Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Corn Bread, Plain and Simple
Traditional corn bread is not going to elicit oohhs and aaahh. It's a bit dry, a bit gritty, not that sweet. This cornbread is not the vivacious party guest in the glamorous gown; it's the the plain gal in the corner, the one with the sensible shoes.
Many modern-day recipes offer up a luxurious corn bread with ingredients like sour cream, canned sweetened condensed corn and grated cheddar cheese. The kind of corn bread Paula Deen (pre-diabetes announcement) would serve, probably with a big pat of butter melting on top. But being a traditionalist (and wanting to avoid needing the diabetes pills Paula is now pushing), I used a c. 1935 recipe from my collection.
I made the corn bread to serve with a black bean espresso chili for a dinner party we hosted recently. Now, some of you may be raising your eyebrows at the notion of serving chili at a dinner party, but here was my dilemma. One of the guests, when questioned, said that she did not eat mammals or birds and that her boyfriend did not eat cheese. Whoa...that's veering into "vegan country," a place I've never been. The guest was most gracious, pleading with us not to prepare something special, noting that she is used to "eating around" the contraband, concentrating on the side dishes. Still, I was reluctant to deliberately make something I knew she wouldn't eat and the chili turned out to be the perfect, if not the most elegant, entree.
The corn bread accompaniment is very simple to prepare -- it literally takes just a few minutes to throw together. I used buttermilk for the sour milk, but if you don't have any on hand, you can make some "buttermilk" by adding a teaspoon of vinegar to a cup of whole milk and letting the mixture sit until it clabbers.
I'm happy to report that this corn bread tastes even better the next day. And even better when you add a bit of glamour -- a pat of butter and strawberry jam.