Heritage — Off the Shelf
Sean Brock's new cookbook, Heritage, is easily one of the most-anticipated books of the year. Sean Brock, the Virginia-born executive chef of Husk restaurants in Charleston, S.C., and Nashville, is quickly becoming a titan of Southern cuisine, and the dishes in this book carry his signature blend of elegance and hearty Southern charm. It should be noted right up front that Heritage is not a Husk restaurant cookbook; it’s so much deeper and more thorough than that. Heritage is an edible historical guide to Southern cuisine, and if you give it a chance, it’ll be your new favorite cookbook in no time.
The book is broken down into chapters based on where the ingredients are sourced, including The Garden, The Mill and The Yard, and the introduction includes a whole aside detailing the history of and a recipe for Low-Country Hoppin' John. Brock also includes for his readers his Manifesto on food, but don't be fooled: The book doesn't read like a stuffy, overly structured culinary curriculum. The whole book reads like a love letter to the raw ingredients and agrarians of the South, and getting an inside look at Brock’s passion for preserving Southern heritage seed breeds is a real treat.
What brings the book to life are the small histories and factual passages about ingredients, written with humor and attention to detail. The recipes leap off the page, vibrant and fun, and with deep roots — each of them. The dish offerings cover everything from Pork Rinds and Husk Hot Sauce to homemade bacon and the famous Husk Cheeseburger (recipe below for you to try at home). They run the gamut of savory to sweet, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to satiate your sweet tooth with the Charleston Ice Cream, the Apple-Sorghum Stack Cake or the mouthwatering Chocolate Chess Pie (a true Southern classic). This is the book for anyone who’s ever aspired to make real Southern cuisine at home, whether it be a perfectly tender and light biscuit or a low-country seafood boil. The overall tone of the book makes you feel like you’ve wandered into a Southern kitchen just as the big Sunday meal is being made and been fortunate enough to be invited to stay. Heritage by Brock is on sale now, and you can order a copy for yourself here .
When I opened Husk, I knew we had to have a cheeseburger on the menu. Everyone has his or her own idea of the perfect burger; mine was inspired by the drive-in that my family used to take me to when I was young. Robo's was the only real "restaurant" in my hometown, and my family just loved it. We would go there after my Little League Baseball games. As a game wound down, I would be daydreaming about that burger, shake and crinkle-cut fries. It's probably the reason for some missed fly balls.
What I remember most about the cheeseburger was the squishy bun and how wonderful it was to eat the double patty covered in gooey American cheese. This recipe is a tip of the hat to that burger. I've changed it a little to make it my own — I wouldn't dare try and replicate the burger from Robo's. This recipe feeds a crowd, but you can halve it for a smaller group.
If you don’t have a meat grinder, ask the butcher to grind the meats for you.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large container and stir together to blend well. Cover, and refrigerate. (Tightly covered, the sauce will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.)
Grind the chuck, flank steak and bacon through a meat grinder fitted with the large die into a bowl. Mix gently to combine. Then run half of the mixture through the small die. Mix the two together.
Portion the meat mixture into twenty 3-ounce patties, about 1/2 inch thick (each burger gets 2 patties). If not cooking right away, arrange on a baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (The patties can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook; it’s important that the patties are not ice-cold when they hit the hot pan.)
Generously butter the tops and bottoms of the buns. Toast on a griddle until nice and golden brown. Reserve.
Heat two 12-inch cast-iron skillets until as hot as possible. Divide the patties between the two hot pans. When the patties are nice and charred, about 2 minutes, flip them over and cook for 2 minutes more for medium. Place the onion slices on 10 of the patties. Place a slice of the cheese on all of the patties and allow it to melt, about 30 seconds. Stack the non-onion patties on top of the onion patties. Remove from the heat.
Smear both sides of the buns with special sauce. Place 5 pickles on the bottom half of each bun. Add the burger patties and top with the top halves of the buns. Serve at once.
Excerpted from Heritage by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards.