There is nothing more nostalgic than the smell of food from your childhood. Growing up, I had two favorite corn dishes, spoonbread and cornbread. Both are southern staples, but cornbread seems to be experiencing a real revival across American restaurant menus. I order it just about any time I see it, but none have been as overwhelmingly flavorful and evocative of dinners at my Grandma Nita’s house as the cornbread at Sean Brock’s restaurant Husk in Charleston, South Carolina.
Sean’s devotion to heirloom grains, seeds, produce and meat is something I truly admire. Although he’s been famous in the food world for some time now, I learned about him primarily through his stint as a host on my favorite television show, Mind of a Chef. Sean’s recipes are all about bringing back ingredients and traditions of the low country and his beautiful new cookbook, Heritage, celebrates that region’s diverse cooking styles with a reverence and level of research that’s rarely seen. What struck me most about Heritage, in addition to the delicious food, was how much work Sean puts into connecting the traditions we associate with southern cooks with their roots in Africa. To say that the reasons behind those connections are unfortunate would be a massive understatement, but Sean takes an honest look at the way the slave trade affected early food in the south and how those ingredients and cooking styles connect to our contemporary kitchens. Heritage is equal parts recipe and history book and I am so glad to see more southern chefs digging deeper into the roots behind the food we make and enjoy today. Speaking of enjoying, I’m thrilled to be sharing my favorite of Sean’s recipes, his cornbread, here on DS today. It is perfect for the holidays, but it is equally delicious at any other time, day or event. You just cannot beat the crispy edges and soft, pillowy corn center. xo, grace