If you have a trip to Charleston, S.C., planned this year, Sean Brock’s restaurants Husk and McCrady’s are surely on your list of places to eat.
The hyper-locavore Brock has helped transform this Southern gem of a city into a culinary destination, but his first cookbook, “Heritage,” (Artisan, $40) inspires those of us who haven’t been there to channel his passion for regional foodways.
Brock’s favorite way of cooking pork chops — breaded in cornmeal, fried in oil and served with smashed potatoes — is one of the more accessible recipes in the book, and it’s definitely faster than flying halfway across the country for some serious comfort food. At his restaurants, he’ll serve this with green tomato relish, but any kind of chow chow, pickle or chutney would do.
Cornmeal-Fried Pork Chops with Goat Cheese-Smashed Potatoes
6 boneless pork chops (about 3 oz. each)
1 quart whole-milk buttermilk
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups cornmeal, preferably Anson Mills Antebellum Fine Yellow Cornmeal
Canola oil for shallow-frying
For the Goat Cheese–Smashed Potatoes:
15 medium red potatoes (about 3 pounds), washed
1 cup half-and-half
6 oz. goat cheese
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1/2 cup finely sliced chives
Freshly ground white pepper
For the pork chops: Pound each pork chop between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/8-inch thick. Place the chops in a container and cover them with the buttermilk. Cover and marinate overnight or at least four hours in the refrigerator.
For the smashed potatoes: Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and add ¼ cup salt. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook the potatoes until fork-tender, about 30 minutes; do not let the water boil.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Meanwhile, remove the chops from the buttermilk (discard it) and season them with salt and cracked pepper. Put the cornmeal in a shallow bowl and season it with salt and cayenne pepper. Dredge the chops in the cornmeal, gently shaking off the excess, and put on a large plate.
Heat two large cast-iron skillets over high heat. When the skillets are hot, add 1/4-inch of canola oil to each and heat for 1 minute. Carefully place 2 pork chops in each skillet; do not shake the skillets or touch the chops for 1 minute. Then reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the chops until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the chops over and cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 4 minutes more. Transfer the chops to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Discard the oil in one skillet, replace it with new oil, and heat the oil over high heat. Cook the remaining 2 pork chops in the same way; transfer to the oven to keep warm.
When the potatoes are almost cooked, bring the half-and-half to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, carefully smash each potato without breaking it apart. Pour the hot half-and-half over the potatoes; crumble the goat cheese and the butter over them, and fold in the chives. You should have small pockets of goat cheese throughout and the potatoes shouldn’t be mashed. Season the potatoes with white pepper and serve with pork chops.
— From “Heritage” by Sean Brock (Artisan, $40)