Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman of Hog & Hominy share what every Southern (and Southern Italian) kitchen needs, starting with a proper cast-iron skillet
If ranking atop Food & Wine's best burgers in the U.S. list wasn't enough, chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman have more than established themselves as masters of both Southern and Italian cooking since being named Food & Wine Best New Chefs in 2013. At their Memphis-located Hog and Hominy they've garnered widespread acclaim, and their upcoming restaurant, The Gray Canary, promises more of the same.
Last week, Ticer and Hudman stopped by the Food & Wine Test Kitchen to demonstrate how to cook with hot coals at home, making Charred Sweet Potatoes with Meyer Lemon-Mascarpone and Chorizo. And afterwards, they shared a few essentials for any one looking to get deeper into Southern (and Southern Italian) cooking at home.
Ticer and Hudman say a big, seasoned cast iron skillet is a must have for many reasons: they retain heat, cook uniformly, are extremely versatile and will last forever. They rarely wash theirs with water, simply wiping it down so that the grease and fat gets cooked into the pan and comes back to the surface over heat. And while "the best ones are handed down from your grandmother," they say Lodge is the next best thing.
In the summer, Ticer and Hudman recommend buying as many in-season hot peppers as you want, and letting them steep in a quality, plain vinegar for as long as you can to make pepper vinegar, which goes great on everything from green beans to salad dressing. But, like many restaurants, they also keep a bottled variety around, which adds variety (and can save you some time).
On the more Italian side of Southern Italian cooking, Ticer and Hudman say an Imperia pasta roller is another indispensible item that will last a lifetime. "It's way easier than rolling them out with a rolling pin," they say of using the roller for handmade pasta, which is faster, quicker and more consistent than the hand alternative. It also gives more precise control over thickness, which makes difficult thinner pastas much more doable for all.
Another item that's been passed down through both chef's families, ravioli trays are especially important in Ticer and Hudman's Southern Italian cooking. Their restaurant, it turns it, is filled with kitchen items from both of their grandmothers that get used all time, but if you aren't as lucky, a new set will help bring homemade ravioli into your home.
Finally, while it may seem simple, it's easy to forget just how useful a great wooden spoon can be. Whether you're cooking Spaghetti Bolognese or red hot gravy, the chefs say, it's a great tool for that won't scratch your pan or pot. And if you can't get one from your grandma, you can always burn the handles a bit to give new ones some character.