northeast, they so missed the foods of their hometown that they founded The Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue, a mail-order catalogue for southern pantry staples like stone-ground grits, fig preserves, and, of course, boiled peanuts. When an editor of a travel magazine asked them to write a story about road-tripping their home state in search of great food, they embarked on a second career as food and travel journalists. They currently are contributing editors at Travel + Leisure and frequently write food stories for Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Fine Cooking and Food & Wine, among other publications.

Ted lives with his wife, the artist E.V. Day, in Brooklyn, NY; Matt, his wife Gia, and their two sons live in Charleston, SC.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:


A piedmont foodway more celebrated than St. Patrick’s Day: Scots-Irish

St. Patrick’s Day is the one day of the year that people celebrate Scots-Irish history here – and they do it rather superficially. We like to dig a little deeper and say that we don’t do an Irish dish, or Scots-Irish dish just one day of the year. We do it more often – you just don’t know it until someone draws your attention to it.

There are three primary foodways that influence the food of the North Carolina piedmont. The African influence is most noticeable and rather celebrated. Less-celebrated is our shared German heritage – such as the Moravians in Winston-Salem with their smoked meats, sausages, liver pudding, cabbage, coleslaw, chicken pies, and cookies.

The third foodway is the Scots-Irish.

Celebrate the region’s Scots-Irish heritage at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen with our “Still Winter” menu. On St. Patrick’s Day, join us for braised, all natural Corn Beef, Mustard-Braised Cabbage, Buttermilk and Chive whipped potatoes (recipes below).

Scots-Irish migration

Scots-Irish is a bit of a confusing term in and of itself.

Our understanding is that these folks represent a group of people who left Scotland and the poor working and living conditions there for Ireland. Within 2 generations or so they found their way to the New World and settled in the Appalachian and Piedmont regions; about 100 years before the famine in Ireland sent a great wave of Irish to America in the 1840s.

In the Piedmont and Appalachian mountains they found a region that was both similar to their own in geography, as well as undesired by the English, who lived closer to the coast.

These folks began to carve out a hardscrabble existence that informs much of what we’ve inherited in the ways of food traditions in the Carolinas, one that today gets taken for granted.

Off the Chef’s Shelf: Learn more about the Scots-Irish influence in southern foods.

The Scots-Irish influence on the “Still Winter” menu

The end of winter is the most difficult time to eat locally sourced ingredients because the pickles and the salt cures are running out and spring has barely sprung. As winter gives way to springtime, our thoughts here at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen turn to our shared Scots-Irish heritage and their enduring foodways.



Scroll down for Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen’s Mustard-Braised Cabbage, Buttermilk and Chive whipped potatoes recipes.

Scots-Irish foods

  • lamb
  • salmon
  • barley
  • oats
  • whiskey
  • potatoes

“Still Winter” menu

Scotch Broth is a local lamb broth with pearled barley and vegetables.

Our take on the Corn Beef Sandwich (available during lunch only): we mixed chowchow with Creole mayonnaise to make it taste like 1,000 island dressing. But instead of sauerkraut, we use caramelized onions and mushrooms and cook it on a flat top grill with provolone cheese. So it’s kind of a cross between a Philly and a Reuben; centered around the corn beef.

Barley Risotto, which is nice and hearty and just happens to be vegan, with pickled leeks, roasted local mushrooms, confit garlic and crispy greens.

Pulled Lamb on Johnny Cakes features hickory-smoked Border Springs lamb on Johnny cakes with housemade ricotta. The Owensboro-style of barbecue traditionally involves mutton and very assertive seasoning. We’ve dialed the seasonings back a bit, as we substitute Border Springs Farm lamb in this dish that was developed in western Kentucky, which has its own Scots-Irish heritage.

Corn Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen

The idea of offering Corn Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day was proposed to us by a few of our guests, who saw that we were celebrating the foodways of the people around here in the Piedmont, and remarked to the effect that:

“This is the place that should have a Corn Beef and Cabbage special for St. Patrick’s Day. This is the place I want to come to have a meal and a pint of beer. I don’t want to go to a bar, I’ve outgrown that.”

We were already celebrating corn beef in our late winter menu, so it was a natural extension to add the Corn Beef and Cabbage special.

Maybe next year we’ll muster up the courage to prepare a proper Robert Burns Dinner for Burns night; that would truly be a tribute.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen’s Buttermilk Chive Whipped Potatoes

  • 6 pounds Idaho potatoes
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup fresh chives, minced
  • 24 fl oz buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp salt (or to taste)

Wash potatoes thoroughly. Peel and then steam until tender. Strain well.
Combine all ingredients in a mixer and combine until desired consistency.

Taste for seasoning.
Makes 8 cups

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen’s Mustard Braised Cabbage

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound green cabbage, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 ½ tbsp Gulden’s mustard

Heat oil in skillet to medium high. Sauté onions until golden. Add rough chopped cabbage and sauté until shiny and softened, but not wilted. Add stock and mustard and simmer for five minutes.

Makes 3 cups

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:


Collards and Cognac and five great southern kitchen love affairs

I think Collard Greens and Cognac are a match made in heaven. But it’s Valentines Day. Everybody tries to dine out on the day, February 14. Some people try to dine out the day before and after so we run our special Valentines Day menu all week long. The idea is that people are here to celebrate. So we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to do a special cocktail for this special menu?”

We travelled far south for this Valentines Day drink, all the way to Hadestown: The Persephone Cocktail

The Persephone Cocktail comes from two fascinations for me. First, I am definitely intrigued by Greek Mythology. Second, the recent fad of pomegranate everything. Pomegranate juice, dark chocolate covered Pomegranate; the six Pomegranate seeds that eventually gave us the seasons.

And we wanted something pink, a pink drink. Something the color of love’s first blush; the blush in the cheeks when someone’s in love. And we were thinking about all the great love stories — and Persephone.

When Hades, the King of the Underworld, kidnapped Persephone to be his Queen, he told her she couldn’t eat anything. If she did, she’d have to stay there forever.

While she was gone, her mother Demeter missed Persephone so much that she made Zeus persuade Hades to let her go. On appeal, Hades said that Persephone had actually eaten six pomegranate seeds, so he’d let her go for six months out of the year: One for each seed eaten.

For the six months Demeter has her daughter back, she makes everything bloom. The rest of the time, when Persephone is back the Underworld, Demeter is so sad that nothing grows in the winter season.

This drink celebrates Valentines Day and the soon-to-be return of spring.

PERFECT PAIRS: Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Cocktails and Entrées

Persephone Cocktail and Veggie Ravioli

Pomegranate has a sweet, astringent flavor. The red Pomegranate liqueur is partnered with sloe gin – a wild plum relative indigenous to England. It’s not overly sweet. We also put a little pineapple in there. You get this really pink drink that reinforces the name blush.

Because the Veggie Ravioli is not very assertively flavored, the nuance of the cocktail can shine through. The cocktail’s acidity cuts through the richness of the cream sauce. The roasted vegetables make for a subtle and nuanced flavor in the drink. If you had chile peppers and pork, or filet mignon, it would be too strongly flavored to be a perfect pair.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen’s New Jersey Cocktail is inspired by a drink in David Wondrich’s book, Imbibe!

The New Jersey Cocktail and the Roasted Chicken Poppy Seed Salad

This drink is modeled after a cocktail in Imbibe! by David Wondrich. Named so because in Antebellum America, New Jersey really was the Garden State and where apples came from. Anything made with apples was generally referred to as “Jersey Style.” The name of this drink is more of a tribute to that legacy. It’s made with NC apple brandy, Foggy Ridge hard cider, bitters and a sugar cube in a champagne flute.

The Roasted Chicken Poppy Seed Salad is its perfect match: made with baby spinach; a Poppy Seed Vinaigrette; pears, goat cheese, and candied pecans.

Sazerac and Gumbo

Believed by many to be the first cocktail ever created (but not believed by everyone), our Sazerac (originally named after the brand of Cognac used) is made with, Jim Beam Rye, a touch of Absinthe, Peychaud Bitters, and a bit of sugar with an orange twist.

Antoine Amédée Peychaud was a Creole apothecary who settled in New Orleans and started mixing drinks in the pharmacy as a way for folks to take their “medicine.” Peychaud served his Absinthe and Cognac in an egg glass known as a coquetier, similar to a sherry glass.

The Big Easy Gumbo and the Sazerac are a perfect match; both in geographic proximity and hearty flavor.

Sazerac’s perfect match is Gumbo for their geographical proximity; they’re both from New Orleans, both heartily flavored. Sazerac smells like Anise and the gumbo has some assertive, vegetal qualities as well. The okra and roux is strong and it will stand up to the Sazerac.

We’ll be  featuring this pairing at the Whiskey school in Cary on February 23.

Check this out! Lucky’s “The Revolution” was featured in Cary Magazine recently as a “Local Signature Cocktail.”

The Revolution and Jambalaya

When Makers Mark 46 came out, we thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to mix it with some Ginger Liqueur?” So we called it a Swamp Mule originally because it reminded us of a Moscow Mule (Vodka and Ginger Ale).

One of our bartenders made one and served it to Karen Walker, the General Manager here at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, and she said, “This is fantastic and I would never order anything called a Swamp Mule.”

So for the name, the drink made us think of having a new way of seeing the same old thing: It’s a revolution on Vodka and Ginger Beer, Makers Mark. Reminds us of that quote in the Wild One, when Marlon Brando’s character is asked, “What are you rebelling against?” And Brando says, “What do you got?”

Jambalaya has that creole seasoning and the andouille sausage with quite a bit of spice that will stand up to any kind of ginger revolution. But it also has some earthy notes and the rice, and the rice helps hold down the boozy nature of the drink.

Bayou Punch  & The Cornmeal Crusted Catfish

This is actually a reworking of the Philadelphia Fish House punch from David Wondrich’s book, Punch. We use it as a template with some substitutions. We make it with Mount Gay Rum, Courvoisier, Apricot Brandy, and Sour Mix.

It goes with the Cornmeal Crusted Catfish because it’s crunchy and crisp; the orange and sour mix heightens the flavor of fish. The acidity of the punch cuts the richness of the grits.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:

Why the slider’s not in Kansas anymore

Four or five years ago, sliders were everywhere. At the time, we said we’ll never do sliders as long as they’re on the menu at Burger King. When it’s ubiquitous, you’ve gotta have a really good reason to do it.

We were more interested in trying to figure out how to feature lamb on the menu. People can be pretty picky about a lot of things — especially lamb.

Secondly, we couldn’t find anyone locally with enough lamb to supply a restaurant on a regular basis. Then we met Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm. Craig’s lamb is a Katahdin-Texel cross and its taste is incomparable.

The Lambastic Slider is now a permanent pick on the Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen menu. As a starter, pair it with a medium body red wine, like a Cotes du Rhone, or Shiraz. Then choose a new seasonal entrée off the new winter menu.

We first served it like barbecue, smoked and pulled. We felt like it was a good way to present something that looked familiar, tasted familiar, but wasn’t familiar. If the guise, or the plating procedure is too substantially different than what people expect, then it takes more salesmanship.

So what if it had a different rub, and flavor profile, but it looked like pulled pork on johnny cakes? So we offered Pulled Lamb on Johnny Cakes, and christened it Ownesboro, KY barbecue.

Owensboro BBQ is a hyper-regionalized style known as mutton BBQ. The lengthy smoking process includes a constant mopping of the mutton with a salty mixture. Chris Chamberlain in Food Republic has a great story about it.

The lamb here was a modest success, but not overwhelming. But we believed in Craig, his story, and his food, and kept trying to figure out how to feature it.

Around that time Anna Mae Breads was making a believer of us. Shana’s (roller of Anna Mae Breads) personality was infectious and we knew that we wanted to support her business. We tasted five different kinds of bread that she made: Pullman loaves, sandwich rolls, dinner rolls, and slider buns; that was my Eureka! Moment. I knew we would make sliders. With her bread, and Craig’s mutton, we went on this slider kick where we explored all the different ways to construct sliders.

Lambastic Sliders came out of, “How can we feature Craig on this menu?” We made a lamb sausage topped with pepper jelly and goat cheese. Lamb is often served with mint jelly and the pepper jelly gives it a more southern kick, and the goat cheese is from down the road (Goat Lady Dairy).

Chef tips: Create your own slider

  • Use a patty meat. Loose meats get a little too sloppy.
  • We use Florida Bakery now that Anne Mae Breads has gone out of business. But you can use brown and serve dinner rolls.
  • When you’re picking additional flavors, try to create a perfect balance between sweet, sour, salty, and savory. Balance spicy with sour or tartness. If it has a sour component, we like to balance with a little sweetness.
  • Think of your favorite sandwich combinations and reference it with other ingredients.
Lusty Sliders feature housemade pork sausage patties with cranberry chutney and Lusty Monk mustard.

FYI: For your inspiration, consider our previous slider combos

Whistle Bite Slider with slow-cooked Bradds Family pork belly, Pig & Whistle sauce and green tomato chowchow.

A popular incarnation was the Throwback Slider featuring pork sausage, spicy mustard, and caramelized onions. The name is a reference to the original accoutrements of the hamburger.

Next was the Winter BLT Slider: pork belly, tomato jam, and the hearts of romaine. Because tomatoes aren’t good in the winter, we used tomato jam (we make a big deal around here about using good tomatoes). With the crunchy, bitter ribs of the romaine, it was awesome. Some folks were confused by the name, however, and it didn’t go over so well here.

For Thanksgiving, we did Madison Sliders with turkey sausage and cranberry chutney.

This winter we’ve featured Umami Sliders: pickled shiitake mushroom relish and Green Hill camembert cheese, in our first veggie slider.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Hot Pepper Jelly recipe
We use locally grown chiles from the Guilford College Farm

  • 1 cup red bell peppers
  • 1 cup green bell peppers
  • 1 cup Jalapeno peppers
  • 3 fl oz white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 box Sure Jell – 2/3 cup pectin

Wash peppers well and then chop. In a food processor, pulse peppers and 2 tablespoons vinegar three times for 2 seconds each. Do not liquefy. Transfer peppers to a sauce pot. Add remaining vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in Sure Jell and simmer 1 minute. Pour into a labeled container and cool before using.

Keep refrigerated.

Makes: 1 pint

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:

A Lucky New Year’s Tradition

In the South, we believe there are two things that matter more than any other on New Year’s Day—what you eat and who you eat with. Hoppin’ John, Collard Greens, and Cornbread have long been essential components of the New Year’s Day meal because of their promise of health, wealth, and luck in the new year.

Stories vary from hill to dale, from the cornbread signifying gold to the greens representing paper money; but they all revolve around cowpeas or black-eyed peas (often seen as coins).

Most say that General Sherman considered them cow fodder and left them in the field as his ravenous troops marched through. The nutritious legume saved the day and was ever afterwards seen as a symbol of hope and better fortune for the Southerners, who continue to eat them each year. And what would tradition be without a gathering of friends and family.

At Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, we both honor and break the black-eyed peas tradition. We serve the dish that goes back to this restaurant’s beginning, and further back in the lowcountry region’s history; to what inspired the black-eyed peas tradition.

Serving our New Year’s Special is a long-standing tradition at Lucky 32, and it’s one of our busiest days of the year! This year, we’re offering Country Ham Steak or Pork Loin Chop with cranberry chutney, both served with Hoppin John, collard greens, sweet potatoes and cornbread.

Need some New Year’s Eve ideas? Get the recipes and watch us whip up a few drinks and dishes on Green Chile Pimento Cheese, Bayou Punch, Apple Margarita, White Bean Salad, Boozy Hot Chocolate, Chatham Artillery Punch, Hot and Buttered, Hot Rum Batter, Bourbon Pecan Bars, Bourbon Icing, and the New Jersey Cocktail.

Hoppin’ John = “Pois au Pigeon”

Hoppin’ John is credited with being created in the lowcountry, around the Charleston, South Carolina area. There’s no definitive story about what Hoppin’ John means. What we believe to be the truth about its name is based on linguistics.

The term Hoppin’ John stems from the Creole French word for “pigeon peas,” a cousin of black-eye peas, that is cultivated and consumed by peoples in the African diaspora.

Descendants of African slaves that have retained their indigenous foodways still cook pigeon peas in the sea islands off of South Carolina and Georgia, such as the Gullah and Geechee. Haitians called the peas “pois au pigeon,” which is pronounced “pwahz o peeJon.” If you don’t speak French, this phrase actually sounds like “Hoppin’ John.”

The Hoppin’ John dish was originally pigeon peas and rice cooked together. In Jamaica, they still serve this dish with coconut milk, kidney beans, rice, and green onion. All year long, Jamaicans will use kidney beans, but once a year, on  Christmas, they use pigeon peas.

New Years at Lucky 32
Hoppin’ John has been a New Year’s Eve tradition at Lucky 32 since the restaurant’s first opened.

A complete protein in the Antebellum South

The reason you cook beans and rice together is to bring together the necessary amino acids for a complete protein. In the Post-bellum South, meat was harder to come by as the region struggled with a devastated economy and countryside and those two agriculture products — beans and rice — cooked together provided ample nutrition and also a symbol of hope (and luck) for the new year

Most people make Hoppin’ John with black-eyed peas and rice. But the last two years on New Years Eve at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, we’ve gone further back, to make the dish that both honors the Antebellum South and the Sea Island cultures that passed it on.

We make it with Sea Island Red Peas and Carolina Gold Rice from Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina, because we believe that to be the “Ur-Hoppin John” (in literature, some scholars believe that Shakespeare’s Hamlet was inspired by a previous story, known as the “Ur-Hamlet”). The original. The mother lode.

Happy New Year, and good luck!

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:


Stew on this: Until you can wing it on your own, try this Black Bean Soup Recipe

Dennis Quaintance (L32 founder and all-around guru) likes to say that everybody’s got a different recipe for stew, but they all have one thing in common: time.

Then someone said, “I love thyme, dude! That’s very French.”

And he said, “Not that thyme. Time!”

What’s really going on is that we have a tremendous affinity for one-pot wonders, we love the idea of cooking as alchemy. We’re intrigued by the idea of taking a bunch of things, which may be humble, or mean, whatever synonym you like to use, and putting them in a pot and cooking them all together and something magical happens after a period of time.

At the restaurant, it’s a different story. People expect consistency. But at home, we may not follow a stew or chili recipe (or any recipe at all, unless it involves baking). We may decide to wing it. Cook it long enough — with enough time or thyme — and it’s going to taste right.

The difference between a stew, soup, and chili


  • Think of stew as a verb, not a noun. It’s a cooking process where the meat is braised and falling apart.
  • Generally, it’s a main dish.
  • Meat plays the starring role.
  • Broth is usually thickened with flour, but sometimes with disintegrated vegetables (like Brunswick stew).
  • Longer cook time to tenderize the meat.


  • When you make a soup, you can have multiple starring roles for the ingredients.
  • Generally served as an appetizer.
  • The focal point is about achieving a balance between the components; multiple starring roles.
  • Thinner broth.
  • Shorter cook time.


  • Traditional chili is meat that is braised, slow cooked, or stewed in a chile-spiked sauce.
  • The core ingredients: chiles, meat, and broth, cooked down. Traditional chili doesn’t have beans.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Piedmont

Somehow, by the time Texas chili made its way to the Piedmont, it crossed with the butter beans and lima beans in Brunswick Stew.

In the Piedmont, we don’t have a tradition of spicy things. Texas Pete is more of a modern innovation. So our chili and black bean soups are kind of sisters in that we add beans to our chili to bring it into the southern realm of one-pot-wonders. We use kidney beans, ground beef, filet mignon tips, tomatoes, and chiles.

A tradition of Black Bean Soup

Black beans don’t have much of a tradition in the Piedmont. Pinto beans are the generic beans of the Carolinas. October beans, (AKA Cranberry beans) are the primary staple at higher elevations, where pintos aren’t as prolific.

We at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen have developed a tradition of Black Bean Cakes and Black Bean Soup. We started serving the Black Bean Cakes here when the restaurant opened 23 years ago, and that’s a main reason we make a Black Bean Soup instead of a kidney bean soup, or a vegetarian chili; it’s another way to showcase the black bean.

Once upon a time, we made black bean soup every day. People still call and want to know when we’re going to do black bean soup again. What menu is it on? They buy quarts to take home.

We like to offer it on the winter menu at the same time as chili because to me it touches the same senses. You can make it at home, too. All you need is some time.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Black Bean Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red onions – finely chopped
  • 2 cans black beans – drained
  • ½ can tomatoes – chopped
  • 2 ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • fresh parsley – chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Drain excess liquid from beans and rinse. Let drain while cooking onions. Sauté onions in oil in soup pot till transparent but not brown. Add remaining ingredients and beans to pot. Heat to boil then reduce and simmer for 1 hour.

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:

Come on in. Cider’s on the stove. Eggnog’s in the fridge. Bourbon’s on the bar.

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series #27. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.

“I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends.” The Shakespeare quote on the early 1900s holiday card is from the North Carolina Digital Archives.

It started with a European tradition: Carolling. The American version of carolling today is visiting. Visiting your family, visiting your neighbors — nurturing a community spirit.

The idea of hospitality is that you always have something ready, either on the stove or in the fridge when people come to visit.

Around this time of year, whether it’s Christmas Eve, or a cold winter’s night, that holiday beverage is eggnog.

In the British tradition it’s called Wassail. Caroling is also known as Wassailing, or “Waes Hail,” which literally means “good health.” The beverage wassail is a winter beer spiked with brandy. Glögg is a spiced wine spiked with neutral spirits like aquavit.

Gather together some friends at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen for a holiday eggnog treat, paired with the Bourbon Pecan Bar on our seasonal menu, Winter of our Heart’s Content: November 14, 2012–January 1, 2013

Perhaps a bit more Presbyterian would be apple cider. Apples are harvested in the fall and apples deemed not intact enough for storage get crushed into cider; a very Colonial American drink.

When gently heated, the flavors of apple juice blend well with those autumnal spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, cardamom, allspice, much like the spices that go into Chai. They’re also the same spices in eggnog.

If you follow an eggnog recipe—one in a Better Homes and Gardens or the Martha Stewart cookbook—you’ll end up making a thin custard that’s flavored with bourbon or brandy. You’re better off having one here, though, at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen. We use Homeland Creamery’s Eggnog. And offer you the choice of adding some zip to it.

Eggnog at the restaurant

This is our third year with eggnog at the restaurant. Our Homeland Creamery tradition started four years ago when we first started working with the local dairy based in Julian, North Carolina.

We first started using their milk and buttermilk, and then we started using their heavy cream, and then their ice cream. In the fall we did a sweet potato pie paired with their Butter Pecan ice cream. We were bowled over by their Butter Pecan ice cream. We loved it.

Loved it so much we wanted to do something else. At the time, we were talking about what kind of ice cream flavors they make when Terri Bowman told us about their eggnog, then she gave us some to try.

We’re serious, it will knock you out of your socks. It’s rich, viscous and velvety.

New uses for eggnog:

Serve it like a dessert

You could offer black coffee, or Kahlua after dinner all year long, but at this time of year spiced eggnog is a treat. If you’re eating savory things, eggnog should go later with dessert, not first. Eggnog coats your palette and will ruin the flavor of a lot of things if it’s not followed by something sharp.

Serve it at breakfast

During the winter, my kids have eggnog with their breakfast instead of milk. Breakfast doesn’t have a progression; it doesn’t go light, savory, spicy. It’s usually all on the plate, and so a little eggnog puts a some pep in your step.

  • Float a little eggnog on top of your oatmeal
  • Finish your rice pudding with eggnog instead of fresh cream
  • Substitute a glass of eggnog for milk for a special winter treat

At Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen

We serve eggnog with our Bourbon Pecan Bars, which is essentially a reinvented Pecan Pie. I find that Pecan Pie is too sweet for me, especially with that gooey, corn syrupy center, and I don’t like how it oozes out when you cut it. If you’re serving it at a restaurant, you might serve a whole pie over the course of the evening and by the time you get to those last two slices pie, the good stuff is all gooey-ed out.

So I decided to solve that problem and to resolve it with my personal predilections, I could double the crust recipe make it like a cookie dough and decreased the filling by half. What you get is like a shortbread cookie topped with a small amount of pecan pie filling. We then mix up  a bourbon-spiked royale icing to drizzle over it. To me, it’s fantastic with eggnog.

Bourbon up

My two favorite Bourbons to enjoy in eggnog are probably Elijah Craig 12yr and Old Weller Antique 107 – great stuff that won’t set you back at much as other labels with marketing campaigns.

Southern Comfort and Sailor Jerry are wonderful as add-ins. I’d say four ounces of eggnog can use between a splash of liquor and a solid two ounces.

Everyone has their own preferences for mixed drinks, you should know whether you like them stiff or “graced” by a touch of spirit.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Bourbon Pecan Bars

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks butter – very cold, grated
  • 9 each eggs
  • 1 1/8 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 ½ cups Karo syrup
  • 2 ½ tbsp bourbon
  • 2 cups pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in 1 cup brown sugar. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cut in butter until mixture looks like cornmeal. Pan spray a sheet tray and pat the mixture evenly into the bottom of the tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile beat eggs until well mixed but not light. Add sugar, flour, and salt. Add syrup and bourbon. Mix well. Pour syrup mixture over prebaked crust and then sprinkle pecans over. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Allow dough to cool and cut into 12 portions. Drizzle bourbon icing over the top.

Makes – 12 portions

Bourbon Icing

  • ¼ cup butter – softened
  • 2 cups 10x sugar
  • 3 tbsp bourbon
  • ½ cup whole milk

Whisk together bourbon and butter. Add in small amounts of powdered sugar and milk, alternating until all is incorporated.

Makes – 14 fluid ounces

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:

Shaking down persimmon recipes: pie, glaze, and Southern Comfort hard sauce

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series #25. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.

There’s a story about persimmons in the new Louvin brothers book. A young Ira couldn’t shake a persimmon off a tree, so he convinced his brother Charlie to get an ax, chop it down, and snag the fruit. Together they ate all the persimmons and tried to prop up the tree again, like nothing happened. Their father’s punishment for chopping that tree down was notoriously severe, but so was the persimmon revenge: the boys got sick.

Around mid October, it’s not uncommon to see tarps and straw beds under persimmon trees, and folks (musicians or not) trying to shake them down. Chef says you don’t pick persimmons, you pick them up off the straw. And local musician Scott Manring says “anything bigger than your thumb with fur on it” will eat a persimmon. He once watched a deer stand on its hind legs to eat persimmons off his tree. Scott himself will climb to the tree tops, shake down a bag’s worth, and bring them to Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen.

The Native American persimmon

The indigenous Native American persimmon is a kind of muted, autumn peach. The fruit is tear-dropped shaped and grows in wonderful, beautiful trees. It’s also so intolerably astringent if it’s under ripe that it will ruin anything you make.

Cooking: The Native American persimmon needs to fully ripen on the tree. The fruit will be soft and mushy and most persimmon recipes require cooking, such as persimmon pudding.

Fuyu persimmon

The fuyu persimmon can be eaten unripe, just like a tomato. Its flavor is sort of a peachy-tomato cross. At the grocery store, look for the persimmon with a flat bottom, that’s a fuyu. The redder it gets, the sweeter it is. There are some wonderful salads with poached shrimp and under ripe fuyu persimmons that are sublime.

Cooking: Slice it thin, or wedge it, and add it to a salad. Or, add to your purée.

Hachiya persimmon

Needs to fully ripen on the tree before being eaten, should be treated just like and indigenous persimmon, yet has a much higher flesh to seed ratio.

In the kitchen: Persimmon BBQ sauce and Persimmon Pudding

The traditional dish for persimmons is persimmon pudding — a very humble mixture of persimmon puree, flour, eggs, and sugar. Most persimmons come our way because people bring them to us. When the fall menu is over, we freeze them and use them for sauces and pudding on New Year’s Eve.

We’ve decided to make teriyaki sauce and fold persimmon purée into it and use it for a quail glaze. It’s a sweet purée and we use it like we would a peach BBQ sauce.

It’s also an integral component of the hard sauce that is served with our bread pudding (with the peach flavor of Southern Comfort to amplify the subtle taste of persimmons).

I don’t know of anyone farming persimmons, but many farms have a persimmon tree, and bring their persimmons to us.

  • Bradd’s Family Farm
  • Schicker’s Acre
  • Scott Manring, one of the featured musician’s at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen’s “Songs in a Southern Kitchen” series

We recently visited Scott’s persimmon trees in Pleasant Garden to get a few persimmon “pick-up” tips.

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  • Persimmon tree wood is among the strongest and used to make the highest quality heads of golf clubs known as the “wood.”
  • Hard, unripe persimmons will fall to the ground, and taste terrible, “like putting a piece of cotton in your mouth.”
  • Scott puts tarps on the ground, instead of straw. It’s easier to roll persimmons up in a tarp and bag them.
  • The tree is getting too thick to shake, so Scott either climbs the tree to shake persimmons down, or uses a rope to pull on it.
  • After a hard frost the color of the persimmon gets grapey-looking.
  • A ripe persimmon is ooey-gooey, and usually splits a little when it hits the ground.
  • Bob Reeves, a local musician and piedmont renaissance man, puts a sweet potato and a little orange zest in his persimmon pie. He uses an old pulp mill to separate the persimmons from dirt and twigs.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Recipes

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Persimmon Glaze

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 ½  tbspginger puree
  • 2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup Tamari
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 2 ½ cups chopped fresh persimmons, hulls removed

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and sweat ginger. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened, about 35 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender and strain through a fine strainer.

*Quality Identifiers: sauce should be free of skins and seeds and should coat the back of a spoon.

Makes 5 cups

Lucky 32 Southern Comfort Persimmon Hard Sauce

  • ¾ cup fresh persimmon pulp
  • 2/3 lb butter – room temperature
  • 3 ¾ cup confectioners sugar 10X (add more for thicker sauce)
  • 5 each egg yolks
  • 7 fl ounces Southern Comfort (or your favorite)

Heat persimmons over medium-high heat. Add butter and begin to melt. Add sugar. Cream butter and sugar, and stir until all of the butter is absorbed and a smooth consistency is achieved. Remove from heat. Stir in one egg yolk at a time until all yolks have been incorporated. Gradually pour in Southern Comfort while stirring constantly. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Makes – 3 ½ cups

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Persimmon Pudding

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 fresh eggs
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 cups pureed fresh persimmon with hull removed
  • 1 ½ cups Scuppernong wine
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 ½ tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Add pureed persimmon, wine and buttermilk and mix to combine. Stir in butter and vanilla. Grease a baking pan with pan spray. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and combine well by hand. Transfer mixture to greased pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until center is set and sides begin to pull away from pan. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Makes – 6 portions

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:


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