Thursday, September 10, 2009
Cornbread fit for 60!
Where’s the peeler? You mean I have to soak the beans overnight? How much liquid do I use for the rice? These questions cross my mind every week as I prepare to cook dinner for sixty hungry college students living in my co-op.
As head cook, I start preparing dinner with one other person in the afternoon to have the meal ready by 7 p.m. I want to cater to everyone’s likes, dislikes, and needs—to vegetarians, vegans, meat-lovers, gluten-free eaters, and picky eaters. Seasonal produce, bread, meat, and dairy products regularly get delivered to the house, and the kitchen is already stocked with the basics—spices, grains, dry beans, oils and vinegars…
Cornbread. Always a crowd-pleaser. So moist and comforting—I feel guilty with glee, it is like eating cake with dinner!
Golden yellow in the center and perfectly browned on the edges, this cornbread really is the best ever! And you know why it is the best ever? Because it calls for the butter to be browned! Yes, browning the butter is the secret! It was also the secret in these blueberry muffins!
The key to browning your butter is to melt it on the stove over medium heat and to turn it off as soon as it stops “singing” (aka sizzling/cracking/popping/making noise...you get the picture). You can see the butter go from yellow to a nice brown color, and the smell is so sinfully delicious and nutty!
This is just a basic recipe for cornbread. If you are feelin’ a little cra’ cra’ (aka crazy!!) you can add in some cheese, fresh corn kernels, jalapeños, chives…
This recipe is so moist and all the flavors come together so nicely that I found no need to add any extra butter, honey, sour cream... on top. But if you feel so inclined, please go right ahead!
Best Cornbread Ever
Adapted from herbivoracious.com
Serves 60! (divide recipe by 6 and use an 8x8 in. pan to get the original proportions)
* 6 sticks unsalted butter
* 12 eggs
* 6 cups buttermilk (I used 3 cups nonfat milk + 3 cups 2% milk and 6 T. white vinegar)
* 6 cups cornmeal
* 6 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 cups sugar
* 6 teaspoons salt (aka 2 Tablespoons)
* 3 teaspoons baking soda
1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F and butter two large rectangular pans.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking about 10 minutes or more until it is turning a light brown and has a delicious, nutty aroma. Do not skim, keep all those browned milk solids (that is where most of the flavor is concentrated!).
3. Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk. Drizzle in the butter, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.
4. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir just enough to form a batter. It is ok if there are a few lumps. Avoid over-beating as this could make the cornbread tough (tough cornbread=yuck).
6. Pour into the pan and bake about 25 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
7. Serve while still hot. Get it while you can because in a house full of hungry 20-something year olds, it will all be gone in a matter of minutes!