Hailing from rural Southwestern Virginia, Travis Milton spent his childhood learning the traditions of the true Appalachian kitchen passed down from his great (and great-great) grandparents. A reverence for the traditions and heritage of Southern kitchens was instilled in Milton from his earliest days. After working in kitchens across the country, such as Todd Gray’s Equinox in D.C. and Chris Cosentino’s Incanto in San Francisco, Milton embarked on his dream of a genuine Appalachian restaurant. What started as an idea for one restaurant evolved to three: Milton’s at the Western Front in Saint Paul, VA, and Shovel & Pick and Simply Grand at the Sessions Hotel in nearby Bristol. His first Appalachian-centric restaurant, Milton's, opens in late 2017 as a meat-and-three. Shovel & Pick and Simply Grand, opening late next year, represent both aspects of Milton’s background (“both sides of my brain,” as he puts it) by showcasing the rustic, soulful comfort food of his childhood on one side of the building, with a more modern take on those traditions on the other.
Oyster Cornbread Dressing
Is there anything more southern than cornbread? Well how about a cornbread stuffing? Add some savory depth to this comfort food classic by adding in the subtle brininess of Virginias oysters. This recipe will surely satisfy your down home southern craving for great stuffing.
Skillet Corn Bread
5 T. smoky bacon fat
2 cups self-rising white cornmeal
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 farm egg
3 T. chopped pork cracklins
½ t. salt
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Heat a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with bacon fat in it on high until it begins to smoke.
3. While the pan is heating, whisk all other ingredients together in a large bowl.
4. Once the skillet is smoking, pour ingredients into the skillet. Do not remove skillet until you see the edges of the cornbread mixture curling at the edges.
5. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
6. Remove cornbread, and transfer out of the skillet to cool.