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matt lee & ted lee

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T
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EEBROS
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CLARKSON POTTER

Copyright © 2013 by Matt Lee
and Ted Lee
Photographs copyright © 2013
by Squire Fox except as indicated
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by
Clarkson Potter/Publishers,
an imprint of the Crown Publishing
Group, a division of
Random House, Inc., New York.
www.crownpublishing.com
www.clarksonpotter.com
CLARKSON POTTER is a trademark
and POTTER with colophon is a
registered trademark of Random
House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-inPublication Data
Lee, Matt.
The Lee Bros. Charleston kitchen /
Matt Lee and Ted Lee. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
Includes index.
1. Cooking, American—Southern
style.  2. Cooking—South
Carolina—Charleston.  I. Lee,
Ted.  II. Title.
III. Title: Lee Brothers Charleston
kitchen.
TX715.2.S68L4448 2012
641.5975—
dc23   2012013331
ISBN 978-0-307-88973-7
eISBN 978-0-7704-3395-6
Printed in China
Photographs on pages 10, 12, 15,
32, 64, 66, 94, 95, 96, 100, 102,
103, 121, 171, and 173 copyright
© 2013 Matt Lee and Ted Lee.
Photographs on pages 53, 84, 133,
151, 168 reprinted with permission
Map illustrations copyright © 2013
by David Cain
Design by Stephanie Huntwork
Jacket design by Stephanie Huntwork
Jacket photography by Squire Fox
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First Edition

This book is dedicated
to our families

the lee bros. charleston kitchen

Contents
Welcome! 8

Drinks

16

Snacks, Hors d’Oeuvres,
and salads 40
Charleston Receipts 52
Clementine Paddleford’s Visit
to Charleston 66

Soups

68

springtime treat: Parish Hall Tea Rooms 79
Soup Bunches 84

Vegetables

88

Truck Farming 94
Holy City Foraging 102

Fish and Shellfish

118

Captain Junior Magwood 138
Shrimping 162
Edna Lewis at Middleton Place 168

Poultry and Other Meats

174

The Guinea Fowl of Lamboll Street 196

Desserts

200

downtown charleston walking tour 228
charleston and environs driving tour 230
bibliography 232
Acknowledgments 236
Index 237
the lee bros. charleston kitchen

pan-roasted okra, corn, and tomatoes
serves: 6

time: 45 minutes

W

e bring high-summer cookout spirit to the classic
Lowcountry vegetable trinity by charring the okra
and corn in a cast-iron skillet. The resulting caramelized, sweet vegetable flavor is the perfect complement to
the acidity of fresh tomatoes that have been gently stewed
with some onion, garlic, and bacon. You can turn this into
a vegetarian dish in a snap by substituting a healthy pinch
of smoked sweet paprika for the bacon, adding it to the pan
along with the onion and garlic. Since you’ll lose the fat rendered by the bacon, you should add up to a tablespoon more
vegetable oil to make sure the onions and garlic don’t brown.

2 Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the corn and season with
¼ teaspoon of the salt. Add the corn to the skillet and
cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly
charred in spots, about 3 minutes. Reserve the corn in
a bowl, separate from the okra.
3 Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and fill a bowl
with ice water. Score the tomato bottoms with an X.
Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and blanch for
10 seconds to loosen their skins. Transfer the tomatoes
to the ice water to cool. Core and peel the tomatoes,
and halve them crosswise. Working over a sieve set in

3 tablespoons vegetable oil,
plus more for brushing

1 medium white onion,
chopped (¾ cup)

a bowl, tease out the seeds with your fingers. Press on

8 ounces fresh okra, halved
lengthwise

1 large garlic clove, mashed
to a paste

the tomatoes and reserve them in the bowl of their

Kosher salt

1 to 2 teaspoons vinegar,
either red wine, white wine, or
distilled white (optional)

1½ cups corn kernels (from
2 large ears)
2 pounds fresh tomatoes

Freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces slab bacon, cut into
large dice

the seeds to extract the juice, then discard them. Chop
juice.
4 Pour the remaining tablespoon oil into the skillet over
medium-high heat, and when it shimmers, add the
bacon. Sauté the bacon until it just begins to brown,
about 4 minutes, then add the onion and ½ teaspoon
salt. Stir continuously for about 2 minutes, allowing
the onion to release some moisture, but not letting

1 Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until very

it brown. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute

hot and brush lightly with vegetable oil. In a bowl,

to let its flavor bloom (do not brown the garlic). Then

toss the okra with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season

add the tomatoes, and stir to combine. Cover the

with ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook the okra in the pan in

pot, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about

two batches, turning once, until charred and tender,

4 minutes until the tomatoes have mostly collapsed.

3 to 4 minutes per batch depending on the size and
freshness of your okra. Reserve in a bowl so you can
reuse the cast-iron skillet.

5 Add the corn, stir to combine, and cook for 3 more
minutes. Add the okra, stir, and cook just until the
okra is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season to
taste with the vinegar (which you may or may not need,
depending upon the acidity of the tomatoes), salt, and
black pepper; serve.



the lee bros. charleston kitchen

crab crack

serves: 24

A

time: 1 hour

“crab crack” in the Lowcountry is much like an oyster
roast, a rustic outdoors event where the sea creatures
being consumed are the only luxuries around. One
has to stand as there are typically no chairs, the table is a
piece of plywood set on sawhorses, and there are no utensils. Clean-up after a crab crack is usually a hose-down. For
those of us who love freshly boiled blue crabs, this scene is
heavenly; nothing stands in the way of our digging in, and
the lack of creature comforts reduces competition at the table
from prissier gourmands.
Eating crab picked fresh from the shell, though, is quite
rare—almost all restaurants prefer to get their crab prepicked for them, rather than to bring in whole crabs and
spend the effort extracting the meat and cleaning up. In fact,
Fred Dockery, a professional waterman who specializes in
crabs and shrimp, sells virtually all his blue crabs to one or
two retail fish markets (Marvin’s, on Dorchester Road, and
Crosby’s, downtown on Spring Street), and has learned over
the years that demand trails off on a predictable monthly
cycle that tracks with the delivery of Social Security checks.
A day spent on Fred Dockery’s crabbing boat on the
Kiawah River is an education in all the quirks, both annoying and sublime, of the crab business, among them the
beauty of a brown pelican alighting on the boat’s stern and
the scourge of “pot-snot,” a seaweed that clogs up the traps
in certain seasons.
“Crabbers like solitude, but we all learn to live around
each other,” he said, of the approximately 150 other active
crabbers in the state. “Each has his own dynamic: I’m
known as ‘All-Day Fred’; Willie will never get his traps up in
the deep of the channel; Wes never at the edge of it,” Dockery
told us. His floats are identified by a pale lavender color (a
risible detail, to the other crabbers) because he’s a Minnesota
Vikings fan.
North Carolina, being closer to northern markets,
hauls in about ten times more crab, according to Dockery,
than does South Carolina. Moreover, South Carolina no
longer has a picking plant for processing the crab into the



the lee bros. charleston kitchen

restaurant- and supermarket-friendly pint containers. Crab
harvesters like Dockery aren’t permitted to pick their own
crabs for sale.
Here is a point or two that will make you an expert in the
purchase of blue crabs before your next crab crack. Although
some people prefer the flavor of female crabs (“sooks”), the
males (“jimmies”) will typically be bigger and are more
sought after by the most ardent crab lovers. Males and females
are distinguished by the plate on their underside: a female
has a rounded plate; the male has one shaped like the Washington Monument. In either case, look for “rusty” patches
on the white undersides of the shells, indicating that a shell
hasn’t molted for a long while; crabs just about to molt their
shells are heavier and more packed with meat than those that
have already expended all the energy required to rebuild a
new shell (which leaves them lighter and water-logged).
½ cup kosher salt

1 lemon, cut in half

6 bay leaves, shredded

72 live large blue crabs
(about a bushel)

3 tablespoons cayenne
1 tablespoon black
peppercorns

Hot sauce, for serving
Beer

1 tablespoon celery seeds

1 Pour 4 gallons of water into a large (at least 6-gallon)
pot and bring to a vigorous boil on the stove or on a
propane-fueled trestle cooker outdoors. Add all the
ingredients except the crabs, hot sauce, and beer.
2 Add about 15 crabs at once to the pot and boil for
3 minutes, until their shells turn a deep orange. With
long-handled tongs, transfer the crabs to a table spread
with newspaper. Repeat with the next batch of crabs.
Serve with nutcrackers (for the claws), plenty of hand
towels, a shaker bottle of hot sauce, and oceans of
beer.

syllabub with rosemary-glazed figs
serves: 4

time: 1 hour 15 minutes, including chilling

S

yllabub is a supremely simple and decadent dessert; it’s essentially fortified wine (Madeira, sherry,
or ­Marsala) whisked with heavy cream. It came to
Charleston with English settlers in the 1700s, and was a fashionable dessert among well-to-do families in the Lowcountry
until the early twentieth century. We find references to it, not
only in cookbooks—from Sarah Rutledge’s The Carolina
Housewife (1847) to Charleston Receipts (1950)—but also in
books like Laura Witte Waring’s The Way It Was in Charleston. Waring’s memoir is an unusual portrait of domestic life
in Charleston in the years just after the Civil War. Waring
was the daughter of a wealthy German immigrant and his
wife, whose family escaped the vicissitudes of civil war by
moving back to Germany, where they prospered. Upon
returning to Charleston, they were among the city’s wealthiest residents; the mansion and gardens they built in 1816 are
now ­Ashley Hall, a girls’ day school. Waring describes the
pride with which her mother—and only her mother; no one
else was entrusted with the task—made syllabub.
In spite of that, we’ve never been served this dessert in
Charleston—neither in a restaurant nor in a private home—
not once! And we have no clue why: it’s as easy to make as
whipped cream, beyond delicious, and a perfectly elegant
accompaniment for fruit. Syllabub was typically served in
specialized silver-and-glass cups with a spoon and a straw,
and a sprig of rosemary for garnish, but we prefer to top it
with fresh figs that have been quartered and tossed in a light
rosemary simple syrup.
We hope Syllabub comes back in style. It’s the kind of
uncomplicated and yet slightly surprising dessert we enjoy at
the end of a Charleston dinner with all the trimmings.

Sy ll a bub

½ cup Sercial Madeira or
Amontillado sherry
Peel of ½ lemon

1½ tablespoons sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream, cold

1 tablespoon fresh lemon
juice

Ro sem a ry- gl a zed figs

½ cup sugar
2 (3-inch) long sprigs
rosemary

4 ounces fresh figs (about
4 large), stemmed and
quartered

Pinch of kosher salt

1 Make the syllabub: Put all syllabub ingredients except
for the cream into a large bowl, and whisk until the
sugar has dissolved, about a minute. Let stand in the
fridge, about 1 hour.
2 Make the rosemary-glazed figs: Heat the sugar and
¼ cup of water water in a small saucepan over
medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add
the rosemary and the salt, stir for about 30 seconds to
dissolve the salt and bruise the rosemary, and turn off
the heat. Cover and let cool to room temperature, about
20 minutes.
3 Put the figs in a small bowl, drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons
of the rosemary syrup over them, and toss gently to coat.
(If the figs are less than ripe, let them stand in the syrup
for 30 minutes to sweeten.) Reserve the remaining syrup
for another use, such as sweetening lemonade.
4 Remove the lemon peel from the wine mixture. Pour the
cream into the wine and whisk by hand until the cream
is thick and holds its shape, about 2 minutes. Divide
the syllabub among four wine glasses or sundae cups
and spoon the rosemary-glazed figs over each serving.



the lee bros. charleston kitchen

Pur
chas
eacopyof

T
HEL
EEBROS
.
CHARL
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:

CLARKSON POTTER