Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Southern Style Cornbread
Staring into a nearly empty fridge (I mean we are out of cheese -- when are we ever out of cheese?). A carton of milk well past it's expiration date stared back.
I could pour it down the commode hoping to revitalize our septic as I've read online. But, it's still food. I hate to throw food away, especially when a little creativity can make what some consider trash into a homemade meal. Food from nothing is my favorite game.
I think that's what I love so much about Southern cooking. The traditional cuisine of the American South is frugality at it's best. True nose to tail cooking born as much of scarcity as it is of a reverence for ingredients.
Staring at that milk I suddenly saw sour milk cornbread. A quick google search will bring up pages and pages of debate on baking with sour milk -- pasteurized vs raw, homogenized vs separated. Ignoring the warnings I pressed on.
I whisked two eggs and 2 cups of that sour milk, along with a teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder -- for insurance sake. A pinch of salt, 1/4 cup of flour, 1 1/2 cups corn meal and 4 TB of melted butter finished my quick mixed batter. I placed my iron skillet with 1 TB of bacon grease (that's why I save it -- cornbread and french fries -- in a 400º oven long enough for the fat to melt and start to sizzle -- about 5 minutes. I gave the grease a swirl in the pan to spread it across the cooking surface and poured in my batter. After 20 minutes my cornbread was light and fluffy and not the least bit sour.
A nod to the South but not quite authentic. Here in California the grocery stores don't stock the finely ground white cornmeal treasured in the Southeast. Next time I travel I'll bring back a bag and try again -- I'm sure milk will be waiting.