by Nancy Sweet
Nashville, Tenn. is now known for its fantastic food scene – including Southern, farm-to-fork, ethnic, food trucks, barbeque and almost everything in between.
Several weeks ago, members of the LLCC student culinary club “The Epicureans” got a taste of some delicious new food trends in Nashville. The students enjoyed a food tour through Music City Bites and Sites, feasting on the famous Nashville “hot chicken” at Pepperfire Hot Chicken, a pimento cheese and chow chow hot dog served from an old Volkswagen van at I Dream of Weenie in East Nashville, ribs and brisket at the award-winning Martin’s BBQ Joint, and finally Mexican popsicles at Las Paletas. The students also had the opportunity to see Nashville’s Farmers Market, where not only produce is sold, but small shops serve ethnic cuisines such as Jamaican, Korean and Indian. In addition, there is a “pop-up” stall where up-and-coming entrepreneurs can test out their menus to the general public.
The highlight of the trip was dining at Husk restaurant, helmed by the James Beard award- winning Sean Brock. Husk was deemed the best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit magazine in 2011, and chef Brock hosted the second season of PBS’s Emmy award-winning series The Mind of a Chef. Husk and Chef Brock’s success stem from his passion for exploring the roots of Southern food and recreating them by preserving and restoring heirloom ingredients. As our server pointed out to us, if it’s coming in the door at Husk, that means it was either grown or made south of (or at least very close to) the Mason-Dixon Line.
The Epicureans raise funds to take culinary exploration trips by preparing such items as shamrock cookies for an LLCC Student Life event, appetizer platters for a committee meeting, frozen cobblers ready to be baked at Thanksgiving, hand-made truffles for Valentine’s Day and a sit-down dinner for family and friends showcasing a certain theme such as Southern or Italian. In addition to the Nashville trip, students have travelled to Food Truck Friday in St. Louis; Epiphany Farms, a local farm-to-table restaurant in Bloomington; and the National Restaurant Show in Chicago, where they also took a food tour of Chinatown and Testa Produce, a specialty produce provider with the most up-to-date green technologies utilizing energy generation and water conservation.
Below, I’ve shared recipes from Husk Chef Sean Brock’s James Beard award-winning cookbook, “Heritage”.
Makes 2 ½ to 3 cups
*3 large pimento peppers, about 12 ounces, roasted, peeled, and diced (or substitute 12 ounces jarred whole pimentos, drained and diced)
*4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
*1/2 cup mayonnaise (Brock prefers Duke’s, a Southern staple)
*1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/2 teaspoon sugar
*1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
*1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
*1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
*1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Put the cream cheese in a medium bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon until softened. Add the mayonnaise and mix well. Add the hot sauce, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and smoke d paprika and stir to blend. Add the cheese and stir again and fold in the pimentos.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Tightly covered the pimento cheese will keep up for 3 days in the refrigerator.
For a creamier pimento cheese, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with t e paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Makes about 12 small cakes
*2 cups cornmeal
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons water
*3 tablespoons lard, plus more if needed
*2 tablespoons unsalted butter, more if needed
Combine the cornmeal and baking soda in a small bowl.
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the cornmeal. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lard.
Heat the butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons lard on a griddle pan, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Cooking in batches if necessary, spoon the batter onto the griddle to make cakes about 1 inch in diameter. When you see craters in the tops of the cakes, after about 2 minutes, flip them and cook for about 2 minutes on the other side. They should be golden and crispy on both sides. Wipe out the pan with paper towels between batches if the butter scorches, and add fresh butter and lard. Serve immediately.
Grilled Chicken Wings with Burnt-Scallion Barbeque Sauce
Makes 12 pieces
*8 cups water
*1/4 cup kosher salt
*1 tablespoon sorghum
*1 pound hickory chips
*6 chicken wings, cut into tops and drumettes
*3 tablespoons peanut oil
*1 tablespoon Husk BBQ Rub
*3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
*1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
*10 scallions, trimmed
*1 tablespoon peanut oil
*1 cup Husk BBQ Sauce
*1 tablespoon soy sauce
*1 cup cilantro leaves
Husk BBQ Rub
Makes 2 ¼ cups
*1 cup smoked paprika
*1/2 cup light brown sugar
*1/4 cup kosher salt
*3 tablespoons onion powder
*3 tablespoons garlic powder
*3 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
*1 tablespoon chili powder
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Put in a jar and seal tightly. Will keep for up to 1 month.
Husk BBQ Sauce
Makes about 2 pints
*1 cup pork stock
*5 cups apple cider vinegar
*5 tablespoons Husk BBQ Rub
*1 ½ cups ketchup
*Juice of ½ lemon
*1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Combine all ingredients in a large stainless steel saucepan and bring t o a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the mixture, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until it is reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
To prepare wings:
Brine wings in brine solution overnight in a zip lock or large plastic bag overnight in the refrigerator. Soak woodchips separately in water at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight.
For sauce, toss scallions in the peanut oil and season with salt. Lay them on a grill rack and heavily char them on one side, about 8 minutes. Remove and cool for about 5 minutes. Put scallions and remaining sauce ingredients in a blender and process until smooth, about 3 minutes.
For wings, drain the wings and discard the brine. Dry the wings with paper towels, toss in the peanut oil and season with the BBQ rub. Place the wings in a single layer on the grill rack and grill until they don’t stick to the rack anymore, about 5 minutes. Turn the wings over and grill for 8 minutes more. Transfer the wings to a baking sheet.
Drain wood chips. Remove grill rack and push coals in grill to one side. Put wood chips on the coals and replace grill rack. After about 2 minutes, place the wings in a single layer over the side of the grill where there are no coals. Place the lid on the grill, with the lid’s vents slightly open; the vents on the bottom of the grill should stay closed. Smoke the wings for 10 minutes. It’s important to monitor the airflow of the grill: keeping the lid’s vents slightly open allows a nice steady flow of subtle smoke.
Remove wings from the grill, toss them in the sauce, and place them on a platter or in a serving pan. Top with the chopped scallions and peanuts and serve.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts/.