I started visiting Charleston, South Carolina, when I was in college in Virginia and North Carolina. I immediately liked it because the Low Country, as it is known, with its watery grassland, was a more regal-looking version of the marsh I grew up in hunting and fishing in south Louisiana. Charleston itself reminds me of old New Orleans, its European-style townhouses stacked side by side and a “Creole” cuisine steeped in tradition and history. As much as I felt a bond with the city, I was always oddly ill at ease there and came to feel like it was an uptight version of New Orleans. Years later, a friend would clap me on the shoulder as I mused over this and said, “Remember, New Orleans was settled by the Spanish and French, Charleston was settled by the English. Think about that, why don’t ya!” The folks of the area do a Low Country boil that is a less spicy version of a Cajun shrimp boil. This is a tip of the hat to what my buddies in South Carolina do.
Low Country Cast-Iron Skillet Scramble
- 1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 1/4 cup clarified butter or your preferred cooking fat
- 2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup diced Andouille sausage
- 1/3 cup medium shrimp, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of Old Bay seasoning
- 1/2 cup potato hash (recipe follows)
- 1/4 cup diced tomato
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons sliced green onion, green parts only
- 2 cups diced baking potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons bacon fat or your preferred cooking fat
- 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
For the scramble:
Preheat the broiler.
In a small ovenproof skillet (see Note), stir together the corn and olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Broil, stirring every 30 or 45 seconds, until the corn begins to brown lightly, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Do not turn off the broiler.
Warm the clarified butter in a 6-inch cast-iron pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion begins to turn transparent, about 1 minute. Add the Andouille, shrimp, 1⁄4 teaspoon Old Bay, and Potato Hash, season with salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring constantly, until the shrimp turn opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the broiled corn and diced tomato and cook, stirring, until warmed through, about 30 seconds.
Add the eggs and slowly scramble with a silicone spatula, scraping up large curds from the bottom of the pan. Just as the eggs are almost set but still a tiny bit runny, after about 2 minutes, turn off the heat and sprinkle with the cheese. Slide the pan under the broiler and broil until the cheese melts, 10 to 15 seconds. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the green onions and a pinch of Old Bay. Serve immediately in the cast-iron skillet.
NOTE: If you don't have an ovenproof skillet, cook in a nonstick pan until the eggs are just done. Transfer the scramble to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with cheese, and finish under the broiler.
For the potato hash:
Set up an ice bath by adding ice and cold water to a large bowl. Place the potato in a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife, 2 or 3 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then plunge into the ice bath for a minute or so to stop the cooking.
Warm the bacon fat in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until transparent, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, stirring to combine, and season immediately with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, slowly stirring, until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately or set aside for a skillet scramble.