Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles embodies Southern hospitality, no doubt a product of her Georgia upbringing. In a recent Food and Wine profile, the singer reveals that she loves to host dinner parties. But she doesn't serve up fried chicken, pie and other deliciously caloric Southern fare like her grandma used to. Rather, Nettles, who admits to not owning a fryer, plans her menu around a basic staple: soup!
"It's an easy way to feed a large group, plus it guarantees leftovers," Nettles, a pescatarian, says about why soup is her centerpiece, since it pleases picky or diet-restricted eaters, like vegetarians. She also treats the meal like a soup bar, saying, "The meat eaters can add crumbled bacon, and the dairy-free people can skip the sour cream." Is your mouth watering? Don't you wish you had an invite to one of Nettles' soup parties?
Even with her love of having soup-led dinner parties, Nettles still nurses a Southern appetite and craves a dish like hoecake. "It's just a beautiful, big, flat biscuit, made with Crisco, of course," she says. She also likes to make her mother's chicken casserole, with a basic kitchen ingredient: buttery Ritz crackers! "We are Southern, my dear, so we're unafraid to use Ritz crackers in a casserole," she adds.
Her overall philosophy is simple. "When you're hosting dinner, you're not an event planner -- you're a friend. I don't want to be fussy. If a dish doesn't turn out, that's OK. Food is about the shared experience, whether it's haute cuisine or fried chicken." Delish!