My Favorite Cornbread Recipe…

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Cornbread is a staple food here in the south. In fact, if you go to a southern restaurant, it’s not surprising to see cornbread listed as a vegetable side. When I first moved here I decided to try making cornbread from scratch, since up to that point I had only had it from the lovely little blue jiffy box. I bought the ingredients, looked up a recipe from a southern magazine and got to work.

You can imagine my horror when I bit into it and it was dry, crumbly and almost savory! I asked around and found out that southern cornbread is nothing like the rest of the country eats. It’s meant to be, you know, bread. In fact, most people crumble it into whatever they’re eating. No light fluffy cornbread here. In desperation I went to the store and looked for a different kind of cornmeal. I found the cheapest most enriched cornmeal I could find and used the recipe on the back, making sure there was a liberal amount of sugar in the recipe.

Finally, I had found what I had been craving. This was what I remember. At the same time, I knew something was off. Maybe it was the months of getting used to Southern Cornbread, but it seemed too sweet. I was serving it with dinner, but it felt like it should be for dessert. The following recipe is my Yankee leaning compromise. It is still  sweet, but the addition of some stone milled cornmeal gives it a bit more texture and cutting down on the sugar brought out the flavor of the cornmeal itself.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cheapo enriched corn meal
  • 1/4 cup real cornmeal
  • (For a sweeter, cake like cornbread use all enriched. For a heartier cornbread use 1/2 cup stone milled cornmeal and 1/2 cup enriched.)
  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablestoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (whole is best, but anything will work.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (You can use “drippings” as well, as in bacon drippings. I think it’s a bit rich, so I’ll throw in a few Tablespoons with the oil. Great flavor and totally old school.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8″ or 9″  pan or skillet with shortening or lard. (I swear by my 9″ cast iron skillet. You can get them super cheap new, and I think it’s worth if it if all you ever cook in it is cornbread. )
  2. Put greased skillet into oven and get it super hot while you mix the ingredients. It should only need to be in there a few minutes. This gives cornbread that amazing crispy, almost fried, crust. **
  3. Blend all dry ingredients in medium bowl. Mix in wet ingredients and stir until incorporated. It will be a bit lumpy but it should all be wet.
  4. Pour batter into hot pan and cook for 18-25 minutes. Anything over 18 in my cast iron skillet will burn. The original recipes said 20-25 minutes, so I assume that’s for a different kind of pan.
  5. You can tell it’s done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes about 9 servings. It’s best served warm with butter, honey and possibly some sorghum syrup if you’re lucky enough to live in the south. :)

**Thanks for this piece of advice from my rad boss and co-worker. It really helps to have honest to goodness southerners to bounce ideas off of!

Superbowl food extravaganza!

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So, my Dad asked me to cook the food for their Superbowl party today. I was really flattered, because for some reason it seemed like my family never wanted me to cook for them. (You should now that I am totally irrational sometimes and just assume everyone hates me.)

My Dad paid for the groceries (amazing!) and asked one thing: “Please don’t make anything, you know…. Weird…” So here is the menu for today:

  • Turkey Chili with white beans
  • Cornbread
  • veggie dip/platter
  • potato skins
  • jalapeno popper spread on french bread
  • some random dessert

I don’t really feel good about this… The chili and cornbread is great, but the rest involves so much mayonnaise and random things I’d never make on my own. Other people are going to eat it, and I really wish I could have made some better quality things.

And it’s not like I think people won’t like it. I know they will, but it’s not hard to make food people “like”. Throw in sour cream, cheddar and bacon and pretty much anyone on the planet will like it. That doesn’t mean it’s good though. It doesn’t mean the food has any integrity. (Also, I can’t believe I just wrote that last sentence. That sounds so effing pretentious!)

But, I’m gonna make it, and enjoy it. Not every meal can be what I want. And it’s gonna make my Dad happy, which is really the most important thing to me. Because he’s a wonderful amazing Dad…

Veggie Chili and Cornbread food porn

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Dinner tonight…

Pictures Courtesy of Alex Bayless, some kind of wizard