Sean Brock's Johnny Cakes

The chef of McCrady’s and Husk in Charleston, South Carolina, shares an appetizer recipe that highlights some of his favorite southern ingredients

Johnny cakes can be served as appetizers with just about any topping, from smoked trout to pimento cheese. Here, chef Sean Brock garnishes them with a deviled mousse, a North Carolina Siberian caviar, and chervil.

2 1/2 cups antebellum corn meal from Anson Mills
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons bacon fat from Benton's Smoked Country Bacon
1 egg
2 1/2 cups real buttermilk
deviled egg piping
North Carolina Siberian caviar
chervil

The instructions below are a simple guide meant to go with the video above.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, stirring the corn meal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Put the butter and bacon fat in a pan and melt over low heat. In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Whisk the egg and the buttermilk, and then pour in the melted butter and bacon fat and stir. Slowly add in the already mixed dry ingredients. Whisk so that there are no dry pockets—the batter should be light and airy and gently fall off the whisk. Prepare a tray with a napkin to blot off the Johnny Cakes. Heat a cast iron pan on medium heat. Add two tablespoons of canola oil to the pan. To test the pan, drop a small bit of batter in to make sure it sizzles slightly. Drop tablespoon-sized servings of batter into the pan. The batter should begin to bubble at the edges. Gently move the Johnny Cakes around and flip when the batter starts to cook around the edges. Brown the other side. Remove and place on the napkin. Spoon deviled egg and then caviar on the cakes. Top with chervil.

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