Food & Drink

A Last Supper for Seven Sows

Chef Mike Moore’s favorite family recipes

photo: Aaron Morrell


“This is a celebration, not a funeral,” says Mike Moore, who is on vacation with a group of his former employees at a rented beach house outside of Charleston, South Carolina, instead of on the line at Seven Sows, his recently shuttered Asheville restaurant. For the past two years, as the streets around the restaurant filled with new spots to eat and drink, it was a comfortable place to pick over a plate of buttermilk hush puppies or a tray of raw oysters. But the chef has been busy with other projects, and he was ready to sell when a friend asked if he would.

Still, it is a little bit sad.

Restaurants all over the country now offer the sort of studied comfort food pioneered by John Currence in Oxford and Sean Brock in Charleston. But at Seven Sows, the food was not the only source of comfort. Moore put his favorite family recipes on the menu, dishing his great-grandmother’s butterscotch pudding and fried chicken topped with giblet and egg gravy and sliced pimento pepper, like his grandmother served it. The kitchen staff was part of the family, too. On the final menu, two dishes bore the names of the sous chefs who created them.

Moore will not leave Asheville. Over the past four and a half years, he has hosted dozens of one-night-only charity dinners through his Blind Pig Supper Club, and he is planning more, including some in other cities. He also hopes to build a communal kitchen and event space where chefs catering his well-attended gatherings might rub elbows with others chopping vegetables for food trucks or farmers’ markets. Justin Burdett, an up-and-coming protégé of Atlanta chef Steven Satterfield who last cooked in Highlands, is renovating the old Seven Sows space and planning to open his restaurant, Local Provisions, within the next several months.

There is plenty to celebrate, and plenty to mourn. Either way, it’s a good time for a platter of fried chicken. Last year, Moore shared his recipe with Debby Maugans and Christine Sykes Lowe, the authors of Farmer and Chef Asheville. It is reprinted below, with accompaniments. Raise a drumstick and a spoonful of macaroni and cheese to a humble eating place now gone.

 


Ingredients

  • Seven Sows Fried Chicken

    • 3 cups buttermilk

    • 1 cup Texas Pete hot sauce

    • Handful of fresh thyme sprigs

    • 4 cloves garlic, smashed

    • 3 lb. bone-in chicken pieces

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour

    • 2 tbsp. paprika

    • 1 tsp. garlic powder

    • 1 tsp. onion powder

    • 1 tsp. ground thyme

    • 2 tbsp. salt

    • 2 tsp. pepper

    • Peanut oil

  • Carlie’s Giblet & Egg Gravy

    • 1/2 stick ( 1/4 cup) butter

    • 1 chicken neck bone

    • 2 chicken gizzards, chopped

    • 1 chicken liver, chopped

    • 1/2 medium onion, chopped

    • 2 cloves garlic, minced

    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

    • 1 tsp. minced thyme

    • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste

    • 3 cups chicken stock

    • 3 hard-boiled eggs, for garnish

    • Sliced pimento peppers, for garnish

  • Seven Sows Macaroni & Cheese

    • 1/2 lb. elbow macaroni, uncooked

    • 1 medium red onion, peeled

    • 1 bay leaf

    • 3 whole cloves

    • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter

    • 5 tbsp. all-purpose flour

    • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

    • 1 cup whole milk

    • 2 tbsp. dry white wine

    • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

    • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste

    • 8 oz. shredded white cheddar cheese

    • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest


Preparation

  1. For the Seven Sows Fried Chicken:

    To prepare the buttermilk marinade, combine ½ cup water with the buttermilk, hot sauce, thyme, and garlic in a large, nonreactive bowl. Add the chicken, turning to coat and submerging in the buttermilk mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours.

  2. For chicken breading, combine the flour and spices in a large bowl. Whisk to blend. Add a generous amount of oil to a heavy saucepan or fryer and heat it to 350 degrees.

  3. Lift the chicken pieces out of the buttermilk mixture, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl for a few seconds. Add the chicken to the breading and use your hands to coat the pieces well.

  4. Cook the chicken in batches until all pieces are browned and crispy, about 4-5 minutes or until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 at the thickest part of meat.

  5. Transfer the chicken to a rack placed over a baking sheet and let it rest for at least 2 minutes before serving it with Carlie’s Giblet & Egg Gravy and Seven Sows Macaroni & Cheese. (Seven Sows Fried Chicken recipe serves 4-6)

  6. For Carlie’s Giblet and Egg Gravy:

    Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.

  7. Add the neck bone, gizzards, and liver, and sauté until the meat is browned, about 6 minutes.

  8. Add the onion and garlic and cook until they begin to brown, 2-3 minutes.

  9. Sprinkle the flour, thyme, salt, and pepper over the mixture and stir until no lumps of flour remain. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add the chicken stock. Simmer and continue to stir until the mixture has thickened to the desired consistency.

  10. Remove the neck bone and discard.

  11. Ladle the gravy over fried chicken and top with chopped egg and sliced pimento peppers. (Makes about 4 cups)

  12. For the Seven Sows Macaroni & Cheese:

    Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

  13. Cut a 1-inch-deep slit in the onion and insert the bay leaf in the onion. Stud the onion with the cloves.

  14. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and then add the flour and stir until the mixture is smooth. Cook the roux until it is light brown, stirring frequently, 5-6 minutes. Whisk in the cream, milk, and wine until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the onion.

  15. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  16. Strain the sauce and return to the saucepan over low heat.

  17. Add the cheese, and stir until melted and smooth.

  18. Stir in the hot, drained macaroni and lemon zest. (Serves 4-6)

Recipes from Debbie Maugans and Christine Sykes Low of Farmer and Chef in Asheville, North Carolina


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