Southern Pantry Essentials

I'm always on the prowl for new things to have in my pantry and fridge, so when chef Russ Bodner came by the house to cook some good ol' Alabama-inspired Southern food, I was quick to steal everything of his that I could. He turned me on to two things that I now consider essentials: Wickles Pickles and Duke's Mayo. Sean Brock seems like Duke's hype man. I just didn't think it would be anything special. How much better could their mayo be than any other? The answer is...a lot. It doesn't have that rubbery look that Hellman's has, nor does it taste the same. It's got a little more flavor! What a strange concept for store-bought mayo. I barely ever use mayo at home, anyway, but this will be my go-to the next time a recipe calls for it or a sandwich is in need of a little extra fat.

The Wickles Pickles, on the other hand, are out of this world. The Wickles twist is that their products all have a spicy  kick to them, which makes them all the more delicious.

The trio that I've stuck with are their wicked pickle chips, their standard pickles, and their hoagie and sub relish.

The standard pickles are kind of like an adult version of your standard bread & butter pickles. They're sweet, they're garlicky, and they're also hot enough to smack you around and get noticed. I don't snack on these as much, but they're great chopped up and used as a relish or put on a sandwich. These on a Cuban? Oh yeah.

The pickle chips are my jam. I am just crushing these things. They've got a much firmer texture than the regular ones, plus that same level of heat, which makes them great for snacking. For an award winning party snack, throw one of these on a cracker with some pimento cheese and a smoked sausage.

While the pickles are great, the relish has been my most used Wickles product so far. It's basically replaced sriracha for me. Any time a sandwich, eggs, entree, dessert (okay, maybe not) needs to be kicked up a notch, I just add some of this spicy relish. It's mostly made up of peppers and cucumbers, then it hits you with that vinegar tang. Not too spicy, either. Mix it into your pimento cheese.

You can get both Duke's and Wickles at Schnucks, Diergbergs, The Fresh Market, Walmart, or their websites. Both will be in my kitchen rotation for the long-haul.

 Wickles pickles

Wickles pickles

 Wickles pickles plate

Wickles pickles plate

 Wickles pickles

Wickles pickles

 Wickles pickles hot relish

Wickles pickles hot relish