Many chefs have their first exposure to cooking at a young age. For , who wasborn and raised in rural Virginia, it was the experience of his family growing their own food that left a deep impression. “This was a coal-field town with no restaurants or stoplights,” he explains. “You grew and cooked everything you ate, so I really saw food in its true form. Youcook all day, and when you’re not cooking, you’re preserving. If you were eating, you wereeating food from the garden or the basement–it’s a way of life.” These were the buildingblocks that Brock remembered as he began his career as a chef, inspiring a lifelong passionfor exploring the roots of Southern food and recreating it by preserving and restoring heirloomingredients.

Quail Stuffed with Morels and Cornbread, with Baked Red Peas and Green Garlic Puree

Serves 6

Quail graces many a table in the South. I like to serve it stuffed, because the stuffing helps to keep the bird moist while cooking and the meat is less likely to overcook. This stuffing with fresh morels is one that I often make for Thanksgiving. The baked red peas were inspired by BBQ baked beans. It only seems right to serve them alongside an iconic bird like the bobwhite quail. Both speak to the long history of hunting, gathering, and gardening so precious to the South.

Stuffing

  • 3 cups kosher salt
  • 1 pound fresh morels
  • 1 recipe Cracklin’ Cornbread
  • ½ cup small dice Vidalia onion
  • ½ cup small dice celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • ½ cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Quail

  • 6 semiboneless quail (about 4 ounces each), rinsed under cold water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup duck fat
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

Green Garlic Puree

  • 2½ pounds green garlic
  • 1 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • Baked Sea Island Red Peas, warm

Methods:

For the stuffing:

1. To clean the morels, fill a large, clean bucket or deep container with 5 gallons warm water, add 1 cup of the salt, and stir until it is dissolved. Add the morels and let them soak for 1 hour.

2. Using a wire rack, push the morels down a little and, with your other hand, skim any leaves and debris off the top with a mesh strainer. Remove the rack and gently lift out the morels, being careful not to disturb the debris that falls to the bottom. Repeat this procedure twice using the remaining 2 cups salt, then lay the morels out on a wire rack and let them air-dry at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until they are completely dry. Slice the morels into ¼-inch rounds.

3. Crumble the cornbread into a bowl, add the sliced morels, onion, celery, tarragon, celery seeds, chicken stock, and egg, and stir well. The stuffing should be evenly moist.

For the quail:

1. Stuff each quail with about ½ cup of the stuffing. You will have some left over, which you can bake (in a 350°F oven) or freeze for later use. Season the quail with salt and pepper.

2. Heat two large cast-iron skillets over very high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the duck fat to each skillet. When the fat shimmers, add 3 quail to each skillet, breast side down, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the quail from the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and arrange half the thyme in each skillet to make a bed for the quail. Place the quail seared side up on the thyme and divide the butter and garlic between the skillets. Cook, basting the quail, until they are cooked through, about 6 minutes. The quail are best served at once, but you can hold them in a 200°F oven for up to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the green garlic puree:

1. Shave the garlic, equal parts green and white, as thin as possible on a mandoline. Wash the shavings in several changes of water.

2. Place the garlic and stock in a large saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and simmer until the garlic is tender, about 7 minutes. Blend the vegetable stock and garlic in a blender on high until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the cream cheese and blend for another 2 minutes.

To complete:

1. Pour ¼ cup of the garlic puree into the center of each of six warm plates. Place the baked peas on the puree and top each plate with a quail.

Extracted fromHeritagebySeanBrock (Artisan, £27.99). Copyright©2014. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards


Charleston Ice Cream

Serves 4

Gullah people of West African origin often cooked rice using a one-pot method known as “soaked rice,” where the rice is simmered covered with twice its volume of water for about twelve minutes and then left to sit without lifting the lid for at least another fifteen or twenty minutes. Some Charlestonians call this the “no-peek” style, and it works well with most commercial brands of long-grain rice. True Carolina Gold rice takes a good bit more effort, but the result is the subtle flavors of the rice at their finest. We serve Carolina Gold simply, in bowls, with a dollop of good butter, scattered with herbs and flowers that are in season at the time. Because of its creamy texture, this has been called “Charleston ice cream” for hundreds of years—plus, it can be scooped.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 cup Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • Herbs, flowers, and benne seeds (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2. Put 4 cups water, the salt, pepper, and bay leaf in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to be sure the salt has dissolved, then reduce the heat to medium. Add the rice, stir once, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.

3. Spread the rice out on a rimmed baking sheet. Dry the rice in the oven, stirring it occasionally, for 10 minutes. Scatter the butter evenly over the rice and continue stirring every few minutes. The rice should be dry in approximately 5 minutes more: all excess moisture should have evaporated and the grains should be separate. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of herbs, flowers, and benne seeds, if you wish.

Extracted fromHeritagebySeanBrock (Artisan, £27.99). Copyright©2014. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards

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