IF YOU WERE to ask Table 28’s chef Scott Rains about his relationship to Southern cooking, to greens, he’d say they’re close. Like, real close. Like, intravenously so.
As he puts it, “It flows through my bloodstream.”
Though the medical professionals out there might question a literalist interpretation, if there’s anyone out there who can claim cooking in the blood, it’s Scott. A Hot Springs native, he’s got a culinary lineage winding up either side of his family tree. However, it’s his maternal grandfather, who headed kitchens in both The Arlington and the Avenell Hotel through the ’40s and ’50s, whom Scott credits for his love of good food. Of cornbread. Of beans.
But most especially: Greens.
“From picking wild poke salad to actually gardening turnips, [the] greens we ate, the collards we grew—I mean, my grandfather always had a huge garden,” Scott says. “It was the highlight of my summer to get to go over there and work the garden two times a day.”
Although the family’s approach to greens hewed pretty closely to the traditional—they’d braise them, cook them down with ham hocks, eat them with cornbread and hot pepper juice—when asked to make his own mark, Scott was more than happy to oblige.
Of course, while this willingness to innovate probably won’t come as a surprise to those familiar with Scott’s cooking—if you haven’t tried Table 28’s quail lollipops, you really, really need to—there’s little doubt this recipe was created with family in mind.
“I think if they were alive to tell me so, I think … they’d be like, Well, Scotty. Wow! You really did this! This is really, really good.”
Smoked pork meat
2 large bunches (about 2-3 pounds) of cleaned and chopped greens (such as collard, kale, mustard or turnip)*
1 medium onion (julienned)
½ cup vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
3½ quarts Chicken stock
- Start by making the wonderful potlicker.
- Boil the smoked pork in chicken stock with all ingredients except the greens.
- Continue to cook for 1-2 hours, assuring the smoked pork is tender and falling apart.
- Add the greens, and cook until tender. This will not take too long, so keep tasting them.**
* “I really, really, really am a collard fan, but to be honest with you, I did a 50 percent collard, 25 mustard, 25 turnip. That oughta be a third, a third and a third.”
** “You have to keep checking because you want them to have that integrity. You want the stem to have some texture.”
Foie Gras Spoon Bread
4 oz foie gras (duck or chicken liver will also do)
¾ cup McKaskle popcorn cornmeal (War Eagle is good too)
1 tsp salt
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsps of foie gras drippings
2 eggs beaten
1 cup of milk
2 tsp of baking powder
2 tsp bacon fat
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Preheat a cast iron skillet.
- Combine the salt and cornmeal; add the boiling water, butter and foie gras drippings. Allow to cool.
- Add milk, beaten eggs and baking powder mix until smooth.
- Add the bacon fat to the hot cast iron.
- Add spoon bread cornmeal mixture, it will get crisp and brown around the edges. At this point put it in the oven.
- It will bake 15-20 minutes just until set.
3 lbs apples (all varietals are good for this recipe)
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp allspice
¾ tsp nutmeg
2½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup sugar
⅔ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp bourbon
1 tbsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
- Put all of these ingredients in a Crock-pot and set on low. It will be perfect tomorrow, I promise!
Cracked smoked peppercorns
2 tbsp oil for searing
- Dry duck breast, score by cutting through the skin crossways.
- Season with salt and pepper
- Add oil to a hot pan, sear skin side down until brown and crisp and rendered out.
- Finish on the other side for about 2 minutes or so. Do not overcook; it should be a total of 5-6 minutes.
- Allow to rest before serving or carving.
Note: The smoked peppercorns are to be heated in a hot dry pan. Just move them around and shake the pan. They will become fragrant and smoky. Then grind with a spice grinder.