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The roots of U.S. Southern cooking are plentiful and include styles from many different cuisines, such as African American, British, and Native American. One of the best tips for cooking true Southern cuisine is do not question the recipe. For people who did not grow up in the Southern United States or even visit, the ingredients and methods of Southern-style foods can sometimes seem excessive or silly. Along the same vein, sometimes cooking methods and ingredients cannot be substituted; for example, slow-cooked barbecue is very different from pit barbecue. Lastly, meat is typically not required for every meal, and a lot of Southerners exclude it in favor of other protein sources.
Southern cooking can be a healthy vegetable-heavy dish or deep-fried red meat smothered in sauce. While somewhat of a stereotype, some Southern dishes are not what a doctor would typically recommend. The cook should not be alarmed if a dish calls for more butter than expected. In addition, occasionally spices and vegetables are used in seemingly excess, but for the best Southern cooking, the recipe should be followed with minimum tweaking. Every cuisine is different and can be a little unusual to cook at first.
It might be fine to bake a meat instead of broiling it in one cuisine, but until a cook is familiar with Southern cooking, he or she should not substitute cooking methods or ingredients. For example, barbecue pork and chicken are popular in the Southern United States, but many people prefer a certain kind of barbecue. Slow-cooked or baked barbecue can taste and look a lot different from pit barbecue and might even require different spices. Another example is green beans. Some people bake their green beans, while others fry them, and still others prefer to simply microwave them until warm. Each method produces a different taste and texture.
Lastly, a cook new to Southern cooking usually need not add a meat to a dish with beans. Southern cooking often replaces meat with beans; for example, one popular dish is called meat and greens. This dish basically consists of a type of beans with a side dish of a variety of green vegetables. Replacing meat with beans is not necessarily a bad thing. Beans can be much cheaper while still providing a good deal of protein. In addition, they typically have a long shelf life, unlike a lot of meats, that must be used within a few months of being frozen, or else the quality goes down.
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