Big E Potato, Columbia South Carolina, Elite Epicurean Restaurant

The Big E Potato

The Big E Potato

Making a stuffed potato can be done by anyone. The list of items stuffed inside, is endless.

Chopped vegetables, various cheese, various meats, or any mixture of these allows 1000’s of different combinations.

The Big E though, had a set recipe. Many have attempted to recreate this delight, and have come close. But, it takes a certain combination of sweet, salty, buttery and creamy to get that perfect Epicurean Big E Potato. And that certain combination is from a set list of ingredients and techniques used to create that crunchy breading surrounding the potato

But it is putting the mixture together that is important to make that perfect Big E potato. The butter and whole milk had to be boiled together to separate the water content. The egg wash is a standard recipe, but, the corn meal and flour had to sifted together. And cooling the potatoes down was the key to keeping the breading on and the insides from oozing out during cooking.

Original Big E Potato: Small Batch
Commercial Butter Buds Potato Mix Entire Bag ( 36 ounce bag)
1 pound of butter
2 cups of milk

Mix the potato mixture, but use only half the amount of water. And remember to boil the milk and butter together, pouring off the excess water. You only want the solids.

1 pound of American Cheese or Wisconsin Sharpe (low moisture), chopped into small squares
1 pound of SWEET Ham (dry off any excess moisture) DAK canned ham is the best

As soon as the potato mix is cool enough to work with, pat out enough in your hand that you can make a little bowl shape in your palm, and tuck the ham and cheese into that bowl. Close up. Do not pack too tightly or the fillings will ooze out during cooking. You do not want to see any ham or cheese sticking out or have the potato spread so thin that it visible threw the mix.

Having sifted the plain flour and course corn meal together set aside. The ratio is 5 to 1 of corn meal to flour.

Make egg wash: One egg to each two cups of whole milk and set aside.

Dip the potato into the dry mix first, and then egg wash. Then repeat a few times, until a nice layer of cornmeal covers the potato. The last dip should be of the dry mix.

Store on a tray, close but not touching each other and refrigerate until completely cool, usually over night.

Straight from the refrigerator to the hot oil at 325 to 350 degrees in a deep fryer. Cook until golden, but not so long that the inside bubble out.

Big E Potato, Columbia South Carolina, Elite Epicurean Restaurant

Meals of the Southern American Semi-Royalty

The Elite Epicurean operated at the corner of Main Street and Laural Street in Columbia, South Carolina until 1997.  Guests dined on two-inch thick pork chops, rib eye steaks, lamb chops and sea food as would royalty.
Many people passed through the Main Street red awning covered door way. Movie stars, president elects, rock stars, judges, juries, senators, and governors visited the Elite. Brides and grooms made announcements, retirees threw parties and Prom King and Queens enjoyed the fan fare.
There was another crowd at the Elite Epicurean. They did not come in through the front door, but the side door, from Laural Street. Movers and shakers of another type. There were those, like myself who spent muggy hot summers, and later made it to the pay roll, and those who could not cut the heat. I only dined in the dining room 3 times, in over the 25 years my mother worked for the Elite Epicurean. But I ate 100’s of meals, standing at the butcher block that I worked from in the kitchen.
Whether someone was a mover and shaker, a law-maker, movie star, a regular or just passing through Columbia, South Carolina they had a favorite dish at the Elite Epicurean.