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Celebrate Juneteenth with po'boys, fried chicken and grits and cornbread cobbler

It's a time to bring friends and family together with soul food at the center of the table.
These creamy, decadent grits are prepared with coconut milk and white cheddar, then topped with fatty roasted tomatoes and crispy fried chicken.
These creamy, decadent grits are prepared with coconut milk and white cheddar, then topped with fatty roasted tomatoes and crispy fried chicken.Courtesy Will Coleman
/ Source: TODAY

Juneteenth is a time for celebration. It's a time to bring my friends and family together with soul food at the center of the table.

As I continue to grow and learn as a Black man and chef, I often seek ways to reimagine the foods I've grown up eating. My Cornbread Sweet Potato Cobbler, Hot Honey Fried Chicken with White Cheddar Coconut Grits and Nashville Hot Catfish Po'boys are perfect examples of that.

I look at the the opportunity to feed people as an opportunity for me to share who I am and the stories and ingredients that my ancestors put into the meals that nourished the stomachs and souls of many generations.

So, no matter how you choose to celebrate this special day, keep in mind these dishes, as they are packed with soul, curiosity and, of course, flavor.

Nashville Hot Catfish Po'boys

Driving through the streets of Detroit, my hometown, it was common to pass by locals hosting fish fries, especially on Sundays. It was a community celebration with good food at the center of it. As my homage to those fish fries, I combined two of my favorite Southern dishes — Nashville hot chicken and catfish po'boys — to create one over-the-top sandwich worthy of celebration. You never knew the New Orleans staple would benefit so much from the vinegary Nashville hot sauce. And whether you prefer your fish fried or grilled on your sandwich, this recipe has got you covered.

I'm convinced that I was powered off grits until the age of 16; I ate it at all times of the day. Grits are the first food that I remember my grandma preparing me before I went off to school, as I sat in her kitchen watching morning cooking shows. These creamy, decadent grits are prepared with coconut milk and white cheddar, then topped with fatty roasted tomatoes and crispy fried chicken to create a meal that's perfect for any weekend brunch or Sunday supper.

Cornbread Sweet Potato Cobbler

Cornbread and sweet potatoes were two things that could consistently be found at my dinner table growing up. These two dishes were a crucial staple on the plates of my ancestors — and this dish reimagines them by combining them. This cobbler begins with a handful of warm spices, maple syrup, sweet potatoes, plums and blackberries. But, unlike my grandmother's cobbler, this one's topping is made from a few scoops of cornbread. So, using a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven for this summer-ready dessert not only allows for a beautiful presentation but also lets you bake it directly in the pan, making for fewer dishes.

If you like those Juneteenth-ready recipes, you should also try these:

Carla Hall's Oven-Smothered Chicken