Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
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16 May 2013 - 1:27 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Beef

The New York Steak and the ubiquitous hamburger made from minced beef (the name comes from the pounded style of meat of the German city Hamburg – not ‘ham’) are the most popular exports and have colonised taste buds around the world

Beef and pork ribs

Adored cut from the lower part of the animal which includes ribs and the meat between, prepared for the barbecue typically using a dry spice rub and then often smoked before being cooked on the barbecue and slathered with barbecue sauce.

Turkey

Native American bird believed to have been offered by the Indians to the Pilgrims as part of a feast to mark the end of the first hard cold winter in a new land, it has continued to be the Thanksgiving traditional roast – though the latest trend is to deep fry it whole.

Crab

Beloved up and down the American seaboard, blue crabs and king crabs are the main varieties, on the West Coast Dungeness crab is popular, in Alaska its the Red King Crab, on the East Coast, the crab season in Chesapeake Bay marks the start of summer.

Clams

Clam chowder is a popular dish but can refer to a number of different chowders that include clams, for example cooked in milk or cooked in a stock broth with tomato.

Tomatoes

Native to the Americas, tomatoes find their way into may aspects of cooking in the United States. Tomato based sauces are a popular accompaniment to grilled or barbequed meat; fried green tomatoes or other green tomato recipes use unripe late season tomatoes; tomato-based salsas employ tomatoes in a way inspired by neighbours in Latin America.

Collard greens

A bitter plant that is similar to kale or spinach, and a staple vegetable of cooking in the South.

Corn/corn meal

A staple native to America, it’s thought that the American Indians taught early settlers how to grow it and eat it (thereby saving their lives). Whether eaten straight “off the cob” or processed into cornmeal, its uses are endless. (Cornbread and grits are Southern favourites.)

Pumpkin/squash

The orange pumpkin that is used famously as the jack o-lantern in the North American tradition of Halloween, is the only member of the pumpkin, squash, gourd family that is called a pumpkin in the United States. Other varieties with golden or green outer skins are generally referred to as squashes. Pumpkin pie is a quintessentially North American dish, but as many people prefer the ease of cooking with tinned pumpkin rather than fresh, recipes often call for cans of pumpkin.

Pecans

Native to the USA, the pecan tree is a type of hickory that produces the pecan nut. Pecan nuts hold a special place in the American heart and in their culinary tradition, the most famous recipe being the much celebrated pecan pie.

Grits

Similar to polenta, grits is made from ground corn – except that it’s a product of Hominy (which is corn soaked in lye water to remove the outside shell of the corn kernel). This is then dried and ground so that it’s slightly coarser than polenta. It is often cooked like porridge and eaten for breakfast with butter and sugar or as a dinner side dish boiled, baked or fried. Like any bland starchy food it can be flavoured with anything – cheese, garlic, chilli, meat, vegetables etc.