Monday, February 16, 2009
Everyone loves cornbread. That might be an overstatement, but I have never met someone who has tasted really good, home made cornbread and said, "Eh, I could take it or leave it." Warm from the oven, with a little bit of butter and a drizzle of honey - it's hard to beat. This particular recipe for cornbread can be made in a regular baking pan (8 x 8 if you please) but there is something magical about making it in a cast iron skillet.
I was always curious about cast iron skillets, and finally became the proud owner of two thanks to my sister and mother over the holiday season. And I am having a blast with them. They take cooking to a whole new level. Stove top? Check. Oven? Check. Both? Double check. If you don't own one yet, I'd recommend it - they're not very expensive and easy to find. (I, along with America's Test Kitchen and most people who know a thing or two about kitchen accessories, recommend the Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron skillet). And of course, the piece de resistance when it comes to cast iron skillets has to be cornbread.
Enter the master himself, one of my culinary mentors even though he doesn't know it, Mark Bittman. I can't believe this is the first recipe of his that I've posted. I read his blog daily, I worship his "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" cookbook, and here I am posting a recipe of his from a book I picked up at the library.
It's a pretty great recipe, and you can tweak it as you see fit - add spices, add corn kernels, add cheese, add extra yogurt to make it more moist, use EVOO instead of butter - the options are endless. I'm sharing it the way I made it - delightfully crumbly, slightly sweet, and great with honey all over it and a cup of tea or coffee on the side. And as you can see from the picture above, it was a success - it's going, going, and nearly gone.
Adapted from Mark Bittman's "Quick and Easy Recipes from the NY Times"
Makes one 10 1/4 inch round cornbread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons plain lowfat yogurt
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Put the butter in a 10 1/4 inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat; heat until melted and hot, about two minutes, then turn off the heat. (The goal here is not to brown the butter, just to warm it up and melt it, so don't leave the heat on too long). You may want to tilt the skillet around to evenly distribute the butter.
2. While the butter is warming up, combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the egg and yogurt in a separate bowl, then stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, combining well. If it seems too dry, add a little more yogurt.
3. Pour the batter over the preheated butter in the skillet. Give the skillet a firm shake to evenly distribute the batter. Bake for 30 minutes, until top is lightly browned and sides have pulled away from the pan. Serve warm.
Eat it however you like it - plain, with chili, with Log Cabin Chicken (TM) or any other way you choose! Enjoy.