Wednesday, July 1, 2009

29 South: Contemporary Southern with Integrity

When I discuss restaurants, it is in the spirit of Duncan Hines (the founder of the food firm by the same name, which interestingly, did not do cake mixes until it was purchased by a conglomerate) who was a travelling sales man for many years and having compiled a list of great restaurants from his travels, began to add his list to his Christmas cards to friends every year. This was their gift, you see, they always knew where they could enjoy a great meal. Indeed, while his name is best known for box cakes, he was first the precursor to Zagat. In that same way, I hope always to provide you with an excellent resource should you ever go where I have gone.

Now, Jacksonville, my occasional home, is a great town, one you should visit, but not a food town. A lifetime in New York, Charleston, and Boston could turn a person angry when they arrived here. But that person should go to Corpus Christi and then stop complaining: Armed with that knowledge, I am my own best attitude adjustment when I become frustrated for food fixes while in Jacksonville.

There are, so far, exactly two chef's in these parts who have their act together (I am actively seeking more, so email me, Lordy, please email me.): The first is Scotty Schwartz (I have discussed Chef Schwartz here previously) at from Blushing Hideout, 29 South, in Fernandina Beach, Florida. The second is Matthew Medure (who makes a lovely duck and has divine wines, but his Ponte Vedra location is a tad too New York hipster self-conscious for my taste). There you have it. It is the largest city by land mass in the United States and it just dabbles in eating. This seems odd and wrong, given that it is likely the only thing anyone here does three times a day.

I have had a lot of middle of the road experiences in Jacksonville. Not good, not bad. Also, not memorable. Since it is an easy piece to the freshest food and longest growing season in the country, the food should sparkle with just-out-of-the-field flavor and deep hues. But, most places here take a delivery truck of middling product once a week and their chefs and managers seem to be phoning it in for all the interest anyone on the floor takes. I concentrate on this issue to get your attention, get you into good doors, keep you out of places that should shutter, and convince Scotty Schwartz to take them over. Thereby finally improving the food black hole here: It speaks volumes that 29 South has been Jacksonville's number one restaurant for three years now, but it is not in, or even near, metro Jacksonville.

Will he have it? Hard to say. It is a huge plan, this Scotty Schwartz restaurant domination thing. But when I consider the vastly indifferent meals I have had at the hands of some very high profile chefs, I can hardly believe my suggestion is entirely unrealistic. As you will see from these photos, Chef is committed to the quality of his food and not unlike several of the Blushing Hideouts, he is growing his own produce there. I hope you enjoy the garden photos interspersed throughout this piece - that is your dinner you are viewing. I love about this restaurant that I can see the food growing going into my babies on my way down the street and that the farm and produce partners enjoy an encouraging mention on the 29 South website.

On the other hand, maybe keeping oneself grounded with the knife and food and the garden and not over-branding is what makes chefs great, because shooting food television is lastly about cooking.

I read a lot of recipes but cherish those with the notes a chef or cook most. It was similar in corporate life: Many of the documents I learned the most from were those which included the scribbled margin notes of my mentors. They are a window into their talent, experience, and perspective. In cooking, perhaps even more so, there is just something about the notes of the person who has labored over a perfect prize and a grand girl of a recipe, especially when they have perfected a regional blessing with their own individual stamps. I hope this recipe of Chef Scotty's will come to mean just as much to you (and as further recommendation, the reason I requested it initially is that it is one of the three foods my little girl consumes willingly.)

I only lightly edited the recipe for you today, mostly for spacing on my page, because as time goes by, and you make this at home, and I tell you about Chef Scotty in an interview follow up later this month, I think you will be glad to have this just as he wanted it; with his own voice speaking to the cadence of a great chef's hands making a dish that which not be great without him.

29 South makes a lot of contemporary, thoughtful, upscale dishes which I will highlight for you in no time. It also makes a humble dish of a pulled pork sandwich into a glorious cathedral to smoked pork. When you visit that lovely, haunting beach town, Fernandina Beach, and look for a place to eat lunch, dinner, or brunch, I hope you will go first to 29 South. In the interest of full disclosure: 29 South is not a sponsor of this blog and I eat at 29 South more often than Chef is aware; I am his customer, you see. And the best way to continue to enjoy a really great business is to tell everyone and help them to flourish, especially when they are one of the good guys, whose integrity is apparent in the house and on the floor.

Please be certain to set both Blushing Hostess Cooks and Entertains to your subscriptions for a interview with Chef Scotty this month; such a great mix of candor and humility. And check out the new 29 South blog penned by Nan, Ecoculinaire.

29 South's Pulled Pork Sandwich
courtesy Chef Scotty Schwartz, 29 South, Fernandina Beach, Florida

The Rub
¼ Cup Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Kosher Salt
2 Tbs Cracked Black Pepper
¼ Cup Dark Chili Powder
2 Tbs Instant Espresso
Combine in a Zip lock bag and shake well
1 Boston butt or Shoulder Roast (at 29 South this is from our Berkshire Pigs at DelKat Farm) please buy from a farmer you know.
Rub Pork well with the spice mixture. I mean rub as if you are giving it a massage. Then let sit for at least 2 hours. Place in a smoker with your favorite wood (we use Applewood for the sweet and mild flavor but sometimes I throw in a little hickory for umph) and cook over indirect heat. BBQ is Low and slow so keep your smoker around 200 degrees. Smoke the pork for 6 hours then cover the roast tight with foil and place in a pan in a 200 degree oven for 6 more hours. If you are having fun on the grill you can leave it there to finish wrapped in foil. The Pork should fall apart at the touch when finished. Set the pork aside to cool slightly while you make the sauce.

¼ Pound Diced Slab Applewood Smoked Bacon. We make our own at the restaurant with Dell’s Berkshire Pigs We use everything on those pigs! If we could make Berkshire Pig Ice Cream we would.
1 med onion diced brunoise (tiny dice)
2 Cups Ketchup…make your own when you have too many tomatoes in your garden. Is there anything more decadent than Heirloom Tomato Ketchup?
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup apple cider vinegar.
¼ cup cheap bourbon
Render the fat from the bacon and saute the onions till translucent. Combine the remaining ingredients and simmer to develop the flavor and thicken. About 20 minutes. Don’t be afraid to add your own touch to this. A great chef once said “You are the boss in your kitchen” add what you like and call it your own.

Apple Shallot Compote:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound fresh shallots, peeled, with roots intact
1 pound sliced red or golden delicious apples
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Melt the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof saute pan, add the shallots sugar, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Add the vinegar, water, thyme, apples, salt, and pepper and toss well. Cover and braise the shallot apple mix until tender. Remove the cover and cook to reduce the braising liquid until thickened to glaze the shallots and apples. Remove from heat and season, to taste, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot on the sandwich or chicken or lamb or quail or squab or foie gras or…

Shredded Napa Cabbage tossed in 29 South House Vinaigrette:
½ cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup of canola oil
½ cup of olive oil
Place sugar and vinegar in a pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat. Place in a blender with mustard. While blending, slowly drizzle in olive oil and canola oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Build the mother of all pork goodness:
Toss shredded pork in the sauce and place on a Kaiser roll or brioche bun (recipe to come later ok, ok if you need it see below)
Top with Apple Shallot Compote and a pile of Slaw.
Precariously place the top of the bun on this mountain of love.
Pile homemade fries tossed in fresh garlic and rosemary salt on the side and serve.

Brioche Rolls - Barefoot Contessa Style
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 120 degrees F)
1 package dried yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (If the bowl is cold, start with warmer water so it's at least 110 degrees F when you add the yeast.) Mix with your hands and allow to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast and sugar dissolve. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, add 2 cups of the flour and the salt and mix for 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low, add 2 more cups of flour and mix for 5 more minutes. Still on low speed, add the soft butter in chunks and mix for 2 minutes, scraping down the beater, until well blended. With the mixer still running, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the dough into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Grease 2 sheet pans. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide the dough into 8 4-ounce balls (rolls) and place on the sheet pans. Cover the pans with a damp towel and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the rolls have risen, brush the top of each with the egg wash and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the tops spring back and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Turn the rolls out onto a wire rack to cool.

Josh and I did made the recipe, of course, and I am happy to share these photos with you:

How beautiful is this shoulder, I ask you?

Your pork, once the fat cap is removed and the meat is pulled, will look like this.

While I would have loved to make the bread for last weekend's picnic, I did not have it me - new baby exhaustion. But the pork sandwich is also divine on soft focaccia.

I definately suggest you try it at home, it is an amazing sandwich even when not seated on the pretty porch at 29 South.

1 comment:

Nan said...

Thanks so much for the shout out! Glad you enjoyed the is pretty much incredible. In fact, the pork at 29 South was something I desperately craved when I was pregnant last year. I went from not eating pork at all to a pig connoisseur in the course of 9 months. Next time you are in town give us a call!