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Spotlight on Comeback Sauce

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Spotlight on Comeback Sauce
ISABEL BARKSDALE'S COMEBACK SAUCE / Photo by Victoria Parmenter
Mississippi comeback sauce: a ubiquitous and beloved Southern condiment, often described as “remoulade meets Thousand Island.”

Condiment fairy tale: Once upon a time (the 1930s), in Jackson, Mississippi, mayonnaise met ketchup in a Greek restaurant called Rotisserie. Realizing they brought out the best in one another, they soon became inseparable, and their union was happily encouraged by all their local acquaintances. Then, as is the case with all great love relationships, a bunch of other components were added to the mix, resulting in a deeper, more flavorful, connection and making it rather hard to decipher what exactly made the liaison so appealingly addictive. Yet this certain air of mystery made it all the more compelling to the public. The union was at times a little salty, but also quite sweet. And, of course, there was always a lot of heat to keep things spicy. People fell in love, we could not get enough, and we kept coming back for more. And clearly we still do.

At Walker’s Drive-In in Jackson, Mississippi, they serve their especially spicy comeback dressing with portobello fries. It is their signature appetizer and one of the many reasons why—you guessed it—we keep coming back to Walker’s (another might be the award-winning chef, Derek Emerson). And from her kitchen in Jonestown, Mississippi, Southern dame Isabel Barksdale has passed down her recipe through the generations of her family: today, her great-grandson especially enjoys her version served over shrimp…and vegetables, and saltines, and meatballs, and everything. Go ahead and mix up a batch of your own; just don’t serve it to guests unless you want them to come on back. But if you do whip it out at your next dinner party, be prepared for the inevitable outcome: you and comeback sauce are going to live happily ever after.

Isabel Barksdale’s Comeback Sauce
Portobello Fries with Horseradish Comeback Dressing

Published in the May 2014 issue