By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Southern Living and there was a mention in it about a chef named Sean Brock who has two restaurants in Charleston, S.C.: McCrady’s and Husk. Brock’s name sort of stuck in my head because I was in the midst of planning a trip to Charleston.
On the day my husband and I arrived on Kiawah Island outside Charleston, I picked up the new issue of Cooking Light and there was a whole feature on Brock, a James Beard Award winner, and his farm-to-table cooking.
I showed Charlie the magazine article.
“We have to eat at one of this chef’s restaurants while we’re here,” I told him. “He’s hot. He’s in everything I read.”
Charlie got online and made a lunch reservation for us at Husk, which Brock opened in November 2010. I got on Brock’s website and started reading about the man.
“If it ain’t Southern, it ain’t walkin’ in the door,” Brock says on the restaurant’s website, huskrestaurant.com.
The emphasis at Husk is on the ingredients and the people who grow them. A large chalkboard lists artisanal products being used in the kitchen, and the day we were there, the board was filled top to bottom with the names of the suppliers for everything from shrimp to eggs to bacon to salad greens. The menu for both lunch and dinner changes daily.
We had the hardest time deciding what to order. I waffled between the cornmeal-dusted catfish and the burger made from beef and ground bacon. Ultimately I opted for the shrimp and grits, and Charlie did likewise.
We were on the verge of ordering the Husk Cornbread when a basket of freshly made rolls with benne seeds laced with Bourbon arrived at our table. We passed on the cornbread, deciding we didn’t need that much bread.
Now that I’ve found the recipe on Brock’s website, I wish I’d ordered the cornbread. I know anything I try to duplicate at home won’t be nearly as good, since I’m not going to be able to find his regional ingredients, although I have bought Benton’s bacon at The Neon Pig in Tupelo before, and it’s delicious.
2 cups yellow Anson Mills cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons Benton’s bacon fat, divided
1 farm egg
11⁄2 cups Cruze Family buttermilk
2 tablespoons crispy Benton’s bacon bits
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place cast iron skillet in the oven to get hot. Stir together dry ingredients, and stir together wet ones, except for 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Allow pan to heat for at least 10 minutes. Move the pan from the oven to the stove over high heat. Add reserved bacon fat to the pan and coat. Pour in the batter; it should sizzle. Distribute the batter evenly and place into the oven. Bake until a toothpick placed in the center comes away clean. Start checking after 20 minutes.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.