Thomas E. Williams II
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Emerald Coast Living

John Currence brings Big Bad Breakfast to Inlet Beach

Posted on - JAN WADDY

Name: John Currence

Restaurant: City Grocery, Bouré, Snackbar, The Main Event, Big Bad Breakfast

Age: 52

Hometown: New Orleans, La.

Accolades: Restaurateur Of The Year and Chef Of The Year awards from the Mississippi Restaurant Association in 1998; Southern Foodways Alliance Guardian of Tradition Award in 2006; James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South in 2009. Winner of the 2008 Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans and Charleston Food and Wine Festival’s Iron Chef Challenge in 2009.

After a long workday, what do you eat?

Something quick and easy like cold fried chicken, cold pizza, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chicken salad, or just about anything I can stand and eat over the sink.

What’s your guilty (food) pleasure?

I’m a sugar junkie! Ice cream is my kryptonite, particularly the Baskin-Robbins Peanut Butter ‘n Chocolate.

What’s your favorite flavor combination?

Mustard and sausage.

Besides your restaurant, where do you go out to eat?

I have a few go-to spots. Johnny’s in Homewood, Ala., which offers the most insane meat and three veggies plate out there. Saint Leo in Oxford, Miss., is doing some of the most fun country Italian there is. And for my New Orleans fix when I can’t get home, I’ll head to Second Line in Memphis, Tenn. Otherwise, I eat more Popeyes than anyone else on the planet.

What are your pet peeves in the kitchen?

I can’t stand cooks who don’t have respect for the food they make.

If you could choose, what would be your last meal?

The annual Gumbo Z’Herbes lunch served on Holy Thursday at Dooky Chase in NOLA.

What’s your favorite recipe ingredient?



Low Country Cast-Iron Skillet Scramble

Created by Chef John Currence, adapted from Big Bad Breakfast; makes 1 serving.

¼ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and black pepper

¼ cup clarified butter or your preferred cooking fat

2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

½ cup diced andouille sausage

1⁄3 cup medium shrimp, peeled

¼ teaspoon plus a pinch of

Old Bay seasoning

½ cup Potato Hash (recipe follows)

¼ cup diced tomato

2 eggs, well beaten

¼ cup grated cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons sliced green onion, green parts only

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.

Potato Hash

Makes 2 cups

2 cups diced baking potato, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes

Salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons bacon fat or your preferred cooking fat

¼ cup diced yellow onion

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.