Texan and Northern Cornbreads

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I had 3 separate Thanksgiving dinners. Two fell on Sunday, one on Thanksgiving day. If you think you are stuffed from Thursday, try to imagine how I feel, with three times the food! I was even eating Thanksgiving leftovers before Thanksgiving came around.

For the two dinners on Sunday, I made two varieties of cornbread. Being true to my Texas origins, I made one Texan-style, being not at all sweet and made in a cast iron skillet. I also made a Northern-style cornbread, which meant that it was a sweet cornbread, actually more like a corn cake. I have to say that I liked both a lot, but depending on the meal, I’d prefer one over the other. If I were to choose one to go with a bowl of chili, I’d pick the Texan cornbread. But as a compliment to a rotisserie chicken or even on its own, I’d go with the cakier Northern version. Come to think of it, I’ve eaten at many places in Texas that serve the sweet style cornbread. Authentic – probably not, but they were pretty darn tasty. I guess that just makes me an equal opportunity cornbread eater.

Texan Cornread
from Bon Appétit, January 2008

2 cups yellow cornmeal
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
bacon drippings or unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Brush a cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons butter or bacon drippings. Place dish in oven 5 minutes.
3. Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add buttermilk and remaining 6 tablespoons melted butter. Stir batter just until evenly moistened (do not over mix).
4. Transfer cornbread batter to hot skillet and spread evenly. Bake cornbread until crusty on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cornbread cool at least 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Northern (Sweet Kernel) Cornbread
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, September 1995

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus extra softened butter for greasing the pan
1 cup corn, canned or frozen

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat to 425 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-9-by-2-inch metal pan.
2. Stir cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Push dry ingredients up side of bowl to make a well.
3. Crack eggs into well and stir lightly with wooden spoon, then add buttermilk and milk. Stir wet and dry ingredients quickly until almost combined. Add melted butter and corn; stir until ingredients are just combined.
4. Pour batter into greased pan. Bake until top is golden brown and lightly cracked and edges have pulled away from side of pan, about 25 minutes.
5. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Cut cornbread into squares and serve warm.

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