Here's the Truth You Need to Know About Your Favorite Southern Foods

What you should never believe about collard greens, cornbread and other Southern staples.

Southern cooking takes a lot of flack. Not because it isn’t delicious or wonderful, but rather because it tends to skew towards the heavy side. And by “tends to skew” we mean this is the American cuisine reportedly responsible for more heart disease than any other.

But at the same time, the reputation of Southern cooking suffers because there’s a lot of misinformation (or to pull from the headlines, “FAKE NEWS”) running around out there as well and, as a result, people aren’t always informed about the nuances of its preparation. Food and Wine sets the record straight by asking Southern chef Adam Hayes to debunk some of the more common Southern cooking myths. Check out the article for the full list and peek below for a few of our favorites.

Why sugar in cornbread isn’t a crime.

Hayes believes the old-fashioned way (no sugar) is more “correct”, but concedes that his grandmother puts a little bit of sugar in everything she makes and it always comes out well. (Did we mention Southern cooking isn’t necessarily the healthiest?) Other chefs and publications, however, take a much harder line on this debate and won’t stand for any of that Yankee sweetener ruining a perfectly good tin of cornbread. Just don't tell Kim Kardashian, ok?

Why you should never believe a recipe for “easy, quick” collard greens.

“It literally takes three, four hours to cook collard greens,” Hayes tells Food & Wine. At least if you’re doing it the right way. Hayes admits his method is complicated but says it’s totally worth the trouble. “Every chef in the South will say they make the best collard greens. I make the best collard greens,” he says. We tracked down his recipe here.

Why you don't need to put fried chicken in an oven to get it perfectly crispy.

Hayes tells Food & Wine, "I don't think it needs to go in the oven at all." He focuses instead on the brine (yes, buttermilk!) to get fried chicken's texture and taste just right. Hey, if it’s good enough for Martha & Snoop Dogg, it’s good enough for us.

Why not all exotic meats “taste like chicken.”

When people say other meats “taste like chicken,” are they right? Hayes mostly stands by this assertion. Alligator, frog legs, raccoon, armadillo: Bread it and fry it up properly and people are much more willing to give it a bite, and probably relate it to the taste of chicken, says Hayes. But he does caution that chefs should draw the line when it comes to possum, as it has its own unique and, unsurprisingly, disturbing taste.

You don’t have to tell us twice.

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