Thanksgiving Feast -- Southern Style!

This Thanksgiving, how about adding a taste of the South to your traditional family dinner?

Brothers Matt and Ted Lee agreed to put their Southern twist on "The Early Show Saturday Edition"'s holiday feast, in accepting our "Chef(s) on a Shoestring" challenge.

They're the authors of the new cookbook, "Simple Fresh Southern," and they made a name for themselves with their mail-order "Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue." It features Southern pantry staples such as stone-ground grits, fig preserves and of course, boiled peanuts.

For Thanksgiving, the Lee Brothers got a special holiday budget of $70 to use in making a feast for eight.


• Buttermilk Fresh Cheese & Crackers
• Herb-Salted Turkey with Red-Eye Gravy
• Cornbread and Oyster Dressing
• Cranberry Ginger Sauce
• Skillet Green Beans
• Baked Sweet Potatoes with Lime Sour Cream
• Pimento Cheese Potato Gratin
• Georgia Pecan Pie

"Early Show" recipes galore!


Red-Eye Gravy: A traditional southern gravy made by combining the drippings from fried ham (purists insist on COUNTRY-CURED HAM only) with water and hot coffee - the latter being optional. The mixture is cooked until thickened. It's served with the ham and spooned atop biscuits, cornbread . . . and whatever else the diner fancies. (Source: Food Lover's Companion)

Molasses: During the refining of sugar cane and sugar beets, the juice squeezed from these plants is boiled to a syrupy mixture from which sugar crystals are extracted. The remaining brownish-black liquid is molasses. (Source: Food Lover's Companion)


Buttermilk Fresh Cheese

Makes one 6-ounce round, enough for 4 as a snack

If you can boil water, you can make this buttermilk cheese-kin to Italian ricotta and Mexican queso fresco, which has become as much a part of our southern kitchen as cornbread or grits. It could not be easier to prepare: just heat a quart of milk with a cup and a half of buttermilk and any salt or dried seasonings, and when the curds have separated from the whey, pour the whole slosh through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to drain off the whey. Serve the cheese immediately, warm and soft like ricotta, with a drizzle of olive oil, some sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, or let it cool down and firm up a bit. That's all!

We think it's even more versatile than butter or cream cheese. You can spread it on cornbread and top it with a drizzle of honey or sorghum syrup. Make tomato sandwiches with it at the height of summer. Wrap little morsels up with country ham in collard-green wrappers to make deliciously creamy-salty hors d'oeuvre parcels. Crumble the cheese into all manner of salads and side dishes.

1 quart whole milk
1 1/2 cups whole or low fat buttermilk
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Crackers to serve


Line a colander or a medium strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth that's 12 inches square. Set the colander in the sink.

Combine the milk, buttermilk, and salt in a large heavy-bottomed pot, and heat over medium-high heat until the mixture has separated into white curds and translucent whey, about 8 minutes. (If using low fat buttermilk, separation occurs at about 180°F, and the curds will clump together readily; if using whole buttermilk, separation occurs closer to the boiling point, about 212°F, and the curds are finer-grained. When using whole buttermilk, let the pot of curds and whey stand off the heat for about 3 minutes after separation, so the curds cling tighter and facilitate the straining step.)

Ladle the contents of the pot into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Once the whey has drained (1 to 2 minutes), lift the corners of the cheesecloth and gather them together. Gently twist the gathered cloth over the cheese to press any excess whey out of it.

You can unwrap the cheese at this point and serve it immediately; or you can leave the cheese to drain further and cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes, before serving it. To serve a firmer cheese later, transfer the cheese, in its cloth, to a small flat-bottomed plate or pie pan and let stand in the refrigerator until cool, about 10 minutes. Then unwrap the cheese, gently invert it onto the plate, and discard the cloth. Tent the cheese with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator until 10 minutes before you're ready to serve it, but not more than 2 days.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.