RM and I spent Thanksgiving week in Charleston, South Carolina. We ate our way across the city at many fine restaurants and were impressed that a city of just over 100,000 folks could support so many great dining experiences. We loved FIG but our favorite place was HUSK. The executive chef is Sean Brock who was raised in rural Virginia but he has a passion for Southern foods especially preserving and restoring heirloom ingredients. Centrally located in historic downtown Charleston, in a two-story antebellum structure, Husk is the newest restaurant from James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock.
The menu is full of Lowcountry ingredients found in this region of mostly flat or rolling hills of South Carolina bordered on the east by the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and to the west by the Piedmont or Midland areas of the state. Ingredients like Local Benne Seed, or Sesame, which flavors a Benne and Honey Lacquered Duck with Pickled Blueberries and Chanterelles and Crispy Pork Collar gets paired with Cornbread Purée and Greasy Beans. Other innovative examples include Sassafras Glazed Pork Ribs with Pickled Peaches and Rev Taylor Butter Beans; House Cured Country Ham Tasting with Acorn Griddle Cakes; and Rabbit-Pimento Loaf with Husk Mustard, Pickles and Rice Bread.
Some of Brock’s favorite lowcountry ingredients are Carolina gold rice, bacon, ham, lard, bourbon, buttermilk, hot sauce, benne seeds, Charleston hot peppers, sumac, wild licorice and Velveeta. Yes, Velveeta. For a holiday present, RM bought me Brock’s cookbook, Heritage. I was reading the book yesterday (yes, I read cookbooks like a best-selling novel) and ran across a recipe for My Grandmother’s Hillbilly Black Walnut Fudge. The key ingredient in this fudge is Velveeta cheese – a lot of Velveeta cheese. Brock refers to it as “processed whey” and as an heirloom ingredient (I think with tongue in cheek).
Here is the recipe if you dare to try it.
1 pound Velveeta cheese cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Four 1 pound boxes confectioner’s sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chopped black walnuts
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Melt Velveeta and butter in a double boiler until smooth and combined. Add vanilla. Whisk together confectioner’s sugar and cocoa and add nuts. Add the sugar mixture to the Velveeta mixture. Pour into a 9 by 13 inch pan (spray with nonstick baking spray first). Refrigerate for 8 hours uncovered so that moisture won’t form on top (eww!). Cut into 88 1-inch squares and enjoy (if you can block out the idea of that much Velveeta).
I don’t think I will try this one but there are some other equally interesting recipes in the cookbook for items such as Herb Oil, Green Goddess Dressing, Chocolate Alabama Stack Cake, Hoecakes and more. If ever in Charleston, make dining at Husk a required stop on your itinerary. There is one in Nashville too. I didn’t see the fudge on the menu.
Picture of Hillbilly Black Walnut Fudge