Southern-Style Meal, on a Shoestring!

What's better than Southern hospitality? "Down-home" Southern cooking!

And one of the South's most celebrated chefs accepted "The Early Show Saturday Edition"'s "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge this week.

Robert Carter, executive chef and partner at Charleston's Peninsula Grill, agreed to try to serve up a delicious, traditional three-course, low country meal for under $35.

And as our "Chef on a Shoestring," Robert automatically takes part in our "How Low Can You GO?" competition, in which the "Shoestring chefs" with the lowest ingredients totals will be invited back to prepare our year-end holiday feasts.

The Peninsula Grill offers diners an elegant and stylish dining experience in the heart of downtown Charleston.

Southern Eggs Benedict
Shrimp with Pimento Cheese Grits
Coconut Cake


Collard Greens: Long a staple of the Southern United States, collard greens, unlike their cousins kale and mustard greens, have a very mild, almost smoky flavor. Collards are leafy green vegetables that belong to the same family that includes cabbage, kale and broccoli. While they share the same botanical name as kale, Brassica oleracea, and some resemblance, they have their own distinctive qualities. Like kale, collards are one of the non-head forming members of the Brassica family. Collards' unique appearance features dark blue green leaves that are smooth in texture and relatively broad. They lack the frilled edges that are so distinctive to their cousin kale. The taste of collards can be described as pleasantly green and bitter.

Pimento: The pimento or cherry pepper is a variety of large, red, heart-shaped chili pepper.

Pimento cheese is a common food in the Southern United States. The recipe for most pimento cheese spreads has few ingredients: sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, salt and pepper. It is typically served either as a spread for crackers or celery, or as a sandwich. As with many southern foods, its appeal crosses class boundaries. A pimento cheese sandwich may be a quick and cheap lunch for children, or it may be served as an elegant cocktail finger food (with crusts trimmed, a bit of watercress, and cut into triangles). Pimento cheese sandwiches are a signature item at The Masters Tournament.

Grits is a Native American corn-based food common in the Southern United States, consisting of coarsely ground corn. Grits is similar to other thick maize-based porridges from around the world such as polenta. It also has a resemblance to farina, a thinner porridge. The word leads back to the traditional Northern European grit gruels. Grits can be served hot or cold and as a base for a multitude of dishes from breakfast to dessert, depending on the additives. Additives can range from salt and butter, meats (especially shrimp on the east or gulf coast), cheese, rarely (but in nouvelle Southern cuisine) vegetables, and sugar. It is also common for people from above the Mason-Dixon Line to have sugar with their grits.


Southern Eggs Benedict

4 ounces Self Raising Flour, extra for rolling
2 ounces butter
2 ounces milk


Preheat oven to 450°F.

In medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut butter into flour till pea size pieces form. Make a well in the center of the flour, and fold in milk, being careful not to over work. Transfer dough to a flour dusted work surface and roll with rolling pin to ½-inch thick. Punch out biscuits with a 2½-inch cutter. Transfer to a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non stick spray. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes till golden brown.

Country Ham
4 slices Country Ham


When biscuits come out of oven, place country ham onto hot pan to heat. Set aside.

Creamy Braised Greens
4 ounces Collard Greens (mustard greens, spinach or Swiss chard)
2 tablespoons onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 ounces chicken broth
2 ounces heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ounce vegetable oil


In medium sauté pan, heat 1 ounce vegetable oil. Add onion and garlic, sauté for 1 minute. Add Chicken broth and heavy cream. Add Greens and simmer for 10-12 minutes or till tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Poached Egg

4 Egg Yolks
2 quarts Water
1 tablespoon Salt


Bring water to boil. Reduce to simmer. Gently add yolks to simmering water. Simmer for 3 minutes remove and serve immediately. Do not over cook, the yolk should be runny.


Split biscuit in half and place in center of plate. Place a slice of warm Country Ham on top of biscuit.

Spoon braised greens on top of country ham and top with poached egg yolk.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.