In the South, a family-style fried chicken dinner is never something to be taken lightly. But when that chicken is prepared by two of the region’s most eminent chefs, Sean Brock of Husk and Joseph Lenn from Blackberry Farm, it becomes a downright happening. Add to that the fact that Husk Nashville took advantage of the opportunity to roll out their new line of beers from the brewery at Blackberry Farm, and the spotlight of Southern culinary culture shone brightly on the private dining room at Husk.
The intimate dinner was the first in a series of guest chef events that Brock has planned for The Stables at Husk, a cozy lodge-like room constructed in the old carriage house adjoining the main building at Husk. Raucous laughter could be heard emanating from the satellite kitchen as Brock and Lenn fried away on their menus for the small group of about 25 lucky diners.
Roy Milner and Sam Beall of Blackberry Farms introduced each beer pairing with every course and illuminated the diners to the fact that they were enjoying BBF’s Heritage Beer Program in one of the only venues outside of the Farm’s Walland, TN property. Until they finish construction on a new brewery/distillery facility at Blackberry Farm late next year, Husk Nashville, Holeman & Finch Public House and Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta will be the only restaurants to feature the Historic Ales series of beers, a Classic Saison, Farm Ale and Screaming Cock Dubbel. These Belgian-style beers are specifically designed to accompany food, so The Barn at Blackberry Farm plus the three notable Southern restaurants that have joined as partners are wholly appropriate venues for the rollout. Milner shared, “We felt it was important to share these beers outside of our property and knew that these places would be great partners.”
After Brock and Lenn presented a delightful series of cold and warm seasonal appetizers, it was time for the main event. Blackberry Farm is known far and wide for their fried chicken, and with all the culinary delights available in the dining program there, many guests will pass over the more elevated dishes on the menu to order a box of yardbird to go for their drive home. With a sweet tea brine preparation and a piquantly spiced crispy exterior, Lenn’s chicken is absolutely a prototypical version of the Southern staple that would be just as home on a church potluck serving table as it would be in a white tablecloth restaurant.
Sean Brock has been chasing his fried chicken recipe for years. It has been a labor of love as he sought to create a version that was worthy of inclusion on the menu at Husk. He has finally come up with an amalgam of five of his favorite types of chicken: “gas station, honky tonk, Colonel Sanders, Husk five fat, Nashville hot chicken and buffalo wings.” He calls the result “a monster of a process” that takes three days to prepare and includes between 30-40 ingredients. But it is good enough to highlight the new daily plate lunch specials at husk Nashville, and Brock and his staff run through the weekly allotment of fifty orders before the first hour of lunch is over, so come early!
After the dinner the chefs emerged from the kitchen to a standing ovation from the diners. Brock looked a little bit ill, “I ate so much fried chicken! It was the biggest pile ever back there.” Lenn was just happy to be there. “It’s an honor to come cook with Sean. I’ve wanted to come here since they opened, and it’s great to watch our staffs learning from each other.”
Brock summed up the evening by stating, “If you guys had half as much fun out here as we had together in the kitchen, then you must have had a great night!” Indeed.
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