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Bet you've never had Southern food like this before: 3 creative takes on our favorite dishes

Ramona King

Elvis pancake stack cake


Bet you've never had Southern food like this before: 3 creative takes on our favorite dishes

While we love classic Southern recipes — we'll never turn down biscuits and gravy or good cast iron fried chicken — sometimes we think it's just fine to bend tradition. Maybe that means dropping homemade pickles in a pot of bubbling oil or mixing Frito pie into pull-apart bread. Wherever imagination flows, we love experimenting with our food.

Here are three of our favorite twists on Southern food that are sure to get your creative juices flowing.

Elvis Pancake Stack Cake
What do you get when you combine fluffy buttermilk pancakes, creamy peanut butter mousse, sweet bananas, silky chocolate ganache and crumbly, crisp bacon bits? A breakfast (or dessert) fit for The King, of course! This pancake stack cake is derived from the idea of an Appalachian stack cake, but the flavors reflect one of Elvis Presley’s favorite snacks: the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. It will take some time to assemble, but you'll be sure to impress anyone and everyone when you pull out this cake.
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Fried Dill Pickles with Buttermilk Ranch
Salty and tart dill pickles are truly a perfect appetizer, especially when they're fried and dipped in a tangy homemade ranch dressing. Our recipe is back-to-basics simple, but we take care to thoroughly dry the pickles before breading and frying them; this guarantees a light, crisp crust on each and every bite. And our ranch dressing? Making it is almost as easy as opening a bottle of Hidden Valley, but we don't mind saying we think it tastes one hundred times better.
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Frito Pie Bombs
Eating a Frito pie is typically a bowl and fork affair, but these cheesy, beefy "bombs" transform the experience into a more hand-held device, making them perfect for a heavy hors d’oeuvre or tailgate treat. We start with ground beef chili, thickened up with crushed Fritos (of course), and then build what looks like a pull-apart loaf using pizza dough, two kinds of cheese and even more Fritos. A trip to the oven gives the bombs a golden brown and crisp exterior with an ooey-gooey, chili-filled center. You'll never think of Frito pie the same way again.
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Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.