The Southern Food Truck Cookbook: Discover the South's Best Food on Four Wheels

The Southern Food Truck Cookbook: Discover the South's Best Food on Four Wheels

by Heather Donahoe


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From the mountains of West Virginia to the bayous of Louisiana, there’s a lot of ground to cover—geographically and culinarily speaking, of course.

This road trip discovery of the region’s most impressive mobile eateries features the street food that has lines forming everywhere from Louisville to Birmingham, and Durham to New Orleans. Meet the food truckers who are heading up one of the country’s most popular dining traditions, and discover the recipes that have made them famous in their home cities and beyond. These roving restaurateurs are reimagining tacos, burgers, and biscuits; ice cream, barbeque, and noodles.

The Southern Food Truck Cookbook features chefs from James Beard Award-winning kitchens—chefs who’ve now taken to the streets with menus that reflect their top-shelf training—and home-cooks-turned-food-truckers who are finally making a living from those recipes their family and friends have been raving about for years. This collection of recipes is a mosaic of the culinary traditions that are fondly recognized throughout the South, alongside a different approach that’s sure to push taste buds and kitchen bravery to new heights.

So put it in park, line up, and get ready to be impressed. You’re gonna want seconds, and these recipes are sure to help you create round two, right in your own kitchen.

Now get truckin’!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401604981
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 09/10/2013
Pages: 260
Sales rank: 485,324
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Heather Donahoe was born in Monroe, Louisiana, and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Heather worked as a newspaper reporter at the Tennessean, where she covered business topicsand wrote a weekly food column for the Williamson A.M. She is now the managing editor of Washington Restaurant Magazine and cohosts a weekly radio show, DineNW,buther heart will always belong to the Southeast and its cuisine.

Read an Excerpt




Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2013 Heather Donahoe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4016-0499-8



Holy Molé

Elotes (Mexican Corn on the Cob)
Pork Belly Carnitas
Fried Fish
Pickled Red Onions
Tomatillo Salsa
Jicama Slaw
Chipotle Aioli
Avocado Salsa

Lil Cheezers

The Fancy Pants

French Indo-Canada

Rob's Three-Meat Chili

Louisville Dessert Truck

Chocolate x 4 Cupcakes

Get It on a Bun at Booty's

Tammy's Cornbread Salad
Veggie Melt

Genius in a Box

The Recipe of a Genius



Concept: Taco fusion

Twitter: @HolyMoleTruck

When Max Balliet took his new taco truck out for its inaugural run, he didn't tell very many people about it because he was scared he might be slammed with customers. His fears turned out to be founded, and in just a few hours he sold more than $300 worth of tacos while stationed outside of Seidenfadens, one of Louisville's favorite dive bars. Since then, the lines at the Holy Molé truck haven't thinned out too much, which makes sense considering the sorts of tacos he's slinging through the window of his bright green truck—chicken mole tacos, soft shell crab tacos, chorizo tacos, and even a few unusual gems like a chicken tikka masala taco and a falafel taco, both of which seem to cause a frenzy among Holy Molé's thousands of Facebook fans.

Max's food truck philosophy seems to wink at tradition while giving an emphatic nod toward culinary creativity. "Whenever I think of food trucks in general, I think of taco trucks," he said. "They're the most prevalent, the original food truck. But for me, the way I see it, a taco is just a vessel for any flavors you want to use."

Speaking of flavors, Max has no problem sharing his. He shrugged off the idea of his recipes being top secret and sent over the recipes for roughly half of his menu.


Makes 8 servings.

Gather it up

8 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
Wooden sticks
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
4 tablespoons chili powder
Lime wedges, for serving

Make it happen

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the ears of corn. Boil for 8 minutes. Remove each ear from the water, and holding the corn with a clean towel, stab the wooden stick into the flat end of the corn. Spread the corn liberally with mayonnaise and dust each ear with the crumbled queso fresco and chili powder to taste. Serve with lime wedges.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Gather it up

1 pound pork belly, ideally with the rind on
1 medium onion
4 dried guajillo chiles
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole cumin
2 teaspoons whole coriander
1 bay leaf
Vegetable oil for frying
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed

Make it happen

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the pork belly into 1-inch pieces and place in a heavy pot with a lid. Roughly chop the onion and add to the pot along with the chile peppers, black peppercorns, cumin, coriander, bay leaf, and salt. Add enough water to just almost cover the pork. Bring to a simmer on the stove over medium-low heat and cover with the lid. Place in the oven. Braise the pork until it's meltingly tender, about 2 to 2 ½ hours. Remove from the oven and pull the pork belly pieces from the liquid. Discard the liquid and refrigerate the pork until cool. Pour ½ inch oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high to 300 degrees. Shallow-fry the pork and cook on both sides until crispy. Remove the pork from the skillet and add to the warmed tortillas.

Max says: "At Holy Molé, we 'smear' the fried pork onto our tortillas in order to spread it out over the tacos."


Makes 4 servings.

Gather it up

Vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1 cup masa harina
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons chili powder, preferably fresh ground
1 pound fish (catfish, cod, tilapia, or
haddock), cut into 1-inch pieces

Make it happen

Preheat a deep fryer or a large, deep-sided cast-iron pan to 375 degrees. If using the pan, pour enough oil to deep-fry the fish. In a dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast the cumin and coriander until fragrant and browned slightly. Grind the cumin and coriander. Combine the cumin, coriander, masa harina, salt, and chili powder in a medium bowl. Dredge the fish in the masa harina mixture and fry for about 1 ½ minutes until golden brown and cooked through.


Makes 3 cups.

Gather it up

2 cups red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 or 2 dried chile de arbol
1 large red onion

Make it happen

In a medium bowl combine the red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt with a whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the oregano, cumin, and chile de arbol. Slice the red onion as thinly as possible and add to the vinegar mixture. Let this mixture soak in the fridge for at least 4 hours; overnight is best.


Makes 3 ½ cups.

Gather it up

1 medium white onion
1 pound tomatillos
4 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño pepper
5 New Mexico chiles, optional
Salt to taste
1 bunch cilantro

Make it happen

Preheat the oven for broiling on high heat. Roughly cut the onions and husk the tomatillos. Place the onions, tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeño on a sheet pan and put under the broiler. Broil until everything is charred deeply and the tomatillos have begun to burst. Add the onions and tomatillos to a blender (or molcajete if you want to keep things really authentic) and blend well. Add water if the mixture is too thick. Add the chiles if desired at this point and transform it to a beautiful, spicy red salsa. Salt to taste and add the cilantro. Pulse in the blender until it is just chopped, not pureed.


Makes 8 servings.

Gather it up

1 large jicama, peeled
½ head green cabbage
1 carrot, peeled
1 jalapeño pepper
½ cup Chipotle Aioli (recipe follows)

Make it happen

Thinly slice and julienne the jicama, cabbage, carrot, and jalapeño. Add the Chipotle Aioli and refrigerate at least 1 hour.


Makes 1 ½ cups.

Gather it up

1 egg
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 morita peppers
1 cup vegetable oil
Salt to taste

Make it happen

Add the egg, garlic, vinegar, and moritas to the bowl of a food processor, and process until the peppers are ground. Create an emulsion by slowly adding the oil in a thin stream while the processor is running. Season with salt and thin with water if needed.


Makes 2 ½ cups.

Gather it up

1 small white onion
3 garlic cloves
4 ripe avocados
3 ripe tomatillos, husked
1 jalapeño pepper
1 bunch cilantro
Salt to taste

Make it happen

Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Quarter the onion and place in the dry skillet. Add the garlic and cook until charred. Slice the avocados in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the pulp into the blender. Halve the tomatillos and add to the blender, along with the charred onions and garlic. Halve the jalapeño and remove the seeds if you prefer a milder salsa. Add to the blender and process until smooth. Add the cilantro and pulse to chop the cilantro. Season with salt to taste.



Concept: Grilled cheese sandwiches reimagined

Twitter: @LilCheezers

In every city I visited, it quickly became apparent that the energy of an area's food truck scene could be attributed to a ringleader of sorts, someone who really got the party started. In Lousiville, that person is Matt Davis. It's only been a few years since Matt was a paramedic pondering a career change. He often found himself watching the Food Network, wondering why those zany-looking mobile diners hadn't cropped up anywhere in Louisville yet. In a progressive, walkable, pedestrian-friendly city, food trucks just made sense to Matt.

Turns out, the city's antiquated street vending ordinances didn't allow them. So he took up the cause of changing the city's stance on food trucks. Matt testified in Louisville Metro Council meetings, and he established an ongoing dialogue with the city's decidedly pro-food truck leader, Mayor Greg Fischer. And in addition to starting his own truck—the grilled cheese wonder that is Lil Cheezers—Matt cultivated a community for food trucks in Louisville. In addition to kicking his way through the red tape, he organized a website and social media effort, promoting the community of street food in Louisville.

Here's a version of one of Lil Cheezers' most frequently ordered grilled cheese sandwiches. The Fancy Pants is sweet, salty, crunchy, and gooey all at once. Try it for yourself!


Makes 2 sandwiches.

Gather it up

½ tablespoon oil
½ large yellow onion, sliced
Salt to taste
¼ cup butter
4 slices wheatberry bread (the real secret)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
6 ounces brie, sliced 4 inches long and about
¼ inch thick (six slices total)
1 small Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

Make it happen

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and salt. Cook until brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Butter each slice of bread and place butter side down on a large skillet or griddle. Arrange the onions on two slices of bread and top each with the walnuts, brie, and apples. Place the remaining two slices of bread on the toppings, and grill each sandwich over medium heat until the bread is golden brown and the brie is melted and gooey.


LOUISVILLE Concept: Poutine and banh mi

Twitter: @indoCanadatruck

When someone refers to the "holy trinity" in a culinary context, do you immediately think of onions, celery, and bell pepper? Rob Ross doesn't. He thinks of poutine, that magical Canadian mess of French fries ladled with gravy and cheese curds. So he decided to sell it, alongside Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, out of an old delivery truck that now bears the French Indo-Canada logo.

Naturally, the truck's pithy name drew me in, and the concept is, frankly, a bit of a (brilliant) head-scratcher: serving sandwiches from Vietnam along with gravy-smothered fries native to Quebec was too unusual to omit from a book of the Southeast's most memorable food trucks. As Rob describes it, French Indo-Canada is "two former French colonies' take on their former, empirical overlord's cuisine."

It's a delicious, if amusing idea; and not to be hyperbolic, but this collision of cuisines, poutine and banh mi, quite possibly does not exist on any menu anywhere else on earth.

Rob's recipe contribution here is neither for banh mi nor poutine. He opted to send me a chili recipe, which struck me as an unusual choice ... until I tried the recipe for myself. I can finally stop searching for that elusive 5-star chili recipe. Rob had it all along. You'll notice pretty quickly that this recipe yields far more chili than what you might need for your spouse and 2.5 kids. So invite everyone you know over to your place and serve it up. This could become your own secret recipe! Rob may have shared it, but you don't have to be so generous.


Makes 24 servings.

Gather it up

3 pounds ground turkey
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
2 poblano peppers, diced
3 jalapeño peppers, finely diced
3 red onions, diced
7 garlic cloves, minced
6 pounds tomatoes, diced (or 6 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes)
4 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
1 (29-ounce) can black beans, drained
1/3 cup toasted cumin seeds
¼ to 1/3 cup granulated garlic
1/8 cup turmeric
¼ cup chili powder (or more depending on your heat preference)
¼ cup paprika
Dried oregano (4 or 5 good shakes)
¼ cup grated 60% dark chocolate
Splash of vinegar
1 can of your finest cheap domestic beer
Kosher salt to taste
Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, for serving
Saltine crackers, for serving

Make it happen

Rob says: "Get a giant stockpot or whatever can hold this much chili."

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, pork, and beef, and brown. Add the poblano and jalapeño peppers to the pot, cook for a few minutes, and add the onions. When the meat is mostly done, add the garlic cloves.

Allow it to cook until it starts smelling awesome (about 20 minutes) and then add in the tomatoes. Give it a few stirs and toss in the beans. Grind the cumin seeds and add to the pot. Throw in the granulated garlic, turmeric, chili powder, paprika, oregano, chocolate, vinegar, and beer.

Bring it up to a boil, put a lid on it, and turn down the heat to low/medium-low, stirring occasionally. Let it simmer for as long as you can wait, but at least 45 minutes. Salt to taste and serve with shredded sharp Cheddar and saltines.



Concept: Desserts—any and all! Pies, cakes, cookies, ice cream, etc.

Twitter: @LouDessertTruck

I don't know about you, but when I'm chowing down on cake at a wedding reception, I don't really think too much about the person who created it. Pretty thoughtless, huh? But the next time I'm celebrating a lovely couple's nuptials, Leah Stewart will probably cross my mind. That's because for a decade she was never really able to enjoy a summer Saturday away from the wedding cake grind. As one of Louisville's favorite designers of matrimonial confection, Leah often found herself awake for forty-eight-hour stretches, finishing the cakes for multiple weddings in a given weekend.

A couple years ago Leah decided to take back her Saturdays and channel her baking chops in a different direction. After noticing food trucks popping up throughout the city, she figured it was the perfect time to hit the streets with her own (non-wedding cake) creations.

"It appealed to me on a visceral level," Leah told me during our visit. "I knew I wanted to offer desserts and sweet things, and selling them out of a truck just seemed to fit."

The hometown crowd agrees. When the Louisville Dessert Truck rolls up at a concert, a festival, or outside of Metro Hall, Leah's got a crop of loyals eager to scoop up the treats from her ever-changing menu. Some days she's a cupcakery on wheels. Other days she's a pie wagon. And she's most always an ice-cream truck.

Lucky for you, Leah ponied up her most popular cupcake recipe. I think those newly discovered Saturdays off have put her in a generous mood.


Makes 24–27 standard-size cupcakes.

Gather it up

2 cups sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa (best quality available)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (best quality available)
1 cup boiling water
Ganache (recipe follows)
Chocolate Icing (recipe follows)
Chocolate sprinkles

Make it happen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for one minute. Stir in the boiling water. (The batter will be thin, but don't worry. That's how it's supposed to be.) Fill the liners 2/3 full with batter.

Leah says: "I usually put the batter into a large measuring cup with a pour spout and then pour the batter into the liners."

Bake the cupcakes for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Put ganache into a piping bag with a large open star tip, plunge it into the top of the cupcake, and squeeze out the ganache as you pull up and away from the cupcake.

Ice the cooled and ganache-filled cupcakes with chocolate icing. Sprinkle chocolate sprinkles on top. The sprinkles are important—they're the fourth layer of chocolate!

Leah says: "You'll ruin a couple until you get the hang of it, but keep trying!"


Makes 2 cups

Gather it up

1 cup heavy cream
9 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate

Make it happen

Heat the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined. Allow to cool.


Makes about 2 cups.

Gather it up

½ cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make it happen

Melt the butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to a spreading consistency. Add a small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in the vanilla.

Excerpted from The SOUTHERN FOOD TRUCK COOKBOOK by HEATHER DONAHOE. Copyright © 2013 Heather Donahoe. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction v

An Eater's Guide to Southern Food Trucks ix

Kentucky 1

The Virginias 39

North Carolina 63

South Carolina 97

Georgia 115

Alabama 153

Louisiana 169

Arkansas 189

Tennessee 203

Acknowledgments 251

About the Author 253

Index 254

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The Southern Food Truck Cookbook: Discover the South's Best Food on Four Wheels 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel a bigger preview is needed for this and many other cookbooks on Barnes and Noble website. Hard to buy a cookbook without even seeing how one recipe is laid out.
CannonBeach1 More than 1 year ago
Love this book great recipes. Love reading about all the different food truck owners featured in this book. I highly recommend this book to  anyone.