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Hot Sauce

A tasty Southern topping is having its moment

Author Leah Koenig

fooddrink5

Move over, pimento cheese: Mississippi comeback sauce is ready for its close-up. The creamy, coral-colored sauce has inspired residents of Jackson, Mississippi, to “come back” for more since the 1930s, when it debuted as a salad dressing at a Greek restaurant called The Rotisserie.

 These days, the mayonnaise-based sauce, which tastes like a cross between Thousand Island and a Southern rémoulade, is a fixture of Jackson’s cuisine, served by the cup or squeeze bottle and accompanying everything from crackers to shrimp and fried chicken. “You will find it at every restaurant, at every party and in every local cookbook,” says Malcolm White, longtime co-owner of the popular Hal and Mal’s restaurant and music venue in downtown Jackson and, more recently, director of tourism for the Mississippi Development Authority.

 Despite the sauce’s history, chef Rob Newton, owner of Southern-inspired eatery Seersucker in Brooklyn thinks the heyday of comeback sauce is still to come.

Rich, flavorful and complementary to fried foods, the sauce, Newton says, could easily be the next rémoulade—the next aioli, even. Newton slathers his house-made version (flavored with chile de árbol hot sauce, Worcestershire, shallots and black pepper) on Seersucker’s patty melt and serves it with fried green tomatoes.

“People are starting to pay real attention to regional American food,” Newton says. “This stuff definitely has mainstream potential.”

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