Today is officially Sean Brock Day at Food Republic. Brock is no stranger to us, and we like it that way. He’s one of the most-passionate culinary ambassadors for the American South, particularly his beloved Lowcountry (the coastal region of South Carolina). He’s also one of the nicest guys you could share a bottle of Pappy with (and he’s usually buying). Today marks the release of his first cookbook, Heritage. And in that lies the chef’s secret to making good cornbread at home. Follow it.

My favorite ball cap, made by Billy Reid, has a patch on the front that reads “Make Cornbread, Not War.” I’m drawn to it because cornbread is a sacred thing in the South, almost a way of life. But cornbread, like barbeque, can be the subject of great debate among Southerners. Flour or no flour? Sugar or no sugar? Is there an egg involved? All are legitimate questions.

When we opened Husk, I knew that we had to serve cornbread. I also knew that there is a lot of bad cornbread out there in the restaurant world, usually cooked before service and reheated, or held in a warming drawer. I won’t touch that stuff because, yes, I am a cornbread snob. My cornbread has no flour and no sugar. It has the tang of good buttermilk and a little smoke from Allan Benton’s smokehouse bacon. You’ve got to cook the cornbread just before you want to eat it, in a black skillet, with plenty of smoking-hot grease. That is the secret to a golden, crunchy exterior. Use very high heat, so hot that the batter screeches as it hits the pan. It’s a deceptively simple process, but practice makes perfect, which may be why many Southerners make cornbread every single day.

Reprinted with permission from Heritage