Interview with Chef Sean Brock – Charleston, SC and a recipe for Hoppin’ John
When asked why Charleston has so many great chefs and restaurants, Brock says “The circle is finally complete here”. There are many elements of this circle. The local people in Charleston are incredibly supportive and are open to anything he serves. Dishes that might not be welcomed in some cities are supported by the patrons in Charleston which gives the chef the opportunity to experiment. This was true in the 1600’s when rice first came to Charleston, and is true today. The city has grown up on great food, generation after generation.
“The chefs are now cooking with the proper ingredients with unique inspiration based on our history. People are coming here to experience it. If it tastes better, you will want more. It’s best for the environment, the economy and it’s just right.”
If you dine at Husk or McCrady’s, you will eat vegetables that are just hours out of the ground, enjoy buttermilk benne seed rolls, savor housemade charcuterie and have a smoked heritage breed chicken with homemade barbecue sauce. You will then understand the passion Chef Brock has for bringing our foods back the way they should be and the way they were meant to be enjoyed. There is nothing better tasting than real food.
Thank you so much to Chef Brock for his time and graciousness during our visit. It was a truly inspiring and empowering experience.
Chef Brock shared his recipe for Hoppin’ John with me. I ordered the authentic ingredients (Carolina Gold Rice and Sea Island Red Peas) from Anson Mills. (You can order them here.) I am a total convert after making this recipe. It is nothing like the rice and beans that we normally have once a year (New Year’s Day). This dish had incredible flavors because the focus was on good ingredients. It is a simple dish, easy to prepare and should be served on a regular basis. It is that good.
We liked it best served as a stew with lots of broth in the bowl.
We at Bunkycooks ask that you support your local farmers and bring the best to your table. Know where your food comes from.
You might like to read another interview of Chef Brock by Joyce at Friends Drift Inn.
For the red peas:
1 cup Anson Mills Sea Island Red Peas, soaked in water and refrigerated overnight, drained
2 quarts stock (preferably pork, but chicken will do)
1 large onion, medium dice
1 large carrot medium dice
2 celery stalks, medium dice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
1 bay leaf
For the rice:
1 cup Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice
Salt and Cayenne pepper to taste
7 Cups Water
4 Tablespoons Butter
For the red peas:
In a large stockpot, bring the stock to a simmer and add all ingredients. Cook for 1 hour over low heat, partially covered. When peas are tender, season with salt.
For the rice:
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot. Add the rice, stir once, and return to a simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is almost fully cooked, about 15 minutes (do not overcook). Drain the rice and rinse with cold water.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the rice onto a sheet tray. Place it in the oven to dry, stirring occasionally (mine took about 10 minutes). Be careful not to smash the rice. Dice the butter and spread evenly over the rice. Continue stirring every few minutes until the butter has melted.
Recipe Courtesy of Executive Chef Sean Brock – McCrady’s and Husk
Charleston, South Carolina