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    THE HOT SEAT: Chef Brandon Carter of FARM Bluffton

    THE HOT SEAT: Chef Brandon Carter of FARM Bluffton

    Chef Brandon Carter followed that second tide with his move to Bluffton as head of culinary operations for Palmetto Bluff, but he soon made his own name beyond the confines of the community by opening FARM Bluffton, which looks to that Lowcountry landscape for its daily menu inspiration, then melds it with imaginative preps from cultures far beyond the state. 

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    The Hot Seat: Chef Andrea Griffith of Pursell Farms

    The Hot Seat: Chef Andrea Griffith of Pursell Farms

    By Stephanie Burt of The Southern Fork

    Pursell Farms in Sylacauga, Ala., is a long way from a childhood on front porch stoops in Philly, but Chef Andrea Griffith has found a home  at high end  Southern resorts, first at Greenbrier in West Virginia, then at Primland in Virginia, before settling years ago in Alabama. In the kitchen at Pursell, she excels at cooking from the Southern seasonal bounty and making a name for herself hosting delicious culinary events. Often those events center around the Sea Island Forge installed at the resort, so it only seemed right to put her on the hotseat. With her usual charm and down-to-earth grace (and probably with a pair of tongs in one hand), she obliged.

    Chef Andrea Griffith on Sea Island Forge Kettle

     

     

    Do you have a grilling or campfire memory that started your love of outdoor cooking?

    I grew up in downtown Philly, and we were never outdoor people. I mean steaks on the grill, sure, that sort of thing, but when I met my ex-husband, he took me camping, and yes, it was the most horrific experience of my whole life [laughs] but cooking over a campfire was awesome. I realized that there was nothing I couldn’t do. That wasn’t that bad.

    What’s one meal that really shines on your SIF Kettle?

    People seem to flock to my play on Mexican street corn with a homemade ranch-style aioli.

    What is something you’ve cooked on the SIF Kettle that surprised you?

    I’ll do a sourdough boule with pickled onions and goat cheese, or you know, pull out the double Griswold cast iron skillet and do fried chicken. The surprising thing is you can make about anything on a SIF.

    How would you describe your style of cooking?

    I am a purist. I want to take an ingredient and make it taste like what it is. I’m modern American cuisine, then I pair with accentuating flavors. For instance, mushrooms are one of my favorite things. But I want them to taste like mushrooms, not covered up with other flavors. That’s just one example.

    What type of wood do you like for your SIF Kettle?

    I like a hickory / cedar blend. Chestnut for smoking or grilling. And that hickory doesn’t put up as much black fumes.

    What’s something tricky about open fire that the average cook needs to know?

    I teach guests in an open forum on the SIF, so I’m used to lots of questions. It’s really all about getting to know the kettle. With a gas grill, you set the temperature, and then it’s set, but here, you have to maintain it. A lot of people are afraid it’s too hot or not hot enough. But the more you work with it, the more you know what you need.

    What is your favorite element of the SIF Kettle?

    The beauty of the grill grate arm. I can do a whole side of salmon, use the dome, producing steam, and I don’t have to flip. Finding the right place for the heat and then using that dome to not have to flip fish is a thing of beauty.

     

    Summer South of the Border Grilled Sweet Corn

    From Chef Andrea Griffith, Pursell Farms, Sylacauga, Ala

     

    Serves 6 people

     

    6-8 ears of fresh sweet corn with husks, washed and silks removed

    1 c. Hellman’s mayonnaise

    1 tbsp, dried dill (or 2 tbsp. fresh, finely chopped)

    1 tbsp. garlic powder

    Salt and pepper to taste

    1 bunch cilantro, stalks removed, finely chopped

    Hot sauce to taste

    1 c. crumbled cojito cheese

     

    1. Fold husks around corn, twisting slightly at the end, then place on a medium hot grills, and roast corn in husk until almost cooked.
    2. While corn is roasting, in a bowl, mix mayonnaise, dill, garlic powder, and salt and pepper, and set aside.
    3. Remove corn from grill onto platter, then pull back husk of each cob (husk should all be at the stalk end but not removed) and brush each cob well with the mayo mixture.
    4. Return corn cobs to the grill, keeping kernels exposed, and grill until they begin to char.
    5. Remove from heat and immediately sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
    6. Drizzle with hot sauce as desired, top with crumbled cojito, and serve warm. 

     

    The Hot Seat: Chef Bob Cook of Edmund's Oast

    The Hot Seat: Chef Bob Cook of Edmund's Oast

    By Stephanie Burt of The Southern Fork

    It’s easy to know that Chef Bob Cook is a SIF fan -- one is sitting right outside his restaurant kitchen’s door at Edmund’s Oast in Charleston, SC, habitually fired up by the kitchen staff to cook menu items. Although Cook grew up in the Midwest hunting and camping, these days he’s just at home on the waterways of the South Carolina Lowcountry, and he and his partner Cris Miller love to fish and camp when they’re not working. She can pull in the big fish just like he can, and after a day on the water, they love to cook what they’ve caught.

    Sea Island Forge at Edmund's Oast

    Do you have a grilling or campfire memory that started your love of outdoor cooking?

    As a young adult in the Midwest, my buddy had a cabin, and we would often go up there for the opening day of trout and walleye. We’d fish all day, and then cook whatever we’d randomly caught first. Everything was just so good. The smoke would be all over you, you’d be dirty from all day, but cooking fresh fish over fire is extremely simple and satisfying.

     

    What’s one meal that really shines on your SIF Kettle?

    I’m not like some people. I LOVE leftovers. So on my day off, sometimes I like to go old school. Once such dish is BBQ chicken. I cook all of it at one time, fill up the grill, and since the Kettle utilizes real wood, you get a ton of smoky flavor.

    What is something you’ve cooked on the SIF Kettle that surprised you?

    Living here, I love to go crabbing for blue crab. We catch a lot, and then lighting that fire and cooking them, they are so good. I don’t know what people complain about that blue crab are too much work. They are delicious, and picking them is part of the fun.

    How would you describe your style of cooking?

    Really I like to take what is simple and make it the best I can. For instance, I might have chicken noodle soup on the menu, but it will be the most flavorful, the best version of that classic soup I could possibly make. It’s the stuff I want to eat taken in a cheffy direction. I like to sum it up by saying I make fun food.

    What type of wood do you like for your SIF Kettle?

    I like oak and pecan, those two together. The oak burns for a long time and makes a nice bed of coals. And if you can get about 25 percent pecan or fruit wood, it adds a smoky sweetness to the mix. I especially love persimmon, but that’s hard to find. At the restaurant, it’s all oak and pecan.

    What’s something tricky about open fire that the average cook needs to know?

    Let the fire get down to a bed of coals, and take under consideration the fat is is still on the meat. Fat is fuel, and it will render out, so you can either move the grill around, or take a shovel and scoot the coals to one side. Cooking over wood isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of cooking. You need to pay attention. That fat will flame up, and you have to work with it if you want that nice char (such as on a steak) or not.

    What is your favorite element of the SIF Kettle?

    I love how showy it is, how great it looks, especially when it’s all loaded up with food. We did an event here where I used fresh hams, and it just looked so good. It was a centerpiece of the event.


    Half Shell Fish


    Bob Cook, Edmund’s Oast, Charleston, S.C.


    1 ½ tbsp. (25g) fresh turmeric, chopped

    3 tbsp. (45g) galangal, chopped

    1 ½ tsp. chopped garlic

    4 medium shallots, chopped

    2 Thai chilis, ribs and seeds removed, or more if you like it spicy

    2 tbsp. fish sauce

    3 tbsp.  honey

    1lb/450g Greek yogurt

    2 tbsp. Dill, chopped

    3 scallions, chopped

    2 tsp. turmeric powder

    Fresh fish, dressed (guts removed but bones and skin intact, head and tail optional)


    1. In a blender, combine fresh turmeric, galangal, garlic, shallot, chilis, fish sauce, and honey. Blend VERY well on high until it is a smooth paste. Combine paste with yogurt, dill, scallion and turmeric powder and use immediate or refrigerate up to two weeks.
    2. Spread 3 tbsp. yogurt mix on fresh skin on fish (i.e. redfish or other white, fleshy fish) per side and marinate for 8-24 hours.
    3. When ready to grill, place fish skin side up on hottest area of a even fire for 2 minutes. Flip to skin side down and move to a more medium heat area of the grill and cook for 3-6 more minutes depending on size or until cooked through.

    Written by Stephanie Burt