Sunday, May 07, 2006

project cornbread


If I say, "I work in West Newton", I get blank stares. But if I add "Down the street from Blue Ribbon BBQ", I get nods of acknowledgement and murmurs of envy. (This is a shared experience for many of us at Design Continuum, as I learned over yet another large platter of oysters last night).

Blue Ribbon BBQ is a local cult phenomenon, mostly because the food is really good. The pulled pork is really good...the mashed potatoes are really good...and the cornbread is awesome. My current diet regimen requires at least one large square of Blue Ribbon cornbread per week, whether as toasted croutons, baked stuffing, or crumbled into a bowl of white bean chili, simple and unadulterated.

I figured, if Blue Ribbon bakes something like 2 million squares of really good cornbread per day, it couldn't possibly be that hard for me to make 16 squares of my own.
(It was harder than I expected.)

Project Cornbread, Take 1 (shown below, right)
Variation on Joy of Cooking's Southern Cornbread
[with diced green chili peppers and corn kernels]
The crumb was moist, but the texture was light. The cornbread also lacked richness in flavor - I should have known something was up when I didn't see "butter" in the recipe. Cornbread should not be made without butter.

Project Cornbread, Take 2 (shown below, left)
Variation on Joy of Cooking's Northern Cornbread
[with rosemary and toasted pine nuts]
The butter played a nice role in rounding out the flavor and creating a crumbly texture, but omitting corn kernels from the batter (without compensating with more liquid) resulted in a dry product. Also, the additions were weird. Pine nuts are not exactly indigenous to North Carolina.


Project Cornbread, Take 3 (pictured at top)
Spicy Chorizo Cornbread
inspired by America's Test Kitchen

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup white or yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 can (8 oz.) corn kernels
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly
1 medium chorizo sausage, diced

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish (preferably glass) with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, cayenne, and salt in medium bowl until combined; set aside.
2. Mix brown sugar, corn kernels, and yogurt until combined. Add eggs and whisk until well combined.
3. Using rubber spatula, make well in center of dry ingredients; pour wet ingredients into well. Begin folding dry ingredients into wet, giving mixture only a few turns to barely combine; add melted butter and chorizo and continue folding until dry ingredients are just moistened. Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert cornbread onto wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer. Cut into pieces and serve.

Success! A fine cornbread made with the help of ample butter and corn, plus the spice of cayenne and the goodness of chorizo.

P.S. Hooray for everyone walking in Project Bread's Walk for Hunger today!


shaz said...

that looks wonderful. yum. i'll try that out soon

wheresmymind said...

Blue Ribbon is INCREDIBLE!! I love their side dish specials like dirtay rice :)

Jen said...

Man. I used to love Blue Ribbon when I lived in Arlington. And then I moved to the North Shore. How I miss you, brisket with hot barbecue sauce on the side!