Image by Amanda Click
(Or whatever the kids are calling it these days.)
To start off my tour of Charleston’s chicken biscuit offerings, I decided there was no more local, southern place to begin than Hominy Grill.
Hominy Grill is famous for it’s southern, home-style menu, and is an iconic culinary staple for Charleston locals and visitors alike. Hominy is also known for one hell of a take on a chicken biscuit, appropriately named The Big Nasty. The biscuit has been featured on the Travel Channel’s hit show No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, and has made the pages of the New York Times, Esquire, Food & Wine, and a number of other publications. It's obviously good, so I figured it would be the best spot to get down and dirty right off the bat.
I roped in fellow Digitel Diva Amanda Click to join me for my Big Nasty adventure, and we were not disappointed. The dish itself is one juicy, fried chicken breast, topped with sausage gravy and cheddar cheese, on a thick, flaky biscuit. The seasoning on the chicken was quite nice, and the breast was perfectly cooked and not overdone, which can happen quite easily with fried chicken.
It was the gravy that really entranced my tastebuds though. Being a chicken biscuit purist, I was at first a little put-off by the idea of gravy on my chicken biscuit. (I typically like mine plain, with one packet of ketchup, please!) But this gravy quickly changed my mind. It had a fresh, pepper flavor with a pinch of spice to even out it’s creaminess. Not too much kick, but enough to make it standout amongst your typical, southern white-pepper gravy. Turns out, as the sausage is made in-house, it's a perfect blend of red, black, and bell pepper, with a little bit of dried thyme, sage, and Tabasco that adds it's unique verve in gravy flavor.
I was only able to finish about half the biscuit – it really is that filling. But Amanda took it down like a champ, and even took a celebratory picture of her empty plate afterwards. I walked away with a half full to-go box and a bruised ego. It was a big, nasty domination.
Amanda was not as keen on the gravy as I was, but we both agreed that the fried chicken breast was some of the best we’d ever had. The biscuit’s price tag of $7.95 also suits the excellent quality of the ingredients, and the portion size of the meal.
I also had the opportunity to interview Chef Robert Stehling, the owner/proprietor of Hominy Grill, and the Big Nasty extraordinaire. Through his expertise I was also able to find out the intriguing origins of the elusive Big Nasty.
"The idea came from a mechanic that I know. He was going to Hardee's and getting a chicken biscuit, and then would sweet talk the girls behind the counter to put sausage gravy on it. Well, they (the girls) started calling him nasty, and then the biscuit nasty, and he called them nasty, so I took it. We had all the components there, just needed the idea and the name to come together."
I had to ask about Chef Stehling's choice to add cheese to the recipe (besides the obvious reason being that cheese is good on everything) as there are not a lot of chicken biscuits that are topped with cheese. Stehling explains, "We needed something to polish it, put the "nasty" on it. Gravy is good, but with cheese on it, it's over the top." Indeed.
The Big Nasty turned out to be a perfect starting point for my tour, a perfect combination of traditional southern spices and overindulgence. I’ve got to step up on my ability to ingest large quantities of food in one sitting though, otherwise, it’s gonna be a long journey.
Hominy Grill is located at 207 Rutledge Ave. You can check out their website, along with their menu and even some neat recipes at their website here. We've also got more photos of our Big Nasty adventure, as well as a short video over at TheDigitel's flicrk page.
To see my other chicken biscuit reviews, check out the landing page, or follow along on our RSS.