Soulful Gourmet: The Hoecake

Each month, we’ll go inside the kitchen and bring you one of Chef Ken Dempsey’s personal recipes!

This month’s Soulful Gourmet recipe from our test kitchen (aka…my house) takes several classic, southern ingredients and rolls them into a delicious gourmet meal. This includes hoecakes (or johnnycakes as they call them up north), roasted pork loin, red wine cabbage, sweet and sour pickled carrots,  and jalapenos, a list that should have your mouth watering before the party even begins! This dish reminds me a little of a gourmet play on a barbeque pulled pork sandwich.

Sweet & Sour Pickled Carrots & Jalapenos
1.5 c apple cider vinegar
1 c water
1 c sugar
3 c matchstick carrots
5 fresh jalapenos, seeded & julienned


Combine vinegar, water, and sugar in medium sauce pan and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat, then add carrots and jalapenos, making sure the liquid covers them completely. Set to the side for later.

Pork Loin Roast
3 lb pork loin roast
1/3 c local honey

Generously season pork with rub seasoning (I use a house-made rub that is 1c brown sugar, 3tbsp Hungarian paprika, 2tbsp kosher salt and coarse black pepper, 1 tsp granulated garlic) about an hour before putting in the oven. Place rubbed pork into roasting pan and into a 350 degree oven uncovered for 1 hour. Remove from oven and pour honey over pork, completely cover pan with aluminum foil and return to oven for an additional 1.5 hours. Remove from oven and let rest for one hour. (Reserve liquid from the roast)

Red Wine Cabbage
1 head red cabbage, julienned
1 red onion, julienned
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp salt/pepper mix
1 c sweet red wine (I used Red Moscato because… well… that’s what I had and it worked perfectly)

Sauté red onions in large pan with olive oil on medium-high heat until caramelized. Add garlic and cook until garlic becomes fragrant. Add salt/pepper mix. Add cabbage and sauté until tender but still a little crisp (al dente). Add wine and reduce until liquid is almost gone. Cover and keep warm.

Take reserved liquid from the pork and put in medium sized sauce pan over medium heat until reduced by about half. Let sauce cool for a few minutes then whisk in cold “real” butter – about 8 tbsp.

½c Hodgson Mill Yellow Cornmeal
½c all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt pepper
2 tbsp sugar
1c Bulgarian buttermilk

Mix all ingredients with a fork until just combined (mixture should look like pancake batter). Cook just like you would pancakes. I use a tad of oil on the first side and then finish the second side with a sliver of butter for crisp, buttery edges.

As we ate this for dinner, my wife and I couldn’t help but think of the endless possibilities for this dish. Smoked brisket, chicken thighs, or you could even veg it out…all would be delicious if you have a personal favorite or leftover protein you are looking to bring back to life. This star of this dish is really the hoecake.


Soulful Gourmet: The Hoecake