Agriculture is a multi-billion-dollar industry in Mississippi, and the state ranks at or near the top nationally in its production of certain types of crops, including catfish, rice, soybeans, and sweet potatoes, among other crops. For consumers who want to do a better job of eating local, this bounty of crops is exciting news: The diversity of Mississippi’s agricultural industry means it’s easy to feature a wide range of locally grown crops at your own kitchen table.
Want some inspiration for possible dishes that showcase foods grown on your local farm? Here are six mouth-watering options to consider.
Use locally raised eggs in a breakfast casserole that can take on many different iterations, depending on what you’re hungry for—and what’s sitting in your fridge or pantry. You can add pork, sausage and other meat to a breakfast casserole with a base of eggs, cream and cheese, add chili peppers for a more Southwestern flair, or even go for a veggie dish that features tomatoes, spinach, and asparagus. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure dish that can incorporate multiple foods grown in your area.
Fried chicken or catfish
Fried chicken and catfish have long histories in Mississippi, and both types of meat are staples of the local farming economy. Mississippi is not only the United States’ leading producer of catfish—on its own, but the state also accounts for 52 percent of total catfish production.
“Mississippi residents might have their own inherited recipes for the seasoning and rubs used to prepare fried chicken and catfish, which can include eggs, cornmeal, buttermilk, a variety of spices, garlic, and a number of different oils,” says Jon Kalahar, Communications Coordinator for Farm Families of Mississippi. “If you’re new to preparing these fried foods, experiment with different combinations of seasonings to see what you and your family prefer.”
Good old-fashioned pumpkin pie
Pumpkin is a leading type of produce coming out of Mississippi, and it’s a very popular seasonal food both locally and across the country. The most common use of pumpkin is to make pumpkin pies around the holidays, with pureed pumpkin serving as the filling—along with spices to sweeten its flavor.
Your local farm may be the perfect spot to pick out some pumpkins that can be used as decoration before being cooked, pureed, and turned into your favorite dessert.
Dirty rice is a seasoned rice dish cooked at a high heat, resulting in puffy, crunchy rice that can be combined with a number of different ingredients and vegetables. Similar to the fried rice you might purchase from an Asian restaurant, dirty rice can be a main or a side—but however you make it, you can source your rice from one of the many rice farms operating in the Mississippi Delta.1
Make this dish even more local by incorporating as many locally sourced ingredients as possible—and add a little Southern or Creole seasoning to give it the taste of home.
Sweet potato casserole
Sweet potatoes are a major crop in Mississippi, and they lend themselves to a wide range of entrees and sides. You can use sweet potatoes in breakfast, lunch and dinner, and as a sweet or savory option, depending on what other ingredients you pair it with.
“Sweet potato casseroles often feature marshmallow as a topping, or sugar-glazed nuts such as pecans,” says Jon Kalahar, Communications Coordinator for Farm Families of Mississippi. “Alternatively, you can combine sweet potatoes with green beans, cheese or other savory ingredients for a heartier casserole dish.”
Egg custard pie
Mississippi natives are probably familiar with egg custard pie, an easy, flexible dish that can be eaten hot or cold. Most people have a clear preference for how they want their egg custard pie served, but one thing is never in dispute: Even if your culinary skills are limited, you shouldn’t have trouble using locally grown eggs to make the filling for this pie. Just make sure you let it cool completely after baking—otherwise the pie will run when you try to cut it into slices.2
With such diverse crops grown in Mississippi, your household can be well-fed using the bounty of options available within a short drive. Visit your local farm today and stock up on these goodies!