Mobile Bay’s Top 10 Recipes of 2023

Mobile and Baldwin county cooks can whip up a feast at the drop of a hat that will impress even your most discerning grandmother. This past year, countless MB contributors shared their most prized recipes, many of which showcase our rich culinary traditions. Prepare to be wowed by some of the tastiest dishes to grace a southern table. Dig in to our list of the top 10 recipes of 2023!

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

1. Cathy’s Steamed Crabs

Recipe by Cathy Partridge. Featured in “Abe Partridge Coming Home,” September 2023

Serves 12 

Apple cider vinegar or beer
12 medium live blue crabs
2 cups J.O. Spice #2 crab seasoning*

1. Place equal parts water and apple cider vinegar in a large steaming pot over a propane burner. The pot should be equipped with a steaming trivet that is about two inches above the bottom. The water and apple cider vinegar should come to just below the trivet.
2. Bring the water and vinegar to a rolling boil, placing the lid on the pot to speed up the process.
3. Once liquid has reached a boil, use long tongs to pick up the crabs.
4. Place the crabs in the pot in one even layer and cover generously with J.O. Spice #2 crab seasoning.
5. Repeat until all crabs are in the pot and covered with spice.
6. Place the lid on the pot and steam crabs until outer shells and claws have turned a vivid bright orange. They are not entirely cooked until the whole shell is bright orange. 
7. Once they are fully cooked, turn off the burner and, using tongs, remove them from the pot to a large serving platter. Serve on a table with a plastic cloth for easy cleanup, and provide wooden mallets and small knives to help extract the meat.
8. To eat, Cathy likes to dip the crabmeat in apple cider vinegar and then in more seasoning for a real Maryland experience!

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*J.O. Spice #2 can be purchased on

2. Jubilee Grits 

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

6th Annual National Shrimp Festival 2nd Place-Winning Recipe – entrée category Recipe by Gail Smith. Featured in “Shrimp Fest Flash Back,” October 2023.

Serves 8-10

4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Quick Quaker Grits
1 stick of margarine, cut in large chunks
1 – 6 ounce roll Kraft Garlic Cheese, cut in large chunks*
3 slightly beaten eggs
Scant half cup milk 
1⁄2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 cup fresh, boiled crab meat
1 cup fresh, boiled shrimp, cut into bite-sized pieces
1⁄2 cup crushed Corn Flakes
1⁄2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a heavy saucepan of water and salt to a boil. Stir grits in slowly and return to boil. Reduce heat and cook 2 1⁄2 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
2. Add margarine and cheese and stir until well combined. Crack eggs into a one cup measurer and add enough milk to make 1 cup. Add that to the grits and stir to combine. Carefully stir in bell pepper, crabmeat and shrimp. Pour into a lightly greased 2 quart casserole.
3. Combine corn flakes and cheese in a small separate bowl, and sprinkle over casserole. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until center of dish is firmly set. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

* Kraft has discontinued this product. You can substitute 6 ounces Velveeta Cheese and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
for a similar result.

3. Mirliton Bread

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

Recipe by David Hubbell. Featured in “Mobile’s Mirliton Man,” October 2023

Serves 12 

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups mirliton, cooked, seeded and pureed
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a large loaf pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, then pureed mirliton and mix well.
2. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Add to mirliton mixture and mix well. Mix in chopped nuts and vanilla. Bake for 90 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out clean. Cool slightly in the pan, then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.

Cook’s note: This recipe can also make 12 muffins. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until brown on top.

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

4. Egg salad 

Recipe by Cheryl Fields. Featured in “Make-And-Take Sandwiches, May 2023 

Makes 8 sandwiches

10 large hard-boiled eggs
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt, to taste
16 slices white bread

1. In a bowl, chop eggs or mash with the tines of a fork until evenly crumbled. 
2. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix.
3. Spread filling onto bread and serve.

** Jazz it up: This basic egg salad recipe can be easily customized to your preference. Add some spice with pickled jalapenos and a dash of cayenne, lighten it up with chopped pickles and capers or stir in green onions and herbs.

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

5. Marinated Field Pea Salad

Featured in “No Place Like Mary’s Place,” July 2023

Serves 8

4 cups mixed fresh field peas (we used pink eye peas, lima beans and cream peas)
1/2 cup thinly-diced red onion
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice 
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and fresh-cracked pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large stock pot filled with water to a boil. Rinse fresh peas under cool water and add to the pot. Return to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until tender but not mushy (small fresh peas cook quickly). Drain and set aside.

2. Place warm beans in a large mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and toss gently. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. Best served room temperature.

Cook’s tip: Warm beans absorb the seasonings better than cold.

6. Spatchcock Chicken Shawarma with Lemon-Tahini Drizzle

Recipe by Dr. Kelly Ison. Featured in “New Kitchen for a Busy Family,” August 2023

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

Serves 4

For the chicken:
1 whole 3.5-4-pound chicken 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the lemon-tahini drizzle:
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
1 garlic clove, finely minced or grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
Large pinch of kosher salt
2 tablespoons water (if needed)
Fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.To spatchcock the chicken, place breast side down on cutting board and remove the backbone by cutting along each side with kitchen scissors or poultry shears. Flip and press to flatten. Pat chicken completely dry with a paper towel.
3. Combine olive oil, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, turmeric and dried oregano. Mix well. Brush mixture on chicken and place breast side up in a large baking pan. 
4. Cook for 40-45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into breast reads 155-160 degrees Fahrenheit. 
5. While chicken cooks, make the lemon-tahini drizzle. Combine tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt and whisk to combine. While whisking, add water until sauce reaches desired consistency. Store in fridge. 
6. Remove chicken from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with lemon tahini drizzle, top with fresh parsley and serve.

7. Mrs. Edward Sledge Sr.’s Seafood Gumbo

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

Featured in “Gran’s Seafood Gumbo,” December 2023

Serves 4-6
5 tablespoons bacon drippings
6 tablespoons flour 
2 onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced 
1 28-ounce can tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
5-6 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds peeled shrimp* 
1 package frozen chopped okra
1 pint fresh oysters
3 tablespoons
Worcestershire sauce
2 cups cooked rice

1. Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon drippings and flour and stir constantly until flour turns dark brown, being careful not to burn.

2. Add onions, celery and garlic, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to a medium-low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 

3. Add shrimp, okra and oysters, and cook 20 minutes longer. Add Worcestershire and stir well. Serve over rice.

* Shrimp may be substituted with fresh crab meat. 

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

8. Collard Greens

Recipe by Shirley Jackson. Featured in “Sunday Dinner With Shirley Jackson,” March 2023

Serves 12

2 large bushes fresh collard greens, stems removed
2 strips bacon, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon greens seasonings (she likes Jimmy Lowe’s)

1. Dice collard greens. Wash thoroughly.
2. In the bottom of an extra-large stock pot over medium heat, fry bacon. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add the prepared collards and stir until slightly wilted. Add broth, 1 cup water and seasonings and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally and checking that all liquid has not evaporated. Add more water if needed.

9. Red Beans and Rice 

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau.

Recipe by Marcelle Naman. Featured in “A Good Time Was Had By All,” February 2023

1 pound dry red beans, soaked overnight 
1 white onion, diced
2 – 3 celery sticks, diced
1 stick butter
1 carton chicken broth
1 pound Conecuh sausage, sliced 
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning seasoning 
Salt and pepper to taste
Diced green or white onion, for garnish
6 cups cooked rice
White vinegar, to taste

1. Sauté onion and celery in butter. 
2. in a slow cooker set to low, combine drained beans, sauteed vegetables, broth, sausage and seasonings. Cook for 8 hours.
3. Divide cooked rice into serving bowls. Ladle red beans over and top with diced onion and a dash of vinegar, to taste. Serves 10-12

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

10. Flourless Chocolate Torte 

Recipe by Nancy Hughes. Featured in “Two Cooks in the Kitchen,” November 2023

Serves 8-10

9 ounces good quality dark chocolate (65% or higher), finely chopped                                           
9 ounces unsalted butter 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
7 large eggs at room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract a few tablespoons rum, bourbon or whiskey, optional 
Powdered sugar, berries, and sweetened whipped cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and line
a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Grease again.

2. Warm the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl, until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth and totally melted. Stir in the sugar, then let cool for a few minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, fully combining between each addition. Continue to stir until the batter becomes thick and glossy. Stir in the extracts and any optional boozy
addition you desire. 

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the torte jiggles slightly in the middle and is not completely set. Begin checking at the 30-minute mark to ensure the torte does not overbake. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and serve alone or with whipped cream and berries.

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